The political ascent is real. After a disastrous class president tenure that included not one, but two poisoning attempts, Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) is back and looking for redemption in The Politician season 2. He’s running for New York State Senate against Dede Standish (Judith Light), a career politician, who has her sights set on the White House. She really doesn’t think much of her spoiled rich kid competition who is campaigning on one single issue. (Spoiler: it’s a good issue.) Seriously, he’s still living in his NYU dorm. However, they may have more in common than she’d like to admit. After all, Payton’s endgame is the same as hers and with each new season, he gets ever closer to his POTUS dreams. In his mind, Dede is just collateral damage, but his career might be over before it begins if he doesn’t get out of his own way.
In season 2, Payton is struggling to find his authentic self, but the Saint Sebastian gang is back to help. Payton swears he’s now a clean candidate, but that doesn’t mean he won’t play dirty. To get a seat in Albany, he’ll have to get down in the mud. He’ll have to cheat, lie, and say the word “throuple” more times than he can count. Seriously, polyamorous romances are a key plot point this season. Honestly, we’d expect nothing less from the hilarious excess that is the Ryan Murphy Cinematic Universe, a.k.a. the RMCU.
Hopefully, we can help make sense of all the twists and turns this season in the recaps below. After all, a winning rock paper scissor strategy is not as easy to understand as one might think.
Episode 1: “New York State Of Mind”
The sweeping crane shot of New York lands on a “Hobart For State Senate” poster. Surrounded by familiar high school faces, Payton (Ben Platt) is now running to represent the 27th District in Albany. Unfortunately, the polls show his constituents think he might be too inexperienced to serve them. What he is serving is a lewk in that black turtleneck. Some things really never change. His advisor James Sullivan (Theo Germaine) is still the bearer of bad polling news. His other campaign manager McAfee (Laura Dreyfuss) is still splitting hairs, this time between “undecided” voters and those voters with no opinion. And Astrid Sloan (Lucy Boynton), well, she still looks unenthused over whatever Payton’s doing, which is apparently so much glad-handing that he’s spent “half our campaign budget on hand sanitiser" — a joke that just hits differently now.
While Payton worries about how to get people to vote for him, Astrid puts it into the simplest terms: “It’s all about turnout.” They need to get just a few hundred people excited enough to vote for him so he can unseat career politician Dede Standish (Judith Light). It’s simple, Astrid says, make a few phone calls and you can win.
James isn’t really interested in Astrid’s plan, which is a really good one. He wants Payton to play dirty and reveal that Dede is part of a throuple. After all, it’s the little tidbit that got us where we are now. Without Astrid spotting that three-way kiss, Payton would still be slumming it. But he refuses. For him that’s going nuclear and no one looks kindly on the one who drops the bomb. “I am the ideas candidate,” he says. Still, James believes this is the only idea that will keep Payton from losing. What he might lose, though, is Astrid.
For now, she’s still the best dressed coffee runner (check out that cheetah print coat with those sky blue tights!) being followed by Bette Midler’s Hadassah Gold, Dede's Chief of Staff. Hadassah shows up at Astrid’s SoulCycle class and in the produce aisle until she finally asks her to lunch where Astrid complains about how little they listen to her. And again, can’t stress this enough, they probably should. Hadassah seems to understand her pain and calls this silent treatment “being a woman.”
Who Payton’s team is listening to is their former Saint Sebastian classmate Andrew (Ryan J. Haddad), one name like Cher, who shows up at the candidate’s office to talk about number theory and his obsession with Infinity, Payton’s old running mate, played by Zoey Deutch. But really, he wants to unofficially join Payton’s campaign. Funnily enough, Hadassah wants Astrid to join Dede’s campaign, but also on an unofficial basis. Both are looking to infiltrate the opposing campaign. So much for a clean race.
