A Look at House of Lies- Season 5, Episode 3: “Holacracy”

Pack your bags and prepare yourself, because we’re about to go on a trip.  Not the one you’re thinking of, too.

Holacracy- Marty golfs with Donald Faison

The episode begins on the driving range.  Marty and his partner, Donald Faison, are waiting for the others so they can hit.  After waiting long enough, Donald decides to play at Augusta.  He’s got a tee-time for 8 am tomorrow anyway.  But Marty actually has things to do at his job where he tells people richer than him how to get even richer.

One such man is a client from New Mexico.  Donald suggests that Marty tell him that he’s on the ‘life is too short’ list, but Marty is focusing on the fact that the client is worth $11 billion.  He’s in space, but Marty likes the motherfuckers in space.  That’s why Donald isn’t working with Marty- he needs clients out there so he can extract money.  Sometimes, a gig is just a gig.

Holacracy- Skip shows up on the golf course

And then Skip Galweather arrives, tees up, and takes a shot right down the fairway.  The other people down the fairway don’t matter, Skip says, but they’re important enough to keep Marty waiting on the golf course.  Skip invites Marty to play a round of golf and talk about life, but Marty shoots down the invitation.

Holacracy- Kelsey tells Clyde that she's odd every morning

At Kaan & Associates, Clyde notes that Kelsey is being odd, but she says that she’s odd every morning.  Fair enough.  She tells Clyde that her app, Fruity Face, closed on a seven figure deal.  Doug pops by to mention that Tess has asked for a D&D tutorial.  As a dungeon master, Doug is in a delicate position, but in the real world, Tess is a powerful businesswoman and client.  Kelsey heads off, telling Clyde that they’ll talk later.

Holacracy- Clyde packs up his things as Jeannie claims her office

With Jeannie back at K&A, Clyde packs up and moves out of the office that she’ll now be using.  Clyde doesn’t feel safe with Jeannie since she’s now a workplace predator.  Doug arrives to rub salt into the wound, but the two do hug- proving Doug’s point that two men can hold each other.

Holacracy- Jeannie plays mediator between Grant and Marty

Across the office, Grant Stevens storms into Marty’s domain, livid that he did not have the autonomy within his team that Marty apparently promised.  Somehow, Grant still cashed Marty’s checks because Marty wedged him into a buyout.  He’s considering pulling his people out, but Marty calls such a move stupid, even for Grant.  In fact, Marty doesn’t think that Grant’s people would follow him.  It’s called a contract.

Jeannie tries to play mediator since she knows Grant and Marty have a grudging fondness for one another.  Plus, Jeannie strokes Grant’s ego by saying that Marty apparently sees him as a major leader in the media division moving forward.  This gets Grant’s attention.

Holacracy- Jeannie suggests that Marty bring in Ron Zobel

When Grant leaves, Jeannie lays it out: Marty isn’t a people person.  Not just about Grant Stevens.  She thinks that he needs help because K&A is trying to assimilate eight different companies, but Marty keeps going on the road.  Marty has to land what he can land.  Jeannie just thinks the company would benefit from help.  From who?  Well, the man who just got out of his contract with Denna Altschuler: Ron Zobel.

Marty refuses to bring Zobel into the company.  Zobel might be a great turnaround artist and his loyalties have realigned, but Marty will not have Jeannie blow his shit up on day one.  The answer is no.

Holacracy- Doug and his selfie stick

As the pod heads through the airport- Doug recording it all with a selfie stick, making me hate him instantly- we learn that the COO is a classmate of Marty’s: Yurgen Celebi.  His boss is Sean Chew, who made his first billion at 25 by starting Everyshirt.  This revolutionized fulfillment through, but now he’s into the Holacracy kick: no hierarchy, no bosses.  Celebi thinks this will tank the company.

Holacracy- Marty introduces pod to Yurgen Celebi, played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner

When the pod touches down, Jeannie stating that she doesn’t see the advantages in Holacracy does not go unheard.  There’s a drone overhead.  Speaking through it is Sean Chew, who welcomes the pod inside.  Then Yurgen, played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner, arrives and Marty introduces him to the pod.

Sean has given Yurgen orders to bring the pod directly to him, but Yurgen tells Marty that Holacracy is fucking his shit up.  No bosses, no organization, and anyone can attend any meeting at any time.  Though Yurgen is number two here, he can’t cash out for another two years.  Sean could potentially blow this by then.  Marty assures Yurgen that K&A has his back.

Holacracy- Sean Chew, played by John Cho, gets a read on Marty

Inside, the team meets Sean Chew, played by John Cho, who comes in for a deep hug and can smell Marty’s brilliance.  He tries to get a read on Marty before asking if he ‘groks’ Holacracy, whatever the hell that means.  As Doug begins to explain, Sean starts shooting him with arrows.  Right now, Doug needs to shut the hell up while Sean mind melds with Marty.

