A Look at House of Lies- Season 3, Episode 7: “Pushback”

And here’s why you don’t screw around with T.I.  Or Kristen Bell, for that matter.

The episode begins in a headlock.  Well, with Lex having locked Roscoe in a headlock before he tells him to get ready.  Lex tries to make small talk with Marty, but it goes nowhere until Roscoe returns.

Pushback- Marty and Roscoe argue

Marty and Roscoe talk.  Since Roscoe was 18 months old, he always dressed himself, so Marty’s confused as to why he would take advice from someone else.  For Roscoe, it’s because Lex is his girlfriend.  The two clash, with Roscoe believing that Lex is the first person who ever got him and believing that Marty never asked Roscoe what he thought about his own relationship.

Pushback- Dre and Marty talk via Skype

At work, Marty tells Dre via Skype session that Lukas knows the deal, so better to put the cards on the table.  Their conversation is cut short when Marty notices various items being moved out of DollaHyde.

So, pod to the rescue, Jeffrey included this time.  Marty sends the new pod to find anyone who might return to the offices with a high capacity magazine.  Old pod?  Suck it up.  This is the nature of the business that they’re used to, so now’s the time to find a way to fix this mess.

Out comes Dre, who received a message from Lukas.  Lukas will be unable to attend the meeting because he’s meeting with Chihuahua breeders.  All eyes are on you, Doug.  The pod tries to convince Dre that Lukas is only hurting himself and whatever he does, they’ll have something ready to counter him.  Will, thinking practically, suggests just rehiring the people that Lukas fired- which is half of the senior staff- but there’s a double signatory required on all outgoing checks.  More than that, he shut down production, cancelled orders and stopped payments.  Damage control is working for now, but the pod needs to fix this mess.  Now.

Pushback- Dre and Marty talk at Kaan and Associates

When Marty and Dre alone, Marty tells him that the more time spent panicking means the pod has less time to do its job.  Lukas has only won a small battle, but not the war.  Someone like Marty Kaan isn’t intimidated by a small fry like Lukas, who loves money more than he hates Dre.

Pushback- Jeannie and Clyde propose alternative method to dealing with Lukas

Back with the pod, Jeannie tells the others that until Lukas co-signs on the payments, what they’re doing is volunteer work, which Jeannie isn’t a fan of.  Marty enters and lets the pod know that they’ll have to deal with Lukas directly, so Caitlin and Jeffrey will set that up so everyone can close this buyout today.  Why?  Because Dre is a client.  He paid them, so he gets what he wants.  Jeannie counters that the company is the client that paid them.  The company in which Dre and Lukas are equal partners.  The two go back and forth until Jeannie poses the question of who DollaHyde benefits from having more.  Doug presents two models of DollaHyde’s five year projections and viability: one with Dre at the helm, the other with Lukas.

Jeannie says there’s no point in spending time on ousting Lukas if there’s no financial advantage.  Just bring him up under different terms.  Marty still sees Lukas as a liability and blows off any suggestion that isn’t his, so this all goes nowhere.

So the game plan is for the old pod to visit Lukas and convince him that they’re weak and he was right. Stroke his ego, as it was.

Pushback- Marty explains Hood Rich

Time freezes as Marty explains that Lukas suffers from a socioeconomic disease known as “hood rich.”  This presents itself in many ways, but symptoms include more cars than novels, disapproving white neighbors and gold.  Marty is no psychic, but he does bet that Lukas is lousy with the crowd.  There’s no cure for hood rich, except for an arrest, I guess, but this means they all have to suffer.

Lukas and his posse come down to give the pod a tour.  Lukas does indeed have great affluence, even as far as having a live catfish pond.  It could happen, I guess, when you’re hood rich.