After those Pepsis are opened (gotta love that sweet product placement!) they lay out their plans. While Andrew is simply doing this to get a date with Infinity, Hadassah is hoping to entice Astrid by drawing a straight line from her toxic relationship with Payton to her megalomaniac dad, who she had sent to prison. She’s ruthless.
That doesn’t work so Hadassah drops her nuclear bomb, telling Astrid that she, not Payton, won the high school election. “The principal told me. They counted the ballots,” she tells her. “You won.” In theory, it should be her who’s running against Dede. “I mean, no,” Hadassah says laughing. “It shouldn’t. That would be insane. But, still.” Astrid walks back in shock. “You were robbed,” Hadassah says, setting up another season 2 battle, Astrid vs. Payton: Part Deux.
“Does Payton know he lost?” Astrid asks. We already know that he does, which makes Payton’s “I’m running a clean campaign” claims rather laughable. Knowing he knew, Astrid says she’ll think about it. James and McAfee don’t even bother thinking, and agree to Andrew’s terms.
We first see Dede at the 92Y debating Payton, a refreshing “single issue candidate.” Her ability to politely backhand compliment him is really something. The conversation loses its civility as Dede questions his eligibility being he’s only been a New York resident for his three-year stay at NYU. However, he swears he’s been a legal resident of New York since 14 thanks to his family’s house in the Hamptons. Certainly, this tidbit doesn’t make him a man of the people, which might make his claims that she’s out of touch with the public a harder sell. What is clear is this whole political campaigning thing is not as easy as it once was for Payton, who is not nearly as confident as he was in his teens. But that spunky kid has some fight left. His comment that the world needs candidates focused on climate change who won’t be dead in 20 years feels political ad worthy.
Still, the problem is, as Dede is happy to point out, his climate change plan will cost trillions of dollars. “That’s thousands of billions of dollars,” Dede says. Basically, she tells him to save it for California, where his mom Georgina (Gwyneth Paltrow) is running. She also calls him out for not knowing that she signed a clean energy bill that didn’t cost the taxpayers an extra dime. Perhaps, Payton really is punching above his weight.
He agrees, telling his on-again girlfriend and ice cream sundae peddler Alice (Julia Schlaepfer) he should have brought up the throuple. She is more interested in a proposal, which won’t happen until this campaign is over. She’s also interested in the polling numbers, specifically the ones she’s put together that show his climate change ideas are going over well with new, young voters. You know, the same ones Astrid said they should be focused on. He doesn’t believe they’ll come out since they’re the “white whale of politics.” Young voters are all talk, no action, which means as good as Alice and Astrid’s plans are, he’s got one of his own. He’s going to get Georgina to drop out of her race.
So how did Georgina get into politics, you ask? Well, on a trip to Bhutan, a now divorced and penniless Georgina removed trash from the digestive tracts of dolphins alongside Infinity, who is now “quietly passionate about the environment.” So much so, Infinity thought about changing her last name to “Degrees” to place more focus on rising temps. When she came home, Georgina met a millionaire heiress obsessed with the Game Of Thrones finale who encouraged her to run for governor on the climate change platform. No surprise, the polls showed Georgina was loved by all. And with unlimited funds, she began “sucking up all of the Hobart political oxygen,” according to Alice.
We understand why after watching Georgina debate the other gubernatorial candidates. In response to one white male candidate’s plan to give tax breaks to the rich, she simply says she won’t respond because “he’s a creep and his poll numbers reflect that.” Her calls for voters to “hug a tree” sounds utterly Goop-tastic. She’s the Marianne Williamson of this gubernatorial race, but she’s got an actual chance to win. Even after she says California should secede from the Union and become its own independent country. She might have got some people with that divorce analogy that turns Texas, West Virginia, and Alabama into lame exes. Though, that #letsgetthecaloutofhere hashtag might be a little too long.
