A Look at House of Lies- Series Finale: “No Es Facil”

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.

No es Facil- Marty has big plans for Cuba

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.

No es Facil- Monica and Skip speak with the pod

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.

No es Facil- Clyde screws with Doug

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.

No es Facil- Clyde talks with Marty

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.

No es Facil- Doug kisses a random woman on the plane

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.

No es Facil- Pod discusses the Cuba plan

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.

No es Facil- Samuel, played by Carlos Gómez, speaks with the pod about Cuba and its way of life

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.

No es Facil- Pod stumbles after presentation

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.

No es Facil- Pod plays futbol with some kids

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.

No es Facil- Marty and Jeannie end up at a random wedding

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.

No es Facil- Marty with Monica

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.

No es Facil- Monica makes her case to the Cuban representatives

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.

No es Facil- Kohl brothers fight

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.

No es Facil- Marty understands that Cuba does not want the Kohl brothers

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.

No es Facil- Monica straddles Marty, who tries to tell her that Cuba doesn't want the Kohl brothers

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.

No es Facil- Marty tells the pod about his plan to trip up Monica

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?

No es Facil- Marty tells Jeannie that they should get married

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.

No es Facil- Pod bids farewell to Skip

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.

No es Facil- Marty and Jeannie wake up at the beach

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.

No es Facil- Marty and Jeannie are wed

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.

No es Facil- Samuel explains to the pod what 'No es facil' means

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.

No es Facil- Pod travels around Cuba

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.

No es Facil- Marty smokes a cigar while watching the Kohl brothers fight

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.

No es Facil- Jeannie tells Marty to fuck off

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.

Violent Agreement- Jeannie and Marty talk about their lives after the Cuba mission

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.

No es Facil- Marty and Jeannie kiss at their wedding

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.

No es Facil- Marty decides that he wants to marry Jeannie

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.

No es Facil- Marty, Jeannie, and Clyde watch Doug kiss a random woman

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.

No es Facil- Doug and Clyde on the plane

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.

No es Facil- Pod watches the Kohl brothers fight

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.

No es Facil- Monica's presentation goes down in flames

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- Marty and Jeannie get ready to dance

“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.

A Look at House of Lies- Season 5, Episode 9: “Violent Agreement”

So, despite Marty learning that Skip has elected to go with Monica, he still has a backup plan in the form of Cuba.  But is that enough to ensure that his company wins the good graces of the Kohl brothers?  And even if it does, where do he and his pod go from there?

Violent Agreement- Clyde has good news for Doug

After a brief close-up of Jeannie’s face, the episode begins proper with Clyde arriving at K&A and entering Doug’s office with good news: Seth Buckley is ahead in the polls and, by extension, so is Clyde’s penis.  Turns out that slapping around D’Ream Out Loud has turned Buckley into a social media sensation.

Doug advises Clyde to proceed with caution when it comes to social media. And Doug knows about this because someone named VagBreath69 has said things about him.  Said VagBreath69 is Clyde.

Violent Agreement- Marty wants an in-person pitch from Doug and Clyde

Marty enters the office to demand where the Power Point presentation is on the Cuba pitch to the Kohl brothers.  Clyde emailed it to Marty, but the internet in the building is shitty.  With no support from IT yet, Marty wants the pitch made right now. Doug and Clyde start: with the trade ban in Cuba lifted, demand for hotel inventory is about to shoot through the roof.

That means millions of Americans spending their hard earned dollars on hotel rooms in Cuba.  But resort development is merely the tip of the spear.  If the Kohl brothers plant their flag in Cuba, they can extend into areas such as agriculture, energy, and paper.  Cuban bureaucracy will be tricky, but Ron Zobel hopefully has that covered.

Violent Agreement- Jeannie tells Marty that she'll be staying at home with Phoebe

Then Marty gets a call from Jeannie, who is at home because the nanny is sick with a stomach flu.  With no babysitter replacements, Jeannie is going to take a Mommy-Daughter day.  Marty asks Ron about his Cuban contacts and a possible meeting, and Ron confirms that he’s had preliminary discussions with Orozco.

Violent Agreement- Ron tells Marty that he wants a larger equity piece

The talks are so preliminary that Ron hasn’t even brought up K&A’s interest in Cuba yet. Even though Marty wants something fast to show Skip, Ron is taking his sweet time.  It’d be a huge win for K&A and even bigger for Ron since he’d be in charge at that point, but if the sale fails, he needs guarantee.

That guarantee translates to a larger equity piece.  And this is when Ron cuts the shit and gets serious with Marty.  He’s been a good soldier and tells Marty not to treat him like a patsy.  Cuba will move forward on Ron’s terms or not at all.

Violent Agreement- Jeannie and Phoebe exercise

We cut to Jeannie getting her exercise on, going through her wardrobe, and putting Phoebe down to rest before she settles in with a good book…for a few seconds.  Safe to say that Jeannie is bored.  I mean, how many parents actually try to wake up their child?

Violent Agreement- Jeannie takes Phoebe with her to run errands

So Jeannie decides to bring Phoebe with her to run some errands and do God knows what else to occupy her time.  Phoebe then dares Jeannie to drink at a bar until she passes out.  If this was Rugrats, I’d buy that Phoebe actually spoke, but this isn’t, so it’s just Jeannie doing her best baby voice.

Violent Agreement- IT employee, played by Scout Durwood, tries to help Doug with the server

Back at K&A, an IT employee, played by Scout Durwood, tells Doug that there’s some gnarly malware in their system. She can’t do much, but she does tell Doug that the entry point came from a computer registered in his name.  Also, this person is sending sexy pictures not just to him.

Violent Agreement- Jeannie spots old man feeding pigeons

Okay, Jeannie doesn’t go to the bar, but she does chat up some other moms at a playground.  She then spots an old man feeding pigeons and becomes transfixed with him.

Violent Agreement- Skip tells Marty that Monica already proposed Cuba

Marty meets with Skip to ask him for a meeting with the Kohl brothers. Instead, Skip brings up an episode of Gilligan’s Island where a Japanese sailor gets washed up on the island.  The sailor was played by a White actor and he imprisons the castaways because he thinks that it’s still World War II, even though it’s 1965.

