Political Animals Recap: Chinese Take-Out

Did TJ’s nadir teach the Barrish bunch nothing? This week on Political Animals, as the former First Family waited for the fallen son to wake from his overdose, Margaret and Annie got stoned, Doug and Susan got drunk (and then got busy), and Elaine and Bud were high on power. Here’s what happened in the USA Network series’ penultimate episode.

FLYING HIGH | Fresh off TJ’s OD at his nightclub opening, Elaine & Co. swung into damage control mode, inviting Susan Berg to pen a piece on the “adverse reaction” TJ had to some “antibiotics.” Susan (smartly) wasn’t buying a word of it, so Elaine sweetened the deal with scoop on the Chinese sub sunken off the coast of San Diego and the United States’ plan to save the 100 sailors aboard. En route to the left coast to respectively oversee and report on the rescue effort, Doug and Susan traded barbs over how she gave the Barrish fam a rough go of it during Bud’s administration. (Cue flashbacks to the launch of Susan’s no-punches-pulled/”very mean” reporting on Bud and Elaine, and her mother’s distaste for it. Hi, Blair Brown!)
    As wine was poured, Doug and Susan loosened up, eventually lapsing into a game of “Drunk Secrets.” Hers: She joined the “mile-high club” on this same plane during the trip to Iran. His: He popped the question to Anne while on ecstasy, and likened their engagement to a sharp-looking, ill-fitting suit. More grapes were pounded, and before you know it Susan’s again shtupping on the plane (although this time on something resembling a proper flat surface). Post-coitus, she reaches for Doug, but he slips away. Dude.

HIGH TIMES | With Bud camped out at TJ’s hospital bedside and Elaine tending to the sub sitch, it was up to Margaret and Anne to prepare a room at Elaine’s for TJ as well as comb the premises for his hidden stashes. Soon enough, the ladies uncover a trove of this and that, most of which they flush… and the rest of which they share via a pot pipe, getting themselves sufficiently stoned and chatty. Anne opens up about the pressure she feels to be a perfect daughter-in-law and vents about Elaine’s dominance in Doug’s world. Margaret teaches Anne on how to stand up for her place in Doug’s life — and also urged her to give up on her bathroom habit. “Don’t do it to yourself anymore…. Let Doug get you some help.” Anne tried to play dumb but knew she’d been found out.

HIGH ANXIETY | President Garcetti’s agreement with Elaine’s plan to save the Chinese sailors that had been left to die by their own country hit a potentially explosive snag when China threatened to scuttle the vessel — and in doing so let loose with a dirty bomb — if anyone tried to help. Going against weasely VP Collier’s wishes, Garcetti called China’s bluff, saying in an address to the U.S. that those caught spying in America’s “back yard” had no business making threats. So with fingers crossed — and a Collier iced a thump given to him by Bud over the whole Rep. Reeves blackmail plot — Garcetti’s cabinet listened intently as U.S. armed forces approach the sunken sub, where they were met with a coded message for “Thank you.”

A few other quick thoughts:

* Doug has a Backstreet Boys playlist on his iPod! And wore tuxedo shorts to his prom!

* Susan has had three sexual partners in five episodes. And she used to throw stones at Bud?

* I know his bedside speech ultimately went somewhere with it, but did Bud’s comment about how TJ’s hands were neither like his nor his mother’s stick with anyone else? Was I raised on too many soaps, or could a third party have been involved in TJ’s conception? (Note: Yes, it is possible with fraternal twins.) On a related note, this episode showed just how much Sebastian Stan’s complicated TJ, when up and around, brings to the overall narrative.

* The irony, as Elaine noted, that by leading Garcetti to do right by the Chinese sailors, she has given herself a most formidable opponent.

What did you think of this week’s Political Animals? Are you ready for next Sunday’s season finale, titled “Resignation”?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Meg says:

    The president’s name is Garcetti, not Garcia.

