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'House of Lies' recap: Snakes on a plane

Season 4 | Episode 2 | “I’m a Motherf**king Scorpion, That’s Why” | Aired Jan 18, 2014

House of Lies episodes often start off with a bang—occasionally literally. Time is money, after all, and the cumulative level of patience of the entire cast of characters is approximately nil. So why not just dive right into the second episode of the season with Doug (Josh Lawson) and Sarah (Jenny Slate) asking Jeannie for her baby? Oh, and they don’t just ask. Sarah says “[they] all know that she is bound to be a terrible mother” and screams that Jeannie is “so f**cking selfish” when she declines.

“Please never let this moment end,” Clyde says, as he and Marty gleefully record the spectacularly horrific interaction. The whole ordeal goes down in an airport, the perfect setting to ask a pregnant woman to give you her unborn child and then scream at her denial. It’s tragicomic public theater at its finest.

Oh, Sarah. Sarah, Sarah—we love you so! Old Doug was a purely pitiable character, and the number-crunching, dorky Pod member has gained so much from you. You are, as Jeannie says, “batshit crazy,” but somehow it’s a perfectly dovetailed counterpoint to Old Doug’s beige personality. Doug can still be a doormat, but since he met you, he’s attempted to scam a vulnerable woman (Doug’s a cheater? He does belong!) and even wonder if life would be better if you were dead. You’ve exposed Doug’s true colors, and they aren’t beige at all. They are frighteningly dark, as dark as the rest of the team’s souls. Don’t ever change, Sarah.

After The Pod members board their flight, a metaphor becomes tragically literal: Everything that’s “up in the air” on the show is addressed. While they’re in the air. Fine, House of Lies. Let’s just try not to do something this on the nose again.

“Scorpion” spills its guts all at once, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Lies leans heavily on pace, but there are things weighing it down this week. At least the rundown of what we learn is somewhat straightforward as a result:

  • Jeannie asks Marty how Roscoe is doing, but Marty rebuffs her attempt at conversation, opting instead to tell her a fable that he used to read Roscoe. The familiar fable involves a frog skeptical of accepting a ride across a river from a scorpion who ultimately believes the scorpion won’t harm him. After the scorpion stings him mid-ride, ensuring both of their deaths, the frog asks, “Why?” To which, Marty paraphrases, the scorpion replies, “‘Cause I’m a motherf**cking scorpion, that’s why.” Moral of the story? Jeannie’s the scorpion. Marty has decided she’s a dishonest person, and that her dishonesty “doesn’t seem to have an off switch.” It’s his version of “fool me once…”
  • Marty’s cellmate, Gabe, is revealed to have a man-crush on Ellis Hightower via flashback, the aging tech wunderkind The Pod met with at a funeral in episode 1. Marty informs Gabe that Ellis’s position at his company, Gage Motors, isn’t as secure as he thinks, and that his hero worship is unfounded because Hightower is about to be “sitting on the sidelines of his own company.” Gabe consoles Hightower regarding the upcoming “coup” when they next see each other, but Ellis is surprised—so Gabe points him to Marty. Hightower eventually begs Marty to ensure he’s not pushed out.
  • We learn through a separate flashback that around this time, Jeannie and The Pod are attempting to stir the pot at Gage, approaching Dante Valerio, the chairman of the board. Jeannie insults Valerio, saying that “for a billionaire, you’re kind of a dumbshit.” Oh, and she also calls him change-averse, which likely sets into motion the events that put Ellis’s position at risk.
  • Monica is on the flight and both calls Jeannie “Fatso” and insinuates Jeannie is lying about Edwin, the alleged baby daddy. She reveals Marty petitioned to be placed in the same prison as Ellis Hightower, and she admits to spreading rumors besmirching Jeannie’s honor.
  • Jeannie admits to Marty that she isn’t an honest person. And then she tells him that her baby is actually his. That’s not confusing!

So. Marty used his prison term to enact a long con. It involved collusion with Jeannie, which is why he was in prison in the first place. But why is he so angry with Jeannie? The collusion wasn’t the original reason the FBI raided Kaan & Associates—DollaHyde’s bad books were. And while Jeannie did give info to her “friend” at the FBI, so what? She traded a problematic account for a much larger one (the DOJ). She did it illegally, behind Marty’s back, and it had major consequences. But how exactly did her choices differ so drastically from the no good, horrible, very bad choices everyone else was making? She did what she had to do to bring in big business.

Marty and Jeannie seem to have created a crisis at Gage Motors that only Kaan & Associates can solve. It would be beautiful in its simplicity, if only House of Lies still worked that way. The smooth-talking, slick, wink-wink days are over, at least for now. It’s hard to tell how the show plans to get its groove back, but surely it does. After this week’s information dump of an episode, next week should be a wild ride rather than a long flight.

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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