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'House of Lies' fan recap: Ron Zobel and the robots

Season 4 | Episode 9 | “We’re Going to Build a Mothership and Rule the Universe” | Aired Mar 15, 2015

Before getting into this week’s episode of House of Lies, it must be mentioned that Jeannie has been SO pregnant for SO long! The anxiety is practically unbearable! And this week we discover that she has three whole weeks until her due date! Her pregnancy does make it clear that the timeline of the season is incredibly tight, despite the fact that we’re viewing it over a period of months. So: good narrative tool, but OMG she is just SO PREGNANT FOR WHAT FEELS LIKE SO LONG. What if someone was eight months pregnant for three months in real life?!?! The horror.

This is the first episode of the season that begins with K&A in fine financial form. “Poised to go wilding through the consulting landscape on an acquisition bender, scooping up all the little companies in its path,” as Marty so mixed-metaphorically puts it. They’re wild, drunken animals, ready to … well, kidnap rather than destroy their competitors.

Herein lies a problem: That “mothership” that’s mentioned in the ep’s title? K&A doesn’t have experience actually acquiring companies and expanding their business. Marty’s talk of “disembowl[ing] [his] foes and filling [his] coffers” (ew) is somewhat pie-in-the-sky—Denna owns a controlling interest in K&A, and no matter how insanely wily and committed the Pod may be, she’s not going to leave expansion to them.

It only makes sense to bring in an expert, and it only makes sense that the expert is a huge, huge asshole! This time, evil comes in the guise of Ron Zobel (Steven Weber). Within the first 10 seconds of stepping into the office, he refuses Marty’s suggestion to call him Marty. “Martin sounds stronger; let’s go with that.” LOL!! Oh no you didn’t, Ron Zobel! That was the most masterful transition from “stranger” to “person we hate passionately” on a show that is chock-full of just this type of moment! You belong here, Ron Zobel. Do you know Monica? Because if not, someone set these two up, stat! What a beautiful, terrible nightmare that could be! Chills of excitement just thinking about it!!!!

Ron Zobel (he has one of those names that seems best used as a single entity) comes prepared to make everyone angry with two silent, identically dressed human-robot assistants. Ron Zobel is weird and refers to himself in the third person. Ron Zobel is inappropriate and rude. Ron Zobel plays games on his celly during his first meeting with K&A! With the sound on! Hahahaha, oh you, Ron Zobel!

Needless to say, this does not go over well with the Pod. Doug stayed up all night (in giant, electric-blue footie pajamas) working on the presentation for the strategy meeting, and Ron Zobel and his robot people ignored the whole thing. The robot people are going to set up a war room and start from scratch.

K&A has a meeting with a client, and Zobel and the robots (not a bad band name) invite themselves along. The representative for the client they’re dealing with doesn’t understand the models that K&A has made (which are surely exactly what they promised, as Marty says—actual job incompetence isn’t something the Pod does). To the great pleasure of Ron Zobel, the meeting is going badly, and “Martin” is clearly not well liked. The client prefers Jeannie, who is MIA. As Doug goes out to find her, Ron Zobel asks Marty to step out for a talk with him. Ron Zobel has a problem with Marty’s demeanor, and says that he’s “holding [Marty’s] balls in his hand, [and] he can either cradle or crush them.”

When Doug finds Jeannie, she’s outside having pain, which Doug proceeds to blame on (in this order): her nerves about having dinner with Marty’s family that night (Jeremiah called her and set it up, unbeknownst to Marty), a miscarriage, and finally, actual labor. Doug slathers on the hand sanitizer, because he’s “seen enough House” to … deliver a baby in front of an office building? He’s already telling Jeannie to take off her pants when her pain turns out to be (one of the more rational conclusions, if you actually have watched enough House): gas. So much gas. Right in Doug’s face. And Jeannie feels great!

Back in the meeting, Marty just can’t help himself and asks Ron Zobel for help with one of the client’s questions. Awkward. Ron Zobel has no idea, so he leaves angrily and the robots follow. Honestly, Marty? The guy’s a jerk, but he just said in the conversation in the hallway that Marty might know everything there is to know about management consulting, while he might know nothing. That’s not why he’s there. He’s there to grow the company.

Jeannie finally arrives and saves the day, because the client loves her. Marty and Jeannie are yin and yang with clients; it’s an absolutely undeniable fact borne out throughout the season. Marty’s insistence on her leaving the company is another example of exactly what he just did with Ron Zobel: shooting himself in the foot because of his ego.

Clyde returns home to find Natalie Portman (the cat) in his room and his dad with lotion and a pile of Kleenex at the computer. He reaches his breaking point and kicks him out.

Denna is waiting for Marty when he returns to his office, and very reasonably asks him to look at the bigger picture and deal with Ron Zobel’s presence.

Jeannie attends dinner with the Kaans, and while Roscoe is ecstatic, and Jeremiah and Malcom are happy and welcoming, Marty is visibly upset. Jeannie panics and tries to leave—and finally, FINALLY, Marty promises to make his peace with Jeannie for the sake of the baby. He convinces her to stay.

The final shot of the episode is striking, because it pans out to a bird’s-eye view of Los Angeles. The city is very rarely significant to the show, much less the parting image. And with this exceptionally different ending, House of Lies delivers on a promise from the start of the season (character growth for Marty and Jeannie) and seemingly a promise for the future: a way of looking at things that extends beyond themselves and their immediate surroundings. The show’s world needs to become bigger, both for the sake of the baby and the company.

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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