You know how after the first episode nearly everyone was like, “the exchanges between Elaine and Susan are the best. More of that please.” Yeah, well too damn bad. They exchanged all but two lines of dialogue in this second episode. Hopefully they are saving up for some great showdowns later on.
It wasn’t a total waste of an episode though. I thought it was interesting to see the contrast between First Lady Elaine and SoS Elaine. Seeing her go from angry to devastated, fiercely defensive and finally totally depleted – and then comparing that to Elaine in the present – added great depth and makes her a much more dynamic character overall. We got to see the side of the story Susan Berg never knew; I wonder what she would say to Elaine’s “I married the nation” justification. (I also wonder what the reaction of real-life first wives of cheating presidents would be, both to the situation and to how Elaine handled it).
Still, this episode did serve as a solid companion to the first, in terms of fleshing out the characters and setting up the main conflict of the season. Susan (and by extension, the audience) got to witness Bud as slightly less than the ridiculous caricature he’s been played as, and see (sort of) why he is and was a successful diplomat: he has some excellent bullshitting acumen.
Alright, let’s run each of the stories down, from least to most interesting.
Sorry TJ. Sebastian Stan, you know I love you and the faces you make, plus you’re in great shape. But you’ve played this character before and better, on Kings (one of the cancelled-before-its-time one season shows I most highly recommend). There is nothing original about his storyline here. Of course he stole a check from Grandma. Of course his brother can’t help but see the good in him. I want so much for this storyline to to interesting, but it’s not doing anything for me. His only interesting feature is his relationship with Douglas; there conversation when Dougie picked him was cute.
Grandma Lush is no better. Day drinking! Don’t fucking steal from me! Weird stories about toilet training your mother and the junkie grandfather you’ve never heard of! She’s like a un-funny Lucille Bluth. What is even the point of you? (And her singing at the end was kind of terrible, no?)
Speaking of Kings (and things that were better over there): I’m making an educated guess that they are building up to having Dylan Baker’s Vice President Collier be more of a schemer than we saw in the first episode, but just these little petty and sycophantic bits he’s had so far are boring. Baker can do scary. Let him do scary, show.
Fiance Ann is still not interesting. Sorry. Does she have a job? Other than to complain about her parents and Doug’s and how so terrible their life is and to keep failing at having sex? I think she needs to give Dougie an ultimatum: either he quits working for his mom or no wedding. As it stands right now, no one is going to be happy, even if Elaine doesn’t run again.
Susan and Bud’s adventures in the Middle East were interesting. I wonder why Bud wanted to talk to her so badly? Because Elaine told him that he was the only Hammond Susan hated, or because he saw Susan was on Elaine’s good side and wanted to find advantage there? Either way, it was nice to see Bud face another woman who wasn’t going to take his bullshit. I’m sure he has a better understanding of what Susan and Elaine have in common: they are both BAMFs.
Bud’s “negotiation” was kind of hilarious and also amazing, like how Susan was supposed to “stand there and look virtuous” in a leopard print scarf. And I guess some of Bud rubbed off on Susan (ew, not like that). You get in that Mile High Club, Susan! (Daniel Meade, nice to see you haven’t changed).
Yeah, that’s sort of bullshit. Like I said earlier, the flashbacks were interesting, but I still am not sold on Elaine’s justifications. Like in the first episode, the bit about “the President asked me to serve so I said yes to something I didn’t really want to do”, and then here again. On one hand, I guess it makes sense that Elaine wanted to retain her position as First Lady for the power for change it had. On the other, who’s to say that if she had left him then, she wouldn’t have been just as, if not more successful (and, I’d wager, happier too)? Maybe I’m just too much of a hell-hath-no-fury, “set fire to the room, do it now” type (especially after he literally said “I’ll cheat again, I’ll lie again and I’ll break your heart again”). I’m a zero tolerance policy lady when it comes to cheating (and violence).
Of course, the best part of the episode was just Elaine, going around, being the badass that she is. Calling the VP a shit, marching into a Turkish bath, and planning a Presidenial run.
As for the twist at the very end, Melissa totally called that one in the comments of the last recap! Oh, Dougie. You have no idea what you’re doing.
- “He is one sex scandal away from Dancing With The Stars.”
- “That was Mexico and 2 college students smuggling a Volvo of pot… These negotiations won’t happen over margaritas.”
- “Listen to yourself. This is your sickness. I ask you to quietly save the lives of three innocent people and instantly you think you can save the whole world.”
- “What’s the Bitch of the Beltway doing here?” (What an amazing nickname.)
“She won a Pulitzer for hating our guts!”
“Turns out she doesn’t hate us; just you.”
- “The hard shit I usually get right. It’s the simple shit I screw up.”
- “What can I say, Gary? I guess this bitch is just good at her job.”
- “You’re still sleeping with your boss?”
“Still cheating on your wife?”
“That’s not funny. She left me six weeks ago.”
“Really? I’m so happy for her.”
- “For instance, if I said I could neither confirm nor deny that Vice President Collier is a pissy little shit who just sent three people to their deaths because he wasn’t the one picked to rescue them, what would you take it to mean?”
- “I’m going to have to ask you to table whatever emotional reaction you’re having, given today’s crisis.”
- “I make a practice of not throwing money at guys I adore.”
- “Would you pull this crap on a US Secretary of State if I were a man?”
“Of course not, I’m not attracted to men.”
“You are a scoundrel, Sirkan, but you’re an honest scoundrel.”
- “Look at you. The smartest, most powerful woman on the planet and you can’t even see that he is just going to hurt you all over again, just like he does every time.”
- “I’m just sick of it all, that’s what’s going on. I am sick to death of the bullshit and the egos and the men. I am sick of the men. Just one time, just once, I would like to accomplish something in this city without having to spend all of my energy navigating the short-sighted, selfish, self-involved and oh-so-fragile male egos that suck up all the oxygen in this town. It makes me so sick, Douglas. So sick I could puke for days. I’m running for president.”
Lastly, what did y’all think of the opening credits? I love an actual credit sequence – there are so few these days – plus they used a song by The Kills! So rad, dude.