Pushback- Pod meets with Lukas

When the tour ends, Marty concedes that Dre and the pod royally screwed up.  Bottom line is neither of them can make a move without the other.  The buyout price is well above actual market value of his shares and he can walk away with more money than he already has. Lukas isn’t sold on being told what he already knows, though, so he shoots this idea down.  He thinks Dre is desperate, but won’t accept his welfare.  But he has two options: he can sell his part of the business and live like a god, or sit on his ass while the entire thing burns to the ground.

Lukas passes, so Marty decides to play hardball and presents DollaHyde’s actual financial report that can get both Lukas and Dre thrown in prison.  Lukas isn’t intimidated since prison for him would be like a family reunion.  Also, Atwater has ice cream sandwiches and Neapolitan.  Hell, prison sounds like a good idea right about now.

But Marty is willing to bet that Lukas has friends in the drug game that wouldn’t be glad that he outed him to the Fed.  He as in Marty, but since Lukas paid him, it would be as if he did it. Marty isn’t intimidated by Lukas…

Pushback- Lukas in Marty's face

…until Lukas gets right in his face and lets him know, point blank, that he might have been able to bitch at Dre, but Lukas is a real gangster with live catfish ponds and everything.  Even if the S.W.A.T. team bursts in, Lukas isn’t signing or selling anything.  So what’s Marty’s move?

Pushback- Well, that worked for the pod

Well, that worked.  At least Doug gets the post-conversation ball rolling by wondering aloud which one of the pod Lukas will kill first.  But Doug’s odds may be better since he did kill Lukas’ dog, so maybe he should set the speculation aside for the moment.  Marty believes that Lukas is acting out, but Jeannie laughs.  She’s glad that the pod went with Marty’s foolproof plan.  The pod retreats for the moment.

Except for Jeannie, who returns to Lukas and is later doing shots while swimming in his pool.  Not the catfish one, though, so the fish are safe.  She tells Lukas that Dre doesn’t give a crap about him and that the partnership is over.  Lukas needs to take care of himself and just take the money.

Pushback- Jeannie and Lukas talk

Jeannie then speaks about people who know they’re great, but are then erased by those around them.  It’s not when people succeed, it’s the moment when they’ve accomplished something that they shouldn’t have, so people say they never did and don’t deserve it.  Lukas, however, just wants to be spoken to like a real person, so Jeannie spills: her father died on Tuesday.  The funeral is tomorrow in the town where she grew up, but she’ll be making money and taking care of herself at work.  She learned that no one is on her side but her.  Lukas sees that as screwed up, but he concedes and tells her to consult.  Her suggestion?  Call Marty and tell him that he’ll sign under certain conditions.  Those conditions?  Jeannie never gets to say before she and Lukas go at it.

Pushback- Jeremiah discusses Marty's situation

At House Kaan that evening, Marty’s hard at work when Jeremiah enters.  Without Chantelle, as Jeremiah needed a break.  However, he did have a chance to catch up with Roscoe, who told him about the confrontation earlier.  In Jeremiah’s mind, Marty just pushed him a bit too far because he’s not good at reading people.  Marty believes Roscoe is off the rails, but Jeremiah doesn’t think so.  Sure, Jeremiah isn’t around when the shit hits the fan, but this isn’t about him.

Marty, whose dealing with his own consulting firm, needs help from Jeremiah, but Jeremiah spells it out: Marty is at a place where everything else falls away and it’s just him and Roscoe.  He remembers what happened when he and Jeremiah found themselves locked in combat after his mother died.  Despite that, they made it out alive.  He and Roscoe will get past this, so long as Marty allows him to live that long.

The next day, the pod waits while Marty takes a phone call from Lukas.  Lukas is out, under certain terms: he wants $150 million plus royalties.  Jeannie doesn’t seem too surprised by this news, but she only suggested $125 million.  Eh.  What’s $25 million?  Hey, it’s what Marty wanted, right?  Lukas out.  Though Dre doesn’t have that kind of money, so looks like Marty is Lukas’ bitch.  Well played.

