Veep Season 5 Episode 1 Recap: Zit Attack

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The zit is a metaphor. It’s also just a really disgustingly huge zit. This stress-pimple monster erupts on Selina’s face in the aftermath of the unprecedented tie on election night. The nature of the results left Selina vulnerable to becoming veep once again, but this time to the “smug, Dick Van Dyke-looking motherfucker” — Selina’s words — Tom James (Hugh Laurie).

“My fellow Americans, I stand before you this morning in bare-faced awe of the majesty of our democratic system,” Selina says in a televised speech that begins the episode. Well, she’s going to need some makeup, because that zit’s going to grow and grow and grow. It even gets its own Twitter account. The eruption of the zit, in part, is Gary’s fault. He thinks a hot compress is the way to quell its growth. As a doctor eventually tells him, cold compresses are the correct treatment.

But it’s not entirely bad news for the Meyer campaign. In fact, there’s a chance they could actually win the presidency. O’Brien, her competitor, leads over her in Nevada by less than half a percent, allowing for a potential recount. Selina rushes to give a statement before O’Brien can, putting the pimple fully on display, and yielding excellent face-twitching work from Julia Louis-Dreyfus. But as she’s talking, the Dow sinks. Ah, we’re back in crisis mode.

Tom James seems to be sabotaging Selina every chance he gets, so Selina takes Amy’s suggestion and appoints him “economy czar.” Amy, though not officially back working for Selina, sort of is. As for Tom — well, yeah, he’s not super into that idea. He knows that becoming economy czar will just make him a punching bag. So he declines. Sucks for him, though, because Selina just tells the press he’s going to do the job anyway.

Speaking of Amy, she at first relinquishes the job of heading up the effort in Nevada to an upstart named Candi. (Yes, with an “i,” a fact that rankles Amy to no end.) Amy just can’t deal with being away from the action, and interrupts Selina’s interview with Candi to say she’ll do the job herself. She’s got a motley crew helping her out. It turns out Richard, who mostly seems like a bumbling idiot, has a doctorate in constitutional law. (He also has one in veterinary medicine, his fall-back plan.) So Richard has been put in charge of Jonah, and Jonah has tapped Cliff, whom Amy likes to call “baby with a beard,” to work for him. Amy also recruits Dan, who has been fired from his lobbying gig. Yay! The gang’s back together again.

Selina, meanwhile, is desperately trying to look presidential, so she holds a symposium on race. That starts a disaster, because all the panelists are white, and ends a disaster, because Mike accidentally triggers an alarm while running up and down stairs. Mike and his wife, Wendy, are adopting a baby from China, so Mike’s trying to get in shape by charting his steps with a FitBit. He desperately tries to keep up with the shockingly active Sue, a feat, considering we often see her behind a desk. (If you were curious, Kent tracks his steps in his head.) Sue is dragged downstairs to make the crowd at the symposium look more diverse. She enters just as the alarm goes up, and finds guns turned on her. Yikes.

To deflect attention from the race debacle, Mike announces that Bill Erickson, thrown under the bus in the illegal lobbying/data breach investigation last season, has been arrested.

Best Line Of Dialogue: “You’re about as welcome here as a swastika-shaped shit in a synagogue.” - Ben to Bill Erickson, who shows up for a meeting despite facing indictment

Biggest Target Of Insults: Poor Catherine, Selina’s daughter. Catherine is trying to make a film documenting her mother for her thesis. Selina throws these gems her way: “The only thing Catherine ever finished was an entire ice cream cake” and “Catherine, why is that your hair?” I can’t wait for Catherine to rise up and burn Selina badly. She’s certainly gathering enough material.

Least Surprising Fact: Gary once had a bowling coach.

Biggest Misread Of Harry Potter: Jonah compares himself to Harry Potter and Selina to Uncle Dursley, but he maybe doesn’t really get J.K. Rowling’s stories. “What happens in the Harry Potter books? He rises up and he kills all the Muggles,” Jonah notes. Yeah, no, Jonah. That’s not what happens.

Best Dig At Trump: “Go out, win a race with a Jesus-loving homophobic, homosexual, or a racist billionaire. Then we can talk about a career in TV.” - Scott Adsit’s anchor to Dan

Best Guest Star:
Clea Duvall as Selina’s new straight-faced Secret Service agent.

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