So Sean goes on: Holacracy is how the company will evolve as a species.  No boundaries or titles.  To demonstrate, Sean calls on a random employee, Dicky, who works in fulfillment and packs boxes full of shirts.  Sean asks if Dicky is here because he’s attending a meeting at the highest level of the company.  Really, Dicky is allowed to take breaks to attend meetings and the AC is better in this building.

Sean then asks an employee to make sure the AC in the fulfillment center is equal to the AC here.  He also senses Marty’s skepticism.  Marty is here to help promote Everyshirt, but Sean, in return, will help Marty by inculcating him into the philosophy of Holacracy.  If Sean can win over Marty, then he’ll know that he’s on the right track.

Holacracy- Special ceremony

We then cut to some kind of ceremony that’s been practiced for many years: the practice of partaking of the remarkable teaching properties of the ayahuasca.  Whatever you call it, it will take you where you need to go.  Sean then introduces Majo, played by Ellen Karsten, the shaman to the group on their transformational path.

Holacracy- Pod receives ayahuasca

Everyone is welcomed to the spirit realm.  The pod partakes- Jeannie has to be convinced and Marty beckons more than necessary- and soon, people begin to trip the fuck out.  Clyde even turns down a sacred orgasm.  Well, not everyone is tripping.  Marty is just fine.

Holacracy- Marty feels nothing during the time freeze

In fact, he’s so fine that it’s time for a time freeze.  Newsflash: he doesn’t feel a thing.  He’s not getting experienced.  He sees a to-do list, his company, and employees.  Is that his life?  The people tripping out aren’t thinking about the job.  Sean, though, is probably thinking about the job, but not the same way as Marty, so it’s time to close this shit.  He goes to face a wacked-out Sean.

Holacracy- Doug asks members for advice about Tess

Doug, then, asks members if Tess wants a D&D tutorial or a lover.  Majo, meanwhile, cradles a weeping Jeannie, but her breath is fucking with Jeannie’s high.

Holacracy- Clyde calls Kelsey

Clyde somehow manages to call a busy Kelsey to connect with her.  Kelsey, though, gets right to it: she wants to breakup.  And she can do this over the phone while writing code.

Holacracy- Jeannie tells Marty about her third eye

Marty and Sean face off, but Jeannie soon calls him to say how happy she is that she now sees God.  She tries to get a question out, but Marty tells her that he’s not feeling experienced yet.  However, Jeannie sees Marty because she has a God-eye in the center of her forehead.  It sees that Marty has a giant circle around his head, like the mane of a lion.  And then Jeannie vomits while Marty goes off to make a phone call

Holacracy- Clyde asks Dakota, played by Anastacia McPherson, for the sacred orgasm

Clyde goes to Dakota, played by Anastacia McPherson, the woman from before who offered the sacred orgasm, for the offer of sweet love, but Dakota doesn’t recognize the fur man.

Holacracy- Sean the Cobra Lord versus Marty the motherfucking lion

If possible, the episode gets even trippier as Marty and Sean, now Cobra Lord, displays his spirit.  Marty does the same, as he’s a motherfucking lion.  The two battle in a trippy animated sequence.

Holacracy- Marty on board with Holacracy

We then fade into the group, now presumably recovered, meeting while Marty asks what reality is nowadays.  What Marty does know is that he and Sean left their physical bodies and made an agreement on a higher plane.  The company agreed that Holacracy is a noble experiment that’s worth a try.

Doug will head up the Holacracy Transition Advisory Team, Clyde will move Holacracy’s technology, synergy, and integration into the 25th century, while Jeannie and Marty will work close with Sean to advance the vision quest that is Holacracy.   This is a vision quest that will take faith and a fuck load of afterwork.

Holacracy- Yurgen is pissed at Marty

Outside, Yurgen is livid with Marty for fucking him in every hole, but Marty asks Yurgen to think about how much he himself is worth to Sean Chew.  On paper, it’s over a billion dollars.  So if Sean thinks that Holacracy is the shit, the least Yurgen could do is let this play out.  After all, Sean is the Cobra Lord.  Not just anyone knows about the Cobra Lord.

Holacracy- Ron Zobel happy to join Marty's team

Back in Los Angeles, surprise Steven Weber as Ron Zobel is waiting for Marty at K&A.  But then, Ron got Marty’s message about working together and aggressive post-capitalism.  Ron has a few loose ends to tie up in other sectors, but after that, Ron is all for Marty.  Ron also knows about Skip’s offer.  That might have influenced Ron’s decision.  Plus, Marty wouldn’t want his ex-wife walking away with all that money.

Yeah, Monica is apparently the frontrunner, but Ron bets that K&A will blow her right out of the water.  Marty asks Ron if he saved the message.

