As always, spoilers lie ahead...
At the end of my recap of last week's "Hostile Takeover," I lamented the show seemed to be taking the easy way out character-wise by having the Pod close ranks and gloss over any emotional impact Marty's decision to take Mr. Pincus as a client over Carlson would have on Clyde, or closing a deal solo would have on Doug's self-confidence. Thankfully I was very wrong. In fact "Til Death Do Us Part" was this season's, if not the entire series's, most emotionally volatile episode, as Marty gets what he wants at the expense of destroying everything around him.
"Til Death Do Us Part's" plot, like last year's season one finale "The Mayan Apocalypse," is revealed through a series of flashbacks for each of our foursome. We start with the Pod, plus Sarah, taking a photo for she and Doug's wedding (Waah? Yep.) Everyone's arguing and being pissy with each other, before the photographer snaps a picture and the shot freezes on Jeannie. Cut back to earlier in the day in L.A., where Marty is meeting with "the kids" about the final stage of their escape from Galweather. Doug suggests doing a little more research before setting up a new shop. On cue Clyde mocks Doug, and they go back and forth until Jeannie tells "Team Dipshit" to listen up.
Marty explains Carlson is out and Pincus will be the client they close and take to Kahn and Associates. Clyde entire face deflates as it dawns on him he's the latest victim of Marty's ruthlessness. "You knew about this?" he asks Jeannie, who confirms and he walks out. Marty picks up on the tension, but, in a self-absorbed move that will come back bite him in the ass, doesn't follow Clyde to explain the change in plans or calm him down. Truthfully, Marty could have kept Carlson on and taken him to the new firm. While he is a certified nut, Marty's main reason for screwing Carlson over was to payback Tamara for her betrayal. He could have chosen to close the deal with Carlson, let Tamara take what she needed and leave for DeMarc's and take the whole affair on the chin. But Marty always shoots first and thinks later, and much of what follows is a sad, lonely comeuppance for that mentality.
But back to Jeannie. She asks if everything is okay post-Tamara, which Marty dismisses with a "fuck that" and tells her to get her purse so they can check out their new office space. "I like it," she says, and the two trade playful husband and wife quips. They embrace and we cut back to Vegas, where Clyde is delivering a wedding toast. At first it looks like Clyde is going his usual douchebag route, dissing Doug and pissing off Sarah. Then Clyde gets real, for want of a better phrase, calls Doug his best friend and says he admires him. What's in that champagne, mollies? After his toast Jeannie gets up and walks over to Marty, and tells him she needs to talk to him.
You know where this is going, but wait! As the they walk off we flash back to the group and freeze frame on Doug. Cut to Doug and Sarah in L.A. at dinner, with Doug on some man-crush rant about Marty and the Pod, and comparing them to the Fantastic Four (Just FYI, Marty's Reed Richards, Jeannie's Sue, Clyde is The Thing and Doug deems himself the human torch. Doug is so not Johnny Storm, but movin' on.) Even with all his gushing, he's a bit torn about whether to see what opportunities develop at Galweather or whether to stay with the Pod. Sarah tries to get a word in as dessert is served, and picks at her food until she spies a ring.
Cue tears, champagne and kisses and Doug internally freaking out before freaking out in front of Jeannie and Clyde the next day. Jeannie expresses disbelief over him taking another girl's ring, while Clyde calls him out for not telling Sarah for because the bonus of getting a free ring. "Absolutely not...entirely," Doug says. Oh Doug you tightwad. Doug stops Marty in the hallway and asks him to do a reading at his wedding. Marty doesn't say anything, but the "hell to the naw" look on his face pretty much says it all. Fast forward to Vegas and Doug in a kilt as Sarah walks down the aisle. "With this ring, I do commit myself as your everlasting lover," he tells her. "May it encircle your finger, the way I will encircle you." Umm yeah. Doug looks at Marty gives him a genuine smile, while Marty nods and smirks before checking his phone again.