  2. shuayb says:

    This show has become my most fav show this summer! Amazing! Greg Berlanti really knows how to create a good family drama weaving politics into the story! Bud is a riot and really makes me laugh!!! Mr Hinds is amazing! Emmy and or Golden Globe worthy!
    I thought TJ and Doug are twins? Or am I missing something? If TJ is not a Hammond, that would just spiral him further! Can he not get a break? True Berlanti style tho, throw in a love child or two. Cannot wait for the Finale.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      True, but fraternal twins can have two different fathers. Again, it’s more likely the ramblings of someone who used to cover the soaps beat.

      • Irishgirl says:

        I think the hands are probably from Elaine’s biological father. Wasn’t there a story Margaret was telling a few eps back about Elaine’s biological father being musical?

        On another note….the Doug/Susan hook up was lame as hell. Cliched and played out. I’d have preferred they left that crap to the soaps.

      • sam says:

        Huh, learn something everyday, I had no idea that was even possible, lol.

  3. michelle says:

    A third party involved in TJ’s conception?! I thought the boys were twins so wouldn’t that be a third party for both of them?

  4. shuayb says:

    Um Matt… My hands are not like my Moms or my Dads… And I’m pretty sure I’m my dads son seeing as I look like his father. Sometimes its just that they take after someone else. But in this case, its very likely that it foreshadows another nasty Barrish-Hammond scandal. Unless we’re reading too much into it.

  5. Susan isn’t married. Bud was so yeah, she still gets to throw stones.

  6. Bracy says:

    Leave me alone

  7. I love this show! Why is the season so short? Please tell me it is coming back. They keep calling it a “limited series” event. Does that just mean the first season is short? I had thought maybe it was a one off series but with only one more episode I can’t see how they can wrap things up, so I’m hoping this means that it was just a short season and will be coming back!

    • TV Gord says:

      In Canada, the promo for next week referred to it both as “series finale” and “season finale”. Talk about hedging their bets!

    • There is a possibility of them bringing it back for another season, it will depend on ratings and buzz.

    • PB says:

      It’s doubtful that it comes back. It’s getting massacred in the ratings. Less than 2 million and a .5 demo. Nobody watches it except for apparently TV writers. Flawed concept. Not many folks want to see a re-imagined and re-branded Hillary Clinton story. Not to mention the ridiculousness of the premise of running against a sitting President in the primary. A candidate like that would be persona non grata. It’s a shame b/c the cast, particularly Weaver, is game but the story and script are poor…..

      Maybe it comes back b/c USA wants to save face after promoting the hell out of it and b/c of the star power but it’s failing now, so it would be even more of disaster next run….

  8. sam says:

    I was really annoyed with Elaine treating TJ the way that she did that ultimately led to his overdose. How in the world are james wolk and sebastian stan twins — when was this mentioned — must have missed that.
    Will this show be back? Last episode ever or finale is next week.
    It has gotten better since the first episode.

  9. Bender2 says:

    Gadzooks! You can surely tell this is really fiction when they present Liberal Democrats such as “Political Animals” Faux-Bill & Faux-Hill Clinton being upset over slezy ‘Republican’ politics [“We’re supposed to be better than them,” Elaine deadpans.] while the current Democrats are having a field day painting Mitt Romney as a woman killer and Paul Ryan pushing a wheelchaired grandmother over a cliff–

    Give me a break!

  10. Pearl says:


    Ok, i saw the promo for the next episode… Man, why that sounded like she will get on the president’s chair without the need of an election? Anyone else got that feeling?

  11. Chelle says:

    I thought it was sleazy of Susan to do to Annie what her colleague did to her. I wish the show could have let the Doug/Susan relationship NOT be about sex, which would have been less predictable and for me, way more interesting.

    Matt, gotta vote with the too-many-soaps for the hands thing. Almost every kid has a feature that makes his or her parents say, “woah. how many generations did it take THAT to crop up again?”

    Love the Garcetti/Barish political chemistry. Wish she could stay in his adminstration (as his veep ideally), but I get why she can’t.

    Berlanti freakin’ rocks — this show is really fun and twisted, and I hope it keeps going.

  12. Lynn Gutter says:

    How do we encourage USA Network to keep this show going! It has great potential!

  13. Trista says:

    Why is there a season finale if it’s a limited run program? When does the “limited run” program return?

  14. Danielle H says:

    I adore this show. One of the best new things I’ve watched in years .