Pushback- Lex and Roscoe drunk and playing basketball

Back at House Kaan, which has seen better days, Roscoe and Lex engage in a game of basketball as Marty enters.  Seems like there’ll be no issue until Roscoe shoots and shatters some glass.  Oh, and they’re both drunk.  Another good idea, right?  This sets Marty off, as he demands not only that Lex leave, but that the whole dating scene is done.  Er…deaded, in Marty’s words.

Pushback- Lex becomes Michelle

Marty even goes as far as to drive Lex home, though he locks himself in the car so he can get back in his dress and look like a girl.  Huh.  Also, his name is apparently Michelle.  I suppose I should feel something with this scene, but I don’t.

At the house, Marty helps a woozy Roscoe into bed.  Before Marty can leave, Roscoe asks him to not be angry at Lex since the whole ordeal was his idea.  Marty’s not angry, but if Roscoe ever mixes a 25 year old single Malt with Hawaiian Punch again, he’ll find himself up for adoption immediately.  He’ll also probably need to find his own money to pay for a brand new Bottega Hobo handbag after puking on his.  Why does he have one of those-oh, why am I even wondering at this point?

Well, at least Roscoe has something to look forward to.

This episode felt more balanced as far as the blend of humor and drama that’s always made the show work.  We’re slowly seeing the dominos fall as DollaHyde splits.  We saw the slow loss of control for both Dre and Marty, while Lukas and Jeannie get to bask in the true victories.  The episode put more focus on power struggles and realizing that little fights would soon blow over, as we saw with Marty’s situation at home.

Pushback- Jeannie shuts Clyde down

While I’m glad this episode united both pods completely, Will, Caitlin and Jeffrey are mostly here just for show, as the primary focus goes to the original pod.  Now that we had all members of both pods together, I would like to have seen them interact more, but it could easily be argued that “Middlegame” helped bridge the gap between the two pods, even if it does put Will and Clyde at odds.  Speaking of, all Clyde really gets to do is talk more and more about this McClintock empire he’s yet to produce.  Each of the new pod members are just given a few scant lines and screen time, but nothing else.  I think there was a missed opportunity now that everyone appeared at once, but it was nice just to see them working on the same assignment.

Pushback- Jeffrey returns

Though it does irk me that Jeffrey’s absence is never addressed.

Pushback- Angry Lukas

As for Lukas, we’ve seen last week how smart he is, but now he backs that up with his gangster prowess.  Sure, fists never fly, but I am glad that Lukas poses a challenge for Marty in that he won’t just roll over and accept whatever business talk he’s dealt.  He’s loud, an idiot and throws around his money for show.  Seriously, who has a catfish pond?  Marty sees Lukas as all muscle and no brains, but Lukas has both.  Dare I say he has even more muscle and anger after figuring out that Marty and Dre planned to oust him?  Seems like it, given his demeanor when Marty tells him that he’s not intimidated by him.

Yes, Lukas is obnoxious, but I doubt he got to where he is without having some smarts.  Drug money helped, yes, but given how calculating we’ve seen Lukas can be, it’s not a stretch that he’s got some intellect that others don’t acknowledge.  Like Jeannie said, it’s only when you accomplish something that you shouldn’t have that you’re taken down, and to the world, Lukas is in a position of power that he doesn’t deserve.  Despite that, he’s very willing to prove them wrong.

And Lukas is just fun to watch on screen, whether when bringing out three women to model for him or watching his crew debate going to prison just to get ice cream sandwiches that they could easily get elsewhere, Lukas provided the most entertainment this week for me.

Marty has underestimated Lukas’ intelligence, but now he’s underestimating his raw strength.  From the start, he’s painted Lukas as a gangster who got lucky, but he also believes that he’s the only one with the correct solution.  In the past and even this season, Marty’s been open to suggestion, even when dealing with Free Range Foods.  Now he sees one solution: his.  By shutting down every other idea, he’s decided it’s up to him as the designated leader to solve this crisis.  And what he ends up with, given Lukas’ terms, is not what he expected.

