Julia Louis-Dreyfus (HBO)

“Nev-AD-a” picks up where “Morning After” left off, but rather than building on the momentum of the premiere, this episode takes a step back, giving the characters some time to adjust to their new surroundings. While it would have been nice for the show to push forward at a faster pace, with Selina attempting to repair her image with another—hopefully much more successful— high profile symposium or event, keeping things low stakes allows the writers to set up several new threads for the season. The groundwork laid here is entertaining and full of Veep’s trademark bite, and hopefully viewers’ patience will be rewarded later in the season when these arcs inevitably come to a head.

Advertisement

The biggest development of the episode is the introduction of John Slattery as Charlie Baird, a charming Wall Street bigwig Selina takes a shine to. Their brief flirtation is well played and Selina’s attempts to navigate the dating world—or at least quick hook-up world—with another famous individual adds a playful dynamic to the show. Charlie is a far cry from Christopher Meloni’s hilariously dunderheaded Ray or David Pasquesi’s slimy Andrew, Selina’s ex-husband, and seeing how Veep handles her dating, particularly now that the word’s out, should be a lot of fun. It’s great to see the writers find completely new territory to explore five seasons in and Slattery is excellent casting for the role: quick on his feet, confident, and able to keep up with the always fantastic Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Slattery isn’t this episode’s only addition. Martin Mull joins the cast as Bob Bradley, “The Eagle,” a legendary political strategist Selina is thrilled to bring on board to head her Nevada recount team. Amy is less enthusiastic, of course, and given his dismissive attitude toward her and his dubbing Richard, “Affirmative Action Jackson,” she’s probably right to be leery. Mull is very good as the crafty and occasionally incomprehensible Bob and while the show already has plenty of characters milling about in Nevada, throwing in someone for Amy to contend with should work well.

As for Amy, this episode seems far more concerned with her and Dan’s romantic prospects than her actual work for Selina. After Richard tanks their initial meeting on the recount with his honesty and helpfulness, Amy and Dan split with the rest of the team and head into the trenches. We spend a lot of time with Amy, Dan, Richard, Jonah, and Cliff assessing ballots and going door-to-door to confirm contested signatures, but though they keep the laughs coming, these scenes aren’t particularly notable, showing the tedious repetition that comes with a recount and filling time until Bob can arrive and shake things up. Amy and Dan’s relationship takes a new turn as Dan winds up sleeping with Amy’s sister Sophie, instead of the waiting Amy, trying to leverage an in at CBS, where he thinks she works (having misheard “CVS”). This feels a bit contrived, a way to tease but not deliver on Amy and Dan’s banter-fueled chemistry, but it’s such a quintessentially Dan blunder that it’s hard to complain.

Advertisement

Back at the White House, Mike is on the Master Cleanse, Kent tries to establish Sue’s age, and Catherine spends the entire episode being shooed out of rooms. Matt Walsh is reliable as ever as Mike powers through dizzy spells and near collapses, but as in the premiere, his through-line feels slight. Hopefully Walsh will be given something a bit meatier to work with soon. The return to the sparring relationship of Veep’s two most laconic characters, Kent and Sue, is an absolute treat. Sufe Bradshaw and Gary Cole are terrific together, dancing around each other expertly. It takes more than a pointed reference or two to trip up Sue, so Kent doesn’t get far with his inquiries, but with any luck, this is but round one in what will be a season-long battle.

Far more peaceable, by the end of the episode, are Selina and Tom James. It’s odd to have the charged Selina/Tom rivalry tabled so early in the season, but clearly the writers want to leave space for other characters and arcs. There’s plenty of time for things to flare back up between the pair and given how specific Tom is about the United Nations Ambassadorship, it feels likely this will come up in some way by the end of the season. For now, though, all is well at the West Wing. Ben is excited his former idol remembers him, Gary is crushing on Charlie at least as hard as Selina is, and things are looking up for Selina in Nevada. All things considered, “Nev-AD-a” is a win for Team Meyer and based on previous experience, that means a glorious disaster is headed our way soon. While this is a solid, funny episode, mayhem can’t arrive soon enough.

Stray observations

  • The guest cast knocks it out of the park in “Nev-AD-a,” including Dan Bakkedahl as the ever odious Congressman Furlong and Brian Huskey as Leon, connecting the dots between Selina and Charlie. The highlight for me, however, is Nelson Franklin as Will, Furlong’s browbeaten aide. His physicality and delivery as Will follows behind Furlong are hilarious, a reminder to Amy and Dan that their job could be much, much worse.
  • Moments like Louis-Dreyfus’ delivery of, “This is my house. This is my house” and her great exchange with Kevin Dunn’s Ben about Selina’s occasional need for banking task forces do a lot to humanize Selina, showing just how insecure she is most of the time. Of course, her continual dismissals of Catherine temper any likability built up by these more relatable moments. Selina’s repeated ordering away of Catherine should get old by the end of the episode, but it really doesn’t. This is another thread—along with the Chinese hackers—I would be happy to see continue all season.
  • Danny Chung gets name-dropped this episode. Hopefully ABC will let Randall Park pop by this season!
  • Was Ben a Jonah back in the day? Bob’s list of nicknames for him leads me to think yes, but his happy lapping up of them feels more Richard.
  • Speaking of, this episode in Richard Splett is delightful: splett2@splettnet.net. (Yes, splettnet.net is a real site and yes, you should go check it out right now.) Also, Richard’s interaction with the widow is great and his, “And drive safe!” button to Dan’s graphic threat prompted one of my biggest laughs of the episode.
  • I love that Amy and Sophie’s hair, makeup, and costuming mirror each other. They’re dressed in very similar colors and necklines, but with distinct personality and style in their clothing choices. Kudos to the costume department.
  • Louis-Dreyfus gets the line of the episode, that’s clear, but I can’t choose between her somewhat bored, somewhat exasperated read of, “Can you tell [Tom] to go fuck a bag of glass or something?” and her furious, “He fucked me, and then he fucked me. What, is he trying to fuck me?”.
  • Anna Chlumsky also gets some fantastic lines in Amy’s insults of Richard, Jonah, and Furlong. My head says go with Jonah as my favorite, but my heart says Richard, who according to Amy is a, “Paddington Bear-looking fuck.”
  • “Nev-AD-a” is a wonderful reminder that grammar matters, and sometimes a comma changes the entire meaning of a sentence, or in this case, vote. Shout out to the fabulous The A.V. Club copy desk!

Advertisement