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Review: ‘Veep’ Season 4 Episode 9 ‘Testimony’ Exposes The Jonad Files In All Their Glory

Review: 'Veep' Season 4 Episode 9 'Testimony' Exposes The Jonad Files In All Their Glory

Immediate Reaction:

Remember last week when I kind of, sort of, complained about the episode title “B/Ill”? Well, forget about that. Let’s scrub it away just like the Meyer staff is blacking out other former truths. I’m not saying the double entendre of the title had a secret, third agenda, but one could argue it foreshadowed the downfall of Bill Ericsson. I’ll admit: I didn’t see it coming. It should’ve been obvious that the most competent and impactful member of the staff would be the first to go, but alas, my power rankings failed me.

Working much better was the new format in “Testimony.” Using only diegetic cameras from the news and deposition videos, “Veep” made a daring shift toward reality, matching early efforts this season for a more grounded approach. The drama was elevated along with the office. Thankfully, the laughs are more forceful because of it, especially in this week’s committed and clever standout episode.

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: Review: ‘Veep’ Season 4 Episode 8 ‘B/Ill’ Pits All But One Against Each Other

Politically Correct Response

And the dam broke. After a season of waiting for various leaks to reach the wrong places, we saw the effects of some serious water damage in “Testimony,” as the Meyer presidency and campaign came as close to crumbling as ever before. Rather than completely cave, the staff plugged away the best way they know how: lying. Whether it was Ben’s angry lashing out against justifiable questioning, Dan and Amy’s straight-faced exposure of Jonah’s incompetence, Mike’s worried innocence or Tom’s high-minded blunt talk, these people knew exactly how to handle themselves under pressure — even if they didn’t know who would be sacrificed until the end.

With only two episodes left featuring Armando Iannucci as showrunner, I’ve been curious all year if and how he’d try to go out with a bang. “Testimony” certainly felt like an attempt at greatness. It hit that mark early and never slowed down. Though a risky move to frame the episode from an outsider’s point of view, Iannucci wisely took into account the brilliant paradox “Veep” has been built on: its subjects are both incredibly skilled liars with absolutely awful poker faces. Watching them squirm while knowing the truth — thanks to an exquisite lead-up in Episodes 1-8 — put me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would be revealed while knowing what secrets they were trying to keep hidden. Better yet, we became the American public watching and judging their lies from at home. “Testimony” marked a bold move for a master storyteller, one we’ll be thankful for long after he’s left. Next week comes “Election Night,” where we’ll find out how well those lies worked — or didn’t.

Jonah Put-Down of the Week

“The Jonad Files”

God bless, Armando Iannucci. In what my colleague Liz Shannon Miller described as a going away present from the departing showrunner, we got a full rundown of every nasty nickname ever assigned to Jonah Ryan during his tenure in the White House. Below, we’ve listed every one, from “One Erection” to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Asshole.” Vote for your favorite, and — more importantly — never forget this glorious day. 

Simile of the Season

“I also saw it. I can’t stop thinking about it.
It’s like a bell — it can’t be unrung.”

– Richard, referring to seeing Jonah being molested

Simple. Direct. To the point. What else could we expect from Richard Splett, the innocent blabbermouth who’s been lighting up Season 4? It may not play as well in writing, but the misdirected confession was surprising enough to catch us off guard in just the right way. But is it enough to top the reigning champ? With only two episodes left, it’s looking more and more likely Amy is going to be the big winner of Season 4 — at least, in the simile competition. 

Rhetorical Abuse

“Gary Walsh, you need to understand, is a 12-year-old boy
trapped in the body of a 12-year-old girl.” – Tom James

In case the above quotation didn’t tickle your funny bone as much as mine, Tom’s chuckle at the idea of Gary organizing anything other than his bag — especially after, “Gary Walsh: Any thoughts?” “I don’t know who that is” — should elevate the above insult among the most surprisingly effective and accurate takedowns of the season. Still, the worst thing to happen in “Testimony” wasn’t anything that was said. It was what President Meyer did while taking a “call with Africa.” In reality, she was destroying her daughter’s engagement, effectively ending what was a happy union for nothing more than political reasoning pretty far removed from being relevant. Catherine’s fiance working as a lobbyist was just enough to dirty the Meyer image — not destroy it — but that’s all the motivation Selina needed to crush her daughter’s dreams yet again.

Power Rankings

1) Tom James
– Tom felt both disconnected and honest during the investigation, making him the cleanest of the group, and thus its most powerful member.

2) Ben Cafferty
– Tom may have been the most effective liar, but Ben’s angry testimony was the funniest. His restraint from swearing was truly impressive. Plus… “Well, Washington needed a sacrifice, so we all ran and took out our pitchforks, and we set fire to the Wicker Dan.”

3) Kent Davison
– All Kent had to do was sit next to Bill, be quiet and let him take the fall. Two out of three appears to be good enough.

4) Sue Wilson
– A Sue slip-up? Egad! I would’ve never guessed it’d be her to leak the voice memos, but I guess her thoroughness got the best of her, like a double-edged sword.

5) Mike McClintok
– Why, oh why, did they not let Mike try to explain the cloud? 

6) Amy Brookheimer
– *insert picture of Amy’s Not Guilty Dress here*

7) Dan Egan
– Passing the buck is a delicate game. Dan’s decision to start low — by handing off Gary as not just “the bagman, but also the bad man” — was wise, giving him plenty of room to move higher when need be, without jumping the gun.

8) Gary Walsh
– “I’ve always imagined myself as like a pipeline who carries a lot of necessary information, and I just feed it directly into her head.”
“Did the President know about the lobbying against the family’s first bill?”
“I’m just a nobody…”

9) Jonah Ryan
– “Dan Egan is a solid five-and-a-half, weak six.”

10) Bill Ericcsson
– Bye, bye Bill. Good luck with the criminal charges. Please don’t come back and run a campaign against Selina. She wouldn’t stand a chance.

Grade: A

READ MORE: ‘Sense8’ Co-Creator J. Michael Straczynski on How Netflix’s Show Changed Him, and Could Change Television

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