Sen. Deirdre Samuels (Meighan Gerachis) and Tak Davis (Jay Hayden)
Synopsis: With the election a week away, the DNC sends in a representative to help the Samuels campaign who clashes with Tak over its direction.
Local references: A Lakefront Brewery T-shirt.
Local landmarks: Michael's Frozen Custard on Atwood, where a waitress gets harassed (what else is new?); the UW Field House as a backdrop for obnoxious behavior (again, what else is new?); the Capitol, beautifully photographed as usual; leafy west-side neighborhoods; Mineral Point Road near Glenway.
Locals seen onscreen: Patrick Fernan, a Madison-based actor and director who is also a three-time Jeopardy! champion and a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? winner; John Waelti, a Monroe-based actor, columnist for The Monroe Times, and 2008 candidate for the Wisconsin Assembly; Madison-based playwright and actor Sam White; WKOW anchors Greg Jeschke and Sabrina Hall; and, a pissed-off tailgater in a Badgers T-shirt.
Memorable character: A bossy DNC operative who gets campaign manager Tak's hackles up. Then again, who doesn't get Tak's hackles up?
Review:A new WKOW poll puts Wisconsin State Sen. Deirdre Samuels (Meighan Gerachis) within three points of her rival, Gov. Creighton, in the race for U.S. Senate. This is great news for the feisty Samuels campaign staff, but it has a downside: increased attention from the Democratic National Committee.
The episode begins with campaign mastermind Tak Davis (Jay Hayden) visited by the DNC's villainous Carlton Haysbrook (Charlie Hewson). Carlton had once been in the campaign-managing trenches with Tak but has now graduated to a cushy job in D.C. with a kid and a house -- the kind of orderly life Tak can only dream about. Indeed, Tak is rumpled, having slept all night in the Samuels office, whereas Carlton looks freshly pressed in his suit and tie. "No more continental breakfasts?" Tak asks him ruefully.
With Samuels now doing well in the polls, Carlton has showed up to push Tak aside and throw the DNC's weight around. Bristling, Tak doesn't even try to be polite: "The DNC spends the primary trying to kick our ass, and now that we might win, you want to micromanage?" Carlton delivers a stinging rejoinder: "Let's be honest, you've had some problems in the home stretch before."
And it looks like he will again. The Samuels campaign is blindsided by news of an impending Creighton press conference that will presumably make damaging revelations. Their best guess is that it involves the large payoff -- made without Tak's knowledge by Samuels' husband (Sam White) -- to a crooked Milwaukee reverend for purposes of voter suppression. But a little digging turns up something even scarier in the campaign's financial records: a $10,000 payment to "CLoud." Who, or what, is "CLoud"?
Before we find out, there's some low farce involving buffoonish campaign aide Jordan T. Mosley (Jordan T. Maxwell), who proclaims his intention to do "guerrilla marketing." (Tak sends two other aides with him to make sure it "doesn't involve actual gorillas.") Jordan ends up parking the big campaign bus near the Field House on Monroe Street and harassing passers-by with a megaphone.
Back to the Creighton press conference, which is getting closer and closer. Tak throws himself into Sherlock Holmes mode to figure out the meaning of the mysterious "CLoud." He determines that it's short for "Claire Loudon" (née "Clare Villereal"), a woman Sen. Samuels either did or didn't have an affair with. Did someone in the campaign pay her to keep quiet? And does the Creighton campaign now plan to produce her from behind a curtain at the press conference?
When the big moment arrives, the Creighton folks produce a different "CLoud" -- Craig Loudon (Patrick Fernan), who himself claims to have had an affair with Sen. Samuels a decade ago when both were married.
Looks like it's going to be another long night for Tak in the campaign office. Followed, of course, by a continental breakfast.
Battleground, the first original scripted series from Hulu, was shot in Madison by Hollywood filmmaker and former Madisonian JD Walsh. New episodes premiere on Tuesdays through May 8. The dramedy follows young staffers running a Wisconsin politician's underdog campaign for U.S. Senate.
Did you watch the episode? Spot more Madison references or people? Share your thoughts in the comments.