A Look at House of Lies- Season 4, Episode 4: “We Can Always Just Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation”

“We Can Always Just Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation.” That is one mouthful of an episode title. Let’s see what happens when our favorite management consultants continue damage control, but run into less than willing clients.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Kelsey shows Clyde the business plan

The episode begins at Kaan & Associates. Kelsey wants Clyde to go through the business plan that she herself hasn’t read yet. She sees the plan as just pages and pages of pseudo-science with the actual predictive power of a random number generator. They’re only needed to draw in money people, but money people are stupid. Well, good thing Clyde doesn’t do this sort of thing for a career.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Kelsey's boss about to wipe out

Up on the half-pipe, Kelsey’s boss wants her to check this shit out. He skates, but when Kelsey warns him of a bee, he wipes out.  Wait, no bee.  Never mind.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Jeannie and Doug discuss the town hall

Jeannie needs Doug to keep an eye on the public relations woman that Ellis hired, as she doesn’t want any hiccups at the town hall. Doug isn’t worried. If there are any hiccups, they can just episode title. I mean, they can always just overwhelm the vagus nerve with another sensation. That’s how you cure hiccups. I did not know that. Jeannie will join the rest of the pod later, as she already has plans. Doug isn’t pleased with that. After all, this is Ellis’ first day back after prison and he’s about to roll out his new model. Also, they’re going after a pretty big client instead of taking on smaller clients and shorter gigs, which would garner more fees.

But then Jeannie sneezes. This, somehow, causes her to wet herself. Thanks, pregnancy. Do pregnant women wet themselves after sneezing? Please tell me. Anyway, Jeannie doesn’t think that dumpster diving will save K&A. Once they get Gage on board, they’ll be a key player again. Doug, who is transfixed on Jeannie’s wet pantyhose, wants the salary he deferred right now.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Jeannie tells Marty that Doug wants his deferred salary

Neither Marty nor Jeannie comply. Marty got a call from Ellis at 3:30 in the morning. Apparently, Ellis walked to his office in Tiburon, which is at least 20 miles away. No easy task. Jeannie tells Marty that she’s more than willing to cancel her meeting with the headhunter, but Marty assures her that the pod can handle Ellis.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Ellis speaks to his employees

We then cut to Ellis delivering a speech to his employees about changing the course of human history. Marty likes Ellis’ humility, Clyde adores his haircut, and Doug calls Ellis’ passion very Hitler-esque. Not a good comparison, Doug. Then, Marty receives a text from Monica.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Monica surprises Marty

Who is now right behind him, as she’s representing her firm. After all, Valerio is a client. Valerio has a few words with Ellis before heading off, so Ellis takes the pod and Monica to take a look at the new model. Monica in particular asks if the car has a backseat. As the vehicle is a two person vehicle, the rear component would be tight. Hey, the best ones tend to be.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Marty pulls Monica aside to discuss Ellis

Marty pulls Monica aside for a second and reminds her that her best chance to win over Ellis would be to fuck him. The war is over. Monica doesn’t think so. She believes Valerio will question whether Ellis has the skill set and temperament necessary for Gage’s future. In short, Valerio wants Ellis gone. If not, he’d like to have his chairmanship renewed for the next three years and an acknowledgement at the town hall of his role in Gage’s success.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Ellis pisses on the car

Oh, Ellis isn’t a fan of the car, so he pisses on it. Then he takes an axe to it and walks off. Our genius, everybody.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Jeannie meets with Erin, played by Kirby Howell-Baptiste

Back at Kaan & Associates, Jeannie meets with Erin, played by Kirby Howell-Baptiste. Jeannie tells Erin that she’s exploring changes and wants to see what’s out there, but Erin wishes she’d been informed about Jeannie’s pregnancy. After all, Jeannie probably wouldn’t want to invest in a new hire that’s out in a month on maternity leave. Jeannie assures Erin that she can be back in three weeks, but Erin counters that Jeannie would be exhausted and missing meetings because of her baby.

Jeannie already knows that she won’t always be available for her child. She’s still going to push ahead with her career, which is what gives Erin pause in the first place. Plus, with the company in flux, Erin figured that Jeannie would just get rid of the child, giving one of the best lines in the episode: “If abortion clinics were Subways, you’d have earned a free sandwich years ago.”