Pushback- Jeannie tells Marty that he's Lukas' bitch

This will only make his relationship and partnership with Jeannie more combative.  Jeannie is a much more approachable person than Marty, except when it comes to Caitlin, I guess.  As a result, she can be more practical in her position because she doesn’t walk around with an air of superiority.

Pushback- Jeannie looks nice every day

All right, she kind of walks around with an air of superiority, but as of now, her ego is nowhere near as inflated as Marty’s.  Her conversation with Lukas about her family is very telling, and it builds upon the character development we witnessed when she discussed her family with Jeremiah: while she doesn’t believe she’s as powerful as people paint her out to be, Jeannie knows that, at the end of the day, she’s the only person in her corner, so everything she earns is from hard work, not because it was given to her.

Pushback- Lukas and Jeannie connect

I like the connection between Lukas and Jeannie: both are in positions of power and great authority that their close acquaintances don’t believe they deserve.  But both Lukas and Jeannie are smart enough not just to make it on their own steam, but to one-up their friends in a great power play.  And when Jeannie tells Marty that he’s just become Lukas’ bitch, there’s great satisfaction in her voice.  She said she won’t hesitate to throw Marty under the bus, and she’s proving her point.

Pushback- Roscoe and Marty outside Lex's home

And then there’s Roscoe, who reaches a low point with his rebellious phase and getting drunk.  All part of him growing up, right?  But from the start of the show, Roscoe has never fit into Marty’s ideal of the model son.  Now that Roscoe is growing up and in a relationship, he’s challenging Marty’s authority.  He pushes, but because Marty pushes back, all Roscoe can do is push back even harder because this kid is not one to just back down, especially now.

Roscoe’s relationship with Marty has been as turbulent as Marty’s is with his own father: Marty isn’t always there when Roscoe needs him due to his job and he isn’t on board with Roscoe’s life choices, but despite that, he still loves Roscoe as a son, proving this when he helps him into bed after a night of drinking.  I think Marty and Roscoe know their feuding will pass, but it will be awhile before that happens.  The best they can hope for right now is acceptance, but that presents a complication, given how differently the two view the world, as Marty definitely has a more traditional mindset than Roscoe.

Pushback- Lex at home

I can’t pin down Lex yet.  He’s living a double life, yes, but the scene where he enters his home dressed as a girl looks to be played for sympathy, as if we should feel sorry for Lex.  Should, but Lex has shown nothing but confidence in who he is, so maybe he’s more embarrassed at revealing his home life to Marty and Roscoe.

I’d feel bad for the kid, except Lex has been portrayed as pretty arrogant from the start.  He can have a backbone, sure, but he and Roscoe got drunk in the home of the father who already doesn’t like him.  Not to say Lex is a bad apple, but he definitely hasn’t made the best of first impressions on me.  Nonetheless, Roscoe sees something in Lex and makes him happy.  That ought to be enough to convince Marty to give Lex a chance, but given how much of a smartass Roscoe has become since meeting Lex, it’s no wonder Marty isn’t quick to budge.

Like last week, “Pushback” had its humorous bits, but also knew when to be serious and push the overall story forward.  Jeannie had her moment in the sun with another great power play, but the episode showed what happens when ego and overconfidence can overshadow tact, as was the case with Marty underestimating Lukas.  As has been the case throughout the season, Marty has been put on the defensive, both at work and at home.  True to what Jeremiah said, people will weather some rough moments, but can overcome obstacles and come out as stronger people.  In the case of Roscoe and Marty, Marty and Jeannie, or Dre and Lukas, the challenge is to see whether long lasting bonds will survive amidst their differences.

Jeannie setting her family aside to focus on work and saying she can only depend on herself is, I think, as close as the show has come to drawing a direct parallel between her and Marty: both what something that’s theirs and are willing to brush others aside to get it.  In a practical sense, none of these characters would be all too likable, but the writing, as always, is what makes them watchable and helped produce another good episode.

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