Monday, February 25, 2013

House Of Lies Season 2 Episode 6 Recap: 'Family Values'



As always, spoilers are ahead....

Okay. After last week's "Sincerity Is An Easy Disguise In This Business," which guest starred Larenz Tate as  Marty's antagonistic, bombshell-dropping little brother Malcom--the bombshell in question being their father Jeremiah is contemplating going in for preventative surgery for what looks to be advancing Parkinson's disease-- I was disappointed/perplexed that this week's episode didn't immediately pick things up where they left off. Or that it featured little of Jeremiah of none of Malcom.

Setting up two potentially explosive plot lines-- Malcom and Marty's combative relationship and Jeremiah's illness--and then cutting to the Pod at some retreat, felt like the show was reverting back to snark and outrageous hi-jinks(which they happen to do very well) just as things were starting to get real. But what "Family Values" lacked in Larenz, it made up for with something this show hasn't given us yet: a Doug and Clyde-centric episode that showed these two aren't just the embodiment of sleaze and stupidity.


The episode opens with the Pod at a company retreat organized by CEO Julianne for the Apex Program, a program to designed teach "enlightened leadership and team enhancement." If your bullshit detector just went off, you're not alone. Marty turns to the camera--hey the Zack Morris-style four wall breaks are back!--and breaks down how the whole retreat is a bunch of smoke and mirrors designed to move the company beyond the sordid sex scandals of season one. After Julianne, or as Marty calls her, a "wolf in Gucci clothing," finishes her speech, Jeannie, Marty and Clyde goes off to find Doug, but not before running into Tamara, whose not her usual together self. More on that later.


The Pod overhears strange sounds coming from Doug's room, which turn out to be he and new beau Sarah having sex. After some standard insults and innuendo (Clyde says Doug sounds like a foghorn with he comes, but I'd go with a horny Cookie Monster), they leave Doug to get dressed and Sarah to assert Jeannie's got a crush on Doug. Hmmmm, me thinks someone's skull hit the headboard one too many times during coitus. Anyway, cut to Julianne pulling Marty aside for the umpteenth time to talk about the latest on  U.S. National Bank and getting all giddy about some special guest set to speak at the retreat. Marty lets her know he has to cut out to see Roscoe in a recital, and Julianne responds with her now trademark smiley, passive-aggressive mental manipulation.

Marty decides to be a good parent--or an insubordinate, take your pick--and drives back L.A. for Roscoe's performance, which was originally supposed to be a krumpfest but has been changed to a dance routine from Pippen. But when Roscoe and his crew hit the stage, its all krumping, crotch grabbing, and an entire heatwave's worth of dropping it like it's hot. Marty, along with Monica, Tessa and Jeremiah, is as shocked as the rest of the audience at first, but can't help but glow with fatherly pride at the sight of his offspring giving flipping the bird to the system. Of course, there's a discussion to be had about pre-teens grabbing their nether regions and booty-popping, but that's a discussion for another time.

Back at the retreat, Clyde decides to make a none-too subtle (but when has he ever been subtle?) move on Sarah, who reacts as civilly as a humanly possible while being verbally and physically molested.  How she refrained from slapping him when he said her breasts "were like 9/11" is beyond me. Clyde's always been a skeeze, but for the first time he didn't come off like a lovable horndog; instead he just reeked of backstabbing, horny douchebag. His disrespect of Doug continues at rafting competition, where a super-intense dude named Francis taunts them by saying The Pod ain't The Pod without Marty around.

