It turns out: Yes. Sunday’s episode of Veep, “Inauguration”—the show’s fifth-season finale—stripped Selina of her ill-gotten presidency, and in a fairly humiliating manner to boot. The recent presidential election having led to a tie after Meyer lost a recount in Nevada, and the House of Representatives’s vote having ended in its own tie, things went to the Senate. Because of obscure legislative rules, that meant that the contest would become one between Tom James, Selina’s political frenemy, and Laura Montez, a New Mexico senator about audiences know little except that she has Mexican heritage and Sarah Palin hair.
Well. The old karmic philosophy ended up being true, in Meyer’s case: Another political frenemy betrayed her (unnamed) party’s tenuous coalition at the last minute, sending the presidency not to James, but to Montez.
It was a fitting thing to happen in “Inauguration,” to make the inauguration in question not Meyer’s but another lucky politician’s. There was, overall, a very comeuppant tone to the episode. Offenses and betrayals, large and small, that had been building since the beginning of the series took the occasion to explode, in various ways. Gary, Meyer’s sycophantic body man, finally lost his temper at his colleagues, blaming them for his boss’s loss. (“You fuckers. How dare you! that magnificent woman counted on you, and you losers let her down. All you fucking cared about was your stupid bad selves!”) Meyer, having realized that her best chance at A Presidential Legacy might lie in “freeing Tibet,” had spent the past several episodes working toward that end; in a Jimmy Carter-and-the-hostages-in-Iran twist of the knife, the Chinese leaders she’d repeatedly insulted freed a group of Tibetan lamas—and announced the news during President Montez’s inauguration, crediting the release to the new president’s efforts.
Personally, too, Meyer was felled. Her daughter, Catherine—who has spent Veep being alternately belittled and ignored by her mother—got a makeover. And, seeing her mother disheveled and hungover after a night spent mourning her loss, the newly glamorous First Daughter got to utter the line she’d been on the receiving end of so many times before: “You’re gonna do something with your hair, right?”
These were all significant tonal—and moral—reversals for a show that has assumed, for its previous seasons, that no bad deed goes punished. And “Inauguration” recognized the stakes at play in that shift. It repeatedly hinted that Meyer would find a way, in the end, to retain, and then to regain, the presidency; it teased with the notion that good luck, if not personal merit, would restore her to power. At one point, there were suggestions that Senator Montez might not have been born in the U.S. At another, there was an indication that Meyer might, at the very least, be returned to the role of vice president under a James administration. (This was suggested most strongly by the inept press secretary Mike’s insistence, at the outset of the episode, that he would stake his good name on the fact that Meyer would never, ever become Veep again; according to McLintock’s Law of Word-Eating, this would seem to guarantee that very circumstance.)