What Marty needs to do is take off the goggles and realize that the war is over, but Marty is confident that the Kohl brothers will like his pitch.  Skip tells Marty that this wasn’t a real competition.  Whatever Marty has won’t change a thing because Skip has his thumb on the scale and doesn’t want Marty to win.

All the sweet talk wasn’t bullshit.  When Marty wanted to win, Skip couldn’t resist picking up the football.  Yes, Marty is Charlie Brown.  The discussion, as far as Skip sees it, is closed, but he stops once Marty mentions Cuba. Interesting proposal, but Monica has already brought that up- resort development and everything.

Violent Agreement- Clyde, Doug, Marty, and JR lay waste to Ron's office

At K&A, while Doug brings Bruce, played by Jack De Sena, in to work on his computer, Marty enters with a set of golf clubs and begins wrecking havoc in Ron’s office. He invites Doug, Clyde, and JR to join in when Jeannie suddenly arrives. Marty tells her that Ron has apparently given Monica K&A’s plans on Cuba, so the pod is trashing his office.

Jeannie arrives and, after seeing the carnage, thinks that Ron backstabbing Marty doesn’t make sense.  If Ron gave Marty the keys to Cuba, why would he just turn on him and give the plan to Monica?  Well, yeah, but Monica’s plans were almost word for word what K&A had planned.

Violent Agreement- Bruce, played by Jack De Sena, reveals that the company server has been compromised

And that’s when Doug speaks up and tells everyone that he may know how Monica got access to their plan.  Bruce reveals that the company’s sever was compromised.  Marty has Bruce leave the malicious files in place.  After all, Monica doesn’t know that Marty knows.

Violent Agreement- Roscoe thinks that Marty and Jeannie are watching porn

That evening, Marty learns that Ron was able to get him five minutes with the Kohl brothers.  And then Roscoe strolls in on a hoverboard.  When Marty and Jeannie suddenly stop doing work, Roscoe suspects that they were watching porn.  He leaves to do his homework.

Turns out that Marty is worried that Monica could get inside information from Roscoe. Jeannie talks about her day and spotting the old man who was dressed in an amazing suit, and yet, he didn’t go to work.  He just sat down and fed pigeons.  Jeannie finds it a bit sad and wonders about her future.

Marty isn’t worried, though.  If they get bored, they can just go back to work. Jeannie is surprised, given how Marty’s plan was to not jump right back in after leaving the company. Okay, so they won’t.

Violent Agreement- Clyde gives Doug a snatch alert

The next day, the pod discusses the trip to Cuba.  Clyde would be joining late because he has campaign business with Seth Buckley.  Also, since their emails have been compromised, Clyde hand delivers Clyde an envelope with ‘Snatch Alert’ written on it.  He leaves the letter on the trash.

Violent Agreement- Pod meets Sean, played by Stacy Hinnen, and Garrick, played by Michael Cudlitz

The pod then meets the Kohl brothers: Sean, played by Stacy Hinnen, and Garrick, played by Michael Cudlitz, who look like they’ve just been in a fight. Garrick tells the pod about a time his father locked him and Sean in their room when they were young.

See, there was only one candy bar and whoever was still standing in an hour got the candy bar.  This happened every night for a year.  Dad wanted Sean and Garrick to understand that humans are animals and that the world is a jungle.

Violent Agreement- Skip interrupts Marty's proposal

Marty knows that Monica made promises to the brothers, but she doesn’t have an actual Cuban contact.  And then Skip strolls in, confident that he has Marty beat.  But why?  See, Skip thinks that Marty is an asshole and it’s a dick move to play with other people’s money just to best Marty.

See, Skip doesn’t believe that Monica is the smarter play, but he’s just upset that Marty hurt his feelings long ago.  Garrick doesn’t give a shit about Monica, but he does give a shit about Cuba.  Garrick and Sean’s grandfather has holdings there that were repatriated after the Revolution. Now it’s time to reclaim their birthright for Paw-Paw.

And the Kohl brothers will buy the firm that has both the balls and brains to make that happen.  Marty plans to make that vision a reality.

Violent Agreement- Clyde thinks that Skip is going to make him executive director of his economic council

Later, Clyde meets up with Seth Buckley to talk post-election strategy, and he doesn’t have to worry because Seth will offer him a job.  However, Clyde first has to meet with Josh DuVall, who will be the executive director of Seth’s economic council.  Clyde is upset at this news, but Seth tells Clyde that he has no experience in politics, while Josh has 30 years.

Clyde thought that Seth would pick him to help shake up the establishment with his bold vision.  With that, Clyde flies away.

Violent Agreement- Clyde tells the pod that he wants to be with them instead of Seth

In fact, he flies all the way to the airport and meets up with the pod just as they’re in line. How did he get through security that fast and the team just happened to be at this point in the line?  Okay, never mind.  Of all the things to question, this shouldn’t be one of them.

Anyway, Clyde’s version of what happened is that he had an epiphany: just as Seth was about to offer Clyde a job, he realized that, at the end of day, all he wants to do is be with the pod.  Yeah, no one is buying this bullshit. At the very least, Marty is glad to see Clyde.

Violent Agreement- Jeannie discusses her future

On board the plane, Jeannie tells Marty that she might want to take Phoebe to Rome or Denmark if the sale goes through.  Whatever she chooses, she and Marty will need to discuss their co-parenting in the future.  Marty isn’t paying attention because he’s too focused on a big pay day.  He doesn’t want Jeannie to sidetrack him by scurrying down the rabbit hole.

But Jeannie feels that thinking about her future isn’t scurrying down such a hole.  Even still, Marty needs Jeannie’s head in the game if they’re going to win this thing.  Jeannie then asks Marty what he thinks their lives would be like if they make this sale.  Jeannie feels that the only thing that would change is that the pod would not have their company.

After everything the pod has endured, Jeannie just wants to slow down and think about this.  Marty, though, does not want to slow down, so he asks what Jeannie wants.  For that, she has no response.  She just sips her drink.

Violent Agreement- Pod arrives in Cuba

The episode comes to a close with Kaan and Associates arriving in Cuba to embark on what might be their biggest challenge yet.

As we approach the series finale, there’s a real sense of both optimism and destiny as the pod heads not just for hopefully a huge pay day, but a major move that will redefine their lives going forward.  Given how far they’ve come and what they’ve accomplished at Kaan & Associates, it’s hard for me to not share their optimism that, despite the hurdles, they will come out of this with one final win.

