A Look at House of Lies- Season 4, Episode 3: “Entropy is Contagious”

Absinthe knows all. That is all.

Entropy is Contagious- Marty wakes up next to naked woman

The episode begins, appropriately, with a montage. Marty wakes up next to a naked woman. Who is she? We’ll get to that in a second. Malcolm is set to make his television debut, but Marty has more important things to think about, like his Seattle trip.

Entropy is Contagious- Clyde's sleeping mask

Clyde apparently wears a sleeping face mask to bed.

Entropy is Contagious- Jeannie masturbates

Jeannie considers some a little masturbation, but decides against it.

Entropy is Contagious- Sarah handles Doug's collectibles

But Doug awakens to find Sarah with his unopened Galattack dolls. He’s shocked because, as a collector, any little bit of handling can diminish the value, even if you don’t open them. Sarah isn’t interested in his toys, though, so either they’re gonna do it or she’s going to be bad teacher: Miss Pendegast.

Entropy is Contagious- Marty speaks with Mary McCormack about raping and pillaging his company

Marty then has breakfast with his consultant friend, Denna, played by Mary McCormack from In Plain Sight. Hell yes, I love this woman. Anyway, she talks of acquisition at three dollars a share and dumping it at $240. There will be some collateral damage, but when profit sharing is in the billions, shit happens. Marty wonders when she’s going to come rape and pillage his company, but she’s more interested in raping and pillaging him. Management consulting pick-up lines, folks.

Besides, once Kaan & Associates lands the Gage account, they could be huge. She argues that they’re still teensy right now. The only way she’d consider them is if she took their firm, put it with other firms, and strained the fat. So yeah, K&A is part of a management consultancy bouillabaisse.

Entropy is Contagious- Clyde tries talking to Kelsey again

Over at Kaan & Associates, Kelsey brushes Clyde aside so she won’t break her vow of not dating assholes for a year. Granted, Clyde says that Kelsey was never in his arousal template anyway.

As the entire pod prepares to leave, Jeannie and Marty spar on how to present themselves for their potential: Krolls, a skin care line. Jeannie wants to talk analysis instead of just winging it. Marty has his own plan: Krolls has hit its peak, so they will look to a firm like K&A now that they themselves are looking good again. He’s more focused on helping convert Krolls brand to rock star status.

Marty believes that their survey metrics around intent to purchase are off the charts, but Jeannie counters that they are only on the charts. Skin care is a red ocean, she says. She’d prefer that the pod convince Krolls to sell to a major, do profit-sharing, and then enjoy their house in San Juan Islands. Clyde flippantly thanks Jeannie for the pod’s new austerity program, but she assures him that once the Gage account is sewn up, Clyde’s balls will be back in.

Entropy is Contagious- Clyde asks Doug if people really think he's an asshole

Clyde intends to sit next to Marty, even though Doug called Marty shotgun. Clyde tells Doug that Marty wouldn’t want to sit next to him. Doug asks why. After all, Clyde is the asshole. Clyde counters that Doug is just plain intolerable. They get serious for a second and wonder if they actually are as bad as people make them out to be.

Entropy is Contagious- Pod pitches to the Krolls; Carolyn, played by Deborah Strong, and William, played by Don Moss

The pod makes its pitch to the Krolls: Carolyn, played by Deborah Strong, and William, played by Don Moss. Marty, Doug, and Clyde talk up the brand’s deep equity and how they could eventually be making up to $600 million in brand equity, and that’s excluding valuations of inventory and infrastructure. So how do you take this to the next level? Well, you double down and make Krolls an entertainment brand by pushing it up with celebrity endorsements and media tie-ins.

And this is where Jeannie jumps in. Her proposal is that Krolls sells to a huge multinational, make $800 million and let Kaan & Associates walk them through the transition while the Krolls enjoy their lives. She shows a graph of awareness investment erosion. Should Krolls’ go down Marty’s path, it will cost $100 million to launch five extensions, which only leads to a five point bump in awareness for a simple $20 million profit. It’s a fast way to lose $80 million. Marty, taken off guard by Jeannie’s approach, decides that everyone will regroup tomorrow for a detailed brand strategy.

Entropy is Contagious- Doug talks about Oscar Wilde and absinthe

That night, at a bar, Marty, Doug, and Clyde drink. Doug in particular takes in a heavy amount of absinthe. He refers to something Oscar Wilde once said- the first glass makes you see things the way you wish they were. The second shows things the way they aren’t. I missed that quote.

