If you ask me-and I realize you didn’t—Veep is the funniest show on television. It’s almost pointless to write a traditional recap, because it’s so f’in good that I can’t imagine how I’d begin to criticize it, and simply summarizing the plot would do an injustice to the constant hilarity. Instead, let’s honor Armando Iannucci’s brilliant comedy by highlighting the 15 greatest moments from last night’s episode, from the dialogue to the plot to the pitch-perfect reactions. In “Data,” Selina Meyer and her coterie of ruthless, occasionally incompetent henchmen try to dodge a federal crime when they accidentally leak a little girl’s private medical data.
Selina kicks off the episode with a televised speech promoting the Families First Bill. Like all politicians, she highlights specific citizens with specific ailments to humanize the issue. “Like the little girl down in Pine Hill, AL, she’s HIV-positive via breast milk, but she still dreams of becoming a ballerina.”
In contrast to her studied display of sympathy, Ben and Kent are watching from their office and cracking jokes about each successive kid. That’s when Ben drops a real cringer:
“Well, they do need to stay thin.”
That’s too much for Kent, who flashes him a classic Kent look of veiled disapproval, but Ben is unapologetic. “What? They do!”
When Dan bursts in with the news that “some people on Reddit” have identified the girl, and parents are now keeping their kids home so they “don’t catch AIDS,” it’s full-on crisis mode in his office. Mike and Bill enter hot on Dan’s heels, and after forming a battle plan, Ben dismisses them:
Sue: Ma’am, the Apple Growers Association would like to name a new apple after you.
Selina: Is it a good apple?
Sue: It’s a baking apple.
Selina: Fuck ‘em.
When Selina is confronted by the press about the data breach of the little girl in Alabama (ironically, after asking for privacy for her own daughter), she can only mumble a few cliches before escaping with Mike, at which point she confronts him.
Selina: What the hell? Where did HIV come from?
Mike: I think some guy fucked a monkey.
Selina needs a scapegoat for the screw-up, and Ben has an idea.
Ben: You know, there are hordes of young women roaming the halls of the west wing, and 15 percent of them have been hired to be fired.
Dan: Yeah. We call them the “expenda-belles.”
Selina: That’s not funny, boys.
Dan, Ben: No.
Selina: Okay Dan, go sacrifice a virgin.
Amy: Just another Saturday night.
Gary tries to lint-roll Selina’s boob:
After a snafu where Sting’s “I’ll Be Watching You” plays at a Selina campaign rally, Mike tries to encourage her after her speech.
Mike: They loved it, ma’am. You were like a rock star! Not Sting. Uh…Kurt Cobain. Well, not him.
Moments later, the scapegoat hunt hits a fever pitch, and they’ve picked out a target in an anonymous girl who works as an intern.
Dan: Ma’am…found us a scapegoat. Girl in the writers’ room at the joint sessions speech. She was also at the rally tonight. Uh…sci-fi Sally, or something.
Gary: It’s Leigh.
Kent: Gary is right, her name is Leigh, and she is a fine staffer. Great on close reading and policy analysis. I see splashes of myself in her. (pause) I now regret that phrase.
Selina tries to eat a banana. “It doesn’t even work!”
Dan fires Leigh, and she wonders if she can get out of it somehow.
Leigh: What if I cried? Like the women do in movies.
Dan: Wouldn’t work. You’re talking to a guy who once broke off an engagement at an Applebee’s, and then ordered desert.
As it turns out, Leigh isn’t a big enough scalp, but Dan has a plan: He’s been fattening up Jonah for the kill, giving him enough power and influence to make him a ripe target for firing. Selina isn’t sold until Dan offers a final compelling argument: “Plus, he’s got taht whole, inherently guilty look…that “surprised masturbator” face.”
Patton Oswalt grabs Jonah’s balls. This has happened in all three episodes of the new season, and it never gets less uncomfortable…or hilarious. “Damn. This guy’s balls are so big they’re practically tits! Johnny tit-balls!”
Just as Jonah is about to fire Dan, Dan’s “assistant” Richard emerges to ask if it’s about the campaign data flyers. Dan is caught unaware.
Lincoln: No, I’m picking up from your facial cues that you don’t know.
Dan: Here’s four verbal cues for you: Tell. Me. Now. Asshole.
A Marine dressed as an Easter bunny for an event tells Selina that he watched his friend get blown to pieces in Afghanistan:
Ben offers himself up for the chopping block, but Selina changes her mind at the last moment and decides to fire Dan instead. Ben and Kent deliver the bad news, and when Dan threatens to reveal the use of federal data to target bereaved families for the campaign flyers, Ben drops the calm act and does his best Malcolm Tucker impression as he tears into Dan:
Ben: You listen to me you little fucking turd’s assistant, you don’t threaten this administration, because we will fucking destroy you. We’ll skin you like a squirrel, clean you out like a dirty fucking chimney, and wear you like a glove puppet with my fingers sticking out your dead, fucking eyeballs.
Kent: I cannot endorse that message, but I do acknowledge it.
: When Dan expresses a desire to avoid the press as he leaves the building, Jonah leads him right into their arms: