Veep: “Detroit”

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Veep: “Detroit”

For the second week in a row, Veep rolls out a new character. But unlike “Fishing”—an eventful half-hour in which Maddox hired Jonah, Ericsson spurned Selina, and Selina promoted Dan—“Detroit” is more of a sower than a reaper, plot-wise. (E.g., more happened on Mad Men last night than Veep, and Mad Men is the kind of spoiler-immune show whose episode summaries usually read Don books a flight or Betty’s upset.) That being said, “Detroit” does introduce us to Selina’s new trainer/lover, Ray (Law and Order: SVU’s Chris Meloni), and it also reintroduces us to “The Finnish Wolf,” Minna Hakkinen (Sally Phillips).

Like his comedic roles in Wet Hot American Summer and the movies, Meloni seems to relish playing Ray, a brawny, beanied man with magic hands that heal Gary’s bad/bag shoulder before wandering all over Selina. (She and Ray are sleeping together, to the surprise of no one.) Before long Ray is doling out campaign advice (“The Veep goes to a gun show”), which—unlike Gary et. al.’s suggestions—Selina actually heeds. Hard to believe Dan wanted Ray on the trail as Selina’s new “chew toy” to keep problematic ex-husband Andrew at bay. (More on the Selina/Andrew/Ray love triangle later.)

It’s not a banner week for Dan as campaign manager. Besides the Ray distraction (which looks like it will only grow, at least in the short-term), he struggles to quell Selina calling the Second Amendment “a problem.” A botched photo shoot with Maddox, in which the Veeple are bested by the worst (Jonah), and a misleading job announcement that will bite Selina in the ass in six months tops make for additional headaches. And because an empowered Dan is an even bigger dick than usual, he has no support in the ranks: Amy, Ben, and especially Mike go out of their way to rub Dan’s failures in his face, which doesn’t bode well for his job security—or the Veep’s campaign.

Who is having a good week? Selina’s daughter, Catherine, the Fiona Appleganger who becomes something of a celebrity (to her mother’s chagrin) after decking an onrushing protestor at the National Job Summit in Detroit. (Hey, she is “deck,” according to Dan.) After a lifetime spent hovering in the background of photos and being walled off by secret service, Catherine finds herself savoring the limelight. She’s also heartened at the end of the episode when her parents reconcile for the umpteenth time and Andrew is added to the entourage—yet another blow to Dan’s campaign plans. Andrew’s reemergence should spell doom for Ray, but I suspect he won’t go quietly, or with a light wallet. And I fear for Gary’s shoulder, and thereby his career.

Like Catherine, Jonah has little to complain about in Detroit. Not only does he outsmart (?!) Mike (oh) at the handshake photo op (Maddox puts his hand on Selina’s back, making her look weak and needy), he also leaks the Second Amendment quote that he gleaned from Minna Hakkinen. Watching Hakkinen and Selina’s stilted interactions is one of the highlights of the episode—the bowing, the tension, the jokes sailing over each other’s heads. The Finnish Wolf is either maddeningly oblivious or (more likely given her nickname) wickedly manipulative, cold as the snow her countrymen fuck.

Part of me thinks the uproar over Selina’s comment would and should have been louder: Americans love their guns; as Dan says, these are the jumpiest people in the country. Then again, with a 24-hour news cycle and the primary still a way’s off, how much persistent noise can an offhand, off-the-record sound-bite make?

So the gun issue fizzles, the photo op’s just a hiccup, and the jobs announcement won’t be given the lie for several months. This all makes sense—as does a muted episode following a momentous one—but it doesn’t make for especially compelling or climactic television.