A Look at House of Lies- Season 3, Episode 3: “Boom”

“Boom.”  I sense a theme with the episode titles this season.  I also get the feeling that this is the season where Kristen Bell goes into boss mode.

After a brief sequence in which we see Jeannie riding an unnamed man, the episode begins proper with Marty coming to Jeannie’s home, which is still filled with unpacked boxes even though Jeannie moved in seven months ago.

She’s due to be in Phoenix by noon to meet with Colossal Foods, while Marty is to travel to meet with Robert Tretorn to talk about a bean that will make you question everything you ever knew about hot beverages.

Boom- Johnno wants to pound it out

The door rings and it’s the man from the first scene, Johnno, played by Ryan Hansen.  And as I’ve never watched Veronica Mars before in my life, I won’t make any sort of references to it.  So yeah, this guy is Jeannie’s current love interest.  He’s also a softball player who works at Applebees.

When Johnno exits, Marty tries to talk real to Jeannie, but just wants to know that he won’t screw her over, but Marty doesn’t consider it.  After all, their partnership is a win-win: Marty’s company will get steady cash infusion and Jeannie will get to go back to Galweather like a hero.  Who knows?  Maybe Jeannie will screw over Marty.

Boom- Jeannie, Benita, Clyde and JC spot a man at Jeannie's desk

At Galweather Stearn, Benita tries to explain to Jeannie the legal and ethical violations she found while looking at the DOD account, but Jeannie isn’t paying her any attention.  Instead, the pod’s attention goes to the strange man in Jeannie’s office, just idling at her desk.

He soon sees himself out, but then the pod notices guards escorting Julianne.  Soon enough, someone tells Jeannie that she’s wanted in the conference room.  What for?  It’s not explained.  Col. Selby seems to be in a joyous mood, but once Jeannie enters the room, her day takes a turn for the worst.

Boom- The Rainmaker returns

Sitting at the head of the conference table is none other than The Rainmaker himself, Marco Pelios.

Meanwhile, Clyde and Everett are left to work at Monica’s home.  I guess Christy must be in jail or something.  Or suspended.  We’re never told.  Anyway, Monica is confined to a scooter and still howls orders like she’d never been stabbed in the thigh.  Clyde suggests he and Everett just overpower her.  Rise against the batshit crazy machine that is Monica, but Everett refuses.  And not like Clyde can just waltz out yet.

Boom- Clyde overhears Marty and Monica 'flirting'

Marty comes in just as Monica decides to wheel herself out.  He and Monica get in a few verbal jabs, but he’s just there to pick up Roscoe, whose only here this week to tell Clyde- and remind us- that he’s seeing someone.

At Galweather, the Rainmaker tells everyone present that there’s going to be some restricting and shifting of responsibilities.  But more on that later.  Now it’s time to celebrate a return to glory days!

Boom- The Rainmaker talks with Jeannie, one on one

But not Jeannie.  The Rainmaker has her stay behind so she can listen to his story of what he’s been up to since his fall from grace at the end of Season One.  Since then, he’s been a pariah to everyone he knew.  No one wanted to be seen with him.  Jeannie fires back, stating that maybe those people weren’t his real friends.  The Rainmaker isn’t deterred.

He can’t fire Jeannie, but he knows that she and all of the other women in Galweather Stearn that he screwed must have enjoyed it.  After all, what girl doesn’t dream of blowing Santa Claus?  He liked having sex her before, but now he’s really going to enjoy it now.

Boom- Doug proposes transferring to Col Selby's pod

On the plane to Colossal Foods, Doug wonders how in the world The Rainmaker returned to Galweather.  Jeannie tries to use a sports analogy, but outside of squash, he can’t identify with many sports.  Basically, teams try a change of ethos when things go bad.  If the team loses games, they’ll open their wallets and bring in all star athletes.

Have to do what you can to preserve yourself if there are too many losses, after all.  Doug has a temporary solution to the problem: he’ll transfer over to Gil’s pod since Gil is very close to The Rainmaker.  That way, he can keep an eye on things.  Such loyalty!  Jeannie shuts him down.

