[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Sunday’s episode of Veep, “C—gate.”]
Who called the President the C-word?
That’s the question launched at the top of Sunday’s episode and the beginning of “C—gate” on Veep.
“It’s interesting to see different peoples’ reaction to the word,” showrunner David Mandel tells The Hollywood Reporter. In the episode, Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) discovers from a Politico article that one of her staffers called her the “worst thing you can call a woman.” Adds Mandel: “It’s the idea that as the walls are closing in, there’s this insult that’s making her crazy and getting under her skin and then leading to these witch hunts.”
The Oval Office gets claustrophobic when Meyer must decide whether or not to bail out her boyfriend Charlie Baird’s (John Slattery) bank amid an economic crisis, while still dealing with her mother’s death and an election that’s up in the air.
Her indecision combined with the inefficient “c—” hunt (it turns out that her entire staff called her the name at some point) pushes her to a dark place that leaves her chain-smoking, paranoid and ranting to Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky) from behind her desk in the middle of the night.
“That’s the full Nixon,” Mandel says. “You read stories about this, that Nixon in the White House as Watergate was kind of moving in, and he was just losing his grip. Also, something that I enjoy a lot is the media’s attempt to make everything a ‘gate.'”
When Meyer finally does make a decision and doesn’t pick Baird’s bank, her billionaire boyfriend snaps and dumps her in a bookstore. “I don’t think he’s a bad guy or that he was pretending,” Mandel says. “He’s bankrupt. He’ll still be a billionaire, but he lost his company.”
As for whether or not the breakup spells an official exit from guest star John Slattery, Mandel wasn’t as finite. “It’s not the last we’ve heard about him, you see at the end she’s trying to call him: ‘Has Charlie Baird called? Nope.'” (Calling to mind her days as the Veep spent asking, “Has the President called?” and getting the same shutdown from Sue.) The relationship part is over, but “no one ever leaves Veep, they just reappear at different times.”
But the hits keep coming as Jonah Ryan, who was recently picked to run for Congress, undergoes a makeover, teams up with Dan Egan (Reid Scott) and wins over his rally crowd by attacking the Meyer presidency.
Thanks to Veep‘s penchant for Easter eggs (see: Let’s Talk About Splett) and a little digging, Jonah’s campaign ads can now be viewed in full since the show launched an actual campaign site pegged to Sunday’s episode: Jonah Ryan For Congress.
While his rally scene calls to mind the real-life campaigns of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — Jonah accuses Meyer of snuggling up to billionaires and has to fight for the rights to use Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Won’t Back Down ” — Mandel says, that’s just politics.
“This is not about this year, this is about politics in general,” he says about Veep, also speaking in general. “The song thing has been going on for years — it’s not just Trump — where politicians want to use a [Bruce] Springsteen song about being a working man and Springsteen hates the candidate. It seems like Jonah would be hateable to every rock band on earth.”
Busy with “See You Next Tuesday”-gate, the breakup blues and Jonah’s surprising success, Meyer has been too distracted to notice a romance brewing right under her nose. Throwing her mother (and many watching at home) for a loop, Catherine (Sarah Sutherland) blurts out in the episode’s final moments that she and her mom’s body-double, Marjorie (Clea DuVall), have fallen in love.
After a near-minute of priceless reactions between Meyer and Gary Walsh (Tony Hale), the White House mother-of-the-year remarks with open-minded glee, “I wish Mother were alive, ’cause this definitely would have killed her.”
“We always knew that we were going to add Marjorie and that this was going to happen, but that it would sneak up on you,” he says. As for any questions of a lady Oedipal complex, “We kind of added her with the look-alike joke so that you’d forget about her even being there.”
The news is a happy advancement for Catherine, who is often seen as dejected or ignored.
“If you look at Sarah in those scenes at the end, I would argue that’s the happiest Catherine has ever been in the five years of the show,” says Mandel, adding that the relationship with Marjorie is a real one. “I just thought that was really cool, and, to me, an exciting development: A different Catherine.”
Picking up on Catherine’s history of bad male romances, Mandel felt that the death of MeeMaw would be a good opportunity for the first daughter to re-evaluate her life and discover new truths about herself.
“I got to sit down with Sarah way before the season started and talk to her about all this stuff and she was just so excited for the opportunity play it,” he says. “It was very exciting to lay it out and spring it on the world.”
Adding, “They’re a very cute couple.”
But Meyer won’t have much time to soak in the news, as Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh) is sure to report back on what he witnessed in the closing credits: Tom James (Hugh Laurie) dining with the devil, the other party’s lobbyist Sidney Purcell (Peter Grosz).
Was Dan right after all?
“To be continued …” says Mandel.
Veep airs at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT Sundays on HBO. (Photo: HBO/Lacey Terrell)