Veep, Ep 4.01: “Joint Session” proves not much has changed

Veep S04E01

Veep, Season 4, Episode 1: “Joint Session”
Teleplay by Simon Blackwell and Georgia Pritchett, Story by Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell, and Georgia Pritchett
Directed by Chris Addison
Airs Sundays at 10:30pm (ET) on HBO

The third season of Veep ended with the sudden resignation of President Hughes, placing Selina Meyer in the Oval office in the midst of a presidential campaign. The fourth season premiere picks up with Meyer as President, with a change in the title credits indicating that her popularity has not risen as a result, in a solid season premiere that maintains the show’s strengths in the new dynamic.

It’s fun to notice that, despite her ascension to the Presidency, Meyer’s actual capability and powers don’t seem to have been granted a boost. Much of Meyer’s vice-presidential term was marked by her ineffectiveness in getting her voice heard and pushing her own ideas through. However, any chance that the presidency would negate those issues gets wiped out in this season premiere. If anything, Meyer’s time as President seems to be fraught with more concern, as not only is she powerless, but she is in the hot seat, and will be expected to take responsibility for all the decisions that are made. Add to that the fact that it seems she won’t get any real reprieve from the job, and the ingredients are in place for a fascinating season of Meyer possibly coming to the realisation that the Presidential job is worse than the Vice-presidential one.

Of course, Meyer remains Meyer, and watching how she handles being President is an interesting part of the episode. Just because she disliked how President Hughes ran things doesn’t mean that she’s going to be any different in the position, and this is most evident in how she freezes out current VP Doyle. It will be particularly intriguing to see how her presidential run affects her campaign, not only with regards to how voters view her, but also how other politicians do. Her position as President makes her a lot more prominent than the veep position did, which means that she’ll have to learn to be a lot more accommodating if she wants to win an election. With the feelings of powerlessness already creeping in, how she threads this needle will be fun to watch.

Overall, this is a strong return for the show, putting to rest any questions about whether the resignation of President Hughes and Meyer gaining the POTUS office would change anything about the series. Gary’s insecurities over Meyer freezing him out continue to be fun to watch. Richard also proves himself more than capable of his place on the show in this premiere, as his interactions with Amy are hilarious. A number of characters don’t get moments in this episode, Dan being the most obvious one, but with the show proving itself on track, that is sure to change as the season progresses.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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