Francis's taunt seems to awaken something in Clyde, and he and Jeannie berate Doug into competing in the race and "being a team player for once."  Inspired reverse psychology or more disrespect? I'll take the latter. Things go well, until the raft breaks, like Doug said it would, and he falls into the water, flailing until he realizes he can stand up. Cue Clyde calling Doug an idiot and cut to Sarah saying what we've known to be true since, oh, the series premiere. The Pod, and Clyde in particular, are a bunch of jerks who don't respect Doug. It takes her three or four tries to get her point across; even after she tells him Clyde offered rub lotion on her breasts he still defends him. Damn, and I thought you had to be kidnapped to suffer from Stockholm syndrome. Sarah finally seems to break through when she says he's smarter, better-looking and a better person in general, giving him a tap on the butt as she goes to get ready for a party. Perceptive and sexually attracted to Doug? She's a keeper.

Some part of Doug still doubts she's right though, and he pulls Jeannie aside to ask her if Clyde would ever hit on Sarah. She says "yes" without a skipping a beat, as anyone possessing two working eyes and a brain would, then asks why. "Why? Because we're friends," Doug says in disbelief. Jeannie then turns serious and lets Doug know that  all Clyde is cares about Clyde. He tries to save face and let the truth roll off his back, but it's easy to see he's hurting. Again, this is something that should be capital O obvious. But Doug's always been the least cynical of foursome; he truly thinks of Marty as his mentor, as someone who's chummy enough with Jeannie to set her up on a blind date. Why wouldn't he think Clyde would never cross the line and hit on his girlfriend? It's a credit to Josh Lawson that he makes Doug's reaction to this realization feel genuinely sad.

Sarah joins Jeannie and Doug, and says she can't find her purse. Or so she says. After he leaves to find it, Sarah confronts Jeannie about having a crush on Doug. Jeannie makes it clear she feels nothing for him, which seems to satisfy Sarah. I still think Sarah's dead wrong on this, though Jeannie and Doug do seem to be making a habit of running to each other to talk about their personal lives, so maybe she isn't completely off base.

It looks like Sarah has not only given Doug some insight on his co-workers, but a backbone as well. He calls Clyde out for hitting on Sarah, then hits him where he lives, saying he's a good person at his core but is also  a "sad, deeply insecure little man." A well-deserved read if there ever was one, it also provides a moment for Ben Schwartz to drop the mask and display some emotion. Hopefully this is the beginning of seeing these characters as more than comic relief.

Now back to Tamara. It's obvious to everyone something's off with her, and her decision to knock back shots and shake a tail feather with Marty on the dance floor underscores that fact. As the night's winding down, she makes it plain she wants Marty to spend the night. He asks what's up with her, but she goes all quid pro quo, telling him to spill a secret first. So Marty lets it rip that he leaving the company. I suppose this isn't a total surprise; Brynn's  reveal last week that Julianne wanted someone else at the helm for the U.S. National Bank account showed she was playing mind games. And Malcom's calling him a sellout and Tamara's remark about him "dropping checks into laps of people you hate" probably lingered in his mind as well, which she reminds him of. Though Julianne's command that "everyone know their place" at Galweather most likely sealed the deal. I think we've found our Rainmaker/arch nemesis for this season.

Tamara keeps her word, unveiling that husband Kevin has taken job in New York, even though they agreed her career would be the main focus once their children were older. He hasn't, and won't change, so for Tamara the marriage is dead, and she wants Marty to make her feel alive. Marty's eyes linger on her for a second, but he chickens out at the idea of making an actual emotional connection during sex and invites a waitress to join them in the Jacuzzi for a threesome. Tamara calls him a pussy and walks off. Marty pours himself another shot and shoots the camera a knowing "She's right" look, then we fade to black. The last bit was a little too on the nose for my taste--it was already clear he and Tamara still carry feelings for each other. But whatever.

"Family Values" was a fitting title, as it's dawning on many of the characters that what makes a family is not set in stone, nor is it always what it seems. Monica's creating her own family with new girlfriend Tessa, and seems to actually be basing her relationship on love; Tamara's family is falling apart as her husband values his own career over hers and their marriage; Marty sees his own rebellion streaks runs in Roscoe's via his raunchy recital performance; and Doug realizes the Pod, a.k.a. his work family, were never really family in the first place.

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