Oh, Political Animals. I don’t know quite what to do with you. This episode marks the halfway point in this 6 episode run and not only is the plot painfully slow, but it’s not clear at all where the show is heading, and not in a good “this show is so crazy I have no idea what’s going to happen next”, more like a “I don’t really understand how they think they’re going to wrap this up in 3 more episodes” kind of way.
However, the fact that not a lot happened plot-wise makes it somewhat easier to recap.
Elaine got to spend this episode hanging out with her former law school professor, mentor and Supreme Court Justice Diane Nash, played by Vanessa Redgrave. Just take that in for a second; Sigourney Weaver and Vanessa Redgrave, just sitting around, being their BAMF selves.
Diane was the first openly gay Supreme Court nominee and was just too awesome to not be confirmed after Bud nominated her. Now, her partner Corinne has Alzheimer’s and was just placed in assisted care, so President Garcetti tries to push her into retirement, so he can nominate Elaine in her place. This also works as a cunning (but blatant) method of forcing Elaine’s hand on commenting about the rumors of her running against him; if she were nominated and said yes, she couldn’t run for president. If she said no, everyone would know she’s planning on running.
Basically, the Coalition of Awesome Ladies maneuvered things in such a way that it worked out for Elaine. Susan’s paper got the tip about the nomination, and instead of writing the story, Susan went to Elaine to tip her off. This meant Elaine could go straight to Diane, tell her that she’s planning on running against Garcetti and convince her not to retire. Diane agrees, but Elaine better fucking win.
Susan tipped off Elaine about the nom in order to get into her inner circle, which seems to work, since Elaine brings her a lemonade and invites her on a walk to become friends. However, they are half-bullshitting each other. When Susan straight-up asks Elaine if she’s going to run for President, Elaine flat-out denies. Susan doesn’t tip her hand that she already knows; instead, when Dougie texts her to quash the story he leaked due to his change of heart, she pwns him.
As for Dougie’s change of heart, we go to the boys’ story; they got relegated to a field trip and the flashbacks this week.
The flashbacks (which I guess are going to be a recurring facet of the rest of the episodes) deal with Elaine’s primary run; you can tell because she has that spiky, unflattering hair-cut. Also, Holy Lens Flair, Batman! Bud appeared to be going off the rails and tanking the campaign by having the gall to say “vagina” on television. Douglas was supposed to wrangle him in, but TJ surprised him with a hotel room rave and he (and Ann) convinced him to take ecstasy, which made him oversleep and miss prepping his Dad for Bud’s next interview, where he says penis. Excellent.
Dougie seems to blame both himself and his Dad for Elaine failing to get the nomination (which is more than a little diminishing to Elaine as a candidate), but it turns out Bud was bombed out on purpose, falling on his sword (Rome reference? Eh?). She was going to lose anyway because of the timid/bitch paradox, but by taking the heat for the loss, he saved her reputation enough so that she could have the shot of running again. Apparently Dougie’s whole anti-Bud position on everything so far has been rooted in the blame for the loss, but now that he knows the truth, he’s totally on board for Elaine’s run. Too bad he already leaked the plan to Susan.
This whole revelation came about on a trip to the boonies of Virginia to see some kind of magic, poll number divining guy (whose wife Bud may or may not have slept with), to determine what Elaine’s chances are for running against Garcetti. Turns out, they’re great, as long as Bud’s not involved. He puts up a front that makes it seem like he’ll be willing to take a back-seat this time, but I’m thinking the only way that would happen is if he were shipped off to Siberia, which is where Garcetti sends Elaine after his plan didn’t work out, that punk.
Random Other Thoughts
- Douglas proposed to Ann when they were both high on ecstasy. For some reason I don’t think they’re going to work out. I don’t know what it is.
