Well, here we are. It’s been five seasons of consulting, backstabbing, and unpredictable bullshit from our friends at Kaan & Associates. Five seasons of meetings, flights, parties, and afterwork have led the pod to Cuba for one final negotiation. Will they succeed? And if they do, where do they go from there?
Welcome, my friends, to the final episode of Showtime’s House of Lies.
The episode begins with glimpses of moments: Marty and Jeannie resting by a car on the beach, the Kohl brothers fighting, Monica seducing Marty, Jeannie chewing out Marty, and Doug making out with an older woman.
Then we start proper with the pod coming close to their hotel, though Doug tells everyone that Cubans do business in cafes and restaurants. Time for a time freeze. Marty welcomes us to Cuba- the perfect jewel of newly budded capitalism. Today, Marty Kaan is ready to make it rain for the Kohl brothers, who will spend so much money on buying Kaan & Associates that Marty doesn’t have to worry about anything for as long as he lives.
Big plans include a five star hotel on every beach, a Starbucks on every corner, and so on, but today, this will turn into Marty Kaan’s Cuba. The time freeze stops as the pod continues along when they spot Monica, who taunts the pod by telling them that they don’t have a chance. Skip comes out and joins in on the taunting, but Marty reminds Skip that this deal is up for grabs.
As the pod heads in, Monica asks Marty about his tell. Quiet, humble Marty means that he has a shiv. Marty at least thanks Monica for telling him that he has a tell.
We then flash back to earlier, on the plane, where Clyde drops alcohol into Doug’s ear. Doug is livid since you can get an infection, and it doesn’t help that he needs to catch up on his sleep. Doug apologizes, but Clyde soon does it again, so Doug gets up and sits next to a woman in another aisle.
Clyde joins Marty, who is stressing over plans, to ask about Jeannie, since the two are no longer sitting together. Marty doesn’t want to talk about it, so he asks what Clyde will do with his share of the money if the pod wins this deal. Clyde would live the dream, but he has no idea what that means. Maybe build houses.
Jeannie interrupts this talk to show the two something very important: Doug locking lips with the woman. Clyde hits record in an instant. And no point in saying anything to Doug about this.
Back in the present, Jeannie wants to visit Ernest Hemingway’s house, but Doug isn’t a fan of the man and his five word sentences. Very specific complaint, Doug. Marty informs the pod that they’re meeting a man named Samuel, who Zobel thinks is a real asset. He managed to make a dent in the marketplace, but the Kohl brothers will want to eat Cuba for breakfast. Marty will feed them that meal.
Doug doesn’t remember his encounter on the plane due to the Ambien, but he at least remembers that it was pretty hot. The team goes through the phases of the Kohl Brothers’ project, starting with Doug.
Soon enough, the pod comes face to face with Samuel, played by Carlos Gómez, who gets philosophical with the team. He guesses that the pod has done their consulting work and plans for profits, which is true, so he tells them to throw those plans into the ocean. You can’t quantify anything in Cuba because nothing will match your projections. To do business in Cuba, you have to surrender.
The guiding worldview of contemporary Cuba is “No es facil,” or “It’s not easy.” However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not worthwhile. It just means that it’s nice. Everything that the pod believes and stakes its business on: capitalism, the free markets, trickle-down economics, Cuba exposes all of that for the pile of bullshit that it is. So sometimes, it will be disaster, and other times, it won’t. None of it will be what you expect.
Doug counters that everything in business is quantifiable, but Samuel states that is only possible when there is a series of constants. The only constant is that nothing is constant. Samuel leaves the pod to enjoy their evening. Tomorrow, though, the leasing company.
So it’s time for the pod to present, and they do. It went horribly. So time for the meeting with commerce. Still, nothing. Cuba doesn’t just spread her legs and let you take her, like Jeannie apparently does. As Samuel said, no es facil.