Benita, meanwhile, did some thinking in the bathroom.  Between her and Doug noticing an ankle holster last week, what is it with Jeannie’s pod making discoveries while in the bathroom?  Anyway, she theorizes that The Rainmaker played hardball with the DOD in order to get them in compliance with federal law.  Before Benita can get far, Jeannie shuts her down, too, as she’s in no mood to discuss it.

Boom- Marty's pod discusses Colossal Foods with Robert Tretorn

Meanwhile, Marty and his pod meet with Tretorn.  There are rumblings about: Colossal could have a new brand out by next year.  Tretorn isn’t concerned.  He’s a protector of the Earth.  If anything Colossal Foods’ new brand will fail since it’s not organic.

The pod disagrees, pointing out that people will see a new store that looks like Free Range Foods, so people will go to it.  Will people be smart enough to see through it?  Probably not.  But will they go for the lowest available price?  You bet.  So Tretorn agrees to let Marty’s pod help.

Boom- Monica asks Clyde and Everett about her 'stolen' drugs

Elsewhere, Monica is on the warpath to find out who has her drugs.  Neither Everett nor Clyde admits to it, but Clyde is on his way out the door anyway.  Monica, however, reveals that she knows about his interview with Booz Allen and once again declares that she will keep him there forever.

But Clyde gets in his car and drives off, popping some of Monica’s pills in the process.

Back with Marty’s pod, Will believes that Free Range Foods should threaten to drop some of its small providers if they sell to a new entity.  Good.  Caitlin suggests that Free Range just find out where Colossal Foods plans to build their new supermarket.

That way, Free Range can just build one first.  Not so good, as Marty shoots it down: how much longer would it take to get a new location and build a store as opposed to just converting an existing market into a Colossal Foods?  Much longer.

Then enters Robert in rage mode.  He explodes at the pod and explains that Colossal Foods has Free Range wrapped them in a bear hug!

Boom- Marty breaks the fourth wall to explain a 'bear hug'

Time freezes as Marty breaks the fourth wall to explain exactly what a bear hug is: a hostile takeover where a large company, such as Colossal Foods, makes an offer to a smaller company, like Free Range, that far exceeds the smaller company’s value.

The smaller company has an obligation to take care of its shareholders, so it will have no choice but to accept.  The big company sleeps well at night, while the small company slowly withers away.  And Marty knows right away that only one person could have orchestrated this.

Boom- Marty confronts Jeannie and her pod at airport

As Jeannie’s pod heads through the airport, Doug notices he has missed calls from Marty.  He wonders why, but he can ask him right now, as Marty is standing before them.  And he’s not happy at all.  Jeannie sends the kids away so she and Marty can talk.

Jeannie starts: Ted Lansky of Colossal Foods was just overjoyed about the suggestion.  He practically thinks Jeannie is a god.  Marty calls Jeannie out on her supposed double-cross, but Jeannie continues- Lansky would follow Jeannie anywhere she goes, whether to hell and back, or even Kaan & Associates.

Boom- Marty and Jeannie face off

Marty, now calmer, notes that Jeannie could have started out with that, but she says it was worth it to see him squirm.  Luckily, Marty’s kept an office waiting for her, but she has terms.  She wants parity: same equity in the firm as him.  They’d be pulling in huge amounts in fees.  Jeannie’s thought this out.  She knows that Marty’s business, while on the right track, is still a small startup.

Marty would have to spend a lot of money on his image.  Losing Free Range Foods would be bad.  He’d have to do massive layoffs or spend a lot of money out of his own pocket to keep things afloat.  Colossal Foods would offset the loss.  Having Jeannie around means she can keep her eyes and ears open when he doesn’t.  Whether he wants to admit it, he needs her.

But she’s clear on one thing: this is purely a business decision, as she will not hesitate to throw him under the bus.

Boom- The Rainmaker tells Jeannie's she's off everything

Back at Galweather Stearn, the Rainmaker congratulates Jeannie on her big win, but that’s about it.  She’s off Colossal, DOD, everything.  But to the Rainmaker’s surprise, Jeannie accepts that she’s been bad and just wants to earn back his trust.

