'VEEP' Recap: To Helsinki in a Handbasket

The Finnish sense of humor is only the least of Selina's problems.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer on HBO's "VEEP"

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"VEEP" hits its stride as Vice President Selina Meyer and her office stare down a major scandal about to consume the administration. On Sunday night's "Helsinki" episode Selina travels to Finland to work out a trade agreement.

"The climate here is very cold but the reception here is very warm," Selina tries in a joke that falls flat. Much hotter, though, are the fires she has to put out while there. She managed to offend the entire continent with last night's episode's spoof song which made some unfortunate puns on European stereotypes. One British reporter in particular dogs Selina on the issue. "You do not want one of those on your back. They'll sell nude pics of their grandmothers for a glass of warm beer," Amy, Selina's chief of staff, remarks.

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To make matters worse, the prickly Dan is subbing in as Selina communications director – Mike being stuck on a White House data project – and by trying to channel his inner McLintock, Dan ends up apologizing for apologizing for apologizing. "Don't make any jokes, OK Dan? Because with your face, when you attempt to be charming it really comes off as evil," Selina tells him.

Once in Helsinki, Selina has awkward moment after awkward moment with the Finnish prime minister, a chilly blond whose idea of a diplomatic gift is an Angry Birds clock.

"The Finns are known for their sense of humor," the prime minister — whose last name Selina cannot pronounce — repeats over and over, in a tone that suggests anything but. The Finns are amused by the fact that Gary has mistranslated the word for bag man – the term he uses to introduce himself is actually Finnish for a part of the male anatomy that also resembles a sack.

The awkwardness only escalates when the prime minister fondles Selina's breast while the two share a cigarette (Selina has taken up smoking while in Europe, much to Gary's consternation).

"That's like a sexual 9/11, or a sexual Cuban missile crisis at the very least!" Gary exclaims, horrified by the revelation.

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Unfortunately, a controversy brewing back home at the White House means there is little Selina and her team can do about grope-gate. Mike accidentally emails out polling data taking the temperature on a potential scandal for the administration. It turns out one of the hostages retrieved in the recent rescue mission was in fact a spy, despite the administration's insistence otherwise. Left in the dark about the hostage's CIA connections, Selina is the Susan Rice of the talking points debacle, having gone on record saying the hostages were in Uzbekistan for humanitarian reasons.

"For the next 13 months we are going to play who knew what when," says Ben, the White House chief of staff, "and some of us are going to go off on the lecture circuit and some of us are going to go off to prison."

"Well who knew that being sexually assaulted wouldn't be the worst thing that happened in my day? That's something for the memoirs," says Selina on the plane home, realizing the storm that awaits her after a miserable time in Helsinki. "Europe used to be my favorite continent, now it's not even in my top five."

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