A Look at House of Lies- Season 3, Episode 4: “Associates”

With this week’s episode, House of Lies focuses on bonds, or rather, the lack thereof.  Like last week, the central story revolves around the now increasingly turbulent relationship between Marty and Jeannie, but more than that, it addresses their fallout from the end of Season 2.

Despite this episode having shades of the old pod coming back together, it won’t, as Jeannie points out, be the magical fantasy where the pod all reunites and all is well.  No.  Friendships and partnerships are bound to deteriorate over time and this episode showed that the bond between the pod is no exception.  Now we witness the slow crumbling of these bonds.

Associates- Roscie and Jeremiah talk up Jeannie to Marty

The episode begins with Jeremiah and Roscoe teasing Marty about Jeannie, his “right hand gal,” working at his side again, just how he apparently wanted it.  Jeremiah just wants to see Marty genuinely happy and he thinks that’s possible with Jeannie in his life.  Roscoe tells Marty that he needs to change up his wardrobe for his meeting with DollaHyde, a hip hop fashion line, and a suit and tie will just not do at all.  Marty will need some flair, like a fedora.  Yeah, no.

Associates- Jeannie and Marty at Kaan & Associates, discussing Galweather Stearn

Jeannie arrives for her first day at Kaan & Associates.  Marty arrives a moment after her and wants to give her the grand tour, but Jeannie is more focused on getting right to work.  Marty, however, did read an interesting front page article in the newspaper about Galweather Stearn.  Seems someone there leaked information regarding a DOD budget that could come back to haunt the Rainmaker.  Looks like Benita got right to work.

Associates- Doug chats with Will and Caitlin

Elsewhere in the building is Doug, whose trying to make nice with Will and Caitlin by telling them of his adventures with Marty at Galweather.  When Marty arrives, Doug assumes that Jeannie gave him the details- that when Jeannie left Galweather, Doug would be there as well, but Marty reminds Doug that he made a conscious decision to stay at Galweather Stearn.  Doug tries to double back, but Marty doesn’t back down.  There just isn’t enough space for him and Marty isn’t about to try and make space, either.

Associates- Doug rants to Jeannie

With that, Doug storms into Jeannie’s office.  She lets him rant long enough before telling him that Marty is only screwing with him.

Jeannie and Marty then discuss DollaHyde.  The two owners began on a street corner and have lots of seed money that did not come from a firm, but drugs.  Lovely.

At DollaHyde offices, we’re introduced to the Dre Collins, played by Mekhi Phifer, and Lukas Frye, played by T.I.

Wait, didn’t T.I. say on an episode of Entourage that he wanted a role that didn’t deal with gangsters, drug dealing or rapping?

Associates- Lukas and Dre argue

Whatever.  Anyway, all is not well at DollaHyde.  Lukas is over an hour late because he and his crew went out to get food.  Lukas isn’t worried.  He offers an apple pie to appease Dre, but Dre smacks away.  Just as Marty dodges it, time freezes and we learn some more about DollaHyde.

Dre Collins and Lukas Frye started DollaHyde with big dreams and a little bit of drug money in their pockets.  Dre has the business mind, while Lukas is the creative force.  However, they share the same common goal: to make it big.  Years later, they are, in fact, rich, but their paths have diverged.  Dre has a family and fancy connections with big time power elites, including the President.  Lukas, meanwhile, not only sports an ankle bracelet, but loves the guns.  Marty, naturally, isn’t interested if these two rekindle the spark they once had.  He’s got a proposition to sell.  He can’t do that if Dre and Lukas are at each other’s throats.  But how will he convince them?  Money, of course.