It’s why Payton asking Georgina to end her campaign doesn't go over well. “You’re going to need to shine brighter,” she tells him. “Not ask me to dim.” Stitch that on a pillow and put it on Payton’s dorm bed because he really can’t help but dim everyone else’s shine. (Hello, Alice!) Her suggestion? He should try being himself, which is hard since he’s always been a piece of clay molded to the likes of his constituents. Now it’s time to find a mold that feels authentic to him and everyone else. “People don’t believe you because you don’t believe you,” she says.
Payton’s starting to think he’s not good at this. That he had a false sense of confidence thanks to his ritzy upbringing. Honestly, I kind of believe that but Georgina believes he just has to be his authentic self and I’m interested to see who that is. For now, Andrew is playing Dede’s campaign by claiming that they “othered” him because of his cerebral palsy and their hallways are not up to the ADA’s regulations. In the end, him pissing off the receptionist is what helps him get Hadassah’s approval. As we learned last season, this campaign team is behind the times, which makes Andrew’s IT skills a real plus for this okay, boomer team.
But, just as Andrew infiltrates Dede’s campaign, Astrid agrees to be Hadassah’s mole. The condition being when she runs for office, Hadassah must run her campaign. Once she agrees, Astrid brings up the throuple. “Payton knows so you should get on that.” Dede is busy deflecting concerns from the Beto O’Rourke-esque Tino (Parenthood’s Sam Jaeger) that Payton is only ten points behind her. She chalks that up to excited young voters who will not actually go to the polls. But the junior senator from Texas pushes back that this small slice of the electoral pie keeps getting bigger so no one can rest on their laurels, or in this case, poll numbers. Especially, when you’re in a throuple, something Hadassah didn’t know until Astrid told her. She seems more upset that Dede didn’t tell her than the fact that her candidate is in a three-person relationship with her husband Marcus (Joe Morton) and William (Teddy Sears). “What? What? You pushed two queen-sized beds together and daisy-chained each other to sleep every night?” Hadassah says. While Dede believes it’s manageable, Haddasah not so politely disagrees. “Vehicular manslaughter is manageable. This… is batshit!” Deny, deny, deny is Dede’s plan since it sounds as absurd as Pizzagate, which should Hadassah tell her how that ended up or should I?
In Dede’s opinion, the real reason no one will believe the threesome claims is because a woman over 40 having any sexual desires is something that seems far fetched to most voters. Besides, they’ve been getting away with this for a decade, if they don’t have proof they’re none too concerned. It’s really just Astrid’s word against theirs. That’s not good enough for Hadassah, who asks Dede to choose between her or William. Hadassah is ready to shoo William off when Dede tells her she’s the one who has to leave. But the minute she brings up Tino, who will not pick Dede for VP if she’s in a polyamorous relationship, William leaves, choosing her political career over his own feelings.
Back in New York, Payton is trying to be his most authentic self at Infinity’s climate change rally, going after the olds who aren’t taking on the generational fight of climate change. His dystopian concerns for the future resonate with the young protesters. He goes viral and I can’t help but be a little angry at this Astrid erasure! But Dede might be more angry to see Tino chatting up Georgina for his VP. That is if she and Marcus weren't reuniting with William behind Hadassah’s back. So. Much. Backstabbing.
Andrew is once again making moves, bugging Dede’s office and home with little waving cat transmitters. Payton wants no part of it, though Andrew, like all of us, wants him to stop pretending he’s some goodie-goodie. What he learned is that the throuple isn’t really broken up and Dede is on the shortlist for VP. Payton walks in just after Andrew reveals the news. Screw being good, apparently.
So who is Payton? It’s the question he’s always asking himself. Now he’s asking the ghost of River (David Corenswet) who thinks the poll numbers are the real barometer of who he is. He is a politician through and through who wants to do good and when he’s winning is when he’s his true self. River pushes him to stop seeing the world as binary, which Payton admits doesn’t sound much like him. Well, that’s because it’s not him, he’s dead after all. This is just the voice in Payton’s head who right now wants to convince him that being bad will be good for his campaign. Guess who’s now all of a sudden willing to play dirty?
