Episode 2: Second Time Around
By: Carlos Uribe
Political Animals is a six-episode miniseries that follows Elaine Branch, former first lady and current Secretary of State, and her family. I will be covering every episode.
This was an interesting second episode of Political Animals. It picks up right after the last episode, with Elaine deciding to run for President. She makes her intentions more clear to the audience: she is planning to run against the incumbent. She reveals her plan to her son, Doug. Doug isn't happy with his news since he doesn't believe that his family will survive another campaign. He also seems to be under the impression that Elaine is running in order to get back with Bud. At the end of the episode, Doug pretends to be fine with Elaine's decision but then proceeds to leak the information to Susan. He seems more interested in ending the campaign before it begins. The question becomes whether Elaine will decide to actually run in the primary or whether his leak will be enough to change her mind. It sure isn't going to make the President or even the Vice-President happy. There is one character who is happy about this decision and that is Bud-but he's not happy that she plans to run without him. The White House is where Elaine and Bud want to be but what's the price that they'll have to pay?
Will it be Doug's engagement to Anne, whom he claims is getting ready to leave him? While Anne seems to be annoyed that her engagement party was pushed, she didn't seem like she was ready to break up with him. Anne does have a problem, an eating one, but he doesn't appear to be aware of it. I believe that the reason that Doug doesn't want Elaine to run is because Doug is hiding a secret of his own. A secret that might come out if there's an election, and it's a secret that might shake his engagement. Doug's concern for what this election might do for the family but also be concern for his reputation. It certainly would be nice if we knew what Doug's secret was. He's still a bland character, albeit one who appears to be a bit foolish. He's willing to lend his brother some money and to betray his mother's trust. These actions seem to show that he's not the wisest guy on the block, but they're not making him more interesting. Compared to the rest of his family, Doug is a rather forgettable and boring character.
Will it be TJ, who has a drug problem and has a history of suicide? It's possible that he wouldn't be able to handle the campaign and that he would lose himself even more. A campaign is arguably the last thing that he needs in his life. He's a character that has many problems and his life is already falling apart-the attention the media would bring might tip his life down. Doug's concern for TJ is very real and that's one of the reasons that Doug agreed to lend TJ some money but only on the condition that TJ go get some professional help. Doug appears to have forgotten his own advice that TJ must want the help in order to get it. On the other hand, that talk with his grandmother might have finally wakened him up to reality.
Political Animals continued it's fake Clinton story by having Bud be successful in his negotiations with Iran. The prisoners were released and he gets to appear to be more than just a sex-crazed former politician. It was an episode that was largely good, but Doug's blandness is holding the series back. The series also needs a stronger core. Is this a series about Bud and Elaine's relationship? This is supposed to be a series about family, but they are so scattershot that the foundation of the series is very shaky at times.