At the end of last season, the Pod went its separate ways. Now we see how they operate without working together.
The season begins with Marty entering the brand spanking new offices of Kaan and Associates. The mood is cheery and full of excitement as the company has really taken off. And hey, Doug and Clyde are there! Even Jeannie is there, too! How? She’s got connections, despite not responding to any of Marty’s calls. The two share a kiss and life looks good for Marty Kaan.
Except not really, as the world begins crumbling around them and Marty awakens on a plane, learning from new pod member Caitlin that the ride just experienced some turbulence.
So anyway, in Qingdao, China, Marty and his new pod, consisting of: Caitlin, played by Genevieve Angelson, Jeffrey, played by Rob Gleeson and Will, played by Ryan Gaul, try to keep up with their prospective client. Well, the new pod maybe tries too hard, as Caitlin breaks a heel.
The client is Free Range Foods CEO Robert Tretorn, played by Daniel Stern. Tretorn speaks about the advantages of heirloom seaweed before sticking some right into Marty’s mouth. Yum.
Time freezes as Marty lets us know that the food tastes like the ass of a sick fish, but, also, more importantly, why he’s pursuing Tretorn: the economy is on an upswing. Jobs are falling out of the sky and no one wants for anything. Free Range Foods is an organic chain that’s coming up fast. Tretorn assimilated it in the 1970s, as one small shop grew to 1200. Having traveled 6,000 miles just to pitch an idea to him, Marty won’t leave empty handed. That’s part of the job- running around just to find someone who will even consider you, never mind accepting what you throw at them.
As time resumes, Marty tells Robert about the possibility of crushing his competition: Colossal Foods. Robert says he’s doing fine for now, but only because the economy is flat, which equates to death for businesses. Robert’s 20 year expansion is good for 20 years down the road, but he needs to come up with something for now.
Back in the States at Galweather Stearn, Jeannie is head of her own pod alongside Doug and two new members: JC, played by Brad Schmidt, and Benita, played by Lauren Lapkus. And Doug is not happy about the new pod at all, as he reminisces about the good old days of Season 1 and 2 with Marty and Clyde. Jeannie informs the pod about a dinner being held that evening by a group called Days of Hope, though Benita is the only one interested in wanting to know for what the group raises money. We get snippets of character information regarding the two new members: Benita is a great analyst and JC has decided to wait to have sex with his girlfriend until they’re married. Doesn’t mean they haven’t tried anything else, though.
On the plane ride back to the States, Marty’s new pod express their displeasure about working for him. It’s not the fun filled ride they expected, given Marty’s legendary reputation. Heck, Will, who used to work for Monica, notes that Monica used to speak of Marty like he was Voldemort.
Oh, and Marty’s not asleep and can hear every single word. They scatter.
When Marty arrives at home, Roscoe lets him know that he plans to try out for the basketball team, which excites Marty. The two, along with Jeremiah, fool around a bit with some air ball, though the mood drops when Roscoe and Jeremiah continually ask Marty about his old pod and how much he misses them. He scatters.
Then we catch up with Clyde, who is now working for Monica at Kinsley Johnson Partners. Rounding out the pod are Christy, played by Milana Vayntrub, and Everett, played by Eugene Cordero. As expected, Clyde tries to put the moves on Christy, but to no avail.
Back with Marty, he tasks his team up with certain assignments in regards to Free Range Foods: Caitlin is to push on legal, Jeff is to make it appear that the pod will save Free Range from bankruptcy and Will is needed for intel. After working for Monica, he must have learned a thing or two about how she operates. And though she was secretive and threatened to kill him, Marty is right there and could kill him right now, so he spills: she did, in fact, reuse Power Point presentations and just changed the names. No one ever knew about it. Except now.
Clyde pays Galweather a visit and reconnects with Doug and Jeannie, saying that he’s not really challenged while working for Monica. He has a brief visit with the new pod before having to head back to Kinsley.
And at Kinsley, Monica has become a fire-breathing dragon and makes it known to the team. Colossal Foods wants to meet her on a supposed rumor that she gave them bogus information, meaning they could be counseled out. She blames Clyde even though he claims to have known nothing about it, but she then lashes out at Christy and Everett as well. She wants ten new ideas to save the account by the evening. Oh, and there’s the chance that she may have told Christy that Clyde is a rapist, so there’s that.
Jeannie exits her home for the dinner and finds Marty waiting with a limousine. He tells her that there’s still a place for her at his association, but Jeannie tries to blow him off. Her intention is to make a move on the CEO of Coke, noting that she got liquored up in the kitchen as opposed to doing it at the dinner. Marty is disappointed. He thought Jeannie was smarter than that. Turns out that the CEO of Coke threatens to fire DeMarque every three years, but never does it because the account manager is his brother in law.
Marty offers something her better: Colossal Foods. He’ll hold onto Free Range Foods, but they’ll be able to share intel and play the companies forever. That part isn’t illegal. At least, not the way Marty plans to do it, anyway. Jeannie insists that this doesn’t change anything, but Marty lets her know that if she’s not on board, he’ll just kill her and put her carcass in the truck. Lovely.