Payton’s brand of dirty includes telling Hadassah and Dede his plan to release the throuple news to Page Six unless she drops out of the race. His suggestion? Her husband fakes a heart attack and she quits while still leaving the door open for a vice presidential run. “You really are an evil little troll,” Dede says through clenched teeth. For him this is really a win-win situation, which is why he calls up Georgina to apologise. Though she might be the one apologising soon since it appears that her and Tino are taking horizontal meetings. But wait, Astrid’s meeting with Hadassah offers a new wrinkle to his double-cross. Payton has his own romantic secret: He was in a throuple, too.
Episode 2: “Conscious Unthroupling”
As a fully disguised Hadassah so eloquently tells Astrid, they are now “dick-deep in some serious espionage, missy.” Any Friends fan will get a kick out of Hadassah’s “he knows that we know that he knows” routine. But what she knows is that Payton is meeting with a New York Times reporter. Cue their meeting in which Payton promises a big scoop that he can’t reveal right now. But it’ll be a Sunday exclusive that will keep people clicking into Monday. This news he promises will mark “the end of a political icon.” It’s basically an exclusive that no journalist could ignore.
For now, we’re all in the dark about what the story is. Is he going to share one of their secret tapes with Dede detailing her current romantic arrangement? Hadassah also believes this story will be a career ruiner, both Dede and hers. She believes either Payton actually has evidence or he’s just trying to butter up the reporter, which means they might have time to “generate some countermeasures.” Hadassah plans to have dinner with the same reporter and offer her own exclusive about Payton’s throuple. All she needs is some details from one part of said throuple, Astrid. Thing is while she logged it in her diary, she doesn’t have a lot of details of the experience besides date and time. Nerves combined with a martini and a mom’s Xanax would do that to you. To help jog her memory, Hadassah suggests liquoring Payton up and getting him on tape talking about it. It seems this campaign race might become the battle of the illegal recordings.
The “Andrew has dirt” meeting is true to its name. Now down 20 points, Payton’s team is looking for anything that will help him. Andrew’s got the goods and the office to show for it. Well, he’s got tapes with very poor audio quality and a transcript that has Dede telling Hadassah that William is back. “You have wicked-witched me,” Hadassah tells her now that she’s destroyed their chances of winning. Not to mention her love life. “Do you know that I could have married Peter Jennings in ‘84?” Hadassah says. “I gave it up for this life with you, and I never once complained about it.” Well, until now.
What Hadassah realises is she’s actually the one in a throuple: her, Dede, and Dede’s career. She quits and goes home to watch every Nancy Meyer movie. “Even the bad ones,” Andrew says only to have McAfee defend Nancy’s honor. “What are you talking about? There are no bad ones.” That’s the most accurate thing McAfee’s ever said tbh. To Skye’s point, The Intern is actually pretty great and we all do want to live in those kitchens.
Payton eventually gets them back on track, noting that there is no way Hadassah would really leave. He’s right, she returned with an apology and a Nancy Meyers-inspired plan: “It’s complicated and something’s gotta give,” Hadassah so wisely tells Dede. The plan is they pretend William is dating Hadassah so he can stay close by without anyone knowing the real situation. She’ll come clean about this May-September romance. December is a few months too far for Hadassah’s liking, okay? (Judith Light’s giggle at the end of this back and forth about older women dating younger men makes it even more delightful.) But the point is, if anyone tries to say anything about this relationship they’ll end up looking agist. Honestly, my favourite love story might be Dede and Hadassah’s.
Unfortunately for Andrew, the receptionist destroyed his cat transmitter so that’s all he knows. While he plans to get a Lady Liberty for the office, right now, he can only eavesdrop on conversations at Dede’s house and Hadassah’s. Too bad since Dede is now discussing the terms of the plan with William and Marcus in her office. While she knows it’s the right thing, she finds it humiliating that they have to lie. Marcus agrees. “How many mistresses have been in and out of the White House in the past 200 years?” he asks. William is more open to it for the time being. Dede agrees, they need to just stick out through the election and then they can be together. For now, though, Hadassah is practicing her role as William’s girlfriend which includes bird watching and matching workout clothes. Seriously, Bette Midler is so good.