Holacracy- Doug asks Tess out on a date

Doug goes over D&D with Tess.  Before Doug can ask a question, Tess wonders if it’s about D&D.  It’s not.  Doug asks Tess whether she’d consider going out with him.  Tess is actually kind of into him, so yes, she will go out with him.

Holacracy- Jeannie unwinds on Marty's sofa

Jeannie pops by Marty’s office to confirm whether she saw Ron Zobel.  Apparently Marty hired him.  Jeannie thinks it’s a good call, but her brain also feels like dog shit.  Still an amazing feeling, though.  Jeannie asks whether Marty wants her back at K&A, as she feels very fragile and the ayahuasca has her questioning everything.  Marty says that he’s thrilled, as he can’t do this shit without her.  Good answer.

The episode comes to a close as Marty continues working well into the night.

Holacracy- Cobra fights the lion

Well, this episode was trippy as hell.  It started off pretty standard with the status quo being restored and Jeannie returning to Kaan & Associates, but took a huge detour once we met Sean Chew.  I’m fine with this change of pace because while we’ve seen the pod on wild misadventures before, I don’t think anything has been as out of sight as this one.

If there’s one thing to grab from this episode, it’s that the pod members are taking huge risks.  Or, at least, making minor changes in their decisions, like taking a leap of faith when they’re uncertain of the outcome.

Holacracy- Doug wants to ask Tess out

Like Doug.  He’s treading careful water with Tess because he wants to form a bond, but also maintain the professional relationship with a client.  But instead of beating around the bush for several episodes, he goes right for it, ends up with a date in the process, and learns that Tess is into him.  So Doug is having a good day so far.  Hopefully Sarah doesn’t pop up and blow this for him, but I’ll take any excuse to see Jenny Slate again.

Holacracy- Clyde learns that Kelsey's app sold for seven figures

Clyde, meanwhile, looks like he’s about to hit the single circuit again.  First off, it was nice to see Kelsey again, as I think her character is interesting and smart enough to warrant more than a one-season appearance.  We’re not told everything that’s gone on between Clyde and Kelsey, but their relationship looks like it’s on thin ice.

Holacracy- Kelsey works on code

To be honest, though, Kelsey wanting to end things with Clyde isn’t all that surprising.  Not that she’s lost interest or feelings in him, but her mind is on bigger things.  She just got a seven figure deal on her app and spends time writing code.  This isn’t someone who needs to be bound by a relationship.  That said, I’m curious whether we’ll see what led to the falling out between the two.

Holacracy- Marty fist bumps with Sean

Marty is taking a huge risk by embracing the Holacracy philosophy.  Or, at least, letting Sean think that he is.  Even though Marty found it to be bullshit, his priority isn’t about changing who he is, but closing a deal with the client and getting that afterwork.  He can’t if he and the pod have a clash of ideals with Sean.

Holacracy- Marty realizes that he brought on Ron Zobel

But where he will clash is with Ron Zobel, now that he’s apparently on board.  I do like that the phone call to Zobel wasn’t some giant revelation, as we did see Marty make a phone call during the ceremony.  And it’s a payoff to Marty’s conversation with Jeannie about how he would never bring on Zobel.  And after Steven Weber’s character was killed off on iZombie, I’m glad he’ll hopefully be around here for some time.

Holacracy- Jeannie is frustrated

Jeannie, meanwhile, is having a bit of trouble adjusting to life back at K&A.  Nice to have her back with the pod, but now she and Marty are back to trying not to step on each other’s toes.  I don’t think she’ll be as forward as she was last season, but at the same time, going by the conversation at the end of the episode, I don’t think Marty will always be quick to shut down her suggestions.

Holacracy- Sean the Cobra Lord

As for Everyshirt itself, this is going to be one hell of an interesting client.  Yurgen appeared over Sean’s philosophy until Marty advised him to stay the course.  I’m wondering if Yurgen had ever considered that all- given his net worth- before Marty suggested it.  Either way, I wager Yurgen’s patience will be tested between Sean pushing Holacracy and Marty making sure that he stays on board.

Holacracy- Yurgen thinks about his net worth to Sean

And these are such radically different performances than what I’d expect from John Cho and Malcolm-Jamal Warner that I can’t wait to see them do more with these characters. Even Donald Faison in his brief appearance was a nice surprise.

To reiterate, “Holacracy” was trippy as shit, but damn fun to watch as the pod got experienced.  One of the most visually memorable episodes of the series’ run.  In between all of this, the episode still advanced the character’s storylines as they took risks with their current situations.  Some worked, as we saw with Marty and Doug, some less successful, as we’re seeing with Clyde.

The team is dealing with a challenging client and while they’re on the path to getting that afterwork, we’ll see how long they’re willing to endure Holacracy.

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