11:02am PT by Jackie Strause
'Veep' Boss Breaks Down All Those Surprising Time-Jump Endings
[This story contains spoilers from the series finale of HBO's Veep, titled "Veep."]
The end of Veep can be broken down into two endings.
The present-day capper of the HBO political comedy revealed that Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) won the presidency — and lost everything else in the process. But after her final Oval Office scene — which showrunner David Mandel described as a "six-second tour de force" from his star — Veep jumped ahead 24 years to the funeral of the former President Meyer.
The nationally broadcast event provided viewers with a who's-who guest list and a chance to see where all the players in Selina's orbit ended up. Below, Mandel takes The Hollywood Reporter through all the endings for the show's large ensemble of characters and reveals why their fates were fitting. (Read THR's full chat with Mandel here.)
Selina Meyer (Louis-Dreyfus)
Fate: Dead at age 76 (or 77 or 75), the first female president served only one full term. She is remembered for briefly freeing what was once known as the nation of Tibet and for permanently overturning same-sex marriage. Her funeral is bumped on CBS News when Tom Hanks dies.
Mandel: "There’s nothing more Selina Meyer, even with her winning the presidency, then finally the day she dies, somebody better dies and steals all her thunder. in my mind she died at her desk or something like that. One of my favorite things about the jump into the future is that Selina Meyer’s Vagibrary has been built and it looks like the model we saw back at the end of season six. And per the original plans, she is going to be buried in the clit — I mean crypt. So needless to say, the men have a little trouble with the crypt and it takes a female soldier to open it."
Gary Walsh (Tony Hale)
Fate: After being named as the fall guy by Selina Meyer in the Meyer Fund investigation and arrested by the FBI, Gary is on parole when he visits her casket.
Mandel: "Like any great white-collar crime, I’m sure he was in prison for not as long as he was originally supposed to be. But there’s a broken element to him and I think that means there had to have been a little bit of time served. You get the sense that he’s living in some horrific tiny apartment somewhere. I know it’s awful, but he is a shadow of himself. When he says that stuff about the flowers, that, for Gary, is seething. And that was really important that there was anger but also then the sadness. Because he also can’t help himself. It’s not a healthy relationship in either direction. I don’t think he forgives her. He’ll never forgive her. But I think he still loves her."
Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons)
Fate: Impeached, not invited to the funeral of former President Meyer and still married to Beth (Emily Pendergast).
Mandel: "I don’t really know what Jonah was impeached for, but he was definitely impeached as vice president. I like to think it was something in the vein of [former Vice President] Spiro Agnew, but I’m sure there was an element involving Selina as well — if and when we ever get the band back together, I’ve got to leave some things to explore! But when we last see him, I think there’s an element of “Hey kids, get off my lawn!” to him. I don’t think he’s any better, let me put it that way. And he and Beth are clearly living in Jonah's mother’s house. That was his mother's kitchen."
Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky)
Fate: After serving as Veep Jonah Ryan's chief of staff (until his impeachment), she later married communications specialist Bill Erickson (Diedrich Bader). They have dogs together.
Mandel: "Amy convinced herself that she found what she wanted. Having put her eggs in the Jonah basket and then seeing what happened, in some ways, that was her punishment. She didn’t have to take that VP job at the White House. We had a deleted scene where we did a version of the old, “Has the president called?” where Amy is asking, still hoping that Selina will call and bring her back to the Oval. That’s her sickness and her problem with Selina. Now, she’s now ended up with Erickson and that’s her finding someone scummy like Dan, but different. The Dan fill-in. We hinted at that back when they have their drink together and it was actually Anna’s suggestion for Amy to end up with him. I imagine they both worked a lot and were always solid. I’m not sure she ever ran another campaign, but she is still a fixture in the Washington world as a pundit. And every night they both tell themselves they’re really happy they never had kids and that their Greyhounds are their kids, and she’s absolutely lying to herself. It’s not exactly happiness, but that’s the thing: In Washington, D.C., not everyone is Secretary of State. Sometimes you’re just Amy Brookheimer."
Dan Egan (Reid Scott)
Fate: Looking good and working in real estate, with a young wife on his arm.
Mandel: "The joke that Dan hasn’t changed an inch is really great. I feel like the moment he figured out that he needed to leave politics was the moment where he’s never been happier since. He found his calling in real estate. And, not that this was planned, but if you go back to the Murman and Selina discussion [in the penultimate episode] about real estate agents and how scummy they are because they work on commission. Now, think to yourself that they’re talking about Dan and it’s extra funny!"
Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh)
Fate: A veteran anchor on broadcast TV with a show on CBS News.
Mandel: "Mike becomes the most trusted man in America. He’s our Walter Cronkite. The look is a little Cronkite, too. At the end, he still turns to the wrong camera. (Laughs.) Mike is also one of the not-so-bad people of Veep. And — sorry to my friends in the news media — but there’s something funny about Mike rising to the top and to the highest of the highest, when maybe he shouldn’t have. I also like to think that the new adopted kid liked him a little more than Ellen did. And at least with that new CBS job, he could afford a little more help around the house. But I always liked that Mike was married and liked his wife, as opposed to the Ben of it all."