- Speaking of, I’m going to make a prediction: Douglas and Susan are going to hook up. All these back alley dealings and “I own you”? Yeah, show, come on. I dare you. Doug can be all angsty because he’ll be a cheater, just like his dad. Susan will feel all awkward and conflicted between being the “other woman”, and the complication of her actually maybe having real feelings for Doug and how that conflicts with her primary identity as a reporter (rather than her personal relationships).
- TJ, your storyline still hasn’t gone anywhere. What are we going to do with you?
- Now I know why Grandma Lush is around; it’s to remind me of my own mother. Show, I already like Elaine. I don’t need to hear about how awful her mom is/was to make me sympathize with her.
- Even though it was predictable as hell, I liked that Susan encouraged Georgia to pursue the bus story. I didn’t like Susan back-sliding into hooking up with her boss again.
- I feel like this and the second episode should have been combined somehow; we didn’t really need to see all of Bud’s negotiation trip. And the flashbacks too. It all seems like it needs to have the fast-forward button pushed. Hopefully that’s what we’ll see in the back 3 episodes?
- Did the editing on this episode seem kind of wonky to anyone else? Some of the scenes seemed to have been cut short, or just with clunky transitions.
- I’m loving Sigourney’s costumes so far, especially the outfit that seems to be her uniform, the high-waisted skirt, wide waistband, drapey top. In theory it doesn’t seem like it should work, but it totally does. I also loved her beaded necklace from the press conference at the beginning of the episode, and loved Susan’s black dress + trenchcoat + ponytail look.
- “Why is it when most people ask about my wife’s ‘woman problem’, they don’t tend to have a vagina?” ”Vagina. The former President of the United States just said vagina.” “Big deal Barry. Fifty percent of the population has one.”
- “I need you to wrangle your father.” “Me and what army of psychologists?
- “Diane would be the first to tell you that a gulf still remains between the promise of equality for women and the reality for women around the globe. It’s 2012. We will not let cynical politicians roll back the reproductive rights we have fought so hard to gain.”
- “Wow, mineral water. You’re going to bore me off the wagon.”
- “Is this the point where you ask us what we think and then you ignore what we say and do whatever you want?”
- “I know the boys don’t want to go through the hell we all barely survived two years ago, just so you can be Queen Shit of the United States of Elaineland.” “I’ll take that as a ‘nay’.”
- “Well, you’re all adults. Go ahead, ruin your lives. I don’t care.”
- “Besides, you look shitty in all black.” “Mom, I love your pep talks.”
- “I have been supportive of you since the day you were born.”
“Oh really? Like when you made me wear a padded bra starting in 6th grade?”
“Those trashy Perdue twins were maturing early. I didn’t want you to feel inferior.”
“I didn’t feel inferior until you told me I was.”
“I never said you were inferior!”
“You told me I was gawky, and that I should just drop out of dance class because of how I looked in a leotard.
Lastly, I did want to point out this cool thing. I don’t know if they’re promoting it on-air during the show (I don’t watch with commercials), but someone behind-the-scenes has done some great work with the website of The Washington Globe, the fictional newspaper Susan works for. Usually websites (or phone numbers) mentioned on tv shows either aren’t registered or are, but quickly redirect you to the show’s official network page. This site, however, is actually full-fledged, with original content, including articles, a video blog from Georgia and political cartoons. The character video interviews are especially interesting, and there’s an article about Grandma Lush’s Vegas past. I’m curious as to where the information on the site stands in the show’s canon.
I’m a huge sucker for online content that shows real effort on the part of TPTB (Lost/ABC was great at this, by the way, especially in the early seasons). I think that there is a not insignificant portion of the audience who is interested in engaging in that level of participation with the show, and good on them for offering that (I think this is also the reasoning behind shows like Talking Dead and the post-Falling Skies discussion show). Good TV nerd awareness!
How do you think the pace of the show is going? What do you think they’re heading towards? A cliffhanger? How far-fetched is my Susan/Doug theory? (I’m just saying, I’m a little bit physic. It’s like I have ESPN or something!)