Veep’s two-part season finale last night jolted the series in an unlikely direction, and it couldn’t have been more satisfying. Just as Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has her “47 percent” moment—she’s caught on tape calling her donors cheap idiots—she gets the news that the president will step down to care for his ailing wife. Despite it all, she will become the first female commander in chief. Meyer, shocked, shuts herself in a dreary New Hampshire bathroom, followed by Gary (Tony Hale), her long-tortured assistant. Nosebleeds, strewn toilet paper, and hysterical laughter follow.
The show’s comedy has always been rooted in frustration and spectacular failure, so what happens when something goes right? In this case, an incredibly cathartic moment we didn’t even know we needed. The perfect sequence caps off with a stunned Kent Davison (Gary Cole) walking in on the scene, evoking the mania of hundreds of bygone presidential campaigns. The reward is short lived: By the second part of the finale, Selina’s presidency appears destined for failure, with crushing primary losses and an angry Iran smothering the good cheer. This is still Veep, after all. But this finale proved after three seasons that HBO’s most merciless comedy also has a soul.