Once the two are “caught” by the paparazzi we get to see Hadassah’s home, which William thought would be bigger. “Well I’m sorry, I grew up a working class kid in Paramus, New Jersey and I possess a certain trait called thrift,” she scolds. It’s why she likes a place she can afford, thank you very much. It’s fitting that this very practical person would have a very practical home.
You start to see what Dede and Marcus see in William. He’s a good listener who lets Hadassah know that her feelings of betrayal are warranted. He’s also afraid of the dark and can’t use the flashlight on his phone as a nightlight because “it’s like a tiny man staring at him.” It’s how he ends up sleeping in her room and getting to know her. Does this mean we may soon have a fourple?
Listening to McAfee and James fight about dry ice is kind of like watching ice melt. But it’s a larger fight, one that has to do with Payton’s being climate change focused. While McAfee likes that he’s finally passionate about something, James thinks it’s the wrong passion since the voters in his district don’t really care. Before you know it, McAfee’s crying. Not about whether BBQ pizza is good (I’m on Team Hawaiian Pizza, personally), but about something else that requires us to rewind back to a year ago.
While trying to graduate from Columbia early, McAfee was working on her exercise routine and proper socialising. See she had friends and lovers, who didn’t poo-poo all her brainstorm ideas. She had balance, but James, who is surprisingly good at squash, kind of always throws things out of wack. And Skye, who has now found her zen after poisoning Payton, always ends up being the agreeable middle person. The fact that she’s lost that balance is why she’s crying. Well, also because of Kaley Cuoco, who has shown her that she needs to go out and remove herself from this toxic friend triangle that is also like a sex-less, say it with me, throuple.
Speaking of those three-person romances, Astrid is talking to Payton about theirs. They both agree that River was always better than them and they’ll never see themselves the way he saw them. She blames this on her fuzzy memory, an opening for her to ask about their ménage à trois. “Faking it is my superpower,” she says as to why Payton might have believed she was into it. A sad, but true statement since right now, she’s faking this whole meeting, which is not as innocent as it seems. But their threesome was. They did it once with help from shots. They danced to the Psychedelic Furs to loosen up and they kissed as Rivers watched. They really wanted to please him. Astrid ended up locking herself in the bathroom upset perhaps by how close River and Payton were and they left before any of them could actually have sex. Instead, she and Payton ended up in tears because they couldn’t have the intimacy they wanted with River.
Payton admits that threatening to out River, who he didn’t think was gay or even bisexual, still haunts him. He doesn’t want to believe that his threats led to River’s death by suicide, but he can’t shake that they were. Astrid also believes that River’s sexual orientation didn’t need to be labelled, he just wanted to be close to everyone, which is what made them want to get close to him.
Now 37 points down, Payton is resigned to the fact he will lose. It’s sad that this is when he finally decides to ask Astrid what she would do. More shocking may be that now that she has his ear she kisses him. She wants to feel River again, but he’s gone and now so is Astrid, embarrassed by that advance. Somehow Alice in her bright yellow coat, shows up out of nowhere. She saw the kiss and doesn’t trust Astrid, who she’s been following all week. This is the moment when Payton realises Astrid is a double agent feeding dirt to Hadassah. Alice reads Astrid for being someone whose allegiance is with whomever shows her the most love, which is why Alice proposes they start a relationship with Astrid until the election. Everyone on this show is so horny for throuples!
McAfee is just hoping to have a normal date with someone who’s not a serial killer. Luckily, her Tinder date isn’t one of those. She’s too busy worrying about her friends leaving the text chain to even enjoy that fact. Though, to be fair it’s hard to get away from them if they keep showing up where you are. I’m just counting down the seconds until these three announce they’re also becoming a throuple. For now it’s Alice who’s trying to get Astrid to start one with her and Payton. Astrid agrees, setting a few ground rules: no eye contact, no kissing after oral.