Associates- Pod talks with Dre and Lukas

Time resumes as Marty’s pod meets with Dre and Lukas.  As Marty and Jeannie explain, DollaHyde will be of extreme net worth in years’ time.  Lukas believes that they already are of great worth, but Jeannie puts it in perspective. Ralph Lauren has $6 billion, Valentino maybe $2 billion.  Those guys are extreme, but Dre and Lukas are just rich.  Sad news, I know.  The ultimate goal is an IPO.  Dre seems on board, but less so with Lukas.  He’s more interested in hitting on Caitlin, but Dre has a vision.  He wants to collaborate with a big retailer: Barney’s.  While Dre’s prospects are high brow, Lukas is aiming for Wal-Mart.  Big difference, though Lukas is quick to point out that Wal-Mart made $135 billion in sales during the last fiscal year alone.  Plus, chances are that few who live in a ghetto would be able to afford Barney’s.

When Lukas continues hitting on Caitlin, Jeannie flat out tells Lukas to shut the fuck up and to change the subject.

After the meeting, Doug leaves Clyde a message.  He tries calling again, but no response, so he calls Everett, who tells Doug that Clyde hasn’t been at work for the past three days.

Associates- Clyde's car getting towed

We then cut to Clyde, whose sporting a five o’clock shadow and looking ragged.  As he orders food from a food truck, he turns around to see his car being towed.  The tow truck driver, played by Bruce Beatty, tells Clyde that he didn’t make his payments, and despite Clyde berating him, the man drives off.  And that was the story of Clyde’s car.

Associates- Jeannie and Caitlin talk

Back at Kaan & Associates, Caitlin thanks Jeannie for sticking up for her.  Caitlin admits that she can normally handle aggressive men at bars or other places, but not so much with prospective clients.  Jeannie lets Caitlin know that when it comes to DollaHyde, Dre is in the driver’s seat, so taking down Lukas earns Dre’s trust.  When it comes to partnerships, you do what you can to make the alpha happy.

Jeannie takes this opportunity to school Caitlin on the importance of work.  She asks Caitlin what CAM stands for.  Caitlin believes it stands for Capacity and Availability Marketing, but Jeannie corrects her: Capacity and Availability Management, as consultants manage the service capacity, not market it.  Jeannie gives Caitlin some advice.  If she wants to up her game, spend less time reading and more time drilling herself on all things work related.  Caitlin may be smart and attractive, but no one’s going to hand her something.  If she wants to improve, put down the book and start working.

As Jeannie heads past Marty’s desk, he calls her in so they can talk DollaHyde again.  Neither of them thinks that the company will make it to an IPO.  Oh, and Jeannie’s heading home for the day at 2 p.m. in the afternoon.

Associates- Jeannie tells Marty she's heading home for the day- before clash

Marty is blown by this, but Jeannie counters that Marty done this before, and it’s none of his concern what she plans to do with her time.

Right, time to settle this.  Marty closes the door and the two face off again.  Since Jeannie arrived, she’s been an absolute bitch.  Her words, but she figured Marty would say it anyway.  Jeannie apologizes for ruining Marty’s fantasy where she returns and they fall back into old habits.

Marty counters that he’s not trying to be Jeannie’s father.  All his life he’s worked to have something that’s his, just his.  He gave her what she wanted, but she’s also a great consultant and the firm is stronger with her there.  Or, as Jeannie calls it, a pat on the head.  It’s not about the work, it’s about the fact that Marty torpedoed his last relationship- outside of his family- with someone he cared about.  The window to his soul isn’t shut yet.

Oh, and Marty didn’t give Jeannie what she wanted.  She took it.  There’s a difference.

Associates- Matt Shea and Lizzy Gordon in Car Lot

Over at a car lot, a salesman, played by Matt Shea, walks around the lot with an interested female customer, played by Lizzie Gordon.

Associates- Clyde found sleeping naked in a car

They settle upon a car and decide to hop inside, only to find a naked Clyde sleeping in the backseat.

Associates- Roscoe and Lex have their game interrupted by Marty

At home, Marty arrives not just to Jeremiah and Roscoe, but Lex as well, as he and Roscoe are playing a video game.  Well, they were playing a game, as Marty cuts it short.  Oh, Lex drove to Marty’s place, too.  For real.

Roscoe and Lex would like a moment alone and the two have small talk before having that first on-screen kiss.  So there’s this.