Violent Agreement- Jeannie and Marty talk about their lives after the Cuba mission

But even if they do win the backing of the Kohl brothers, what happens next?  Life doesn’t stop for them just because they make a ton of money.  They keep living and having aspirations, but they just won’t be working.  And that is Jeannie’s main fear.  Here, she couldn’t even spend a few hours at home without becoming restless.  When a parent wakes up their child instead of enjoying some peace and quiet, something is wrong.

Violent Agreement- Jeannie is bored

Jeannie here reminds me of what it’s like to not have a job, no matter how brief.  Your days are wide open and you grow restless.  Hitting the ‘Refresh’ button on your computer, feeding pigeons, books and entertainment can only provide so much solace, and you’re just looking for ways to pass the time until night falls and you get ready for bed.  Then, you wake up the next day and do it all over again.

Violent Agreement- Jeannie surfs the internet

I can relate to that.  No matter how much free time or money you have, I find that doing something is much better than doing nothing.  You can’t stay cooped up in your home all day while life passes you by because you’ll wake up and realize that you haven’t achieved much.

Violent Agreement- Marty and Jeannie work

Granted, the pod will have achieved something big by having the Kohl brothers buy the company, but Jeannie still has plenty of time to live her life.  Not to mention she has Phoebe.  Much like the previous episode, Jeannie isn’t letting herself be fully motivated by money.  And it’s nice that she isn’t staying silent about this, even with Marty pushing her to focus on the Cuba mission.

Violent Agreement- Marty needs Jeannie to focus on the job, not her future

And I would wager that Marty might be thinking about this in the back of his mind.  He does still have Roscoe and Jeremiah in his life, after all.  Even if he believes that the point of it all is money, he’s still a father and wants what’s best for his family.

Violent Agreement- Marty makes his case to the Kohl brothers

Plus, he’s as resilient as ever.  Even when learning about Monica presenting his team’s idea, he never backed down or rolled over for Skip.  I like how, despite the uphill climb and short window of time, he’s pushing to make sure he comes out on top.  It shows his commitment to the job and why he’s clashing with Jeannie right now.

Violent Agreement- Clyde learns that he won't be getting the position he wants

Clyde, meanwhile, reminds me of the graduate right out of college.  He’s proven his worth and thinks that he’s about to walk right into a cushy job, but he lacks the proper experience necessary for the job he wants.  And it’s understandable why Seth wouldn’t hire him.  In time, Clyde could have worked his way up in Seth’s administration, but because he doesn’t get the job that he wants now, he falls back on the pod.

Convenient, yes, but it would have been odd to have the pod go on one final mission in Cuba and one member not be there.

With all that said, “Violent Agreement” was a good episode that showed the pod making their case while still fending off the likes of Seth.  And with the series finale upon us, Marty, Jeannie, Doug, and Clyde enter Cuba for one final adventure in the world of management consulting and hopefully earn that last win that will catapult them to a prosperous, but eventful future.

A Look at House of Lies- Season 5, Episode 8: “Tragedy of the Commons”

Have you ever wondered about the internal strife that often plagues boy bands and threatens to tear them apart until the inevitable reunion tour?  Me neither, but perhaps Marty and the pod will see what it’s like as they take on a hot tween sensation group to make sure both sides end up with the most money possible.  This is “Tragedy of the Commons.”

Tragedy of the Commons- Marty and Ron discuss D'Ream Out Loud

The episode begins with Ron and Marty discussing the boy band called D’ream Out Loud (not a typo)- the biggest band since One Direction.  Celestial Music Group is having a hard time getting the group to resign, so Ron pitched K&A as closers.  It helps that they have the Dushkin twins deal under their belt.

Marty is skeptical about babysitting the Backstreet Boys, despite the promise of endless afterwork.  However, Ron points out that Monica is racking up media properties, but K&A is media-lite.

Tragedy of the Commons- Jeannie at a photo op with Seth

At Logan’s Diner, Seth has Jeannie pose with him in photo-ops, but she’s got to get to work.  They’ll meet up this evening for a fundraiser.  Jeannie is just…not ecstatic about this.

Tragedy of the Commons- Doug tells Clyde about his new Twitter followers

Back at K&A, Doug reads some Tweets from his new TED Talk fans, some of whom call him an inspiration.  Just to clarify, prior to this Talk, Doug had 125 followers.  Now, he has 136.  Doug tells Clyde that it’s about quality, not quantity.  Not to mention some of the fans are women that show some cleavage.  The pressures of fame are many.

Apparently, Tess understands that Doug is a lot of women’s hall passes, even though there was no reason for him to remove his shirt.  But it doesn’t help that Tess and Doug haven’t had much time to talk since the TED Talk.

Jeannie enters and tells the two that the meet and greet went well.  Clyde was still nervous, but he’s fine now.  After all, the electorate has responded well to Jeannie at these campaign events.

Tragedy of the Commons- Marty and JR brief the pod on D'Ream Out Loud

The three enter Marty’s office, where our fearless leader briefs them on their boy band assignment.  JR plays a bit from one of the group’s songs.  Clyde knows the lyrics.  The video itself is as generic as you’d expect from a boy band, but I imagine that’s the point.  And I don’t even know that much about boy bands.

JR continues: D’Ream Out Loud has racked up $50 million in record sales, plenty of #1 records, and a shit ton of revenue in concert sales.  The star of the group is Conner Sanders- the shinier version of Harry Styles.  That’s One Direction, right?  The group’s new contracts have been sitting on their lawyer’s desk for two months.

Why?  The group is sitting out their current deal so they can be free to do whatever the fuck they want.  D’Ream Out Loud may literally and figuratively sound like bullshit, Marty figures, but the pod will go after them like any other client.  Jeannie then slips into a fourth grade memory when someone ripped down her poster of Jordan Knight.

Tragedy of the Commons- Girls mob boy band D'Ream Out Loud

We cut to Dave & Buster’s, where the group is greeted by denizens of teenage girls…until Conner steps out and the majority of the girls flock to him.  Thus, leaving the remaining three members with next to no one.  For Marty, though, if you take down the alpha, the rest shall follow.