As one throuple begins, another ends. William proposes that he and Hadassah also have sex. By getting to know her he realises how lonely he is in that other relationship. She also has ground rules that include ample cuddle time and no night light, but they can “leave the bathroom light on and the door open just a crack.”And if we needed anymore evidence that McAfee needs more work/life balance it’s her texting James while thrusting on top of her Tinder date. Seriously, just make this threesome official already.
Tino is not ready to make his VP pick official, but Dede is sure getting concerned that she’s not his only choice. He’s misjudged her if he thinks she can’t help him grab enough electoral votes to win. What she realises is that her personal life could be a selling point for the younger voters Tino’s trying to court. “The kids now, they’re fluid,” Dede says, but also “women ages 45 to 70 will be saying, ‘You go, girl!’”
Based on her own polling, a woman owning her sexuality is an exciting issue for voters. She’s tired of not being able to be herself and so she plans to reveal her throuple and see what the polls say. “If your numbers are high, you’re in,” he tells her. Too bad her throuple might be old news, just as Astrid’s is. She tells Hadassah she remembers nothing, but the political shark knows she’s lying. Astrid is back with Payton’s campaign, but Hadassah knows she’ll be back. They are bound to let her down again. Not to mention, she knows Astrid’s weakness is attention. “You’re just like your mother,” Hadassah says, “selling it to whoever’s paying.” Way harsh, but she isn’t wrong that like Payton, Astrid’s also searching for herself and until she does she will sell her soul to the highest bidder.
Alice saw this, too. Apparently blondes have more fun at this campaigning thing. Alice has confirmed a dinner with the Times reporter so Payton can drop that throuple bomb. He thinks it makes him the morally superior candidate, which is laughable for so many reasons, but mainly because Dede has found a way to use this to her advantage. Again, she seems one step ahead of this kid politician who is preaching the good climate action word at the Jane Carousel in DUMBO. The “invest in our future” platform seems to be working, but unfortunately, it is nowhere near as viral as Dede’s wine-filled PSA about her love life that leaves Hadassah’s poor jaw dropped. Seriously, Nancy Meyers would kill for Dede’s decor.
It definitely hits back at Payton’s claims that she’s not with the times. In fact, she may be ahead of them. “Maybe it’s time you got hip to what’s happening these days,” she says with a wink in her campaign video. In McAfee’s opinion, this means Dede’s lost this battle, but we all know Dede’s fighting a bigger war, which she believes she will win. I mean, Oprah is texting her, “You go, girl!"
The thing is, William wants out of the throuple that is helping her poll numbers. So they’ll have to pretend to be a threesome in public while Hadassah and William carry on their love affair behind closed doors. A twist that for once Dede didn’t see coming.
Episode 3: “Cancel Culture”
Hadassah gets a package, which doesn’t have anthrax in it, but a ransom style-note declaring, “This person is not authentic. Stop him.” An enclosed photo shows Payton, age six, wearing a Geronimo costume, which shows he’s not as woke as he claims to be. Hadassah delightfully runs to show Dede, who is not all that thrilled with her campaign advisor. Not even after she sees the photo, which, in her opinion, is an unnecessary distraction when she’s already up 35 points. She’s not all that interested in ruining a rich kid’s life either. Hadassah disagrees and thinks sharing the photo with the world is them showing him who’s boss. “We’re destroying him,” she says. “You’ll thank me later.”
A groggy Payton answers the phone to learn the photo is the front page of The New York Post. He was six, but his staff is annoyed he didn’t tell them about the image. “Can’t we just say he’s dressed as one of the Village People?” Astrid says. The problem is the yearbook caption — a clue that the person who sent the photo went to Saint Sebastian — says he’s Geronimo. Alice thinks he should apologise with Skye by his side since, she’s his only non-white staff member. (This is tokenising, which is categorically messed up.) Skye agrees to the request because it might be the only chance they have to correct the path and she wants to win. But first she makes sure Payton knows what he's done is wrong: “There is a thin line between appreciation and appropriation,” she says. “And you’ve crossed it, Payton.”
