Veep, Season 3, Episode 03: “Alicia”
Teleplay by Sean Gray and Ian Martin, Story by Armando Iannucci, Sean Gray, and Ian Martin
Directed by Christopher Morris
Airs Sundays at 10:30pm (ET) on HBO
Despite the President only recently announcing to the public that he would not be seeking a second term, Selina Meyer and her staff have been working on her unofficial campaign for quite some time. This week’s episode sees Meyer formally kick off her presidential campaign, in an excellent outing that proves that the vice president has as little power as ever, even when it comes to who she will stand with when she makes the announcement.
Meyer being forced to drop the affordable childcare part of her campaign to appease Senator Doyle is a great illustration of the politician’s powerlessness. While previous seasons have shown how the vice-presidential position gives Selina very little power in important matters, her interaction with Senator Doyle prove that, even on the campaign trail, things are unlikely to be any different. This is likely to be the first of many concessions Meyer will have to make, at the expense of campaign pledges she is interested in pursuing, and it will be worth seeing how Meyer reacts to other obstacles as they force her to reconfigure her campaign. If she continues to have outbursts, it’s likely that one will soon be caught by an enterprising reporter such as Jonah. Her catatonic reactions, however, are just as worrisome.
Katherine’s speech to her mother to snap her out of her funk is also an unexpectedly touching moment. Selina’s interactions with her daughter have frequently been a highlight of the series, and despite their strained relationship, there is still some element of affection, largely from Katherine’s end. As the campaign continues, Selina is likely to get more overbearing on her staff, the only group on whom she can take out her anger. At the same time, her staff members, particularly Gary, are going to be hesitant to tell her the truth even when she needs to hear it. This will put Katherine in a unique position as the only person who would be willing to talk back to Meyer, no matter what mood she is in, and it will be intriguing to see if the campaign tries to take advantage of that, and if Katherine and Selina allow it.
Overall, this is a fantastic episode, and serves to excellently highlight what makes this show work so well. Jonah’s interactions with Mike this episode serve to illustrate how quickly the balance of power can flip in the political world that Veep has built. At the same time, Jonah’s extended humiliation of Mike proves that he continues to be as bad as the individuals he rails against on his new site. The actions of the staff, particularly Dan, work well to display how the effects of stress can get to a campaign. It will be interesting to see how Dan continues to deal with added pressures, as the last two weeks have shown him clearly being stretched beyond his usual boundaries, making a breakdown nearly inevitable. Meyer making concessions with SNL to save her image also highlights how she is likely to change her own mind even without extensive external pressures, and the shots of various empty rooms during her presidential campaign announcement is a great bit of satire. Meyer’s first interaction with Alicia likewise serves to highlight how little she knows about the issues she does care about. The episode as a whole is a wonderful showcase of awkwardness on numerous fronts, and how Selina’s campaign team continues to adjust now that the presidential run is formally underway promises to be fascinating to see as the season continues.
– Deepayan Sengupta