That moment erases any doubts Doug may have had about staying behind at the firm. He wants to talk Sarah about it--mid-vow exchange of course--but Sarah's got a secret to spill. It turns out she orchestrated the whole proposal, free ring and all. "It's pretty batshit crazy," Doug says, and she concurs, but saves herself from permanent residence in psycho town by telling him he doesn't have to go through with the wedding. "I really need you to forgive me. Because I don't know what I'd do if I lost you," she says, tearing up. Doug looks like he doesn't wanna hear it at first, but realizes no one's ever been scared of losing him before (a dig at Marty perhaps?) and decides to go through with it.
We flash back to the group photo and the shot freezes on Clyde, who's got a particularly self-satisfied grin on his face. Cut to Clyde's face in Marty's office when he realizes he just got screwed and he walks out with Doug following behind. Clyde goes on a rant about the aborted Carlson deal, the deal with the Dushkins and all the money he won't be earning because of Marty. "This was supposed to be a game changer for me and he just does whatever the fuck he wants without even thinking," Clyde seethes. Doug misinterprets his anger as just being another "Marty's an a-hole," dish session, but it's not until Clyde confesses that he really thought of Marty as a friend that Doug almost starts to get he's serious. Marty again notices the tension, but chooses to ignore it and leaves with Jeannie.
Knowing how insightful and perceptive Marty is about people makes those little moments all the more frustrating. His gut/intuition is likely telling him something is up, but he's either so arrogant that he believes Clyde and the rest of the Pod will follow him no matter how he treats them, or is too afraid to "lower" himself to their level and consider their feelings. No matter now, as Clyde is too through, and meets with the Anti-Christ, a.k.a. Monica, for lunch. Monica, of course, is dismissive, and after Clyde pushes away her foot from his nether regions, bored. Though she does offer some harsh truths. "I did not agree to this lunch to play shrinky Mommy to your man crush on Marty Kahn. He breaks hearts, you know that," she says. She then blows off his claim that he was instrumental in the Carlson deal. "Why should he take you seriously? Better yet, why should I?" Monica's got one heel out the door until Clyde tells her he's about to make her mountains of cash.
And with that we're back to the group photo once again. Marty's complaining about getting the picture over and done with, when--oh snap!--a fist makes a love connection with his face! The camera freezes on a bloody lipped Marty and we flash back to him at Galweather, getting into the elevator. He looks up from his phone and sees Julianne, standing in the corner and staring at him like a black widow in the mood for fly chow. He tries to escape, but she draws him back into her web (last arachnid reference I swear). Julianne mentions a conversation she had with Carlson, and predicts Galweather will get after work from online gambling. Marty more accurately predicts Carlson's a big bag of a crazy who wants to toy with him for his own sick pleasure. "As long as we get paid, right?" Julianne says, before fist bumps are exchanged.
Marty walks over to Tamara and hands her info for the Vegas trip. She tells to she's not doing his bidding, but he shoots back that if she doesn't, he'll crush her deal with DeMarc. Checkmate. Fast forward to Vegas, where Sarah has surprised Doug with a huge cake replica of Harvard. As I've said before,these two belong together. Clyde asks about the Pincus deal, and Marty tells him to chill out. Marty checks his phone but sees all his information and contacts have been erased. Uh oh. Marty immediately thinks the rat is Tamara, and confronts her in her hotel room. She denies it, and oh, there's her ex-husband/maybe still her husband Kevin, standing at the door with her. "Marty I would never do that to you. We have way too much history," she says in a quiet, steely voice. "I would never," she repeats, which on the surface just sounds like an honest denial; but read between the lines and you can almost hear her saying "because I may be a little trifling, but I still have a soul."
Marty bids them adieu and heads back into the lobby, and nods at Jeannie to come over. She babbles for a bit about breaking up with The Dildo King before bringing up their blackout escapades after last season's failed merger. "I love you," she says without a trace of snark. Marty's response? "Jesus Jeannie," he spits, before going into a spiel about Julianne and Carlson and the Pincus deal. "You're gonna pick now to tell me about your school girl crush?" Jeannie looks devastated but gives him one more chance. "Don't tell me Marty that you don't know that there's something here and whatever it is has you too scared to move a muscle." Marty being Marty, he plays dumb and asks her what she wants him to say.