The tough love helps Skye get Payton to go to neighbourhoods he doesn’t usually canvas, which is shorthand for non-white neighbourhoods. This feels like an episode in which Payton, along with The Politician’s audience, learns about white privilege. It should be noted that it's not Skye's job to teach her white boss about race. Payton should be doing the work himself. There are books for that.
Not everyone is interested in hearing Payton’s apology, which has him praising Geronimo as a freedom fighter against tyranny. Again LOL at Payton explaining his grade school intentions with his costume. He argues the photo is appreciation not appropriation. But it does feel somewhat genuine. His “I will do better” promise leaves the crowd speechless.
The Astrid-Alice-Payton thing is not going well. Alice is not being sexually satisfied and feels like Payton is giving too much attention to Astrid. This seems to be a recurring problem with throuples! Balance is what Alice’s looking for and to get that she needs to set her own ground rules: higher thread count sheets, a rewatch of Gilmore Girls, and more cuddle time. Still, I can’t help but feel bad for Alice, who looks unsure even as she gets her six extra minutes of cuddling.
No amount of cuddling can really console Payton, who knows he’s going to lose, but won't give up. It was always a crazy longshot that brought these friends (?) back together. While I am always happy to see people trying to make impossible things possible, I don’t know if I feel all that bad for Payton, who really is very green and not all that well-intentioned. Just me? I mean, he says he’s changed his ways and it’s true he’s not throwing chairs and no one’s trying to poison anyone, but I don’t know if they should be all that proud of what they did. I mean, they wire tapped their opponent and tried to blackmail her. Still, Payton says he was true to who he was, whoever that inauthentic person is, and ran the campaign that he wanted to run. And for that I’m happy for him, even if I think he’s full of it.
While Skye wants to know who sent the photo (and honestly, don’t we all?), Payton wants to just move on and focus on the next campaign. He wants to keep fighting for issues he believes in in ways that other people believe. In short, he just wants people to like him and to be uncanceled.
Andrew just wants Infinity to like him, but she comes to their pre-arranged by Payton date to let him know he’s crazy. Not like romantic crazy. “It’s just crazy-crazy,” she says. And she’s right, texting someone you don’t know that you love them multiple times is not a sane thing to do, which is why this kiss off will be the last time Infinity talks to Andrew. She knows that this is payment for his “freelance campaign work,” which is why she’s here to cancel him for his toxic behaviour. Something Infinity knows a lot about. It’s why you can’t help but feel happy for Infinity as she skips out of there. As her voice over explains, it’s nice to say "no" and she first started doing that last year when she breathed the toxic air while in Beijing promoting her book about being the victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. It made her see that she was part of the problem: She was generating unbelievable amounts of waste. That’s when she had her environmental activist awakening.
She decided to live a zero waste life full of metal straws, reusable plastics, and worm farms. She managed to fit her year’s waste in one mason jar. As she tells this to a group of possible Payton voters you start to wonder why she isn’t running. Once again, she’s the best messenger for his message because she is an authentic person. Which is why she doesn’t have a problem calling out Payton’s disturbing rally behaviour, which included throwing a plastic dry cleaner bag in the garbage and Skye chewing non-natural gum.
Payton sees Infinity’s complaints as signs he needs to do better, but she doesn’t think he’s doing anything. He is selling his climate change agenda, but does he even believe in it? Once again, a valid question about Payton’s authenticity. She thinks that these mistakes could damage not only his campaign, but the movement. It’s why she wants him to go waste-free and neutralise his carbon footprint or else she’ll cancel him. She may be sweet, but she can be ferocious. Not as ferocious as Payton’s new enemy who has sent another photo to Hadassah that leaves her cackling.
