Veep, Season 4, Episode 9: “Testimony”
Teleplay by Sean Gray and Will Smith, Story by Armando Iannucci, Sean Gray, and Will Smith
Directed by Armando Iannucci
Airs Sundays at 10:30pm (ET) on HBO
Meyer’s Families First bill had been on a downward slide since its introduction at the beginning of the season, even earning the derisive nickname “Mommy Meyer Bill” and proving it doesn’t have the support of even Selina’s old friends. The combination of these factors led to the decision to try and kill the bill, a move that succeeded, but not before the administration’s scheming was discovered by Congress. This week’s episode sees the team face a deposition and a congressional hearing, in another strong outing that sees Meyer’s team lose yet another member.
Watching how Selina’s staff operates from the other side is a fascinating perspective this week. While watching the administration flail and scramble to cover a leak or a major issue with hastily drawn solutions is not a new occurrence, the show has often delved into the staff’s inner workings when making these decisions. This week’s episode, however, gives the show’s audience the first look at how these decisions and the process looks like to outsiders, specifically the other members of the government. The congressional hearing and deposition give a clear idea of how the other members of the current government have viewed Meyer as she’s made her way through the rest of the term, and once again highlights how the ascension from Vice-president to President came with much more scrutiny, but not more power. How this affects Meyer’s political career will be intriguing to see. While the deposition and hearing is unlikely to affect her election chances, especially if the public is unable to fully grasp what it is that the administration did, it will certainly affect her image among her peers. If she manages to win the election, other members of government may be hesitant to work with her, unsure of what scandal they may end up roped into. The job of lobbyists is also likely to end up more difficult under a Meyer administration, which may mean they’ll work against her campaign. If she loses, her toxicity may make it even more difficult for her to get anything done, which means she’s going to have an uphill battle either way.
The episode also brings into focus everyone’s roles in the administration, forcing them to look at their importance, or lack thereof. This is particularly interesting to see in the cases of both Gary and Jonah. Gary sees himself as one of the most crucial members of the administration, a feeling that was certainly pushed along by Meyer’s realisation earlier in the season of how much Gary knew about her private affairs. This episode, however, shows just how far out of the loop Gary is, as he clearly hadn’t even been coached on what to say. Gary’s lack of importance, paradoxically, is what’s kept him safe from being scapegoated, as the one thing everyone can agree on is that he’s not influential enough to affect anything in the administration. Jonah, in the meantime, comes to a similar realisation. In many ways, Gary and Jonah suffer from the same self-importance issues, but manifest them in different ways. Jonah’s willful obliviousness to how he’s perceived has taken numerous hits this season, from the meeting with the women Teddy molested to the list of his nicknames this week. How Jonah handles this will be promising, as Jonah will be unable to see past his laughingstock status for too long. The awareness this week that he was put on the Families First bill to help it fail is likely to colour every subsequent assignment he’s handed, and once he’s no longer able to buffer his status with an inflated sense of self-importance, that will bring about a radical change in the character.
Overall, this is another strong episode of what has been a stellar season of Veep so far. The breakup of Katherine’s engagement, no doubt done as a way to ensure the deposition and the congressional hearing doesn’t dig too deep into the administration and the relationship, nonetheless emphasises how much Katherine’s life continues to be affected by Selina’s career. The dismissal of Ericsson is also likely to have significant ramifications. While his departure mirrors that of Amy and Dan’s, Ericsson has two things that neither of them had; significantly more clout in DC, and significantly less time spent with Meyer. While his career is likely to take a hit due to his involvement in the mailing list and Families First lobbying, it won’t be affected as significantly as Amy or Dan’s career. On the other hand, if Ericsson feels bitter about the circumstances in which he left Meyer’s administration, the way Amy did, he’s more likely to end up in a position where he can take revenge for it, which could make him a dangerous entity. The casting on the show continues to be fantastic. In addition to regulars like Sufe Bradshaw and Anna Chlumsky constantly proving themselves, Jessie Ennis’ return as Leigh Patterson is also a welcome one this week, as she fits right into the show’s dynamic in a way that shows her talent as well. How the events of the season shape things in next week’s season finale promises to be a compelling and hilarious watch.