Jeannie storms off with Marty in pursuit until Doug hops in his way and asks to talk. He tells him he's staying at Galweather, and it's hard to tell if Marty is sad, disinterested or just surprised. He pushes Doug aside and goes into the ladies room where Jeannie's fishing something out of her bra--a jump drive with all his contacts--gives it too him and storms off. Marty asks Doug for a phone, and they start to pose for the photo when who lands a sucker punch? Carlson! I know, the gray sweater totally had me thinking it was Kevin with a surprise attack too.
The two start going at it, and Marty demands to know who Carlon's mole is. Clyde reveals he's the one who dimed him out to Julianne and he's taking Carlson with him to Monica's firm. Marty lunges for Clyde before Carlson throws him onto the table where the Harvard cake sits. Carlson strangles Marty while hurling a thousand threats, until Jeannie, who loathes Marty right now but isn't in the mood to see him die, knocks Carlson out with a gift. The cake slides down and splatters all over our two combatants. Sarah lights into them for being jerks, and Doug goes all old school Sean Penn on the photographer's camera before they walk off. Jeannie picks up Doug's phone and a "ain't this some ish" look settles on her face. "Pincus deal closed. Congratulations Marty," she says, dropping the phone on his chest and leaving him to have his cake and eat it too.
The whole fight scene was great. Though the first thought that came to mind when I saw the look on Marty's mug after Clyde dropped the bombshell was "This is so Don Draper." Though Don probably wouldn't throw down at a wedding--he saves that for drunken nights in the office with dudes named Duck. Of course, Mad Men and House of Lies are too vastly different shows. And Marty Kahn and Don Draper are two different men living in two very different eras (had Don met Marty back in the day he'd probably mistake him for Hollis the elevator operator). But the two are alike in that they hold others to a high ethical standards while doing whatever to whoever they please, no matter the collateral damage. Marty's also like Don in that he treats relationships, and people in general, as disposable commodities, rather than individuals who can help him achieve his goals. They demand absolute loyalty while offering little to none in return.
Marty shows off his office space to Jeremiah and Roscoe and the toast to Kahn and Associates. Roscoe asks where Clyde and Doug's offices will be, and if Jeannie's coming. Marty bobs and weaves well enough for him, but Jeremiah can see the writing on the wall. He opts out for a quick psychoanalysis though, and tells Marty he's proud of him. Marty walks over to a window and calls Jeannie's cell, but Jeannie, on a plane to somewhere, doesn't pick up. He leaves an awkward message, at one point pausing while his reflection eggs him on to come clean about his true feelings.
"I can't do this without you okay? I can't do any of it without you," Marty says. Just when it looks like he's about to drop the L word, he chickens out and put his bravado back up. "So stop being a baby," he says, before the beep sounds and both me and mirror Marty are shaking our heads. "You're a fuckin' idiot," mirror Marty says, and it's hard to disagree.
In the end Marty did/does need Jeannie. He also needed Doug and Clyde. But he didn't value any of those relationships beyond how they could serve him, so everything fell apart. Season one ended with the Pod sticking together and surviving, no matter the cost to their personal lives. "Til Death Do Us Part" ends with the Pod imploding because of their leader's single-minded selfishness. Marty's always managed to hold his work life together but now that's, if not completely shattered, definitely damaged. One the personal side, aside from Jeremiah and Roscoe, he's an island unto himself.
It was pretty daring of the show to end the season on such a dark note, when they could have easily wrapped things up with some rote Las Vegas insanity and have Clyde and Doug fall back in line as they tag along with Marty to the new firm Olivia Pope and Associates style. But these aren't gladiators in suits, these are sharks (well maybe not Doug, but he's finally getting some fins), and it'll be interesting to how the four of them swim solo once season three starts up. Especially if we get more episodes like this ambitious finale. See you in January.