Tragedy of the Commons- Marty speaks with Conner, played by Rhys Wakefield, about his future with or without the band

Inside, Marty speaks privately with Conner, who confirms that he plans to go solo. Conner wants to skip the consulting bullshit, so Marty doesn’t talk business.  After all, sounds like Conner has made up his mind, so Marty toasts to Conner’s last two weeks of financial security.  You see, Marty looked at Conner’s financials.  Despite that, he says that Conner is fine.

Tragedy of the Commons- Doug and Clyde play air hockey with two band members

Back to the pod and remaining three members.  While Sam gets Jeannie a necklace, Doug and Clyde play air hockey with Ryder and Hunter about taking such a big risk. There are internal problems, though: Conner gets paid more when there should be equal pay.

Tragedy of the Commons- Conner tells Marty that he'll be fine, according to his business manager

Conner tells Marty that he has nothing to worry about, according to his business manager, Joel, even if he never sells a single solo album.  Conner figures that Marty is trying to scare him, like he’s a boogeyman.  So what does the boogeyman see?  A kid who spends $650,000 a month on expenses.  Holy fuck.

So maybe Conner should ask Joel about his private, offshore account and how it keeps growing.  Marty’s guess is that Joel isn’t paying Conner’s taxes.  Also, if Conner doesn’t resign, he has a six month non-compete clause.  Teenage girls probably won’t wait that long.  Btu hey, nothing scares Conner, right?  Except maybe Marty.

Tragedy of the Commons- Sam, played by Noah Reid, talks with Jeannie

Outside, Sam manages to get Jeannie a necklace that he won on his 15th try.  A personal best.  Sam claims that it’s not about the money.  He never even wanted to be part of the band until Conner convinced him to join.

But then, Conner went full-asshole.  Jeannie tells Sam that he’d be walking away from a lot of money, but Sam wonders what the point of money is if he’s not happy.  That’s oddly profound for someone in a boy band.  She then watches a new segment about Seth, who mentions that he’s dating a single mother, Jeannie, who works hard to provide for her daughter.

Sort of a dick move, since now, Jeannie is the poster child for single motherhood.  Sam sympathizes with Jeannie, as he knows what it’s like to be a part of a story you didn’t write.  Sam would treat Jeannie like a queen. She responds with a kiss, but no tongue. Then Doug shows up and tells Jeannie that Marty wants to talk.

Tragedy of the Commons- Pod meets in the women's restroom to discuss the band

The pod meets in the women’s restroom so the band members can’t get follow them.  I get the logic, but still an odd choice.  Marty feels that he’s got Conner, but he needs a push. Hunter and Ryder want parity, but Sam feels that Conner is an asshole and is dead set on leaving.

Jeannie suggests getting Conner to agree to parity, which should be good for CMG, but no.  Fuck that.  So Marty goes to Conner and advises him to listen.

Tragedy of the Commons- Clyde tells Jeannie to talk with Seth

Since Jeannie won’t answer Seth’s calls, Seth calls Clyde instead.  When Clyde hands over his phone, Jeannie dips it into his glass of beer.  Apparently, Jeannie is ghosting Seth: breaking up with someone by never talking to them again.  I thought that was just breaking up, but whatever.

Doug asks how long you go without talking to someone before it’s ghosting, and that’s maybe five or six days.  It’s been eight days since he and Tess talked.

Tragedy of the Commons- Band reunites

Marty and Conner arrive, with Conner telling the band that yes, he’s been an asshole.  He wants to get things back to the way things were.  The band is back together.

Tragedy of the Commons- Jeannie smells the bullshit

Sounds like all is well in boy band land, but Jeannie sniffs the bullshit.  The pod is just fucking over the backup dancers.  Since Jeannie is being a contrarian, Doug and Clyde bring up her kiss with Sam.

Tragedy of the Commons- Seth catches up with Jeannie

The next day, Seth catches up with Jeannie and asks why she hasn’t returned his calls. Okay, I’m no relationship expert, but if a conversation starts out like this, it’s bound to end badly. Obviously, Jeannie is still miffed about Seth’s words and has every reason to be, so she elects to break up with Seth.  She just doesn’t like Seth enough.

Seth thinks that Jeannie doesn’t know how she feels, and that leads her to head inside. The boy band arrives and Sam, like an idiot, brings up his kiss with Jeannie.  This leads to a fight that the paparazzi are lucky enough to capture.

Tragedy of the Commons- Tess tells Doug that she wants to be dungeon master

Upstairs, Doug finds a pissed Tess waiting for him.  She lays into Doug, saying he was a jerk at the TED Talk, despite all the support she gave him leading up to the talk.  Tess breaks up with Doug, which sucks, but Doug is more concerned with whether K&A still has her business.  She’ll keep doing business, but only if Doug makes her Dungeon Master.

Tragedy of the Commons- Doug tells pod that they have lost Tess' business

Smash cut to Doug telling Clyde, Marty, and Jeannie that K&A is no longer doing business with Tess.  No explanation why, though.  There will be time to destroy Doug later.  Right now, focus on the boy band.

Tragedy of the Commons- Pod presents five year plan to band

The two groups meet, with CMG’s exec congratulating the boy band for resigning for five years.  Clyde kicks off a presentation showing the baseline pro forma if the band continues.  This could lead to $120 million. Dope, but Marty wants to do better.

First, Conner will announce that he’s leaving the band.  Then, the band will announce that it’s doing a ‘Goodbye Conner’ tour, which would raise Year 1 NPV to $170 million.  Conner will then record a solo album, featuring a duet with Katy Perry, and a tour.  After a year of great revenue, Conner will realize that he misses the band.

As such, there will be a reunion tour that will be a global event with premium tier pricing. The group is looking at a mid-range five year of $320 million, three times the baseline.  Sam feels that Conner’s nice words were bullshit, but then Marty mentions that the remaining group members will have parity. In other words, equal pay.

Tragedy of the Commons- Band reacts to potential new deal

Conner will have a separate solo contract, but the group is still equal. Everyone is happy about this arrangement except for Sam, who feels that Jeannie played him.  Also, Marty calls Doug into his office.

Tragedy of the Commons- Marty and Jeannie talk

Later, Jeannie tells Marty that they made a shitty move.  Besides, Marty reminds Jeannie that they all have done much worse than this.  Jeannie knows that they screw people over all the time.  When it’s to build the business up, that’s fine, but if they’re handing over K&A to Skip Galweather, what’s the point?  As Marty puts it, the point is money.