How many sandwiches do you have to get before winning a free sandwich, anyway? Anyway, Jeannie has never had an abortion. She will push against the legal limits of neglects, if necessary, but Erin agrees to put her name out there. Her advice, though? Ride it out. After losing the baby weight, she should be more invested. Jeannie assures Erin that she is enjoying the ride.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Clyde, Doug, and Marty need a back-up plan

The others, however, are not. Clyde at least has the potential safety net in Kelsey’s app. Doug wants in on this, but Clyde isn’t on board. Doug threatens to tell Marty that Clyde is moonlighting, so Clyde just does it himself. Marty doesn’t give a shit. Problem solved. He’s too busy trying to get in touch with Jeannie. Oh, and the reason behind Ellis’ rage: the molding on the gear shift panel wasn’t rounded enough. This means no town hall, but if there’s no town hall, Ellis will flip his shit.

Jeannie finally responds. Marty needs her to talk to Maya Lindholm. Though this had been dismissed as a fool’s errand, Marty tells Jeannie that they don’t have a choice now.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Jeannie meets Maya Lindholm, played by Alicia Witt

So Jeannie does that. After charming an employee, she comes face to face with Maya Lindholm, played by Alicia Witt. Jeannie admires the cars being designed. They would only cost $10,000 to manufacture, but only once the company has a significant unit volume. That itself will take a long time since there’s no plant, no technicians, and no distribution network.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Pod proposes Ellis join with Maya

From this, we get two separate conversations playing out at the same time. Marty, Doug, and Clyde try to come up with a new reason for a town hall since no car will be shown. They suggest that Ellis announce he’ll be working with Maya again. Imagine the headlines: “Dynamic Duo Rides Again.” Ellis has his own headline- “Gage Founder Chokes on Own Dick Before Ever Working with That Cunt Again.” Doesn’t roll off the tongue as well. The pod says that Maya blames herself and admits that leaving was a mistake, but Ellis doesn’t buy it since she never embraced the notion that Gage was out to reshape the universe. The three propose that once Maya is on board, just bury her model idea.

At the same time, Maya admits to Jeannie that she lost millions in stock options, but enjoys never having to work with the likes of Ellis. Jeannie, however, claims that Ellis warmed to the idea of serving a low-end market. And if the two don’t join forces, Japan could just reverse engineer her technology and flood the market in no time. What both are promised, though, is full operational control.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Doug and Clyde talk about Sarah and the start-up

Time for the presentation. Doug brings in a Babe Ruth to taunt Clyde, who gets a security guard to take it away since you can’t eat in here. Good rule. Doug is upset that Clyde never asked how Doug has been doing since Sarah left, even though he’s the one who wanted her gone. He’s wiped out and even his bird is gone. Clyde admits that Kelsey’s app may not even make money, as most start-ups don’t. Regardless, he agrees to talk to her.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Marty finds Ellis crying

Show time, but no Ellis at the microphone. Marty goes looking and finds Ellis crying in a stairwell at the loss of his father. Ellis learned this sad news nine years ago. His father was the expert at matrix tortuosity, whatever that is. When Ellis and Maya made their first car, Ellis’ father was glad to know that his son hitched his wagon to a real scientist. He admits that he’s nothing without Maya.

Outside, Doug isn’t too worried about Ellis. After all, Hitler had similar outbursts. The Germans call that Teppichfresser. That’s the second time Doug has spoken about Hitler in a positive light.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Jeannie consoles Ellis before slapping him

Jeannie has arrived and joins Marty and Ellis. She tries to snap him out of his funk. When he cries, the assholes will pop their champagne corks. They don’t get to win. Now, he needs to get out there or she’s going to beat the living fuck out of him. True to her word, Jeannie starts slapping Ellis over and over until he leaves. Well, at least it worked.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Maya and Ellis back as a team

So with Maya on board, now the two just have to come to terms. Easy, right?

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Marty anger bangs Monica

The episode comes to a close as Marty has angry sex with Monica, all while she taunts him. Sweet.

