Not many shows manage to fit Munchausen by proxy, multiple assassination attempts, a faked kidnapping, and classic high school drama into just one season, but season 1 of Netflix’s satirical dramedy The Politician is a special case. It introduced us to Payton Hobart (Ben Platt), a power-hungry, Harvard-bound high school student with one discernable end goal: to become President of the United States. First step? Become student body president of his swanky Santa Barbara high school, St. Sebastian. After several, um, hiccups (again, there were two assassination attempts), Payton loses his presidency, some friends, and his reputation, and seems finished with politics — at least, for the time being.
The last episode of season 1, “Vienna,” jumps a few years into the future. Infinity (Zoey Deutch) is finally free from her controlling, opportunistic nana (Jessica Lange); Astrid (Lucy Boynton) has successfully made it out of her unbearable parents’ clutches and is now living in New York. Payton has mellowed out a bit, but he’s still communicating with the ghost (or more accurately put, vision) of River (David Corenswet), his dead rival, lover, and moral compass; and New York State Senator Dede Standish (Judith Light) is preparing for another uncontested reelection. Payton’s path crosses with Dede’s when his friends convince him to challenge her in the upcoming primary, and from the looks of the season 2 trailer, we can expect even more blackmail, sex, schemes, and betrayal.
“Vienna” sets the stage for Payton’s next election and inevitable set of obstacles, but there’s no need to rewatch the episode (unless, of course, you want an excuse to listen to Ben Platt’s Billy Joel cover — I wouldn’t blame you). Here’s what to remember about each how each Politician character ended season 1 as we head into season 2.