Jeannie, remembering Sam’s words, says that more money won’t make them happy. True as that may be, winning will make him happy.  Then Clyde enters and shows footage of Seth’s fight with the band.

Tragedy of the Commons- Marty and Ron talk about how to win over Skip

That evening, Ron congratulates Marty on his work.  They got CMG, but Skip told Ron that he and the Kohl brothers are going with Monica, so in the end, they lost.  Marty still sees a play.  Until the paperwork is signed, there’s time to bring something huge to the Kohl brothers.  And not by signing a company.  What about a country?

After all, Ron still has connections in Cuba.  If Cuba isn’t ready for the Kohl brothers, it’s time to change that.

Truly, money is the root of all evil.  Whether intentional or by accident, “Tragedy of the Commons” presented the pod with an interesting client: itself.  What I mean is that the band members, with their goals, aspirations, and problems with the group as a whole, mirror what the pod has endured and has become vocal about in the past two seasons.

Tragedy of the Commons- Conner and Sam

Conner is the leader who gets most of the glory, Sam is outspoken and is more concerned with the leader’s decisions to the point that he’s willing to walk away, while Hunter and Ryder are just along for the ride, but feel they deserve equal representation for their work.

Tragedy of the Commons- Band learns how much money they'll make in five years

Much like “Above Board Metrics,” it’s a good way to draw attention to the pod’s interpersonal and internal turmoil, but through the perspective of another group that’s on the verge of breaking apart.  And while the pod isn’t about to split again, they still don’t always see on one accord.

Tragedy of the Commons- Jeannie reacts to Sam blowing her off

Jeannie is the biggest outlier in the pod.  Throughout the season, we’ve seen her struggle with becoming a better person and responsible mother, despite her flaws.  Even though she’s done her fair share of bad things, Sam’s words do strike a chord, even if I find this to be a bit blatant.  He already seems to already believe that money doesn’t equal happiness.

Tragedy of the Commons- Jeannie with Sam as he talks about money and happiness

It’s like Jeannie had this sudden epiphany that, I feel, she could have figured out on her own.  Or maybe I’m looking into this too deeply and Jeannie is thinking more about happiness because Marty is about to sell the company.  She’s all for serving her own interests if it betters the company, but she doesn’t see the need to make underhanded deals if she’s not happy or doesn’t have the same authority she has now.

Tragedy of the Commons- Jeannie wonders what good money is if she's not happy

I imagine part of the reason Jeannie is so outspoken is because she’s not trying to let the company or someone else define who she is.  She doesn’t want to be portrayed as another slimy consultant.  And she also won’t let Seth define her as a struggling, single mother.  In essence, Jeannie doesn’t want to be seen as a prop.

Tragedy of the Commons- Marty tells Jeannie that the point is money

She’s more like Marty’s moral compass since, unlike Jeannie, Marty is more concerned not just with money, but winning.  If he’s about to hand over the reins of K&A to Skip, he may as well end on a high note.  And so far, he’s done well with the Dushkin twins, D’Ream Out Loud, got big tobacco to sign with Kush Vista, and he has Tess’ business.  Well, unsure about that last one right now.  But his goal is to defeat Monica.

Tragedy of the Commons- Marty talks with Conner

He can’t do that by always thinking about the ethical implications of his decisions, so he plays the businessman role by showing his client which option will bring them the most money.  And he’s dealing with young pop stars who are all about fame and fortune, if real life is any indication, so of course they’ll latch onto a deal that will garner them more money in the long run.

Tragedy of the Commons- Ron and Marty formulate a plan for Cuba

And despite Skip seeming to have chosen Monica, Marty still has a backup plan involving Ron and Cuba, which pays off reports from earlier this year that House of Lies would be the first scripted American program to film in Cuba since the United States restored diplomatic relations with the nation.  So this should be a fun trip.

“Tragedy of the Commons” showed the pod doing what they do best: smooth talking and ensuring their client gets the best deal possible so they get the best payoff possible.  With Skip set to pick Monica over him, Marty doesn’t have much time to put his backup plan into play, and now that Doug has lost Tess’ business, I expect this to come back up and bite both him and the pod in the ass very soon.

A Look at House of Lies- Season 5, Episode 7: “One-Eighty”

If there’s a life-lesson to take from this experienced episode, it’s that marijuana has more than just medicinal benefits.  It can turn you into a better, more confident speaker and negotiator, more so when it’s crunch time.  But enough of my talk.  Let’s get right to the weed.

One-Eighty- Talking about Ganja Wal Mart

The episode begins with the pod on the road as Marty asks the team about guys who sold them weed in college.  Surprisingly, they all have examples of dealers.  The pod will be dealing with some Washington state weed slingers that are like Ganja Wal-Mart.  Wall Street is taking notice of this growing market that grossed $3 billion in revenue last year.  I instantly approve of the pod taking this approach.

One-Eighty- Arriving at Kush Vista

When the pod arrives at their destination, Kush Vista, they’re stopped by guards and asked to show identification by guards with weapons.  Doug won’t be partaking of this green, and when no one asks why, he simply tells them: he’s keeping his temple pristine for his TED Talk in two days.  He even marked it in everyone’s calendars.  Marty uses this to as an opportunity to remind Jeannie to keep her mind temple pristine.

Jeannie says that she’s fine when high, if not chatty, but the pod disagrees.  Hell, Doug would rather get high with Anne Hathaway.  Is that all?  Soon, Marty is asked to step out of the vehicle, but it’s just to sign some paperwork.

One-Eighty- Kush clients Max, played by Zachary Knighton, and Joy, played by Riki Lindhome

The pod soon meets their clients: Max, played by Zachary Knighton, and Joy, played by Riki Lindhome, and they’re not fans of the system.  Amen to that.  See, based on federal law, this pot reserve is criminal.  People want salvation, but the law can’t catch up.  Max and Joy don’t even take cards or checks- all payment is through cash.  Unlike the situation in Ohio, these two have the power of the plant on their side.

Last year, they sold crops and edibles by the ton.  Humanity is changing, but it takes time to change hearts and minds.  Clyde directs Marty’s attention to some bags of money.

One-Eighty- Taking in a whiff of weed

Inside, the pod gets a whiff of pot that smells more like civil rights than money.  It represents those who died in the War on Drugs, but it has almost made millions for Max and Joy.  Capitalism leads to drugs.  Also, nothing is more beautiful than a kite in the sky.  Max gets a bit weepy eyed at this.  Okay.

