Veep, Season 4, Episode 10, “Election Night”
Teleplay by Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche, Story by Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell, and Tony Roche
Directed by Chris Addison
Airs Sundays at 10:30pm (ET) on HBO
While Selina Meyer has gotten a taste of the presidency this season, thanks to the sudden resignation of Hughes, the ongoing campaign and election has been a looming presence throughout. The possibility of not becoming an elected leader after getting a taste of the presidency has coloured nearly every action of Meyer, and the season finale finally brings the looming election to the fore. The result is a strong episode that goes in a number of unexpected directions, revealing different sides of numerous characters while not losing sight of the show’s humour.
The federal election ending in a tie opens up some exciting possibilities for the show. The election night as a whole manages to display several sides to Meyer, all of which are entertaining to view. Meyer’s disgust with the American public and her disdain with James are both particularly intriguing. In many ways, Meyer’s friction with James wasn’t unforeseen. As James displays this week, he’s aware of his importance to the campaign. While earlier episodes suggested that he’s not as power-hungry as other politicians and members of Meyer’s administration, who might have pounced on this leverage, this episode proves he’s simply shrewder. Holding on to his position of power over Selina until he finds the most opportune moment to use it indicates that James is, despite appearances, as hungry as every other politician in Washington. With Meyer now disdainful of James, and James in a position to take the Presidency altogether, how their dynamic evolves next season will be highly amusing to watch. Despite angling for the position of Treasury Secretary, James is clearly not comfortable with too much power, and the Presidency comes with its own set of problems for James, as he is unprepared for it, not even having his own staff. For Selina, on the other hand, ending up as Vice-president once again after coming so close to winning a federal election may be the worst possible fate she can think of, especially if James poaches her staff.
Amy’s return to the Meyer fold is also a welcome development. While her departure from Meyer’s camp was acrimonious, her assertion of how much time she’s spent helping Meyer get to the position she is in now isn’t incorrect. Meyer’s dependence on Amy is an open secret, and the fact that she gravitates to Amy when the election seems lost, rather than any member of her current staff or even Karen, is very telling. Amy deciding to come back also says a lot about her. She wasn’t wrong in her assertion that she doesn’t get enough appreciation in the Meyer camp, and she’s proven that she can be successful as a lobbyist as well. Amy’s time away has given both her and Selina a chance to re-appraise their relationship to each other, and how that reflects things next season will be interesting. Amy now knows she’s capable of finding success outside of Meyer’s administration, while Meyer has shown her dependence on Amy. However, Amy is the one who chooses to return, rather than Meyer asking for her, which is also likely to affect how the two relate to each other. If Meyer does end up in the vice-presidency next season, Amy may be the only member of her staff who doesn’t get blamed for the turnaround, which may finally put her in the position of power and respect that she’s craved.
Overall, this is a strong finish to what has been a stellar season for the show. Sue’s apparent departure is a moment that gets underplayed, in a fashion that’s true to her character, but could also present major challenges for the administration, especially as Sue has proven her adeptness at a level others have yet to match. Dan’s willingness to provide insider information to the team about the poll results also puts him in an intriguing position. Whatever animosity Dan may have had from the circumstances surrounding his dismissal from Meyer’s team is clearly either gone at this point, or pushed aside, which could make him a valuable ally to the team from the outside. The lobbying against the Families First bill that Dan and Amy had to do was met with little resistance from the former, and if he senses that being on Meyer’s good side will help his career, Dan has proven himself adept at taking advantage of a situation. Amy’s departure and apparent re-integration into the Meyer team thus puts Dan in a unique position. It’s also good to see Karen Collins return, and it’s particularly amusing to see even the usually jovial and pleasant Tom James get frustrated with Karen’s inability to commit to a side on any given issue. Selina’s private conversation with Katherine is also hilarious, once again effectively highlighting the gulf between mother and daughter. The unexpected result that ends the episode really elevates it, and it’s a great note for Iannucci to step away from the show on, and how things look next season, both in front of and behind the scenes, will be worth checking in to see.