Political Animals Season Finale Review: Elaine Barrish for President?
Through its limited series run, Political Animals has been a character study about how each and every one of us is flawed. The better you get to know someone, the more his/her strengths and weaknesses are apparent.
Elaine Barrish said it elegantly: "No one is as horrible as we imagine them to be." As we got to know the Hammond family and those around them, it became clear it works the other way too. No one is as perfect as they may appear either.
"Resignation Day" started out as a monumental day for Secretary of State Elaine Barrish, but it ended one for entirely different reasons. In last Sunday's review, I speculated that Elaine would not run for President, but would instead join Garcetti in his re-election as his running mate.
As eloquent as Elaine's resignation letter was, Garcetti didn't accept it and instead wrote, "Please run with me." Their conversation on the tarmac was refreshingly honest. How could Elaine deny the President? They proved they would be a force to be reckoned with even before the submarine rescue. Politics aside, they are a smart and likable pair.
When we first met Elaine Barrish, compared to Bud, she was a saint. No one is imperfect, though, Elaine included. Both Elaine and Bud have struggled to balance their political lives with what's best for their family. In many ways, just like every other family; only their mistakes are out for the world to see.
Elaine's decision to join Garcetti's re-election campaign was the right thing for her, the country, and more importantly her sons. They have both struggled immensely under the pressure of being a Hammond. The first image of the perfect son, Doug, and the dysfunctional one, TJ, was quickly thrown out as we learned more about them.
The brothers bonding over their difficulties was heartening, but their big moments came through their confrontation. In award-worthy performances, we saw Margaret finally get through to her grandson. And Doug disappoint his mother.
The last time TJ and Nana talked it wasn't enough to correct his path. Was the reminder of his happy childhood and the realization that it was gone enough to straighten him out this time? It definitely woke him up in a way we hadn't seen before. TJ needs to have the inner strength to survive and his family's support.
In contrast, Doug, the ideal son, disappointed his mother in a seemingly irreparable way. Elaine was surprisingly controlled given the news, but Doug, he let her have it. He spewed out all his fears at her such an intense way that she didn't need to react. He was right.
In the past, Elaine hadn't always put her sons first. She bared her soul to Susan about her desire to put them ahead this time.
Elaine: I have one son who has nearly died twice in the last six months. My other son, there is a confusion and an anger there that I'm just beginning to see. They're both adults, but they're still my children. It's not the right time to take on my boss or my party. I'm their mother first. | permalink
Elaine wasn't the only one to do the right thing by making a sacrifice. Susan risked her job to protect Elaine and Doug by revealing she slept with Doug. And then Alex shockingly took the fall at the newspaper instead of scapegoating Susan. Both news people used their mistakes to try to do right by another. Is there hope for Susan and Alex?
While I thought that Doug and Susan were better suited for each other than Doug and Anne, the latter's elopement puts a huge wrinkle in the other potential relationship. Not only did Doug and Anne's engagement start while they were high on ecstasy, but their wedding was rushed due to Doug's cheating and betrayal of his mother. Not the best way to start a marriage.
Despite that, the wedding itself was lovely. Anne's quick acceptance of the Hammond family at the wedding was a sign that maybe her marriage will work. TJ playing music, Margaret sneaking a drink from her flask and the newlyweds dancing was the perfect ending to their story ... for now.
I have grown to adore these characters, even Bud. He started off a despicable, philandering husband and former President, but grew to be much more. He definitely was not as horrible as he first appeared. While this was promoted as a limited series event, I am hopeful that the show will be renewed. I'm not ready to let these characters go. Not yet. Are you?
Besides, now that President Garcetti is presumably dead and the ass Collier is Acting President, we have to know the answer to Bud's question. Will Elaine run for President?
Despite the reservations that lead her to decide to team up with Garcetti for his re-election campaign, the United States is at a critical point. Does that supersede the concerns for her family? Especially since she would no longer be running against an elected President or presumably fighting her party.
Political Animals season two: Elaine Barrish for President!