Veep – B+
So, now what? Viewers who didn’t know Veep has already been renewed for a sixth season could be forgiven for thinking this was a series finale. The Julia Louis-Dreyfus fronted series pretty well blew up its premise and sent its vaunted ensemble tumbling to the winds of various new lives. As the episode began, as Ben reminded us in the “previously,” “we are staring down the barrel of a Tom James (Hugh Laurie) presidency.” The wheels of democracy turn swiftly, and within minutes Selina Meyer is about to return to a familiar position – the one laid out in the series title – just as we’d all been expecting. As would-be Prez James himself observes between cackles, she’s swallowing her dignity, but she’s about to free Tibet, cementing her legacy.
But that wasn’t what this episode would be about, and as it turns out, while endlessly affable and notably noble, Tom James is far from the Master of the Senate he’s been sold as. When the votes are actually counted, it’s Laura (pronounced with the most affected of accents) Montez on top, as the forgotten man, VP Doyle has engineered the ultimate coup, gaveling in the mysterious opposition veep (too many veeps…too many veeps) candidate as the 45th President of the United States (and don’t even try to unravel where the fictional and real timelines diverge). While it does allow for an epic Gary explosion – and Tony Hale breaking a simpleton veneer to launch into a vulgar rant has become almost a TV Trope of its own – these deals and deceptions highlight one of my central problems with this show’s excellent fifth season. What just happened would be the real world equivalent of Joe Biden conspiring to elevate Ted Cruz to power at the expense of, say, Elizabeth Warren. While I get that the Veep universe is fiction, its writing traffics in satirizing modern U.S. politics, and the breaking down of party lines is the opposite of what happens in real life, and, worse, feels more like a lazy contrivance to move the plot to its means.
Nonetheless, you got to hand it to a program that would so fearlessly wander into a next season that is practically a blank slate. There’s a few telegraphed mysteries floating around in the episode – the biggest of which being the missing hard drive containing Catherine’s documentary, and a ton of material that would send the press swooning. Most of all, however, we’re left with the biggest mystery of all being just what exactly will Veep be next year.
– Jason Thurston
Silicon Valley – A
After all that, Dinesh finally gets the biggest win of the season – and in classic Dinesh style, he isn’t even allowed to celebrate. There’s a lot of heartache in “Uptick,” but so much beauty, including something of a Hollywood Rom-Com twist ending moment encased in an absolute assassination of that very type of moment – ah, poor, lovelorn Evan … wait a tic, who the hell is Evan?
There’s a flapping butterfly feel to the episode as we open on Gavin Belson’s prop elephant leading to his abiding assistant Patrice (kudos to Jill E. Alexander) finally having had enough. Her “appreciated” honesty earning her the door, Patrice reveals the pachyderm felling to Erlich Bachmann’s blog, which is in turn sold to Hooli for two million, making Erlich and Big Head rich again. This follows a falling out between Erlich and Richard after the latter reveals the truth about Pied Piper’s new users to potential VC Series B investors, effectively tanking the last embers of industry faith in his company. Somewhere in there, we are treated to a classic Erlich overblown speech – this time thankfully with no Action Jack to interrupt.
This all sets the stage for a Raviga board meeting – Jared’s first, and possibly last, as everyone in the room and watching on HBO expect Laurie to allow Hooli to absorb Pied Piper for a cool mil, in the process handing a humiliating final defeat to our coding heroes. But wait, Monica, at the price of her cush job, can’t possibly vote to screw Richard. No worries for Laurie as she replaces Monica with “man” (no, seriously, that’s how she summons him), a Raviga employee on his first day. So, the die is cast…but wait, um, again! The until-now pretty much silent Evan professes his love for Monica and his inability to make her sad. As Jared asks, “are all board meetings like this?” Ah, sweet, genuine Jared, how many ways do I love thee?” Anyway, before Laurie can drag in the receptionist, Richard ends the agony by voting yes. We have three votes, and Pied Piper is now the property of…Bachmanity, LLC.
So, as we wrap up the third season, Pied Piper is owned by Erlich Bachmann and Big Head, Pied Piper is pivoting to streaming video thanks to the fruits of Dinesh’s misdirected lusting, and in a rare move the gang can be happy as they navigate and negotiate the new reality after an episode stuffed with so many hysterical moments as to warrant multiple viewings to catch all the asides.
– Jason Thurston
Game of Thrones – A
Revenge! Explosions! A new King of the North! The season finale of Game of Thrones did not disappoint as the pieces begin to finally come together.
– Brad Filicky