Samuel takes the pod for a scenic tour of Cuba. The pod plays futbol with some kids and later enjoys dancing and drinking. Like most car trips, though, they experience car trouble and end up traveling in another traveler’s truck. Marty lets his mind wander.
Later, Marty and Jeannie find themselves lost and end up at someone’s wedding. Marty thinks that he knows the way back, but Jeannie isn’t interested in joining him. She wants to be at this wedding because the people here are happy, but she isn’t. She rages at Marty, telling him to fuck off when he suggests she stop being dramatic. And so, Jeannie goes off to dance with people she’s never met.
Even later that evening, a drunk Marty finds himself sitting before Monica, who still wonders whether Marty will fuck up her acquisition. However, Marty is over it. Cuba won’t go for the Kohl brothers. He likes the people, food, culture, and slow, sustainable growth of Cuba. Monica, meanwhile, likes rapid growth.
We cut to Monica and Skip giving their presentation to Cuban representatives about the willingness to exploit your labor force and reach a climate of maximum growth potential, similar to China. The Kohl brothers can make this happen. The Cuban representatives have heard enough. In their minds, this is bad business. The negotiation devolves into a full blown shouting match.
The Kohl brothers even start yelling at each other as Monica tries to make her case. If anything, at least the Kohl brothers were kind enough to take their fight outside. And now we get a payoff to that brief scene from the beginning as the Kohl brothers began to beat the shit out of each other. The pod watches from the sidelines in triumph.
Then, we cut to earlier as the pod relaxes with Samuel. Marty realizes ahead of time that Cuba doesn’t want the Kohl brothers. Samuel asks if Marty would want that sort of thing, and he would not. Indeed, no es fucking facil.
We then go back to Monica and Marty, who tells her that Cuba won’t go for the Kohl brothers. Monica still likes rapid growth. She removes her robe and straddles Marty, but he tells her that she already got what she want. Monica thinks that Marty not fucking her is another tell. With that, she leaves.
Marty later tells the pod that he was honest with Monica, so now they just wait to tell her the “truth.” The pod will feed Monica an email that she’ll hack. Doug accepts responsibility, saying that if not for his intellectual curiosity, the pod would not be able to manipulate Monica. By curiosity, Doug opened up spam while trying to jerk off in the office.
The plan is to make it seem as if Cuba is in the mood for a China-style expansion. And then, the pod just watches Monica crash and burn. Clyde has one concern: if this is a bad strategy, then what’s their plan, because this is very familiar with the group’s plan. In conclusion, Kaan & Associates is not selling to the Kohl brothers, much to Doug’s dismay. Besides, who wants to subject Cuba to aggressive imperialism?
So, we cut back to the wedding as Marty watches Jeannie dance with strangers. Soon enough, Marty tells Jeannie that he thinks she should marry him. No jokes. He’s damn serious. After realizing that this isn’t a joke, Jeannie accepts. However, the two will still work. They won’t sell off the business they worked their asses off to create. And they can still raise a family. The two kiss and dance the day away.
Following this, as the pod is departing, Skip rushes up to ask Marty for a few minutes of his time. He has a real offer to bring Marty in the door so everyone wins. The problem is that Skip doesn’t lose. Skip’s losing is tantamount to a win. With that, the pod heads off.
We then end up back at the beach with Marty and Jeannie awakening next to a car. The two are officially married and Jeannie stole a car.
Then, we flash back to the two joining in holy matrimony. The festivities commence with even some of the show’s staff joining in on the dancing as House of Lies, and five seasons worth of management consulting madness with Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, Josh Lawson, and Ben Schwartz comes to a close.
“No es Facil” takes the pod into Cuba for what we believed to be their final mission as they looked to selling off their company and living the rest of their lives in peace. It would be that easy to just score so much money that you don’t have to worry about anything for the rest of your life.
But life isn’t set in stone, as the good people of Cuba know. You can’t expect everything to go according to plan, more so if you want to plant your flag in unexplored territory and expect to do so without resistance. As Samuel tells the pod, the only constant is that nothing is constant. Not everything needs to be examined from a business perspective or quantified like some math equation.