After Lex leaves, there’s a knock on the door and it’s not Lex, but Dre.  He’s brought Roscoe some swag, but he’s more there to talk with Marty.

Associates- Dre and Marty talk

Dre doesn’t want the BS consultant run around talk.  He wants it straight.  Lukas has to go, but Dre can’t convince him to sell.  After all, DollaHyde is part his baby, too.  The connection Dre and Lukas once had is gone.

Late that night, Marty receives a late phone call from Clyde, but he doesn’t pick it up.  So Clyde tries for the house phone instead.  Persistent, this guy.

Associates- Marty picks up Clyde from the police station

At the Culver City Police Department, Clyde admits that he screwed up and lost his shit, but can’t tell if it’s because of the drugs and alcohol or just the downward spiral that is now his life.

During the car ride, Clyde tries to make small talk about Jeannie and Doug returning, without flat out asking for a job.  Marty, though, will hear none of it and turns on the radio as the episode comes to a close.

“Associates” felt like an awakening for some of the characters.  It made them realize that he magical fantasies they wanted to play out don’t turn out the way they imagined.  It’s like getting a cold splash of water in your face.  The episode spoke to what Jeannie told Benita last week about how the management consulting business changes people.  The lines between professional and personal will always find a way to blur, both for the pod and those around them.  We think our close friendships and relationships will last for years, and some do, but people inevitably grow apart.  And it will hurt when the truth settles in, but you can either give in or fight what seems inevitable.

Associates- Clyde talks with Marty about problems

Let’s start with Clyde, who is just continuing to crash downward.  It is upsetting to see the normally upbeat and extroverted Clyde reduced to a walking shell of himself.  He hasn’t hit rock bottom just yet, but he’s at a low point in his life: he’s at a job that he hates and works for a woman who despises him and has no intention of letting him go free.  He’s behind on his car payments, slept nude in a car and his disillusionment with his job has led him to missing work for three days.  Again, Monica hasn’t broken him the way she did with Christy, but Clyde is pretty close to it.  Though I doubt he’d put his life in that kind of jeopardy by stabbing Monica, but you never know.

Ben Schwartz delivers in another good performance as the downtrodden Clyde.  We know that Clyde is still too proud to outright ask Marty for help, but he still sees Marty as his go-to person.  Sure, he probably could have called Doug or Jeannie, but they didn’t hurt Clyde the way that Marty did last season, which is why he went to work under Monica in the first place.  And Marty not even wanting to discuss the matter shows that it will be awhile before Clyde is able to ease back onto his good side.

Associates- Doug hits it off with Caitlin

Doug seemed to be in an upbeat mood this week as he made friendly with Will and Caitlin.  Much friendlier than he’s been with JC and Benita, for sure.  He appears to have an interest in Caitlin due to her picking up on his cherry orchard scenario and knowing that it was written by Chekhov.  And I did enjoy his quick shift to rage when he actually believed that Marty had no room for him at his business.  There’s not much else Doug has to do here, though, as he’s just glad to be working with Marty again, proving this when he tries to regale Will and Caitlin with tales of past business deals that the old pod made.  Hopefully Doug has more to do here, because Will and Caitlin seem to be coming along well and I’m not sure whether Marty would actually shift priorities around just because Doug has returned.

Side-note, where was Jeffrey this week?  We’re never told, but I hope he wasn’t dropped this week just because Doug is with the pod.  I mean, we saw him last week, so the show acknowledges he’s still around.  I doubt it would have been too cramped because during the business arrangements, Marty and Jeannie do most of the talking.  I dunno, maybe he had the day off, but it does irk me a bit that he’s just not mentioned at all, but Will and Caitlin are at least present.

Also, why does Doug have Everett’s phone number?  As far as I know, they’ve never met, so why would he need it?

Associates- Marty reflects after he and Jeannie talk

Oh, Marty, you shouldn’t be surprised that Jeannie isn’t going to let things go back to the way they were.  This week continued upon Jeannie’s revelation to Marty that not only did she gut him, but working with him, and not for him, was a business decision and did not change their personal friendship or relationship at all.  Now Marty is seeing the limits of his influence and control when it comes to his profession.

