Veep Season 5, Episode 9 Recap: Congressional Fangirl

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Obviously Catherine Meyer is a bad filmmaker, and this week’s Veep shows exactly how perfectly talentless she is. The opening shots of her glorified school project open with bright, postcard-worthy images of Washington’s greatest landmarks, shots that are basically film student shorthand for a Small But Important Movie.

In whizzy infographics, Catherine catches us up on the season’s overarching reelection drama, a convoluted voting process that proves the Constitution is our nation’s greatest punchline. When the electoral college ties, the vote goes to the House of Representatives. Either candidate needs 26 states to vote in their favor to win (or if Tom James can rally up enough abstentions the vote goes to the Senate, where he’s the likely winner).

As team Selina watches the House vote on television, Catherine intercuts footage of Selina mostly asking her daughter to leave the room or turn off the camera. It’s only when Selina recounts the day she knew she wanted to be president — attending Nixon’s inaugural ball as a youngster — that her eyes catch something resembling a crazed glimmer.

Jonah is MIA until he FaceTimes (of course) Richard Splett. He’s stuck somewhere in Maryland, trying to escape an awkward morning after and make it back to the Capitol in time for the vote. “I went home with a congressional fangirl last night,” Jonah explains. “Shh! She’s got a fucking parrot. If the parrot wakes up, it’s gonna make noise and wake up her mom.” Richard hurries to go rescue him.

Catherine gleans some honest insight from most the events we’ve seen this season. Tom James is the begrudged Economy Czar — “Playing catcher is a little like being the Economy Czar. There’s not a lot of glory, but a lot of squatting. A lot of asses in your face” — and Bill Ericsson is in prison, daring to close his eyes sometimes at night. Gary gets a shining moment to share his take on the financial crisis: “I just think they ran out of money,” he says. “They can probably just print more. I don’t know why it’s such a big issue.” There’s also talk of firing Mike, who is too busy arranging a basement nursery in off-brand Winnie the Pooh décor (and then, eventually, changing it to a basement mancave, and then back to a basement nursery) to notice.

Catherine’s documentary is shaded by the death of her grandmother. She includes a flashback of her MeMaw visiting the Oval Office, only to tell Selina that she hopes she grows out her hair for her presidential portrait because she looks like a boy. There’s also footage from the burial, where Marjorie is staring intently at Catherine as she weeps into Monnie’s arms. Her dad Andrew, an over-40 Joanne the scammer, exchanges business cards with a man nearby.

Following Jonah’s campaign allows Catherine to document one of the season’s greatest moments. Jonah is talking on the phone, claiming to be a baller/shot caller. “How am I doing? I’m eating so much pussy I’m shitting clits son!” Uncle Jeff screams at him to clean up his language. “Hey! This is an elementary school! Watch your spewing mouth, you animal!” The children — horrified — look on as witnesses to angry Uncle Jeff jumping on Jonah and smashing his cell phone.

The documentary format also gets some rich footage of Selina’s team in the off hours. Ben’s wife was his nurse in the hospital following a heart attack in 2010, and he almost softens when she’s around. “Softening” for Ben really just means that he slumps deeper in his chair and give a half-satisfied smile. Kent is a bigwig in a Mexican motorcycle gang. And because the doc also charts Catherine’s budding romance with Marjorie, we see Marjorie off the clock, and get a brief look at her family at home in Montana.

Fresh from his tryst, Jonah runs to the safety of Richard’s car. It turns out that “congressional fangirl” was really a local Georgetown Day School teen on the math team. The pair speeds back to D.C., but the “Hunchback of Notre Hampshire” forgot his badge and is delayed by security. Soon enough three states abstain, enough to dash Selina’s ambitions. “There’s no way you can get to 26,” Ben says, breaking the news that there’s no way Selina can win. But O’Brien only has 22 votes and it looks like he won’t win either. Tom James is popular, and because his first term won’t count, he’ll likely be in Oval for 12 years. Selina hatches a plan to tell Jonah to vote for O’Brien — at least that way she can run again in four years. “My political window slams shut the moment I can’t wear sleeveless dresses,” Selina reasons.

Of course Jonah doesn’t get the message in time and casts his vote for Selina, ensuring a Tom James presidency. Selina let’s out a Wicked Witch of the West screech just as Catherine and Marjorie confess their love to one another. So here's where we stand: Catherine's pet project is finally finished, as is (it seems) her mother's presidential career.

Richard Splett, king of political naiveté: “I hitched my wagon to a shooting star named Jonah Ryan. Maybe I should say a ‘comet’ because shooting stars burn out, and he never will.”

MVP: Angry Uncle Jeff, the only person hilariously soulless enough to verbally abuse his nephew Jonah in an elementary school classroom.

Best exchange: Selina: “Ok, here we go. Alabama: First in the alphabet, last in every other fucking thing.”
Ben: “Well I believe it’s number one in easiest state to get away with murdering a Black guy.”

The injury you almost forgot: Jonah’s foot is in a surgical boot because he literally shot himself in the foot last episode (!!!) and is still recovering.

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