Episode Title: "Resignation Day"
Writers: Molly Newman and Speed Weed
Director: David Petrarca
Previously on "Political Animals:"
Having decided to run against President Garcetti, Elaine (Sigourney Weaver) drafts her resignation letter. Doug (James Wolk) returns home and gets into bed with Anne (Brittany Ishibashi) and T.J. (Sebastian Stan) prepares to walk out of the hospital to a sea of press, with Bud (Ciaran Hinds) by his side.
Elaine shows Doug the letter and he promptly gives Susan (Carla Gugino) a copy. He also makes a point of telling her that what happened between them on the plane was a mistake. Susan tells Doug he's still a good guy despite betraying his mother and screwing around on his fiance. At the newspaper, Susan shows the letter to Georgia (Meghann Fahy), but says she wants to develop the story more and won't run it until Elaine makes her announcement. She's also concerned about burning her source, Doug but Georgia insists on printing the letter.
Elaine hands over the letter to Garcetti (Adrian Pasdar) as he boards a plane to Paris for a conference. Garcetti tells her about Bud punching Collier and asks her to be his Vice President. He then tells a stunned Elaine he won't accept her resignation and wants her decision upon his return.
At home, T.J. tries to leave the house, despite orders to stay home and away from drugs. At first, he's resistant but when Margaret (Ellen Burstyn) becomes visibly upset with him, he changes his mind. She tells T.J. he'll need to fight for his sobriety.
Susan goes to Alex (Dan Futterman) about Georgia and he tells her they are running the letter. Concerned about her relationship with the Hammond family, Alex says it will look like favoritism if they don't. Susan tells Doug what happened and suggests she name someone else as her source to save him. However, he shoots down the idea.
Doug goes to Elaine about Susan and the letter. He admits to going behind her back in order to sabotage her campaign, as he thought it would destroy the family. He explains that once he saw that Elaine had a real chance of winning, he changed his mind but it was too late. When Elaine asks why he didn't tell her how he felt about her running again to begin with, Doug says he's always been afraid to say "no" to her.
Upset and distraught over his mother, Doug comes home and asks Anne to elope with him. Susan meets with Elaine, who tells her that if the letter is printed, Doug's political career is over. Asking for her trust, Elaine tells Susan about the President's offer and that she is accepting it. Susan talks to Alex again and tells him she slept with Doug, forcing Alex to abandon the story as the scandal behind it would ruin the paper. Alex tells Georgia he is killing the story and she threatens to go over his head with it.
At home, Elaine is alerted that there's been an accident involving Air Force One off the coast of France. She learns that Vice President Collier (Dylan Baker) is asking to be prematurely sworn in, despite the fact that the President has yet to be pronounced dead. Elaine confronts him about the move and persuades him to take temporary power instead.
Susan talks to Alex as he leaves the office with a box full of his belongings. He explains that he's been suspended after Georgia told his boss that he was denying her professional opportunities because of their sexual relationship. Susan tells Elaine she killed the story. Elaine then invites Susan to join her when she flies to France to assist in the Air Force One recovery effort.
After learning that Anne and Doug have eloped, Elaine and the rest of the family crash their wedding at Grandpa Hammond's farm. That night, Bud tells Elaine they can't let Collier stay on as President and asks her to say she'll run against him. Elaine merely gives a knowing smile as her answer.
"Political Animals" had a number of loose ends to tie up in this mini-series finale and it was mostly successful in doing so. Unfortunately, some of the storylines felt like they were just hitting their stride.
After averting a nuclear showdown with the Chinese, Elaine had a change of heart about her longtime rival and current President, Paul Garcetti. While the President's stock rose with Elaine, Garcetti came to realize, with a little help from Bud and his fists, that his current VP, Fred Collier is a major liability. And just as a deal is about to be struck which would see Elaine joining Garcetti on his reelection ticket, Air Force one takes a dive off the coast of France.
And this is where "Political Animals" once again starts to feel unfairly truncated. Sure, the downing of Air Force Once makes for thrilling TV, but "Political Animals" has shown over the past five episodes that it doesn't need to rely on sensational plot twists to tell a good story. Ok, maybe "sensational" isn't the right word here, especially after Doug's mile-high hook-up with Susan.
Rather, the events of "Resignation Day" felt rushed. Also troubling was both Elaine and Susan's willingness to trust people who've repeatedly screwed them over. Are we really to believe that Susan would tell Georgia, the ruthlessly ambitious blackmailing journalist who is sleeping with her ex and boss that she's got a copy of the Secretary of State's resignation letter for the sake of a "learning moment?"
And on that same note, Elaine continued to whisper into Susan's ear so long as she could "trust" her. At least this is a little bit more believable as Elaine seems to have developed some respect for Susan's tenacity and resilience.
As for the boys, we've spent plenty of time getting to know T.J and his substance abuse issues as well as his father, Bud and his fierce devotion to Elaine, while his more carnal desires continue to betray him. However, Doug's mommy issues were largely neglected until this last episode. Early on, we were asked to buy into Doug's decision to betray his mother for the sake of saving the family, which he felt couldn't weather the storm of another campaign. Based on his confession to Elaine, we're now to believe a few promising statistics from a pollster changed all that.
The point being that all of this backstory and set up is totally believable, we just weren't given enough time with these characters and their stories to believe it. On a more positive note, creator Greg Berlanti and his team delivered the best product they could in the time allotted. "Political Animals" was entertaining, thrilling, saucy and fun. It was an ambitious story to tell in such a short run. We're now left wondering if Elaine Barrish became the first female President of the United States. But that's a story for another time and television show.