Boom- Jeannie apologizes and rewards Benita

Jeannie then apologizes to Benita for snapping at her.  If only Doug would do the same, but I digress.  Jeannie admits the stress of the job hardened her, but that’s the nature of the business.  There’s no way to get out of it unscathed and it’s hardened her.  However, she sees a little bit of herself in Benita.

So Jeannie gives Benita the phone number of a college roommate who now works at the New York Times.  The purpose?  If Benita told this roommate even half of what she told Jeannie about the DOD’s blatant disregard for the United States Constitution, it would be the end of Galweather Stearn.

Boom- Jeannie watches the fireworks

As Jeannie makes her exit, she pulls the pin from an imaginary grenade, lets the grenade roll and the elevator doors close as the episode comes to an end.

“Boom” put its focus primarily on the warring relationship between Marty and Jeannie, but it also showed the effects the job has had not just on them, but the rest of the pod.  It showed how management consulting can alter people: who gets hurt making deals, who rises to the top without looking back to see who they’ve stepped on, and who loses their dignity or sense of humanity.

I get the point of the episode’s title, but it feels more like a title better suited for the season finale, given what Jeannie’s actions have set up.  But then, that’s me putting my expectations on the show, when the writers are free to do as they please, such as the unexpected return of the Rainmaker.

The cool confidence exhibited by the main pod here had been rattled, but not shattered altogether.  Whether it’s Marty’s reaction to Jeannie supposedly screwing him over, Jeannie confronting the Rainmaker after she took him down in Season One, Clyde dealing with Monica berating him, and the stabbing of Monica, even though it happened last week, are all examples of strong characters being temporary crippled by unexpected events.

Though they’ve stumbled, they manage to regain their footing, save for Clyde, who is trying desperately to escape Monica’s hold around his neck.

Let’s start with Marty.  I like how he’s slowly grown more attached to his pod from what we’ve seen.  They’re slowly filling the roles that Doug, Clyde and Jeannie played to the point that Marty breaks down each of their plans and details what’s good and, more so, what’s bad about them.

Boom- Marty tries to call Jeannie after learning of the bear hug

This is Marty treading over dangerous waters.  As his business is still fairly new, he has to establish it and can’t just bank on name recognition from his work at Galweather Stearn.  As such, it’s evident that Marty is taking his time with Robert Tretorn as opposed to going right for the plunge, as he would have before.  Granted, it’s not explained just how much experience Marty has had with this new pod, but this feels like an early ordeal for him.

So everything must be mapped out perfectly, and when Jeannie throws a wrench in that plan, he’s legitimately pissed off at her.  Marty has always been a man who has been able to control or contain situations, but his initial reaction to Jeannie’s supposed betrayal shows that he hasn’t accounted for every possible turnout to his plans.

Boom- Marty explaining bear hugs

Side-note on Marty, I’m glad this episode brought back the concept of Marty breaking the fourth wall to explain management consulting terms to the audience, as he did with the bear hug.  It’s something that stood out in the first season and I don’t think it was done as much during the second season, but I was glad to see it done again here.

I’m not getting the motivation for Doug’s continued antagonism toward JC and Benita.  Sure, they’re both odd, but they’re no odder than Doug is.  They aren’t terrible people- they do their work and want to play an active role within the pod.

While Jeannie is more focused on the future, Doug’s objective thus far has been to make it as difficult as possible for JC and Benita to assimilate into Doug and Jeannie’s circle, but I don’t understand why.  Like Clyde did to him, it feels as if Doug is just fishing for things to dislike about JC and Benita and latches onto that.

Boom- JC Flips Doug the bird

That did lead to one of the episode’s funnier moments where he railed Benita for calling the September 11th attacks 9-1-1 as opposed to 9/11, as well as when JC didn’t think too much of it and Doug seemed to take offense to that, given how his aunt dated a man who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald.

Those comedic interactions are what make House of Lies work so well and I just wish there were more of them to counterbalance Doug’s opposition to JC and Benita.  Benita is a bit too timid for now, but at least JC puts up a decent fight.  Also, even though Clyde and Doug were constantly at odds, they found time to be cordial, whereas here, he just comes off like a bit of a prick.

