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'House of Lies' recap: Started from the bottom (again)

Season 4 | Episode 1 | “At the End of the Day, Reality Wins” | Aired Jan 11, 2015

House of Lies has, thus far into its three-season run, done its best to make sure that every season finale burns whatever “house” the season lived in to the ground.

  • Season 1: Jeannie single-handedly destroys the MetroCapital acquisition at the very last possible moment, laying waste to the entire trajectory of the season and leaving The Pod’s future for season 2 up in the air, but in a considerably better position than the merger would have.
  • Season 2: Marty lays the groundwork for leaving Galweather Stearn and founding Kaan & Associates, but destroys The Pod’s unity in the process; the people who were to be the foundation of Kaan & Associates aren’t going to join him.
  • Season 3: Kaan & Associates is raided by the FBI and Marty is forced to accept a plea bargain that not only forces him to sign control of the company over to Jeannie, but lands him in prison.

Although this is hardly a “suspension of disbelief” conceit of the series—businesses are acquired; cutthroat people do cutthroat things; there are few, if any, lasting and proven alliances between any characters on the show—it certainly is an effective plot device. Each season genuinely has a new house to build. Business-wise, the start of a new season seems like a relatively clean slate, but despite the desperate and repeated attempts of our leads—Marty and Jeannie—to commit to full-time sociopathy, the slate only gets messier and messier. It turns out that even amoral, duplicitous, and vindictive people can fall victim to exactly what they deride in everyone else: feelings.

The conclusion of season 3 left the show in a more scorched-earth position than ever before. Even worse, both Marty and Jeannie not only exposed themselves as having feelings, but they had their feelings hurt. Like normal people. Only more humiliating and terrible, because they didn’t know they were normal people.

Season 4 opens with Marty in the desert, having shed most of his clothes and perched himself atop an enormous rock formation. Very Jim Morrison. Not very Marty Kaan. Correctly realizing that he’s not a hippie on a pseudo vision quest, Marty leaves the desert and talks to us directly—he’s out of jail, and he “believes in the dharma of kickin’ ass.” In short, he’s a total asshole again.

Marty enters the same office that Kaan & Associates occupied last season and joins The Pod: Jeannie, Clyde, and Doug. The gang’s all here! Marty’s jail time didn’t leave the company in shambles! They’re talking about leaving to land a big new client! Their banter is on point!

Then Jeannie stands up from the conference table, and she’s third-trimester pregnant (back to that later, obviously). The Pod walks out of the conference room, and … it’s not exactly the same as last season. They’re sharing space with a wacky app startup, and those wacky kids are riding wacky bikes and wacky skateboards and the outer office is a zoo, inhabited by wack children. One of the startup kids calls Marty “Martin Luther Kaan,” followed by a racial epithet that he should not be using. The tone is set! The office of Kaan & Associates currently sucks, and The Pod seem to be the company’s only remaining employees.

The big client that they’re looking to land, Ellis Hightower, is a former “startup kid” himself, albeit a tax-evading, megalomaniacal one who is attending a former colleague’s funeral on a temporary leave from prison. Taking advantage of a convict’s (who Marty met in prison) leave at a funeral for their own personal gain? That’s The Pod that we know and love.

Marty calls landing this client “salvation.” While standing directly in front of a coffin, with a dead person in it, in a church. The Pod then rejoices as Hightower throws an expletive-laced tantrum at another colleague in this extremely appropriate setting. Because in management consulting, “Bad is good. Good is bad. … If the shit is coming down from the sky, in golfball-size chunks, that’s a good day for us.” Yup—they’re still standing next to a casket.

We learn through a flashback that before Marty goes to prison, a drunk Jeannie shows up at his apartment. We’re forced to attempt to piece together the timeline of Jeannie’s pregnancy: How long has it been since the FBI raid? Is Jeannie already pregnant but doesn’t know yet?

In another flashback, Jeannie tells Marty, while visiting him in prison to go over Kaan & Associates’s financials, that the baby isn’t his. Which makes it seem plausible that the timeline could fit; if he has to ask, the baby could be Marty’s.

In the present day, Marty tells Jeannie that he “needs her, for now.” He wants her gone as soon as the business stabilizes. He describes their ability to work together, which she thought was going well, as a doomed cycle. This from the man who not only married but procreated with Monica—a uniquely terrifying narcissist, psychopath, and sexual predator among House of Lies‘ never-ending stream of just that type of person.

Meanwhile, back at home, Roscoe Kaan is rocking some seriously fly apparel, and he’s seriously belligerent toward his father. We also learn that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree: Roscoe’s throwing “purse parties,” turning a profit by selling counterfeit (or maybe just stolen) designer bags. He even takes credit cards! It’s so modern! And it’s so Marty—easy money, ethics be damned.

The premiere showed a lot of promise: The Pod is still irreverent and intact (for now), there’s a pregnancy mystery (maybe), some big business does seem to be on the horizon (and it looks like it will be some old-school, gnarly, classic House of Lies-type business), and Marty’s home life is inevitably going to blow up. It also seems like there will be more feelings on display than ever before. Marty’s and Jeannie’s struggles to cope with having copped to actually having authentic, vulnerable selves is a fascinating dance to watch thus far. It’s a dance that could easily explode into an all-out war at any moment—which is probably the most promising thing about season 4.

House of Lies airs Sundays at 10/9C on Showtime.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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