One-Eighty- Max and Joy show the pod some edibles

Joy and Max then show the pod some of their products that they supply to vendors around the state and, hopefully, around the country.  This includes gourmet edibles.  Jeannie picks up one of the Mindbomb Truffles, which are the most potent of the products.  Clyde snatches it from Jeannie and dangles it in front of Doug, who recoils.

See, Doug has one shot with this TED Talk.  If he nails this TED Talk, it will be downloaded and shared on Facebook.  He could become legendary.  If Clyde wants to dangle a Mindbomb Truffle in front of someone, he could just give it to me.

One-Eighty- Max explains that he and Joy are changing the world

Max explains to Marty that, in the beginning, he and Joy were just trying to help cancer patients or people suffering from epilepsy, but now, they’re changing the world.  Time to talk business, though.  The pod will look tighten up the valuations and modeling, but will then return to present their findings.

One-Eighty- Marty's plan is to persuade Joy to accept big tobacco

Of course, in this instance, tightening up the valuations means trying all the marijuana they want.  Buzzkill Doug worries that if they partake of the Mary Jane samples, they could be delayed for days and Doug could miss his TED Talk.  True, but they can’t take it on the plane and it would be wasteful to not try this special goodness now.

They noticed that Joy in particular wants to make money.  Ron Zobel has been working himself to get into the pockets of tobacco giant MRJ.  They’ve been looking for a big player.  Marty tells Clyde to call Zobel and tell him that they’ll land MRJ and land Kush at the same time.  Sounds nuts, given the clash between weed and big tobacco.

Plus, Kush seems very committed.  Yes, but remember that in any partnership, one partner is more swayed by greed than the other.  Marty’s strategy is, with the right argument, to get Joy to come off of her husband’s pot altar and support the biggest play possible: big tobacco.  It’s time to go in for the touchdown.

One-Eighty- Infused dinner

Dinner is served with infused butter, so Doug sets his plate aside.  Marty checks Jeannie to make sure she knows that edibles are more potent than the smoke.  No problem for Joy and Max, as they’ve seen every kind of high imaginable.  Hell, they embrace it and look forward to experience the pod’s bliss.

One-Eighty- Jeannie wonders what would happen if everyone blinked at the same time

Jeannie’s bliss, though, involves her becoming very talkative, but this is Level One.  Marty, meanwhile, gets real with Joy and Max, while Jeannie wonders what if everyone in the world blinked at the exact same time.  Doug, meanwhile, says what Joy and Max do is similar to the third commandment of TED Talk: thou shalt reveal thy curiosity and thy passion.  Joy just wants Doug to shut the fuck up.

One-Eighty- Marty talks business with Joy and Max

Back to Marty: the banks won’t touch Kush.  A lot of investors will back small businesses.  The important thing is that Kush’s integrity and mission remain.  Joy asks for coffee and Marty offers to help.  He brings up his real play of big tobacco.  It’s a big fucking monster with large sums of money that Joy could ever want.  As in $100 million minimum.  And Joy can be hands on with the expansion.

One-Eighty- Jeannie wants a guitar

Jeannie thinks that Doug and Clyde are the real love story.  They just want to fill the holes where love goes.  Also, Jeannie want a guitar.

One-Eighty- Joy is open to Marty's suggestion about big tobacco

Marty continues trying to prod Joy, telling her that she’ll have the biggest voice to push legislation in Congress.  Big tobacco has the infrastructure, but Kush has the street cred and culture.  They’d be the Starbucks of pot.

One-Eighty- Max and Clyde talk about desires

Max talks with Clyde about his desires.  Clyde, though, doesn’t feel that he’s happy.  He asks Max to show him the path to salvation, starting with Chapter One.  Max then tells Clyde and Doug that history’s greatest thinkers got high.  The best innovations, like hemp and Bible pages, come from pot.

Joy feels that she’s giving into everything she fought against, but Marty tells her to avoid letting her feelings dictate her decisions.  You can’t let feelings make business decisions.  It’s smart, not greed.  Max, meanwhile, spots Marty talking with Joy and figures that Doug and Clyde are distracting him.

One-Eighty- Max and Joy debate their next move

The seed has been planted, though, and Jeannie almost ate a dog because it asked her to do so.  Funny.  My food never told me to eat it.  Joy asks Max if they’re ready to lose their lives.  Mom and Pop businesses like theirs have been erased, so the two should open their minds and use the system to beat the system.

One-Eighty- Ron tells Marty that MRJ is confirmed for a meeting

Back at K&A, Doug got a few seats for the pod at his TED Talk.  That’s the good news, as apparently the crowd will be full.  Ron Zobel reports that MRJ has confirmed for tomorrow morning.  Good to know, as this will be about timing.  Marty doesn’t want to this window.  Ron assures Marty that his guys will follow his lead.

One-Eighty- Marty pops some Mindbomb Truffles

Okay, so it’s time for Doug’s TED Talk.  Marty pops some Mindbomb Truffles and prepares for the greatest TED Talk ever.

One-Eighty- Tess checks on Doug before his TED Talk

Backstage, Tess notes Doug’s nervousness and high voice, as he is a bit freaked out.  She assures him that he’ll be amazing.  After all, he’s a dungeon master and genius.  But what if he’s a misunderstood genius, like Carrot Top?

One-Eighty- Doug's TED Talk

Doug finally takes the stage and asks how many people in the audience think about orcs.  No response.  He tries again- this time with his eyes closed- and some folks do raise their hands, but that’s about it.  Today, Doug will talk about embracing your authentic self by defeating the doubt that lives inside each of us.

So Doug’s presentation is a bit all over the place.  No, that’s a lie.  It’s fucking weird and is very all over the place.  So, in closing, he leaves the audience with one thought: in the quest to find your authentic self, merge your powers with an orc instead of fighting it.  The crowd seemed to like it.  Tess is ready to head for her dinner reservation with Doug, but he wants to spend time talking to some of the crew.

One-Eighty- Clyde tells Marty that he needs to meet with MRJ tonight

Clyde gets an update from Ron: the meeting has to move up.  The MRJ executives are leaving on a Red Eye to go to Hong Kong, so this meeting has to happen now.  Otherwise, the next window is in eight months.  Marty is spaced out of his fucking mind.

