Being Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Imagine it. Imagine the endless decision-making—where to put your face one second and then how to change it in the next? Really, JLD's face can do anything. Have you ever freeze-framed Veep? The effort pays out rich dividends in terror and joy. JLD's mandible-level acting alone. Her trick is making us hate everyone else more than we constantly, desperately want to hate ourselves.
(Very quickly, because we're all thinking it: this episode brought Armando Iannucci and his writers back to the land that birthed them The Thick of It and the native air does, yes, give everyone's acid more bite. Like the exchange rate favors bile.)
Really after this episode I feel the worst for Prince Charles. After everything Selina has put his country through: the illicit international spying ("we're collecting data," she says to a deputy prime minister) and her complete disregard for systems of measurement or the finer points of the most popular local sport. It was better before, back at the beginning of "Special Relationship"—insofar as the U.S. hadn't yet been censured and the Veep hadn't yet been pilloried and Dan hadn't collapsed.
To start it's all tiny hats and "My Fair Lady" references and the general assumption that both Dan and Ray have become terrible. The former is still dictating to everyone back in D.C. while the latter is dictating to everyone in his sight. Ray normalfies. First Gary's decisions, then Mike's. Ray is a wellness consultant, businessman, sex slave and author (Get a Bod Like God). Ray also used to be a blogger with a tendency to treatise-ize. One thought: Obesity is a punishment for one's sins in a previous life. And another: It's not anything the Buddha didn't talk about. Obviously eventually Ray is fired.
So is Dan, kind of! (Demoted/disposed/decamped.) Because Dan hired Ray as a sex slave and so made Selina his de facto pimp. It's probably not the idea of pimping that disgusts Selina—just the backwards chain of decision-making. She can interrupt you whenever she wants.
Whatever. Dan's in the hospital anyway, having collapsed from some kind of panic-cum-heart attack after presiding over an increasing string of aberrations: the Veep's trip to a local pub, starting with her "pulling a pint" and ending in a lunatic call-and-response; her memorial speech on the centurium of the Great War, which includes the phrase "They were good guys, weren't they?"; and then the Ray thing, the entire Ray scheme, which crashes completely after much abortive tinkering and once anyone in Britain hears that whose personal trainer has to say what about obesity and demons?
"Let's get the merry old fuck out of merry old England," Selina says at the end of what is almost a completely useless transatlantic trip, trailing behind her bits of the queen's china and a horrible, horrible hat.
Some of this is probably all Amy's fault, for tipping Jonah off in the first place in some short-sighted folly to get rid of Ray; and also Gary's fault, for knocking over all of that china. And Mike! For being put in charge. But why was Mike put in charge? Because Dan overdosed on Red Bull and the vein-thickening laudanum of self-delusion. He's so handsome and charming and wants impossibly to be the coolest guy in the room, which is his mistake. Better to be like Ben, who probably died a few years ago from a stroke in his office and yet is miraculously still working in the White House, doling out tiny jabs of insight when he isn't about to weep.
Everything about the London trip goes wrong in a kind of linear fashion that nonetheless feels like a carnival of mayhem, like no one is sure if Selina shouldn't just give up and keep swapping out larger and larger hats until the British finally leave her the fuck alone. Instead, they try to sick a pack of porky children on her, dressed as small devils. She tells them that she too used to be fat, 151 or 152 pounds. She lingers longer than she'd like on her jiggly ass. The press is not swayed. The deputy prime minister, who she has been schmoozing and then avoiding, is not swayed. The German chancellor, with whom she has been secretly negotiating, probably doesn't care about any of this but that's only because he notched a win for Frankfurt.
Do you get this everyone? We're going to go big on Prince Charles. No, scratch that. We are CANCELING PRINCE CHARLES.
Dan can't feel his hands. Ray can't find a decent flight and Kent can't smooth things over with Sue, after all she went through to track down the personal secretary to the Prince of Wales. Amy should feel worse than she does but then it turns out she was right all along and that all of this did come back to Dan somehow, anyway—if it hadn't been Ray's Obese Treatise, it was always going to be the sex slavery. We shouldn't forget that the First Lady has also just tried to take her own life. But we shouldn't try too hard to remember it, either. Your problems are still pretty bad.
[Image via HBO]