Veep Season 5, Episode 4 Recap: A Huge Loss

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Before she went all rocker chick, Taylor Swift once sang, "When you think Tim McGraw / I hope you think my favorite song." So what does this have to do with Veep? Well, Selina Meyer cannot stand Tim McGraw. When she hears Tim McGraw, she cannot even stop to consider that her dying mother apparently loves his music. Unfortunately, Selina is forced to spend some quality time with the McGraw songbook this episode, but more on that later.

This episode opens with bad news: Selina's mom is in the hospital. Selina's reaction: "Again?" Of course, this is a really bad time for POTUS. Her campaign is still in limbo in Nevada. Karen is in court arguing that the recount certification deadline should be extended so the previously missing ballots can be counted.

But to the hospital Selina goes, begrudingly. Her entire team is already there, along with a bereft Catherine and Andrew, Selina's ex. Andrew brought his new girlfriend, a lifestyle guru named Monica. (Gary's a fan, as is Catherine, who calls her "Monny," not to be confused with "Mommy.") Catherine tells Selina to talk to her mother; Selina's more interested in making sure the unresponsive woman's nails look good. “If I wanted to talk to an unconscious person, I’d book myself on Charlie Rose,” she tells Catherine.

But these grim circumstances also bring good tidings, at least for Selina. Kent tells her that her poll numbers have risen since her mother has been sick. Should her mother die, Selina might actually get a "death bump." Obviously, no one should want a death bump, but Selina's combined hatred for her mother and ruthless desire to win the presidency makes it a pretty appealing proposition. And it's within reach. Her mother's condition is so poor that taking her off life support is a valid option. Selina goes to a chapel to think. She takes Gary along with her, who performs the same function during her chat with God as he does when she's schmoozing with diplomats. He whispers in her ear, helping her get the words out. She starts out praying for her mother, and then makes it all about her. Classic.

Selina makes the (not very hard, in her case) decision to take her mother off the ventilator, and she forces Gary, Ben, and Kent to watch. As the woman is dying, phones starts to buzz, ring, chime, etc. It's as awkward as it is funny. When it's all over, Selina finally lets the men check their phones. Turns out, the count will continue in Nevada. Selina starts laughing like a maniac, elated. Unfortunately, this is when Catherine walks in. Seeing her gleeful mother makes Catherine think that her grandma has made a miraculous recovery. Poor, poor Catherine. Not only is her Meemaw dead, Selina "pulled the plug" without her. Later, Selina tells Catherine, "You have no idea what it's like to be the only daughter of a pathological narcissist." Catherine decides to go to bed after that incredibly ironic statement. Catherine, I have only one piece of advice for you: Run away from your mom. Run far, far away. I seriously hope Catherine cracks this year.

Selina's thinly veiled joy continues at her mother's house, where people have gathered to share their condolences. Selina milks the favorable attention for all it's worth. But karma, thankfully, comes to bite her in the ass. The recount is not going in her favor. The uncounted ballots are mostly from members of the military, who swing O'Brien. So Selina has a new plan: Stop the recount. Ben and Mike try to protest, acknowledging that the optics of that move would be terrible. "I don't give a fuck," she wails, hitting Gary. "You're going to cancel this recount like Anne Frank's bat mitzvah." The line is more shocking than it is funny.

In court, Karen flip-flops, which isn't hard for her. Meanwhile, Dan and Amy scramble to tell their team of "dummies" (Jonah, Richard, and Cliff) to stop protesting outside the courthouse in favor of a recount.

Selina, as one might expect, is feeling pretty crappy as people file into her mother's funeral. Andrew, sleazily, comes on to her. Catherine wants to play the Tim McGraw song, "Can't Be Really Gone." Selina shuts down that idea. The only bright spot for the current POTUS is that she has a vague conversation with an ambassador from Qatar about China. The dialogue has her thinking she might just be able to win a Nobel Peace Prize. (Yeah, right.)

Just as the service starts, Ben gets a message. They lost Nevada and the popular vote. They are going to have to fight for the presidency in Congress. Selina is still processing when she gets up to give her speech. She doesn't hold it together for very long. "I have lost," she says. She pauses for a little too long before adding, "So much." Naturally, she's not in mourning for her mother; she's in mourning for her presidential bid. But it doesn't matter, the tears fit the circumstances regardless. Unable to continue speaking, she tells Catherine to play that goddamn Tim McGraw song. It's the ultimate defeat. As it plays she weeps. Ben and Gary do, too.

Best Burn, Jonah Edition: "The only thing that women 18 to 34 are going to do when they see you on camera is file a restraining order," Dan tells Jonah.

Best Comeback:
"Did Eleanor Roosevelt eat pussy?" Amy responds to the Nevada secretary of state's question about whether O'Brien is a "lush."

Best Comeuppance: Selina's mother leaves "the bulk" of her estate to Catherine.
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