Just what is a Shiva House blowjob? In this week’s episode, “I’m a Motherfucking Scorpion, That’s Why,” we spend most of our time in the past and learn more about how Marty and Ellis crossed paths, while Jeannie, Clyde and Doug keep Kaan & Associates afloat in Marty’s absence. Simply put, they’re all having a very frustrating time, but that would be putting it nicely and not doing the episode justice, so let’s dig in.
The episode begins with Doug and Sarah arriving at the airport, mid-conversation, to meet up with the rest of the pod. The two have a request for Jeannie. You see, Sarah lost her job at the veterinary clinic eight months ago. She’s at home a lot more and has a chance to nest. Problem is that filling Sarah’s nest has proven challenging.
The two have tried fertility treatments and specialists, but there’s still an echo in her uterus. Doug’s boys aren’t exactly expert swimmers either, so they ask the question everyone else can’t believe they’d even consider asking: can they have Jeannie’s baby?
This is easily one of the day’s highlights for Clyde and Marty, who begin recording as this plays out. Sarah argues that a baby needs stability and already come with so many hassles. Jeannie could even come and visit, but Jeannie won’t give up the child, prompting Sarah to call her just fucking selfish.
How dare Jeannie give up what’s actually hers and inside of her right now? Sarah believes that Jeannie would be a terrible mother. The two just want Jeannie to consider this. Think of Doug and Sarah as pre-emptive Child Protective Services. Ouch.
On the plane, Jeannie asks Marty how Roscoe is doing. Marty gives a flippant response, but Jeannie assures him that she will leave once this is all over. There’s no harm in an innocuous conversation, though. Marty meant what he said about the two of them never being the same again. He even shares a tale from when Roscoe was young. He used to have a book of fables that he wanted Marty to read from every night. One in particular was about a scorpion and a frog.
The scorpion asked the frog to carry it across the stream. The frog said no because it knew that the scorpion would sting it. The scorpion argued against that, stating that it wouldn’t be in either of their best interests if that happened, so across the water they went. Sure enough, midstream, the scorpion did sting the frog.
When the frog asked why, the scorpion answered because it’s a motherfucking scorpion. Yeah, Marty’s paraphrasing at this point, but I must have missed this fable. But the point is that Jeannie is dishonest. Marty is dishonest as well, but he has an off switch. Jeannie, not so much. If Marty’s going down, it won’t be because of Jeannie.
We then flash back to lunch time at prison where Marty and his cellmate, Gabe, played by Jon Bass, go over their prison schedules. Well, Gabe goes over it, while Marty could care less. Gabe is eager to make a fresh start after his former, meth dealer roommate. Both are assigned to the prison garden, as is Ellis Gage Hightower, who Gabe is infatuated with because he’s a rich businessman.
He even calls Ellis the preeminent genius of our time that’s made major strides in artificial intelligence. In ten years, your doctor will be a robot. Advanced stuff, I know, but Marty still isn’t impressed. Gabe even offers Ellis his seat, but Ellis doesn’t even bat an eye.
That night, Gabe keeps Marty awake with his tales of taking responsibility for actions like performing unnecessary root canals for insurance money, even if the practice was struggling, or touching a patient’s boob while they were under. Riveting crimes. He then starts talking about Ellis, who apparently once dated a swimsuit model who wanted commitment, but you can’t hold a man like Ellis down.
Marty doesn’t think someone like Ellis will be able to change the world while he’s on the sidelines of his own company. This gets Gabe’s attention, so if it will get Marty some sleep, he’ll talk: Gage Motors Board Chairman Dante Valerio wants Ellis gone and has the votes.
In another flashback, Jeannie meets with a man named Andrew, played by Travis Wester, who is well aware of Marty’s imprisonment and that Kaan & Associates is in the crapper right now. Jeannie knows the firm has taken a hit, but she hasn’t lost her confidence. Clyde and Doug inform Jeannie that they need to get moving if they’re to catch their Cincinnati flight.
They were supposed to meet with Holt Logistics, but that meeting got moved to accommodate Star Trust Funding- the third largest mortgage leader in the United States.
Jeannie tells Andrew that K&A is just doing some top-down on their information systems and hope to impress, but Andrew doesn’t buy this. He moves to call Star Trust, but Jeannie stops him. K&A is desperate and if they don’t land something soon, the firm will flat line. Andrew takes his leave, telling Jeannie that he would gladly have sex with her again. Unfortunately, all of Jeannie’s previous orgasms were fake.
