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Veep - Judge - Review: "Gary's Birthday Party"

Veep 5.08: Judge - Review:
Directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller & Written by Ted Cohen

After his recent recovery from a stroke, Gary invited Selina to his birthday party in the South, something that Selina only accepted to help give him a reason to live for. I was hoping that at some point in the series they'd explore the potential of his birthday party for comedic value and to that extent, Veep delivered, taking Selina, Richard, Amy and the gang to Gary's childhood home, along with a few guests, as his birthday played out in fantastic Veep style. It turns out it's Gary's 40th, so big celebrations are in order. "Is anyone as shocked as I am that I’m doing this?” Selina raises the question to the rest of the group as they arrive at Gary's, and it turns out that Richard is as shocked as she is, but she shouldn't read too much into that as Richard is easily shocked by most things and isn't the best person to believe. I too was half expecting the writers to take this in a different direction where Selina didn't show up at Gary's birthday party, leaving Gary to go into a near-meltdown, but that didn't happen and as a result we get this.

Selina is clearly out of her depth in this episode, finding the ruthless world of government politics more at home than the country. This is something that Amy faced when she was working for a campaign outside of Washington too, her over-aggressive style did not match with the other workers who weren't experienced to what Washington had to offer. It turns out that Gary himself has also drifted away from his old life, slowly starting to feel more at home in Washington as well, like Selina and Amy to a certain degree. Obviously, he's not as competent as them but even so, the very fact alone that he made it up to Washington from where he is, doesn't mean that he's completely useless.

The stage is set then for some interesting revelations about Gary's dad. It helped that the show got two fantastic people to play his parents, with both Jean Smart as Gary’s mother and Stephen Root as his father really pulling out all the stops in their presumably one-off appearance. The fact that Gary too, had demons in regards to his father's past much like Selina, gave them common ground on a subject, which is nothing new, but it feels more impactful than all the times that Gary has simply agreed to everything that Selina has said. The question as to why Gary has stuck with Selina all these years despite her not being exactly the best boss to him is easily answered the more time we spend with Gary's dad, and despite the clear comforting and overly friendly nature of Gary's mother, who even wondered if Gary and Selina were in a relationship - there are demon for him at home. It turns out also that not only did Gary have a stillborn twin brother named Bruce, but his family have kept the crib in his room, something that Selina finds uncomfortable sleeping with. As if things couldn't get any more awkward. Selina's reaction is appropriate as ever, claiming that, "No wonder I couldn’t carry the South. None of the research mentioned anything about a dead-son ghost crib".

Elsewhere, Mike's struggles with getting a job in a humour column at the Washington Post goes about as well as you'd expect it to go for Mike. It turns out this is more complicated because he isn't much of a newspaper reader, reading much of his stuff on the internet for free, and out of touch with the newspaper world. Because who reads newspapers anymore? Dan is also someone who's having issues with his job as well, he's rapidly losing support without Jane on CBS This Morning and is forced to turn to Jonah in the hopes of landing another big interview with his friend who was responsible for getting his career at the network off on the right track. Unfortunately though Jane ends up landing the interview with Jonah in place of Dan, much to Dan's annoyance. However, Jonah's own incompetence is betrayed when the Jeffersonians use Ben with the power to rename themselves the Libertonians, and reach a deal with Montez without Jonah's involvement, something that he's not too pleased with, especially after he fired Ben in the first place. Could this be the start of Jonah's downfall? It'll be interesting to see how he gets on without the support of the Jeffersonians, that much is clear.

Back in Alabama, the party is underway and Selina is able to forcibly convince Gary into standing up against his parents, something that changes the direction of Gary's carefully planned birthday party almost immediately, but then with Selina involved, things were never going to go the way that Gary wanted them to. It turns out Gary's actual friends are leaving the party, put off by the new arrangements, and to make matters worse, Selina steals the story that Gary had planned to tell. This big betrayal absolutely stuns Gary, and he's left shocked, forcing Gary to take out his frustration on his father, and eventually returns to Selina's side by the end of the episode as though nothing has happened. What has happened though is that Selina has potentially received the money for her library from Cordy, who could be a good backer for her after a meeting with Jaffar, who she's still annoyed at. And for once, despite betraying Gary, Selina wins the day, in a rare victory for her. Knowing Veep, she won't get many more like that this season, so at this point, she'll take what she can get.

Stay tuned for this Sunday's episode of Veep at 9:30 on HBO.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, Black Sails, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Preacher, Star Wars Rebels, Silicon Valley and Veep for Spoiler TV and will be covering Castle Rock, Counterpart, Krypton, The Mist, Marvel's New Warriors, Rise, Marvel's Runaways, Snowfall, Succession, Star Trek Discovery (which now actually has a trailer!) and Trust. He also contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic. He also regularly watches and reviews films on Letterboxd, and you can find his ever-changing list of 300 favourite movies here.
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