Veep, Ep 4.02: “East Wing” turns the focus on Gary

Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Veep, Season 4, Episode 2: “East Wing”
Teleplay by Kevin Cecil, Roger Drew, and Andy Riley, Story by Armando Iannucci, Kevin Cecil, Roger Drew, and Andy Riley
Directed by Stephanie Laing
Airs Sundays at 10:30pm (ET) on HBO

The fourth season premiere of Veep proved that the show’s change was only superficial, with Meyer continuing to face the same roadblocks and powerlessness as President that characterised her time as Vice-president, only in larger doses. This week’s episode once again proves that point, while showing that Meyer herself has also not changed much, in another hilarious episode that allows several members of the cast to shine.

Gary and Selina’s blowup is an intriguing aspect of the episode. The season premiere indicated that the one person whose job was negatively impacted by the transition to the Oval Office was Gary. Thus, it’s not surprising to see him throw himself into what little he does have control over, and him going overboard on something was bound to happen sooner or later. The confrontation with Meyer, however, is very interesting to watch for Meyer’s reaction. Gary’s loyalty to Meyer has been proven throughout the series, but Meyer’s realisation this week that Gary has something on her proves the power balance may not be as unequal as appearances suggest. How the duo proceed from this episode will say a lot. Meyer’s indicated a level of ruthlessness before in cutting down anyone who impedes her professionally, like with Jim this episode, but stops short of doing the same to Gary. This may either mean that Gary’s job is safe because of everything he’s had to do for Meyer over the years, or that she’ll cut him out more slowly and systematically. If he is safe, however, that will also raise eyebrows if he continues making mistakes and harming Meyer’s image.

Speaking of image, Katherine’s attempt to endear herself to the American public is a storyline ripe with possibility. While possibly not as contemptuous of the public as her mother, Katherine has nonetheless never shown an eagerness to mingle with them. Combined with her prior hesitation in helping her mother in political aspects, how this storyline plays out will be interesting. With Katherine now out in the public and away from White House control, her motivations for continuing on the goodwill tour are likely to get weaker and weaker, especially if she focuses on the fact that this is mainly to help her mother’s political aspirations. On the other hand, Katherine clearly felt the sting of the poor polling numbers on a personal level, which may help drive her. Hopefully the writers will follow Katherine, if for no other reason than to give Sarah Sutherland a chance to display the comedic skills she’s indicated in past seasons.

Overall, the show manages to hit emotional beats without sacrificing humour. Putting Dan and Jonah together is an excellent decision on the show’s part, and the duo deliver once again. Bill Ericsson’s permanent fixture on Meyer’s staff is also an encouraging development, as Diedrich Bader has been a valuable presence during his brief moments on the show, and it will be particularly fun to see Ericsson interact with Kent Davison. How Ericsson’s presence and proximity to Meyer affects Amy will also be promising to watch, especially after Amy managed to finally wrangle the job away from Dan last season. Anna Chlumsky’s expression in the car when Richard plays her memos out loud is a particular comedic highlight of the episode. The interactions between Teddy Sykes and Jonah over the past two episodes have been somewhat curious. Making Jonah the target of sexual harassment is an intriguing storyline, as he is the character people take the least seriously. However, this is something that will have to be handled carefully, and how the writers deal with it, as well as how Amy and Katherine’s storylines progress, will be worth tuning in for as the season continues.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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