9:36am PT by Jackie Strause
'Veep' Boss on NRA Storyline and Selina Look-Alike Twist Coming to Fruition
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of Veep, "Camp David."]
Two seasonlong storylines had their moment during Sunday's Veep and despite each being teased across several episodes, both managed to deliver with some shock, awe and disbelief.
After launching a campaign both on and offscreen (see the proof here) earlier in the season, Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) was actually elected to Congress. After shooting himself in the foot — literally — the NRA decides to back the joke of a New Hampshire candidate, launch a takedown of his opponent and ultimately, win Jonah the election.
"Oh, my god, I did this," utters Dan Egan (Reid Scott) during Jonah's victory speech, echoing the disbelief of all watching.
Airing the night of the June 12 massacre in Orlando, Fla., Sunday's episode couldn't have known how timely it was to tackle the influence of the NRA: The worst mass shooting in the history of the U.S. left 50 dead when a gunman opened fire on a gay nightclub, spurring calls for gun control reform from real-life politicians, public figures and people across the world.
Speaking with David Mandel ahead of Sunday's episode (before the tragic events occurred), the showrunner and executive producer talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the dig at the NRA.
"Jonah's opponent makes a very benign statement saying, 'Be careful with guns' and it's the notion that the NRA would crucify her for that," said Mandel. "We love the joke of 'He shot himself in the foot ... Well, what did he say? ... No, he literally shot himself in the foot.' And of course on the flipside, they run with it. So now Jonah is Pa-Pow! guy."
Delivering his victory speech, Jonah, who has likened himself to a MRSA infection, says: "There was one person who truly believed in Jonah Ryan and that was Jonah Ryan: This is my dream, that you can believe in yourself so hard that you eventually become a congressman."
With his win, the widely detested White House lackey will now be able to participate in the upcoming congressional vote and could hold the key to Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) winning a presidential election that has been hanging in the balance since last season's finale.
While Mandel assures THR that the election storyline will come to a resolution by season's end (only two episodes remain), he stopped short of giving any details aside from saying viewers will enjoy whatever is to come. But, Mandel said, "I don’t think it’s any kind of a spoiler to say that if Jonah, when he was a peon working in the White House, was pretty insufferable, I think you can imagine where this goes."
Meanwhile at Camp David, the other long-running, yet subtle, storyline of Catherine (Sarah Sutherland) dating her mother's Secret Service detail and body double, look-alike Marjorie (Clea DuVall), came to fruition in the form of the Chinese witnessing what they believe to be a very un-presidential mother-daughter makeout session.
In an attempt to venture off the grid for Christmas, Selina proposes a getaway for the family with Catherine's girlfriend Marjorie, her ex Andrew (David Pasquesi) and his new girlfriend "Monny" (short for Monica, who is played by Dreyfus' real-life sister Lauren Bowles), and, of course, Gary Walsh (Tony Hale).
But the gathering is a cover for her negotiations with the Chinese, as her own staff and the Chinese — including the return of Sally Phillips as Minna Hakkinen — are bunkered in nearby cabins. After a series of gift exchanges, Selina ends up regifting a Chinese robe to Marjorie. Later, while wearing the robe, Marjorie kisses Catherine and when the Chinese witness the moment from their vantage point, they see who they believe to be Selina, from behind, kissing her own daughter.
"The look-alike thing is this sort of oddly specific thing we created where, Marjorie's a pretty decent look-alike from behind," Mandel said. "When they’re sitting there face-to-face, no one’s going, 'Oh, my god, they’re twins.' It’s subtle. So the robe, plus being from behind, her haircut and whatnot: it was there for the taking, from a writing perspective."
Selina, having no idea about what the Chinese leaders saw, still manages to save the day, and possibly her legacy, by negotiating the possibility of "freeing Tibet."
"That is some man-on-the-moon legacy shit!" says Selina.
But the potential win came at a price: Selina regifted away a historic pen from her daughter. When Catherine finds out, she speaks back to her mother, showing a new kind of backbone, and at the end of the episode, she tells her about plans to turn the Palm Beach house she inherited from MeeMaw into an animal protection farm, despite her mother's protests.
"That is a decision that I would argue Catherine of a season or two ago could not make," Mandel said of Marjorie's positive influence on the first daughter. "So not only is she happier, but perhaps has found a little more backbone in her relationship with Selina. I think the happiness is feeding directly into backbone."
The episode, which took place entirely outside of the White House and usual Oval office backdrop, was shot on location at Big Bear, Calif., over the course of three days.
"There was some fun, heavy duty bonding going on," Mandel said of the cast. "We were all cold and kind of miserable — we had some snow, which looks great in the episode, but you could see it’s melting in some places, so it’s just wet and muddy. The director’s chairs were sinking into the mud so trying to give a note and going down to give the note, it was truly miserable. But that said, we went out for a really fun dinner one night and there was a lot of sort of huddling. There were a lot of behind-the-scenes shots of us in bundles together."
A final aha-moment comes at the end of the episode, with press secretary Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh) finding out that not only is his surrogate having twins, but that the Chinese have now approved his adoption request: "No one is better than Mike McClintock/Matt Walsh at being overwhelmed by the notion of: we kind of wanted a baby and now we have three."
With so many developments in storylines, Mandel said the final two episodes keep up the momentum.
"Hopefully, when you get to the end of the season you’ll see evolution in these people," he teased. "Not earth-shattering, but change."
Veep airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. PT/ET on HBO. Follow all of THR's coverage of the show below.
Photo: HBO/Lacey Terrell