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”?