“The President is resigning. Selina’s going to be president.” And with a simple game of Telephone amongst the staffers, “Crate,” the first of last night’s two-part “Veep” finale, entirely changes how the future fourth season might unfold. Most importantly: is this show going to be called “POTUS” from now on?
Probably not, because let’s not kid ourselves – even with the senior vote (thanks, Jonah’s uncle!), Selina still ends the season by coming in third in New Hampshire. Chung and Thornhill are simply better at portraying themselves as, respectively, earnest and relatable and folksy and relatable. The gaffe of “Crate”’s title – the $1200 titanium-enforced crate Selina stands on in order to appear “normal” – is the latest in a long series of misfires that consistently remind us that Selina’s more than a little out of touch with her voters. Of course, this show has portrayed this as par for the course for D.C., but Selina, unlike Chung and Thornhill, doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to interacting with voters, despite what Amy thinks.
Selina, along with the rest of her staff, really needs to be more mindful of the little people, especially when those little people are pretentious, Shakespeare-quoting New Hampshire columnists who forget their still-recording cell phones in Selina’s campaign headquarters. Crate-gate and Selina’s ensuing realization that she’s not going to win New Hampshire – disastrous after she’s also lost Iowa – make up the first part of the excellent episode nine. Her bitterness mirrors that of Jonah, at home in New Hampshire, desperately trying to save his career after it becomes increasingly clear that Maddox, too, will not be winning this race.
“Veep” has drawn parallels between its characters before – Selina and Dan’s office-side chat, in which we quickly realize their shared ruthlessness, did this effectively in episode five – but the Jonah-Selina pairing is a surprising, unexpected one. Like Selina and Gary, Jonah, when on his home turf, surrounds himself with a system of unconditional support – in this case, his mother (played by Nancy Lenehan). The giant mall portrait of a teenaged Jonah hanging in the living room is pathetic yet still funny, just like the volley of criticism he directs towards his poor mother – who just wants Jonah to help her sort her medications! But, like Selina, it seems that whatever Jonah wants, Jonah eventually gets – even if it, like his new job in the White House or her new presidency, doesn’t always turn out as envisioned.
Selina, as we know, has wanted the presidency for a very, very long time. So, when she gets it, she can’t help but celebrate. Cue the season’s comic highlight, in which she tells Gary the good news, Gary develops a nosebleed out of excitement and, in a role reversal, Selina is forced to search through Gary’s bag for a pack of tissues, all while both are still laughing hysterically in the middle of New Hampshire’s grimiest bathroom. Congratulations, Selina! The first female presidency is yours.
Episode 10, the last of the season, begins by overturning a three-season long “Veep” convention and revealing, via a series of onscreen newspaper clippings, the president’s name: Stuart Hughes. Hughes, as explained in episode nine and, prior to that, hinted over the course of the season, has stepped down from the presidency due to his wife’s suicide attempt. Despite this dark turn of events, Selina and her team are effusive in their private celebrations, and it’s a little off-putting to see her, Dan, and the rest punch the air gleefully over congratulatory messages from Beyonce. (“She’s calling me a single lady!”)
Once in office, Selina inadvertently fires Leslie Kerr of the State Department instead of Leanne Carr from Energy, angering Iran and potentially causing a global oil disaster. This, paired with an embarrassingly squeaky pair of shoes worn during her first televised address to the American people, prompts a barrage of the kind of all-encompassing media critique that Selina, for all of her mishaps, has for the most part avoided due to the less visible nature of the vice presidency. This, paired with the New Hampshire failure that the episode ends on, is a sobering reminder that, despite her recent victory, Selina’s position as president is anything but secure.
“Veep” has a habit of using its series premieres to jump forward in time, and I’m suspecting that Selina will either no longer be or will about to be ending her presidency come season four. It’s increasingly looking like it might be a Danny Chung candidacy, so will Dan’s attempts to clear himself and the Meyer administration of planting those torture accusations against Chung work out for Selina? Her relationship to Chung has long been acrimonious, so if season four goes in the direction that I suspect it might, we could potentially see Selina attempting to hold on to the vice presidency in the coming election. Either way, this last hour has easily been one of the strongest in the series’ history.