When he first met up with Jeannie this week, he was so focused on impressing Jeannie with her big, new office.  He’s so accustomed to being in charge and in control of those working with him that Jeannie disarming him has put him square in a corner.  He needs to recognize sooner, rather than later, that Jeannie has great power.  With his flank exposed, she’s on equal footing with him and what he wants isn’t what he’ll get.

Associates- Marty's new and old pod

Up until now, we’ve known what Marty wants because he’s very up front on everything, except maybe screwing with Doug’s head.  He’s being more careful now than he was at Galweather Stearn, but he’s focused on trying to get things back to the way they were, not what they are now.  His demeanor and attitude have alienated the pod, whether blowing off Jeannie last season or not hearing out Clyde this week.  He’s taking baby steps to set things right, but he’ll have to own up to his own mistakes and admit that he screwed up- something Marty does not do a lot.  Though it was very telling at the start of the episode when he told Jeremiah that working with Jeannie again means there’s still room for him to screw it up.

Associates- Marty takes a hit

Now Marty isn’t all in the dumps this week, but Cheadle does turn in another good performance.  It’s all in his eyes or whenever he breaks the fourth wall. You can see and feel his confusion, frustration and amusement all at different times and it shows his range as an actor without the show spelling it out for the viewer.  This applies to the rest of the cast as well, but as Marty has more complications, we see more from him.  He’s still fun to watch, too, such as during the time freeze when he takes a few puffs from a joint belonging to one of Lukas’ posse.

Associates- Jeannie tells Marty she took what he 'gave' her

Jeannie knows the damage has been done to their friendship and I liked how calculating she’s been these past few weeks.  She doesn’t care for Marty trying to woo her back into his good graces.  She just wants to get to work.  With her calling her own shots and making decisions to leave work in the middle of the day, something she knows Marty has done, she’s thrown Marty off guard and furthering exposing his defenses because she’s not being subservient.

Kristen Bell, and I know I’m sounding like a broken record, is getting better and better with each week and I think part of it has to do with her taking the reins of control away from Marty and chipping away at his armor.  She’s not really in the wrong here.  Like she said, Marty screwed up their relationship with someone he gave a damn about, outside of his family.  Jeannie won’t be hurt again, so she’s going to tell Marty exactly what he ought to hear, not what he wants to.  This makes her dismissal of Marty’s gestures all the more poignant.

Jeannie is no minnow, she’s a shark.  And I mean that in a good way.  She’s not playing second fiddle to Marty anymore.  She has parity and is on his level.  It’s funny to watch her take control of situations, like telling Lukas to shut the fuck up when he’s hitting on Caitlin, and see Marty’s face, as if he’s confused that she led the charge and not him.  After all, it’s the nature of the business and this has all been a professional move for Jeannie, not personal, which is why she’s able to set her emotions aside and focus on doing the best job that she can.

Associates- Jeannie schools Caitlin on hard work

Also, I do like Jeannie helping the other women in her life with advice on management consulting.  We saw it last week with Benita and now we saw it this week when she told Caitlin that her looks won’t move her up in the world, but hard work and dedication will.  Side-note, if Jeannie found the time to review earning sheets at her bedside while one of her past boyfriends- Wes, maybe?- went down on her, I can’t imagine they were all that good to begin with.

“Associates” put more focus on the drama than the comedy this week with the strained relationship of the pod.  It showed what happens when people try to move forward, when they want things to back to the way they were and, in Clyde’s case, what they do when they’re near rock bottom.  I enjoyed the parallelism of Marty and Jeannie’s relationship to Dre and Lukas’.  People who began as friends with big dreams and plans for the future can grow apart.  A friendship, partnership, or relationship that made sense before can mean nothing when emotions get in the way and cause bonds to sour.  We’re watching the main characters grow and deal with their interpersonal problems head on and this garnered another great episode.

Associates- Lex and Roscoe kiss

Well, at least Roscoe got lucky.  Even if it was with a wigger.

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