[This is a review of the season 4 finale of Veep. There will be SPOILERS.]
Coming into last week's stylistically inventive and hilarious penultimate episode of Veep season 4, Selina Meyer's (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) tenure as the leader of the free world appeared to be ending as one of the shortest in U.S. history. Shrouded in scandal during congressional deposition hearings, Selina and her staff only had two options: Come clean about the data breach and sabotaging the Families First bill, or throw an expendable staffer (Diedrich Bader's Bill Ericsson) under the bus. Unsurprisingly, Selina's self-serving team members went with the latter, giving her a chance to reclaim the presidency in the season 4 finale, 'Election Night.'
Last week's episode, 'Testimony,' certainly set up a tension-filled finale that would ultimately determine a new course for the series. There was no question that a win for Selina would bring a myriad of comedic possibilities with her as commander in chief for a full term, while a loss to Senator O'Brien (Brad Leland) could see most of the characters taking on new jobs on Capitol Hill or out of the political sphere entirely. Like Selina's anxious staff, Veep fans were on pins and needles as voting results poured in, but nobody expected a tie in the Electoral College - an unseen door number three that quite brilliantly sets the stage for season 5.
Instead of concluding its season finale by definitively closing the election narrative arc that's been building all season, Veep's creative team went outside of the box to create a slew of potential storylines to be explored and carried over into season 5, including the incredibly rare situation the show and its characters are currently in. What exactly happens in a tie? Hilariously, no one on Selina's staff even knows, as they scramble to their mobile devices to search for the answer online, revealing that one tiebreaking scenario involves Selina's Veep, Tom James (Hugh Laurie), taking the Oval Office.
Interestingly, the budding rivalry between Selina and Tom - further established by their predicament in the season 4 finale - is now easily the funniest and most intriguing developing relationship on the show. While the episode also teased the possibility of Amy's (Anna Chlumsky) return to Selina's team, it's the inevitable clash between Selina and Tom that has us excited going into season 5.
Throughout this past season, the character of Tom James has been expertly utilized as the optimistic and always-charming foil to Selina's bitter and shallow world leader, but in the finale, viewers get a glimpse at his political cunning and true motivations. Not only does he attempt to leverage his position as the more likable half of the ticket for a more involved cabinet role as Secretary of the Treasury, but he literally steals center stage from Selina at the election rally, before she steals it right back by interrupting his speech while attempting to block him from the audience's view with her tiny frame.
And this is where the series has always thrived - with its comedy existing between the lines of absolute absurdity and the instances of real human error and bad behavior that almost assuredly occur behind the scenes (sometimes publicly) of every major political campaign. While the episode itself didn't deliver a record-breaking amount of laughs, every blatantly arrogant, narcissistic, and conceited character had their moments, including Jonah (Timothy Simons), who attempts to turn his victimization of workplace sexual harassment into positive self-publicity as the face for workplace bullying and genital health.
All the strengths of the finale aside, there will be some fans feeling unsatisfied by its conclusion. After all, nobody likes a tie. Still, as a fan, it has to be hard not to be excited for what's to come, especially knowing the types of surprises Veep's writers are capable of pulling off. And, with all the ensemble's players in their familiar roles heading into a new season (except for Bill Ericsson, who is likely going to prison), the strong character dynamics and rapid-fire banter - elements of the show fans have come to love - are sure to be intact when the series returns.
What did you think of the season 4 finale of Veep? Let us know in the comments.
Veep season 5 will premiere on HBO in 2016.