One-Eighty- Marty proposes a compromise between marijuana and big tobacco

So much that he’s still spaced during the meeting with tobacco and MRJ.  The sides war with each other, but Marty calls things to attention.  He doesn’t get how both sides think they don’t need each other.  Remember Blockbuster?  They refused to adapt to the new reality.  Now, legal weed is spreading in the states and cigarettes are being banned.  Young folks are hip to the cigarette ads.

Oh, but Marty isn’t sparing the Kush folks.  Their psychedelic fantasies won’t let them survive without big tobacco.  Tobacco can give them a seat at the table with lobbyists.  If Kush wants to change the world, they need to play along.  It’s not about David versus Goliath, but David with Goliath.  And is Marty high as fuck right now?  Yes.  And is he making complete total sense right now?

One-Eighty- Marty pauses

There’s a long-ass pause before Marty eventually answers that yes, he is making sense.  At the end of the day, big tobacco and marijuana need to, as a wise man once said, merge their powers with an orc instead of fighting it.  The tobacco executives are ready to open their checkbooks and make it rain.  Doug is at least flattered.

One-Eighty- Marty did a good thing

Jeannie congratulates Marty on a job just well done, but he has no idea what the fuck just happened.  When Jeannie brings him up to speed, Marty just thinks that’s cool.  He rests his head on Jeannie’s head as the episode comes to a close.

So that’s how you negotiate: under the influence.  “One-Eighty” is a very fun episode that manages to mix both business and pleasure while still giving all of the pod something to do in the face of their holistic client.

One-Eighty- Marty and big tobacco

And there’s a bit of social commentary at play here with the battle between the marijuana industry and big tobacco.  As more people and countries grow more open and accepting of the ganja, medicinal or otherwise, the marijuana crowd is growing more vocal and demanding.

One-Eighty- Marty tells Joy that she isn't being greedy

But, as Marty points out, there’s still plenty of folks in the Old Guard that believe in Reefer Madness and don’t want children’s minds poisoned by weed.  Whatever.  Outdated as that notion is now, big tobacco is still a money maker and has a seat at the big kids table that marijuana needs and, in my mind, deserves.

One-Eighty- Smelling some weed

I’m getting very close to veering off topic, so let’s get back to the episode.  It’s always fun to see the pod goof around.  Between “Above Board Metrics” and “Holocracy,” we’ve watched them enter the spirit realm with ayahuasca and have drunken misadventures on a cruise ship.  And yet, they still got shit done because they’re good consultants.

One-Eighty- Jeannie thinks that Doug and Clyde should fill each other's holes

So it was a treat to watch them experienced on the finest marijuana.  I was jealous, I’ll admit.  Seeing Jeannie reach various levels of high to the point that she wanted a guitar, thought of everyone blinking at the same time, and almost ate a dog showed, in my mind, how good Kristen Bell is at comedic material.  She always has been in regards to this show, but this was one of her funnier performances.

One-Eighty- Doug cries during his TED Talk

At the same time, Doug finally delivered his TED Talk.  Whether he was just very passionate about the topic or got a bit of ganja in his system, I don’t know, but damn it if he didn’t manage to dazzle the crowd and make an impact on Marty to the point that it helped his presentation.  And he had a point.  Rather than draw out an endless battle, compromise by merging your powers with an orc.

One-Eighty- Marty adapts Doug's words to close a deal between marijuana and tobacco

From an outsider perspective, it doesn’t make much sense, but this philosophy served as the linchpin to consolidate marijuana and big tobacco to ensure a major payoff.  And Marty is a smart enough strategist and talker, high or otherwise, to dictate this to the two warring sides.  If marijuana helped seal this kind of deal, imagine what the pod could get done if they got high all the time?

Plus, on top of that, in very short notice, Marty convinced both tobacco and marijuana representatives to do a one-eighty on their way of thinking to find common ground.  That’s hard to do when there’s so much animosity between the two sides.  Despite the opposition and possible handicap through weed, K&A made a deal.  So right now, they’re looking good.

A Look at House of Lies- Season 5, Episode 6: “Johari Window”

So what happens when you mix House of Lies, racial diversity, hair products, and Keegan-Michael Key?  You get one hell of a fun episode.

Johari Window- Ron and Marty talk security

The episode begins with Marty unable to start the elevator at K&A because he’s not using a key card.  Luckily, another employee is.  Upstairs, he runs into Ron Zobel and rants about the new clearance levels.  Apparently, Ron emailed Marty about this.

The company is in a sketchy hood that is susceptible to cyber threats.  Some security measures are needed to keep the company in business.  Marty interprets this as Ron making a power play for his position.

Johari Window- Clyde introduces Jeannie to Seth

Seth Buckley is also at K&A.  He speaks with Clyde about launching major initiatives in his first term- this could break the bank.  Clyde advises him to set priorities.  All of Seth’s moves will face opposition, and he knows that.  In today’s political world, the ‘no’ has been internalized.  People don’t reach for anything anymore, but when we stop shooting for the moon, we die as a society.

Jeannie enters to tell Clyde that the group is getting ready to leave.  She doesn’t think much of Seth’s empty promises.  And she doesn’t notice the bit of cream cheese on her face as she talks.  He picks it from her lips to prove that he cares about his constituents.  Clyde then introduces Marty to Seth.  Doug forces an introduction, but hey, it’s time for the pod to leave for its hair appointment.  Buckley wants Jeannie’s number.  Go figure.

Johari Window- Let the church say Amen

As Doug grabs supplies for Tess, Marty kicks off a time freeze to fill us in on where are: the annual Braxton Brothers international beauty convention- one of the largest trade exhibitions for Black hair.  Would you believe that Black people spend over $700 million a year to get their hair did?  You know, I can sort of believe that.  And there’s actually a break in the time freeze for the good folks to say ‘Amen.’  I love that.

Johari Window- Devin, played by Keegan-Michael Key, is almost ready to make a deal

As for the anxious looking White folks, though?  These are the clients- executives at Delcour, the third largest beauty company in the world.  Delcour sees opportunity, so K&A has to colonize the colonizers.  Marty then speaks with Devin, played by Keegan-Michael Key, who is almost ready to take the offer.  He can’t maintain an edge unless he has final say over Planet Curl’s operational budget.

