HBO's Veep series finale ends seven years of former Vice President Selina Meyers' political ups and downs in America's cutthroat political landscape. And although the characters might be looking towards the future, the Veep episode makes plenty of callbacks to the past for the fans.
An American remake of Armando Iannucci's British comedy The Thick of It, Veep has masterfully served as a seven-year-long satirical commentary on US politics. With Selina Meyer (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who won six consecutive Emmys for her performance since the show's 2012 premiere) climbing the political ladder (then climbing down said ladder, then falling off of it repeatedly), Veep has effectively put a comedic slant on the dark side of democracy. Now, with the series finale, Veep has gone all-in on exposing the dirtiest lengths some people are willing to go to cement their legacy.
So, how does Veep series finale end? After seven years - as well as a year-long hiatus while Louis-Dreyfus underwent treatment for breast cancer in 2017 - the award-winning cast and crew proved time and time again that the fight to the top isn't just difficult, but soul-sucking and cruel.
What Happens In The Veep Series Finale?
The Veep series finale kicks off at the roll call vote of the states at the 2020 National Convention, where it's revealed that none of the five candidates vying for the presidential nomination have received the necessary 2,368 votes, creating the first deadlocked convention since 1952 with zero nominees. Selina is in first place with 1,817 votes, but Senator Kemi Talbot (Toks Olagundoye) is close on her heels, followed by Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) and Buddy Calhoun (Matt Oberg). And so begins the ruthless, no holds barred fight for the nomination.
Like most of Selina's experiences in the entire run of the series, her initial high and near-guaranteed nomination are met with sudden lows. Before long, her competition begins stealing the nominations, starting with one of the more unexpected names in the race: Jonah Ryan, Selina's former White House liaison and long-running national embarrassment. The public suddenly takes to his outlandish claims following a thwarted terrorist attempt in New York City. To make matters worse, Selina's longtime rival/lover Tom James (Hugh Laurie) reenters the race to capitalize on its unpredictability. However, instead of letting the constant string of losses get the best her, Selina uses them as fuel - taking the metaphorical gloves off and playing dirty.
Meanwhile, however, Selina's team experiences an unexpected medical scare when Selina's campaign manager Ben Cafferty (Kevin Dunn) suffers a heart attack. And, though the heart attack might seem incidental to the plot of the episode, it turns out to be more serious than anyone had assumed, thus influencing Selina's decision to make one final move to secure her chance at not only winning the nomination, but the presidency as well.
How Selina Goes to New Lows to Win
As the Veep series finale neared the end and Selina successfully one-ups the competition - convincing Tom James' chief of staff to accuse him of sexual harassment being her final blow - she's reminded that there is one last issue that risks losing her the nomination: the scandal involving her nonprofit organization, The Meyer Fund for Adult Literacy, AIDS, the Advancement of Global Democracy, Military Family Assistance, & Childhood Obesity. So, either she goes down with the ship and takes the loss, or she improvises.
As it so happens, her final interaction with Ben set her decision in motion. During her hospital visit, he says to her, "Don't be stupid, Selina. You know what you have to do," suggesting that she frame someone for the scandal as opposed to taking the blame herself. She complies, though she makes it clear that this isn't her proudest moment. And it's not until her acceptance speech for the nomination that it's finally clear who she's going to blame, just after Congressman Roger Furlong (Dan Bakkedahl) reminds her that "Somebody's gotta go down for this."
Right before her speech, she confronts her trusted personal aide Gary Walsh (Tony Hale), and it's then that one of the most heartbreaking moments in Veep is revealed, though not yet officially confirmed. Selina tells Gary that she needs him to do something for her (which, of course, he's happy to), but she doesn't have the heart to say what it is. Then, before heading onto the stage to deliver her speech, she hugs him and tells him that he's "a lifesaver" and that she couldn't have had a chance at becoming president without him. Finally, during her speech, she looks over as two FBI agents take him into custody, proving that Selina went as low as she's ever gone before, framing her most loyal friend, conclusively proving that there is no limit to her selfishness.
How the Veep Series Finale Ends
After Selina's speech, the final episode of Veep ties up some loose ends; Richard Splett (Sam Richardson) is being offered a position by Selina as Secretary of Agriculture, former Deputy Communications director Dan Egan (Reid Scott) gives up politics altogether, Selina witnesses Gary being arrested as she discusses how "no one has sacrificed more" than her, Jonah steps on stage as her official running mate, Senior Strategist Kent Davison (Gary Cole) officially resigns, and Amy Brookheimer (Amy Chlumsky) is reluctantly appointed as Jonah's chief of staff.
Six months later, and Selina is officially president, busy at work in the Oval Office. Sue Wilson (Sufe Bradshaw) returns in the Veep series finale as Selina's personal secretary, Amy is busy working alongside Jonah, and Michelle York (Rhea Seehorn), Tom James' former chief of staff, as well as Keith Quinn (Andy Daly), are lead members on Selina's staff, though it isn't specified which roles they play. Work in the White House then turns into business as usual as a member of Selina's Secret Service closes the door of the Oval Office - after which point the episode surprisingly jumps 24 years into the future for an unexpected epilogue and closing chapter for the entire series.
It's revealed that Selina Meyer (who apparently only served a single term as president) has passed away. Key figures from her past make appearances, and all of Selina's biggest rivals are invited as dignitaries to sit at the front row of her funeral (something she specifically objected to when she was alive). Some of the biggest reveals include the fact that Jonah was impeached, Selina overturned same sex marriage, Selina's daughter Catherine (Sarah Jude Sutherland) is ecstatic that her mother is dead, Amy married former White House Director of Communications Bill Ericsson (Diedrich Bader), Dan Egan works in real estate, and Richard Splett is now president, having just been reelected in a landslide victory.
The Significance of Ending with Tom Hanks
The final joke in the Veep series finale refers to none other than Academy Award winner Tom Hanks. Taking away from Selina Meyer's funeral, former White House Press Secretary-turned-CBS news anchor Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh) reports that Hanks has passed away at the age of 88. On one hand, it serves a comedic purpose to show that Selina's legacy wasn't quite as significant as a Hollywood celebrity, but it actually goes deeper than that, with roots leading all the way back to Veep's very first episode.
In the pilot episode, Selina and her staff have gotten themselves caught in a public slip-up, with Selina uttering a derogatory slur that's inevitably been covered in the news. While trying to come up with ways to fix their problem, hoping that something else might turn up in the news to overshadows her slur, Mike mentions that Tom Hanks dying would certainly be big enough news to potentially make the public forget what Selina said. This doesn't happen, obviously, but Hanks' death in the Veep series finale is both a comedic bookend for long-time Veep fans and something to also undermine Selina's death. It's also too little, too late now that Selina isn't even alive anymore to benefit from the potential distraction.
There's even a brief mention of Hanks having starred in a sequel to Philadelphia, which may or not have been especially relevant in the Veep universe, given all of the progress she reversed in the LGBTQ community. And, though it's a mostly throwaway line, this is yet another example of how - even though she did technically succeed in the end - Selina had to sell her soul in the process, cementing her legacy as one of the worst presidents in American history.