Episode 4: The Lost Boys
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.
T.J. is one messed up character. He's a character who has been dealing with a serious drug addiction, brought on partly because of the media and partly because of his family. He's a character who was forced to admit his homosexuality when he was a young teenager. He's a character who has had an affair with a closeted, married conservative Republican. That last bit is new information and it ties into his suicide attempt that has been previously established by the series. When his mother discovered him in the car, trying to kill himself with carbon monoxide poisoning, he was heartbroken because his lover had just ended an affair with him. An affair that T.J. believes is the reason that he has been sober for the previous six months. The affair is now in the past and T.J. has slid back into his old drug habit. He has tried to get clean because of his deal with his brother, Doug, but a fight with his father and mother led him right back to snorting coke. The episode ends with him having overdosed, his life being possibly in jeopardy. He's a messed up character but at least he's an interesting one that brings a lot of conflict. His brother, Doug, remains dull in comparison. That might make him a good White House Chief of Staff, but it makes him for a boring character to watch. He might have his whole issue with Susan Berg blackmailing him but he's using that to his own advantage. He's political savy but that alone has yet to make him be more dynamic. The previous episode had introduced that he also did drugs but that's in the past.
Susan might be using Doug to get the inside scoop, but she is surprised when the blogger Georgina manages to work herself into Susan's story. That's because Georgina targeted Anne, Doug's fiance. Anne accidentally messes up and reveals to Georgina that Elaine is planning to run for President. In order to ensure that the news doesn't break until the formal announcement, Susan is forced to share credit with Georgina on the piece that she has been working on. This annoys Susan but it does add an interesting element to Susan's story. She's not only going to have to work to get the inside scoop but she's also going to have to deal with an ambitious blogger. A blogger who is blackmailing her way to becoming an actual reporter. While that is going on, Bud is attempting to rehabilitate his image as just a womanizer. This doesn't seem to be working well for him as he's sleeping with the person he hired to prove he's not just sleeping around with women. He seems to suggest at the end that he's going to go on the straight and narrow and give up having sex with every female but it's yet to be seen if he'll take that promise seriously.
There's the politics in this show. The President and Vice-President have a small tug-of-war with Elaine. They have been sending her all over the country and reveal that they know about her aspirations to run for President. She reveals that she plans to resign within the next forty-eight hours and announce her campaign but she wants to do one thing before those hours are up. That thing is to save some Chinese that went down in a nuclear Chinese submarine. When China is alerted but refuses to rescue their own men because of the repercussions the country would face, Elaine does everything in her power to ensure that the United States will try to rescue them. She faces stiff resistance from the administration. She can't use this information as a cover for exiting the administration and running for President because it's classified but it's a pretty good plot: one that has her political aspirations and her morality in a conflict. One wonders if the President wouldn't be so stubborn throughout the episode if Elaine wasn't planning to run.
Political Animals is almost over with it's limited miniseries run. There's only two episodes left and it seems like the series won't be getting picked up for a full-fledged first season. While I would love to see the campaign that this mini-series keeps promising, it does seem like it's going to end with Elaine's announcement that she's going to run for President. This is a natural ending point for this mini-series. This episode was solid and good but it did suffer in that the flashbacks were lighted a bit weird and distracting.