Richard Splett (Sam Richardson)
Fate: A historic two-term President Splett, who is still running the country with a first lady on his arm, and who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his three-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Mandel: "As pessimistic as I am — and I gave America Selina Meyer as the president — I do maintain a little bit of hope and that little bit of hope is Richard Splett. That’s me saying: Things could get better. It’s possible. And I think Richard is a great president. For me and some of the writers, one of our favorite laughs is that he solves the Middle East problem with a three-state solution, because none of us can really figure out what the third state is. And that’s Richard in a nutshell. Even from the moment in the episode where you see that he also knows sign language. One of the things about Richard is that every time you saw him on screen, you learned some new fact about him. But more importantly, he was always someone who believed in the good of government and I’d like to think that carries forward."
Kent Davison (Gary Cole)
Fate: After quitting politics when Selina Meyer chose Jonah Ryan as her veep, Kent lives a simple life and hopes to pursue watchmaking.
Mandel: "I think Kent is living his best life. This is going to get very specific, but Kent at the funeral is a little based on the character of Lancelot in the movie Excalibur from 1981. What happens is that Lancelot sleeps with Guinevere and is banished from the castle and disappears. Then in the final battle, years and years later, when King Arthur is fighting against his bastard son, all of a sudden this crazed, long-haired and bearded warrior shows up and fights for him, and you realize it’s Lancelot. I told hair and wardrobe that Kent was never going to wear a jacket and tie again and that I wanted him to look like Lancelot at the end of Excalibur — this guy who sort of was a knight and then pushed it all aside and walked away. I do think he found happiness."
Ben Cafferty (Kevin Dunn)
Fate: Dead, presumably after another heart attack.
Mandel: "He was older so it felt more realistic that he would pass, with all the heart attacks and whatnot. Perhaps he was even too recovered the night of the speech. I just figured he’d recover because he’s Ben. But it did make sense. The world moves on and some people had to go 24 years from now. I don’t think it was a bad life. Before the time-jump, you get to build to this moment where hopefully everyone realizes, 'Oh, fuck. Ben is sort of the closest thing Selina had to a father. Also, in his own way a terrible father: an alcoholic, burnt-out father who encourages her at the end to do some really horrible stuff.' They have that beautiful moment in the hospital room, but basically what he’s saying is to go out and burn everything to the ground. He’s just saying it in a nice and sweet way. For a woman who never had a father figure, it’s why the Ben thing hits her so hard."
Catherine Meyer (Sarah Sutherland) and Marjorie Palmiotti (Clea DuVall)
Fate: Estranged from her mother, a happy Catherine serves up margaritas as she watches the late President Meyer's funeral with wife Marjorie and their grown son, Richard.
Mandel: "The moment Catherine left that convention with Marjorie [when Selina abandoned same-sex rights], I think they got in a cab with Little Richard and started smiling and never looked back. The moment they left Selina, there was some real, genuine happiness. And then the death made Catherine even happier. It’s very possible that they set up some wonderful charitable foundation with Meemaw’s money and that Marjorie segued from being the financial person on the Meyer campaign to running that charity. What I love about Marjorie is that she’s driven very competitively, even though her relationship with Catherine is not competitive. But she’s going to kill at whatever she does. I like to think that she’s running the best and greatest charitable thing possible."
Sue Wilson (Sufe Bradshaw)
Fate: It was assumed that Sue would be the only competent staffer President Montez would keep on when taking over the Oval Office from Selina after the events of season five. But after the actress came down with an illness, the secretary was absent in season six and seven — until returning in the finale as President Meyer's White House secretary.
Mandel: "Before we knew Sufe was sick and when we were thinking about season six years ago, we would have seen Sue in President Montez’s office. It would have been a funny runner that whenever Selina would call there, Sue wouldn’t put her through. But when Sufe got sick, that didn’t work out. When I started putting words on the board and wrote: 'Selina is president.' One of the first thoughts I had was: 'And Sue is still at the desk.' Then someone saw Sufe somewhere and she was better, and we reached out and everyone was very happy and she was very happy to be back. And, it's the same old Sue. I think Sue is sitting there when Richard is president. I think Sue is there forever."
Andrew Meyer (David Pasquesi)
Fate: Presumed dead when blown up by the Chinese after Selina tells them to clean up his mess from the Meyer Fund investigation. However, Selina later spots him on the streets of Norway and he is also spotted by viewers at his ex-wife's funeral in the finale.
Mandel: "Andrew is still alive. I like to think at some point or another he had to hit Selina up for some money. It’s been 24 years, maybe every 10 years they would hook up somewhere. She never could quite get him out of her system and visa versa. But otherwise, I don’t think people know he’s alive. He’s living a very Whitey Bulger-esque existence overseas."
Keep up with all of THR's series finale coverage of Veep here.