When we go on that ride through Cuba and see its culture up close, I get the sense that this is where Marty starts to change his mind on Cuba, in addition to Samuel’s words. Marty has always been a businessman first, but bringing that consultant mentality into Cuba would just show how much the citizens are already fine with their lives. There’s no need to meddle in their affairs just for a nice paycheck.
I don’t think Marty views this as a setback or failure, though. He just realizes that there’s no point in trying to force his brand of capitalism and consumerism on Cuba. Rather, he comes to embrace Cuba’s “No es facil” lifestyle by accepting that nothing is certain, no matter how far ahead you try to anticipate the outcome.
That’s why he’s clashed so often with Jeannie, who is thinking long-term, but also not trying to move as fast as Marty. She has her entire life ahead of her to relax, not to mention raise her daughter. Sure, she wants to do things like travel when Phoebe is older, but in general, she wants to take life one day at a time.
And I appreciate that this doesn’t just come out of nowhere. We’ve watched Jeannie be at odds with Marty in a few episodes over their exit strategy and she already didn’t want to make this Cuba deal just for the money. Now that she’s in the thick of the carefree Cuba, she just wants happiness in her life. She won’t get that if she’s not working or keeping herself busy, never mind the money she would get.
So what other step is there for Marty and Jeannie than to get married? They both accept that Cuba doesn’t want the Kohl brothers and they have acknowledged that it’s possible for them to be together and provide for Phoebe. And between the back and forth the two have had since the beginning, this feels like a logical next step for them.
Yes, it does wrap up things in a nice, neat box, but at the same time, it does make for a hopefully bright future for the two of them. They aren’t selling their company and letting life pass by them. They’re returning to work and doing what they do best. Kaan & Associates has a reputation and is a bigger, more bustling business than when Marty first started it. The future, unpredictable as it is, looks bright for them.
This was a quick series finale, I’ll admit, and I bring that up because we don’t get to spend a ton of time with Doug and Clyde to get their perspective on Marty’s decision. Did either of them look forward to selling the company and getting a nice paycheck? Maybe Doug had a plan to get back into Tess’ good graces or Clyde wanted to self-fund his own political campaign.
We don’t know and it’s something that I wish had been included in the finale. Maybe a scene or two with Doug and Clyde getting honest with each other about their futures. The two are funny as always and I did like the brief scene of Clyde messing with Doug on the plane, but it would have been nice to hear and see how they felt about this potential deal and how it would impact their lives.
I will admit that it was satisfying to see Marty one-up Monica by being honest and using the hacking to his advantage. On the hacking, by the way, that debunks my theory that Tess did it to get revenge against Doug.
But not only did he let Monica’s presentation blow up in her face, he managed to hand Skip a major defeat and loss. Had Monica not been so suspicious of Marty’s so-called tell, she might have looked better in front of the Cubans. Instead, she blew her chance, giving Marty the ultimate victory against probably his most difficult rival and former lover.
“No Es Facil” might not have answered everything we wanted to know about the future of Marty, Jeannie, Clyde, and Doug, and it might have wrapped up a bit quicker than expected, given House of Lies’ cancellation, but it was a fun watch that took our pod into Cuba and a good episode that made history along the way with House of Lies being the first American program to film in Cuba since relations improved.
House of Lies was an entertaining ride from start to finish, showing us the dark side of management consulting, sprinkled with dark humor throughout. It gave us flawed, yet relatable characters who thrive off of besting their clients their crazy, fucked-up lives.
The chemistry between Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, Ben Schwartz, and Josh Lawson made for an entertaining comedy and given the shit that Marty, Jeannie, Clyde, and Doug have faced, it’s nice to see them end on a high note. Does this make me want to become a management consultant? Yeah, probably not. As this show has shown, doing that sort of work? No es facil.
Here’s to House of Lies.