Boom- Clyde leaving Monica's

Clyde, meanwhile, is boxed in a cage and just grasping at freedom.  As for now, he just survives but tries not to fall into despair and however else the rest of that quotes from 12 Years a Slave goes.  As we saw last week, he just wants out, but even begging to be fired won’t help him.

His ramblings to Everett just show that he’s almost as on edge as Christy, but I doubt he’d jeopardize himself by stabbing Monica in the thigh.  More than that, since she knows about his plans to leave her, Monica will keep Clyde tight, so he’s in a near hopeless situation.

The moment where Marty comes to pick up Roscoe at Monica’s is very telling.  Clyde, if he wanted to, could simply ask Marty for help or a way out, but I assume his pride wouldn’t let him.  After all, he left Marty to go work for Monica, so conceding would prove that he can’t dish it out.

Boom- Jeannie's proposition to Marty

Then you’ve got Jeannie, who’s given another great performance by Kristen Bell this week.  More so than Marty, Jeannie has control of her situations.  She’s sly, smooth and doesn’t overestimate herself.  Rightly so, considering last week when she told Jeremiah that she doesn’t buy her own greatness.  And even more so, Jeannie does not use her femininity as a weapon.

She doesn’t get ahead because of her body, she gets ahead because she’s smart and knows how to play the game the way Marty taught her.  Now that we see how calculating she can be, she’s pretty much become Marty, better than him to the extent that she’s able to catch him off guard.

It started slowly with her turning Julianne against Col. Selby so she could gain access to the DOD project, now she’s got Colossal Foods wrapped around her finger.  While everyone else is playing checkers, Jeannie is playing chess.  I heard that was supposed to mean something.

Boom- Jeannie shuts Benita down

However, for all of Jeannie’s strengths, it’s having a negative effect on her personal life.  On the season premiere, she told Marty that she got liquored up in her kitchen as opposed to at the dinner when she wanted to make a move on the CEO of Coke.

Her home still has plenty of unpacked materials.  She’s incredibly short not just with Benita and JC, but Doug as well.  Her life is frantically changing.  Like she told Benita, the world of management consulting hardens you.  But not when she’s around Marty.

Boom- Jeannie tells Marty she wants parity in the firm

The two have a bond greater than they have with others and there’s such great chemistry between Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell that the dialogue between them feels natural.  However, I’m of the opinion that the two don’t necessarily always need each other.  It’s clear from this episode that Jeannie, if she wanted to, could do without Marty, but she chooses to work with him.

I like how smart Jeannie has proven herself to be.  She’s not a token blonde with empty thoughts- she’s a well developed and strong female who can stand on her own two feet.  She’s able to screw over who she needs to in order to advance.

Both Jeannie and Marty often become short when working with their respective pods, but when they’re with each other, both come off as more cordial and friendly, as business partners would.  Whether it’s Jeannie getting Lansky to follow her wherever she pleases or Marty saving an office for her, they anticipate each other’s needs.

But it’s Jeannie who is one step ahead this time.  Hell, she had someone look into his books to do some digging.

It’s no secret that Marty’s business is new.  He’s moving slowly because he has to establish himself.  He doesn’t have the guaranteed security the way Jeannie does by remaining at Galweather Stearn.  If Marty is bled dry, that’s it.  If Jeannie wanted to fully gut him, he’d be on his last leg, but she didn’t because they can be of great use to each other.

It shows how much of their work is purely business, but how integral they are to getting what they both want.  Ultimately, I don’t think Jeannie will be deterred by the Rainmaker’s return.  In fact, given what she learned from Benita, she may welcome it.

“Boom” dealt with handling and overcoming sudden curveballs.  It advanced Marty and Jeannie’s plan, but also gave more depth to their relationship.  The callbacks to Season One were well executed and the Rainmaker’s return sets Jeannie up with another potential- and returning- adversary.  The episode showed us Jeannie making a major power play, so whatever happens, she’s ready to sit back and watch the fireworks.

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