This one is more recent. Payton is in a Native American headdress and a red Speedo. The leaker seems to have access to his phone. Is it Alice? Maybe Astrid showing that she really can play the game? Dede is curious as to who is supplying them with these photos, but Hadassah isn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Skye also can’t, which is why she is pushing Payton to follow all 15 suggestions on Infinity’s list, even cooking and drinking her boiled shower water. Honestly, I’m not sure I could drink my own “booty water,” as Skye so eloquently calls it, but Payton’s inability to even try shows once again that he might not really be down for the cause.
He is down for a meeting with Dede and Hadassah where they show him the new photo. He is also happy to wax poetic about his obsession with Geronimo. These women see right through this routine of him turning his cultural appropriation into appreciation (again). “I think Geronimo would agree that I look awesome,” are some famous last words.
While he threatens to post the photo to Twitter himself because he won’t “live in fear.” Dede just wants him to put a stop to McAfee or the “sherbet Diane Keaton,” as Hadassah calls her, who is digging around for dirt. If he does that, they will rip up the photo. Dede even offers to praise him to help him set up his next campaign. He agrees only to have Hadassah admonish him for thinking too big.
Over in California, Georgina is living it up with Tino. To keep the paps away, she’s hired decoys of them both to appear across the state. That’s almost as wacky as her painting, which would give Britney Spears a run for her money. Georgina’s campaign is going well, she’s 45 points ahead, which has allowed her to “pull a Garbo,” as in Greta, and disappear. Tino is in love with Georgina and thinks it’s time for him to move on from his comatose wife. Does he have no shame?
Payton certainly doesn’t. He thinks he’s being bugged by whoever is sending those photos to Dede’s campaign. Turns out, the mystery of the photo sender is not all that mysterious: It was Payton’s twin brothers. Andrew simply called them to ask and they excitedly admitted it. “People really hate you,” Andrew says because that second photo was sent by someone else, likely someone within the campaign since the photo was really a photo of the photo on his iPhone. Look close and you’ll see Payton’s phone case. Honestly, they should be paying Andrew more for his services!
Payton is now playing investigator as he encourages his employees to admit which one of them sent the Geronimo in a Speedo photo. It’s not easy to get access to his phone since he sleeps with it and showers with it so he believes it had to be the day he saw a rat in the office. He was right, Alice grabbed the phone. She was jealous and was looking for a photo of him and Astrid, who everyone now knows is boning them both. That Speedo photo confused her since it was taken just a few days ago. She sent it to James, who sent it to the rest of the staff wondering if this second Geronimo image warranted an intervention. While they wanted it to stay in-house, McAfee decided to leak it without the others knowing.
Payton gave an impassioned speech about understanding the hurt that cultural appropriation causes and then went and did it again. McAfee was annoyed that he lied and assumed it would come out anyway. Her motives weren’t all that devious. She figured leaking it now would save them from embarrassment later. Payton fires her anyway only to have her go to Hadassah looking for help. She wants to work for someone who appreciates her and Hadassah already supports her ambition and her personal style choices. I love the Gloria Steinem glasses, too. And I love McAfee’s chutzpah for a position on Dede’s team once she makes it to Washington. To show her loyalty she gives up Andrew as the mole. Midler’s impression of that little cat to let Andrew know she knows is purrfect. (Sorry, had to.)
But leave it to The Politician to end with a reveal that once again leaves viewers shocked. McAfee’s fight with Payton was all an act to get her inside Dede’s campaign. Payton’s hoping to shake things up. The Speedo photo was a ruse to make everyone think he had lost it, even his own campaign workers. McAfee has been tasked with digging up dirt and screwing up their campaign in hopes that Payton will get back in the game. They have two weeks to take her down. “You are our last play, McAfee,” he says. “This is our Hail Mary.”
More to come. Come back for the full recap later this week.