As with any season opener, this episode was about setup. Given the falling out at the end of last season, the episode’s job was to show how the gang adjusts to not working together. While they may be getting on fine so far, except for Clyde, there are clear signs that they long to be reunited, even if they don’t want to come out and say it.
The key focus here is on Monica’s account with Colossal Foods, which Marty can only take down by working with Jeannie at Galweather Stearn. As with most other situations, Marty is looking three steps ahead of everyone else and knows the outcome of Coke’s CEO threatening to fire DeMarque, which is nothing. He plays into not just his own cunning, but Jeannie’s desire to one-up a client. Sure, it doesn’t automatically make them friends again, as Jeannie notes that the temporary partnership won’t change anything. However, it does get them back on speaking terms and sets up the two, and I assume Doug and Clyde as well, reuniting.
Don Cheadle is in great form this episode, still retaining the confident strut he had in the previous two seasons. The stakes are higher for Marty because he’s operating on his own terms. Whereas before his pod worked for someone higher up the management consulting food chain, now Marty goes by his own rules. This is made evident when he breaks the fourth wall and discusses having to travel to the ends of the Earth just to find a client who will consider you, and if not them, you keep on going until someone hires you. Marty knows this game. We’ve watched him play it for two seasons, but he’s his own boss now, so now it’s time to put into play everything he’s learned if he’s to get this new business off the ground.
We aren’t told specifically how much time has passed between Season 2 and 3, given how Marty’s pod still seems fresh to the business. I like the idea of Marty’s previous pod being legendary, as it helps open up the world here and show just how well of a reputation Marty’s pod has in the consulting world. It also gives this new pod something to look forward to since they came in with high expectations, but they came at a time when Marty is in adjustment mode. He’s still trying to get on with his life without Doug, Clyde and Jeannie and it’s evident that the fallout still bothers him. There’s not much to say about the new pod yet since this was their introduction. The characters play the part well, but I don’t have much of a connection to them at this point. However, Will may be more integral, as he did use to work for Monica.
The same applies for the others and their respective pods. Until the end of the episode, Jeannie appears to want to move past the fallout and get on with business as usual, though between her meet with Marty at the end and Doug reminiscing about the gang, the bond is still there for her as well. We learn a bit more about Galweather Stearn’s new pod in that JC is very religious and Benita may care too much about things that don’t ultimately concern her. From the way JC looked at Jeannie’s butt, however, you wonder how much he can really hold onto abstinence until marriage.
Doug coming off as hostile toward the new pod was a bit strange, but it didn’t feel out of character. Remember, it was Sarah last year who clued him onto the fact that the pod didn’t, as he thought, appreciate his intellect. Then he found out about Clyde hitting on her. Last season, Doug came to terms with the fact that, on a personal level, Marty, Jeannie and Clyde probably don’t like him that much. Respect, maybe, even though he was the group’s punching bag. Regardless of that, he still managed to get along with the group and become part of a team dynamic that is now fractured. Obviously he’ll have some hostility toward the new pod members because they aren’t Marty and Clyde. There’s nothing interesting about them and the usual kind Doug, as of now, isn’t interested in connecting with this new pod.
Clyde, however, is in literal hell while working for Monica, who he thought would respect him. Whether she’s trying to poison the pod by telling Christy that Clyde is a rapist or antagonizing Christy for not coming onto CEOs, Monica is on a power trip. I imagine she’s like most First Ladies once the cameras are off, but I digress. It’s one of the few moments that you feel bad for Clyde because he’s in such a terrible position. His visit to Galweather seemed like a breath of fresh air. While he tried to pick on Doug again, failing to lower his enthusiasm, it was clear from their interaction that they both miss their old pod.
I’ll admit that I didn’t even recognize Daniel Stern, but he does a good job with the material he’s given. Nothing noteworthy yet, but hopefully he doesn’t turn out as oblivious to social activity as Michael McDonald’s character did. Also, I guess the Sticky Bandits idea never took off since now Marv is into organic food chains. Who knew?
So Marty wants to take down Monica, but he’ll need Jeannie’s help. From the dream sequence at the beginning, we see that Marty’s world is crashing around him and he has himself to blame. Whether he can keep it stable is unknown now, but at least he’s taking slow, but steady steps to repair the shattered bonds from last season. Though he didn’t flat out apologize to Jeannie for what he did last season, their partnership is at least a small step in the right direction.
There was still plenty of fun to be had with this episode. As mentioned, the air ball scene between Marty, Roscoe and Jeremiah was fun to watch and it was a light moment between all the drama of the pod trying to move on with their lives. Monica gets one fantastic, but evil line aimed at Christy about females in management consulting that very much fits with her character.
This episode was about setting the stage to reunite the band, so to speak. It’s odd to see the pod in separate places and not have them exchange barbs, but there was still a lot to enjoy and I’m interested to see where House of Lies goes this season.