Entropy is Contagious- Malcolm speaks with Meghan McCain

But hey, look who’s on television? It’s Malcolm on a CNN-esque network, speaking with Meghan McCain, played by…hey, it’s actually Meghan McCain. Cool. Malcolm wants to talk about the denial of the essential Black experience in White America, but Ms. McCain won’t be goaded into a racial injustice conversation just because Malcolm can’t rebut her point. Malcolm’s point is that White folks are just tired of hearing it. Oh, and he loves Marty so much that puts his six month prison sentence out there for the world to hear. Such a great brother.

Doug shares his Sarah woes. From the crazy sex to the baby voices and messing with his delicate figures, Doug worries about his girlfriend’s mental state. He even fears that she’ll kill him in his sleep. It’s not implausible. Sarah does have an arrest history due to nude stalking. She’d even been arrested naked in her ex-boyfriend’s yard. Two different guys, even. Marty and Clyde egg Doug on to confront her, even though they believe Doug is one of the most passive motherfuckers around.

Entropy is Contagious- Passive aggressive Doug decides to text confront Sarah

And they’re right, as Doug won’t confront her directly, he does so via text. We never see the text, but it seems very foul. Clyde proposes that they return to the hotel, think it over, and then not send the text. Too late. Doug sends it. And nope, once you send a text, you can’t take that shit back. Well, time to drink up some more absinthe.

Entropy is Contagious- The Krolls enjoyed the pod's exploration of their company

The pod meets up with the Krolls. Marty tries to make the case again, but there’s no need. Carolyn and William actually found the pod’s exploration very fresh and insightful, but Marty’s ideas conflict with Jeannie’s. A company at war with itself is not one they can work with. As William says, entropy is contagious. Hey, that’s the episode’s title. As such, the Krolls won’t be doing business with Kaan & Associates. Well, shit.

Entropy is Contagious- Sarah plays with Doug's toys

Sarah, meanwhile, opened Doug’s action figures and conspires to F him in the A with the help of Sparkle Cape and Fish Head. Yeah, she got the text.

Entropy is Contagious- Kelsey talks to Clyde about Housecallz

Clyde tries to make amends with Kelsey and the two make up. She asks if the main pod does tech consulting, which they do. Good. Kelsey has an idea for an app: Housecallz. It’s basically Uber, but with doctors. Clyde is well aware of this GPS-based platform. Luckily, Kelsey has already written the code, so Clyde can help calculate the optimal price points and help get the app off the ground.

Entropy is Contagious- Something terrible has happened to Doug

In enters Doug, who found that, while trying to get his mochaccino, none of his credit cards work. Well, after that text raging, maybe he should have checked his back account, as he has no recollection of what happened the previous night.

Entropy is Contagious- Marty isn't upset about Jeannie blowing the Krolls gig

Jeannie goes to Marty’s office and expects to be chewed out for what she did, but he’s not upset at all. Since Jeannie is leaving soon anyway, it’s not a big deal. Jeannie expected more and can’t believe that, even after telling Marty that she’s carrying his baby, he doesn’t have more of a reaction.

Entropy is Contagious- Kaan family dinner

The Kaan family has dinner. Marty’s still not pleased about Malcolm outing his jail time or exploiting his family for personal gain, but Malcolm goes a step further and makes it known that Jeannie is carrying Marty’s child. Roscoe, though, didn’t know about any of this. Jeremiah didn’t think it a problem to tell Malcolm since he is family. Roscoe stops Marty from doing any sort of damage control. He’d have been happy to learn this early if someone told him. He calls out Malcolm for being a crappy uncle, and then even tells Jeremiah to shut up.

Before Roscoe can storm away from the table, Jeremiah sits him down and reminds him that he can’t talk to his family like that. Families all go through rough times and this is no different. Oh, and don’t tell Jeremiah to shut up.

Entropy is Contagious- Sarah's nude stalking

The episode comes to a close as Doug sees what’s left of his figures- with Sarah stalking him while nude on the lawn.

Entropy is Contagious- Marty and Jeremiah

And Marty joins his father.

Even though the pod is still in damage control, there’s plenty of work to be done. As the main title says, entropy is dangerous. There’s no sense of unity or cohesion, as we see with Marty and Jeannie’s clashing ideals on how to best manage the firm. But with Marty so dead-set on pushing Jeannie out, right now he’s just going through the motions with no emotional attachment, even though Jeannie is carrying his child.

The Oscar Wilde line about seeing things the way we wish they were and then seeing them the way they aren’t represents almost all of the interpersonal conflicts we see play out this week. Whether Clyde and Kelsey trying to reconcile, Doug dealing with the aftermath of his texts to Sarah, or Marty’s home life, characters have been so conditioned to seeing and doing things the way they’d want them to play out, only to get the rude awakening that all is not well.