Back at the prison, Gabe tries bonding with Ellis but ends up blabbing about Dante Valerio’s supposed coup. When Ellis confronts Marty about this, Marty spills that he just said that in order to shut Gabe up. Ellis claims that even though he and Valerio have their differences, Ellis is the one calling the shots.
Though still maintaining some confidence in his speech, Ellis clearly wants Marty’s opinion on the matter, so Marty gives it to him. Dante Valerio is a successful billionaire and has been with Gage Motors from the start. He only hears about what a genius Ellis is, so why would Dante want to install an unthreatening, low profile CEO when he has Ellis. Marty heads back to work while Ellis considers what he’s just heard.
At Somerset Software, Jeannie and Clyde wait for Doug, who returns with coffee while also Skyping with Sarah on his phone. You can do that on a phone? That must seriously drain the battery. In the car, Doug tells Jeannie and Clyde that Sarah losing her job has been a blessing in disguise since she’s so much more relaxed and attentive.
Clyde, meanwhile, spits in Jeannie’s coffee. Why? Because he’s still pissed about her bringing K&A down and sending Marty to prison, while also making it harder for anyone else at the firm to find new work. At the very least, Marty and Jeannie got to fuck each other before Marty went away.
Jeannie asks Clyde what is a fair exchange for what she’s done to so-called stellar Clyde’s reputation? Does he want an under the bra tit grab? A stinky pinky? A big, fat, juicy blowjob if he’d just shut the fuck up and quit whining? That is quite a range of options. Choose wisely. Then, Jeannie’s targets arrive.
Ellis pays Marty a visit- he knows all about his reputation and wants Marty’s help. Marty, though, is trying to make more sense of his future, not someone else’s.
Jeannie, Clyde and Doug run into Andrew and Dante Valerio, played by Brian Howe. What a coincidence this is. Jeannie was just telling Andrew that she sees potential for Celetech. Kaan & Associates is willing to work on a performance tied fee structure. Before Jeannie can get far in her pitch, Valerio cuts her off: he’s worked with Demark for years and has no plans to drop them so he can work for Marty Kaan. Jeannie does what any consultant would do in a tight spot: call her potential client a dumb shit.
Doesn’t matter to her. She’s tired of kissing client ass. Yes, Jeannie had a thing with Marty and they fucked it up. Why should Jeannie push herself on a rock? It doesn’t look good, professionally. She’s learned that Marty’s prison record is going to hurt his job prospects, but she’s gone too far with him already.
At this point, it made sense to leave Marty- a person she loved. Jeannie gets that in order to stay ahead, you have to cut ties. As for Valerio, Jeannie points out that he hired Andrew as the chief financial officer- Andrew, who cheated his way through business school, which Jeannie learned by digging through Columbia University’s judicial records.
Someone’s profligacy and petulance is costing Valerio money, but he can’t even see it. Jeannie thinks that Valerio is dumb not because he won’t cut ties with DeMark, but because he won’t cut ties with anyone.
We finally return to the plane, where Doug discusses Sarah with Clyde. He loves her, but admits that things may be easier if she were dead. Clyde drops some knowledge. In Judaism, there’s a thing called Chamesh Godol, which loosely translates to Shiva House blowjob. It’s considered a mitzvah when a woman gives oral sex to a man whose wife just passed away. I could not type this with a straight face, even if I wanted to. But of course Clyde is fucking with Doug.
Doug gets up from his seat and spots Will, of all people! After Kaan & Associates, Will found work at Demark. And who should hire him but Monica, who also pops by to visit the pod. She knows that Marty is going to meet with Ellis. She has intel like that. Valerio is one of her clients, but for this trip, she’s visiting an unrelated consultant. Monica even heard a rumor that Marty’s lawyer petitioned the board of prisons to get him sent to Worthy- a cushier location that would let him get closer to Ellis.
She also heard that Jeannie took a load in the face from Dante Valerio in the Celetech parking lot. Where does Monica hear these rumors? Monica also wants to meet Edwin, who we learn works at Skadden Arps. Monica has done business there before, so maybe she’ll look him up when she’s in New York.
When Monica leaves, Jeannie speaks with Marty again. She admits that she’s not honest. When a situation feels hard, even if she feels a lie will exacerbate things, she chooses to lie. Right now, she needs to tell him something serious. She never intended to leave him. She just panicked because she was in a bind and said the name Edwin. There wasn’t a right time. The baby inside Jeannie? It’s Marty’s.
The episode ends as Doug returns and lets the pod know that Monica is, in fact, going to an unrelated consult. Well, they dodged a bullet.