As with last week, this episode has the pod trying to do damage control not just with its own issues, but with Ellis as well. As we’ve seen throughout the show, the life of a management consultant can be unpredictable. For the sake of making a poor comparison using something from this episode, it’s like trying to pull a neat trick on your skateboard, but you get sidetracked by a bee in your path.

Kaan & Associates is as in just as much of an uncertain place as the people who run it, but rather than going about this piecemeal, as Doug would like it, they’re going after a giant fish in the hopes that landing a huge client will put them back on the map. Given how competitive we’ve seen firms are on this show, that’s no easy task. It’s made even more challenging when you have a client like Ellis.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Doug wants to join Clyde and Kelsey

But more than damage control, this episode dealt with each of the pod members trying to do long term planning for their future, or at start over, in Doug’s case. By being so focused on the now, they put less time into a long term plan, but that’s changing here. After all, it never hurts to have a backup plan.

Clyde, for example, acknowledges that Kelsey’s app may not make any money. He doesn’t say this out of spite, but because a lot of start-ups apps don’t generate revenue. And yet, he’s doing it anyway not just because he gets to mend bridges with Kelsey, but it’s another outlet for him outside of the pod. And this time, Marty doesn’t care what he’s doing, so it won’t feel like he’s double crossing him again.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Clyde and Doug talk about the start-up

I still enjoy the back and forth between him and Doug. He knows that Doug has been wiped out by Sarah and needs a life preserver, but he also knows that Doug asked for this. Of course, Clyde probably wouldn’t just leave Doug out to dry when he’s been bled dry, but that doesn’t mean he can’t take a minute to enjoy Doug’s misery. He wouldn’t be Clyde if he didn’t. And right now, Doug only looks like he wants to be involved with Kelsey and Clyde so he’s doing something. That and he’ll feel useful after Sarah drained him for all he’s worth.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Monica taunts Marty

And the rivalry between Marty and Monica is as fierce as it’s ever been as they try to one-up each other, but still manage to stay cordial. Marty wants to close this deal with Ellis, but Ellis himself is too much of a control freak and all around jerk for Marty to persuade with ease, as he’s been able to do with past clients. The calm, confidence normally shown by Cheadle is replaced with frustration as Ellis crumbles when he realizes he’s not as good as he claims to be.

Yet, for all of Marty’s smarts, even he is reminded of his flaws from Monica. She may be his go-to woman, but Monica, like Jeannie, doesn’t pull any punches. Dawn Olivieri has always been great in her performance as Monica, but she turned in a particularly vicious turn this week as she cuts Marty down while he’s screwing her. She compares herself to Jeannie, asks if she’s a squeaker, and even says that Marty makes Jeannie feel whole. She doesn’t see the look of shame on Marty’s face, but she doesn’t need to because she knows that she’s completely right. Marty may have won the battle, but he feels pretty low at that moment.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Jeannie and Maya talk

Jeannie actually gets the most to do as far as growth this week as she looks into her future. Ever since the first season, we’ve known Jeannie as a woman committed first to her work. She still has a social life, yes, but the work comes before everything else. Last season, she schooled Caitlin on the importance of work. She said that Caitlin may be attractive, but she won’t just be handed everything. Jeannie doesn’t expect to be handed anything. She works for what she gets and, as we learned earlier this season, the idea of having a baby trumped her perfect life.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Jeannie tells Erin that she's never had an abortion

And Jeannie knows that she won’t be a perfect mother, but I don’t think she ever intended to be. As Erin pointed out, she’s been so driven on her career that it seems out of left field for her to even consider having a child and coming back to work so soon after giving birth. Any other person would burn themselves out, but Jeannie refuses to slow down. Despite being transitioned out, she refuses to let life get the best of her.

We Can Always Overwhelm the Vagus Nerve with Another Sensation- Jeannie looks right at Marty

That’s made clear in the stairwell scene when she tells Ellis that the assholes laughing at him don’t get to win in the end. Yes, it applies to Ellis’ situation, but when Jeannie said it, she was staring right at Marty. She may be leaving, but Marty won’t have the last laugh.

So the easy part is over with the pod. Ellis and Maya are united once again and everyone’s looking happy for the cameras. Now the hard part of just getting them to agree on terms comes next. Sounds easy, right?

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