As powerful as the pod likes to think it can be, they don’t get to control how the world operates or how their aspiring clients will react to them. Marty can’t control every aspect of his family’s life, even if he’d like to. But despite the craziness that the pod has endured, whether separate or together, they’ve found their way back to one another eventually. This goes hand in hand with Jeremiah’s line about all families going through rough times. Sure, they’ll suck, but you gotta suck it up and get through them anyway because you’re not defined by how much shit gets flung your way- you’re defined by how you deal with it. Leave it to Californication to keep popping up when I look at other programs.

Entropy is Contagious- Roscoe learns that Jeannie is pregnant with Marty's child

Throughout the episode, Marty tries to retain the cool, confident swagger we’ve known him for, but he’s thrown off side by things like Jeannie’s counter-proposals or Malcolm airing his dirty laundry on national television. As rebellious as Roscoe is, he had a point about Marty not being able to control when everyone else steps on land-mines. After his prison stint, Marty is still playing damage control, but even he’s realizing that he can’t always do that because the world is not under his control.

Entropy is Contagious- Speaking with the Krolls

The best that he can do is make the best out of a bad situation, as we see him do when the pod doesn’t get the Krolls deal because they’re so divided. He doesn’t lose his shit because he truly believes that Jeannie is on her way out. He’s shutting her out because he sees no reason to care anymore. A bit selfish, yes, but in Marty’s mind, he’s trying to put the past behind him and keep moving forward without any regrets.

Entropy is Contagious- Roscoe tells Jeremiah to shut up

But he’s doing damage control on two fronts. He’s trying to repair his firm’s reputation and still salvage what semblance of a family he has at home. Roscoe is becoming more rebellious with each episode and this showed him lashing out at everyone. Roscoe is more defiant and willing to call out his father on his faults, but he doesn’t stop there. I do have to agree that Marty probably could have minimized the damage if he’d told Roscoe about Jeannie himself. We’ve seen the two interact before and know that they have a connection. If Marty really wanted to wait until the time was right, it probably would have helped to not tell anyone, even Jeremiah.

However, I did enjoy seeing Jeremiah lay the verbal smackdown to Roscoe. No matter how smart Roscoe may think he is, he’s still a boy and that was no way to treat his family.

Entropy is Contagious- Doug is intolerable

I like how Doug and Clyde actually took a moment to examine whether they’re as bad as people make them out to be. Clyde does get his moment when he mends bridges with Kelsey and propose helping with her app, though. Even if he still ends up being an asshole, I appreciate that he stopped to think about whether he actually is.

Entropy is Contagious- Doug on absinthe

As for Doug realizing that he may be obnoxious, I think we need to add clueless to that list. He’s as passive-aggressive as Marty and Clyde make him out to be and handling the situation via text message is not just a bad idea, it leaves a paper trail. For Doug to even ask whether he can take back a text he just sent is laughable, but part of the fun from House of Lies is seeing Doug try and worm himself out of a situation that he brought on himself.

Sure, Sarah is wild and crazy, but I’d argue that she’s the best thing that happened to Doug. She’s the perfect counterbalance and Jenny Slate just plays the part so well. Doug has rigidity and stability, while Sarah has a bit more pathos and chaos. Doug is much better off with Sarah in his life and, like Clyde pointed out, he’s got a happy life, but doesn’t even realize it yet. If Doug wants to be assertive, that’s fine, but he’s going about it the wrong way. And he still lets himself get roped back in with things like Sarah being bad teacher. But I’d be lying if I said their exchanges weren’t fun to watch.

Entropy is Contagious- Jeannie's counter-proposal

And I’m enjoying how assertive Jeannie still is this season. From the way she shook her head during the meeting with the Krolls, we know that she understands a lot more about the management consulting business than we’d believe. But then, she learned from the best. Jeannie isn’t doing this out of ill-will, she just believes she has the better vision for the firm. She’s less about showing off or making some big, extravagant gesture- she presents the facts just as they are and lets the clients come to their own conclusions. Marty, however, likes to wow his clients, so the two were headed for another crash course.

Entropy is Contagious- Jeannie expects more of a reaction

But Jeannie has every right to expect more of a reaction. She revealed to Marty that she’s carrying his baby, but that didn’t seem to buy her any additional time. There’s real disappointment and even some surprise in her voice when she Marty reacts with calmness to losing the Krolls deal. Marty doesn’t even do as much as give her a slap on the wrist. As far as he’s concerned, he’s still just looking forward. The question is whether that future truly will or won’t include Jeannie in it.

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