To borrow from The Magic School Bus, this episode dealt with taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy. That phrase is always so applicable. I’m surprised that we actually spent a significant amount of time in flashbacks this week, with the introduction and plane scenes being the only moments that took place in the present. The flashbacks helped expand on how Marty came to cross Ellis’ path and how Jeannie took the reins at Kaan & Associates in Marty’s absence.
One constant of House of Lies is that honesty is not always the best policy. We’ve watched the pod butter up clients before and that is no exception this week. Whether it’s Marty not bullshitting with Ellis about his position in Gage Motors or Jeannie’s big admission to Dante Valerio, the characters realize that it’s best to just be honest, even if it means burning potential bridges in the process.
And yet, just the opposite happens. Marty being straightforward with Ellis is what got the two talking, and Jeannie got a huge weight off of her chest by telling Valerio the flaw in his plan of continuing a partnership with Demark.
For Jeannie, as we learn this week, cutting ties with Marty was one of the best decisions she made because she’s realizing how the game is played. If she wants to keep climbing that management consultant ladder, she needs to keep being a shark and cut ties with the people closest to her. It may suck to lose that bond, but Jeannie knows that letting go was the right thing to do.
Of course, this whole idea of letting go is completely subverted with Doug and Sarah, who think that Jeannie would just go along with the idea of giving up her child.
Side-note, Jenny Slate looks dashing in that pink blazer. I mean, she always looks beautiful, but this was just stunning. Okay, I’m done.
I can’t believe these two actually had the gumption to make this proposition when Doug at least had to know that Jeannie would not go along with it at all. Yet, I think this opening is one of the reasons I love House of Lies: the pod screwing around with each other while others bask in the entertainment. This scene would have been fine had it just been Jeannie, Doug, and Sarah, but to have Clyde and Marty record it made the moment even funnier.
In fact, this episode had a lot of comedy in it, such as Gabe trying to make friends with Marty. Though Clyde’s description of a Shiva House blowjob to Doug was very funny. I know it’s not real, but Clyde had to think all of that out. And when Monica blew off the idea of Kaan & Associates being a threat, prompting Doug to remind her that even a single celled parasite can take down a lion, you know that’s the best rebuttal ever.
Sticking with Doug and Clyde for a moment, I like how the flashbacks touched upon the fallout from “Joshua.” Based on the premiere, it seemed like the impact of Jeannie’s power play had just been brushed aside and discussed off-screen, but we learn here that Clyde still has a massive problem with Jeannie screwing the firm over. I enjoyed this because it created some conflict between the two instead of creating the illusion that everything between Jeannie, Clyde, and Doug remained unchanged. Remember that Clyde joined the new pod at Kaan & Associates after Jeannie and Clyde had already jumped on board with Marty. Marissa already left him out to dry and he’s not trying to risk any more circumstances that could jeopardize his job.
Jeannie, however, has already hit a low point, so she has nowhere to go but up. Her speech to Valerio was very heartfelt and honest. At the same time, the flashbacks gave us a glimpse of how challenging it was for her to step into the leadership role after K&A’s misfortunes. She’s trying to keep the business afloat, but she’s resorting to tactics like having sex with Andrew. This is in stark contrast to the Jeannie we saw at the end of Season One when she and other women at Galweather Stearn stood up to The Rainmaker.
For a moment, we saw Jeannie become the very woman she hated when she thought having sex with The Rainmaker would grant her a promotion. She’s not happy with herself, but she did get in the last attack on Andrew when she called out his business school record. So while Jeannie may find herself doing what she already hated doing once before, she’s still not a pushover.
As far as other characters go, I’m glad to see Will back. Between him, Caitlin, and Jeffrey, I found Will to be the most competent and accomplished member of Marty’s new pod. Not only does this provide some continuity between the previous season, we also learn he was affected by the shake-up at Kaan & Associates. Nice to see Will landed on his feet. I would like it if we got a passing reference to what happened with Caitlin and Jeffrey, but if not, I won’t lose sleep over it. However, he looks to be on Monica’s leash as of now, and Monica is just as vicious with her tongue as ever.
On that ending, though. Wow. Part of me was suspicious about this Edwin character since we got so little information on him, but now we know that the child is, in fact, Marty’s. If Marty and Jeannie needed any reason to maintain their bond, here it is. It’s a huge mood contrast to the beginning where Sarah and Doug wanted Jeannie to give it away. It’s interesting that Jeannie would lie, given how good she is at being brutally honest, but as she told Marty, she panicked and preferred to lie, even if it would make a volatile situation worse. Mind you, Marty and Jeannie’s relationship is already fractured, but now let’s see where things will go with a baby in the mix.