As Devin takes a call, we get another time freeze.  Marty explains that Devin is CEO of Planet Curl and soon-to-be head of Delcour’s Planet Curl division.  The pod speaks on Devin’s behalf, saying that he grew Curl to $70 million in sales alone last year.  However, Jean-Michal, played by Jonathan Kells Phillips, tells Marty that Delcour just wants a deal right now.

Johari Window- On the golf course

So on the golf course, Devin and Donald Faison play with Marty and Rita.  Marty asks if Rita ever saw The Color of Money.  If she’s going to hustle, she needs to start making shots.  Devin offers to skip the Delcour deal since he can make more money playing golf.  Donald asks Rita for a recommendation on a hair salon for his wife.  Devin, though, says it depends on the texture of the hair.

Johari Window- Devin touches Rita's hair

To prove his point, he runs his hand through Rita’s hair and notes the health and color of it.  Since Devin is from Detroit and Rita is from Virginia, Rita brings up a place called The Carriage House that is supposed to have the best soul food in Detroit.  Back to golf, Marty swings and hits a less than great shot.  Rita tells Marty to check Devin: he looks and says that he’s Black, but isn’t.

How does she know?  Because The Carriage House is in Chicago, not Detroit.  Plus, you don’t put your hand on a Black woman’s hair.  That much is true.  Rita ups the ante: play the back nine at $300 a hole.  The guys agree, but then Rita hits a damn good shot.  Also, Devin loves Bagger Vance.  You know, Will Smith’s character from that movie?

Johari Window- Pod learns the truth about Devin's background

Back at the office, Doug has good news: Devin is African-American, but only in that his family emigrated from Cape Town.  Jeannie enters and learns the news.  Marty breaks the news, and Jeannie is surprised that his Black-dar didn’t go off once.  But then, Jeannie’s White-dar never went off, either.  Doug, meanwhile, doesn’t see why a White person would want to be Black outside of sports and music.  Okay, the fuck?

How do you proceed with a Black CEO that turned out to be White?  No fucking idea.

Johari Window- Clyde asks Jeannie to not fuck Seth Buckley

Clyde follows Jeannie to talk about Seth Buckley.  On one hand, he’s smart with policy and politics, but he keeps pestering for Jeannie’s phone number.  Jeannie, though, is interested in the idea of going out with him, even if Clyde is against that.  Well, she wants to fuck Seth’s brains out.  Clyde warns Jeannie that Seth has a real shot at becoming mayor.  This could have serious repercussions on all of Los Angeles.

But Jeannie likes to play to a big room.  She figures that when Clyde says don’t fuck things up for Seth, he’s really talking about himself.  But really, she has no interest in fucking Seth.  But if Clyde wants to fuck Seth in her bed, that’s fine.

Johari Window- Devin and Marty get real

Devin stops by the office to talk with Marty, who asks Devin if there’s anything he wants to say anything about his past, his blackground, or biological parents.  Marty comes right out and says that Devin isn’t Black.  He knows that Devin is a phony.  The pod will still make the deal, but Marty wants Devin to drop the theatrics and get real.

So Devin decides to get real.  He tells Marty that he applied to Wharton three times as a White guy and was denied admission.  He checked African-American the fourth time around and got right in.  What’s worse than discrimination is feeling invisible and void of culture, as well as guilty of crimes he didn’t commit.  If Devin steps out as a Black man, people see him, for better or worse.

Devin being Black has worked out for a lot of people.  He then throws it back on Marty by asking him how many Black people he’s hired at K&A.  Has he done any mentoring or community boards?  Marty should thank Devin for the work he’s done.  In a lot of ways, Devin considers himself Blacker than Marty in areas where it count the most.  And not in his dick, but his heart.

Johari Window- Jeannie tries a French accent

So Marty immediately switches gears and tells Jeannie to pull up everything on Asantewa Hair Care.  Marty considers Asantewa the value buy and what Planet Curl was 15 years ago.  Jeannie asks Marty what he’ll do when asked why he switched gears.  In response, Marty tells Jeannie that Devin is about to have a real Black experience: unemployment.

Johari Window- Jeremiah and Rita screw around with Marty

That evening, Rita gloats in being right about Devin, but Jeremiah doesn’t consider this a joking matter.  He got a call from the State Department: Marty’s Black card is being revoked, but he’ll have help for the retest.

Johari Window- Marty, Jeremiah, and Rita give Roscoe some career advice

Marty then spots Roscoe, who is awake despite having a modeling gig tomorrow.  It’s actually in two days, but either way, Roscoe won’t go.  Being straight edge is more than Veganism and abstinence.  Modeling doesn’t give off the right message.  Now part of this could have to do with Roscoe modeling for the Sears Catalog.  Don’t knock it though, as Jeremiah reminds us that big models like Tyra Banks got their starts in catalogs.

Even though Marty didn’t want Roscoe to be a model in the first place, he also doesn’t want his son to just pack it in because fame and success aren’t being handed to him.  Sometimes, you’ve got to eat some shit.  The trick is to figure out the minimum amount of shit you have to eat and still get what you want.  Rita, a bit simpler, tells Roscoe to keep his Eyes on the Prize.  Ha, funny.

Side-note, Sears is apparently still a thing.  I honestly did not know that.

Johari Window- Ron tells Marty to close the deal

The next day, Ron Zobel goes to Marty’s office to talk about rumblings he heard about Marty fucking up an $80 million acquisition deal because Devin hurt his feelings.  Marty is still going to give Delcour an entrée into the Black hair market, but Zobel doesn’t like the idea of Asantewa.  Planet Curl outshines Asantewa in sales index, distribution, and every metric.  Marty sees it as a value based approach.

Ron tells Marty that Delcour isn’t shopping for a bargain.  While Ron goes to perform damage control with Devin, he tells Marty to close Delcour like a fucking big boy.  In response, Marty tells Ron to get the fuck out of his office.

Johari Window- Jeannie finds Seth at her office

So, that evening, Jeannie finds Seth waiting outside of her office.  Seth knows that Jeannie isn’t interested in dating, and he respects that, but he still wants to give her an opportunity to say no for herself.

Johari Window- Marty tells Clyde and Doug that they're pulling the plug on Asantewa

As Doug and Clyde enter the office, Marty tells them that they’re pulling the plug on Asantewa.  Doug and Clyde don’t understand the flip-flop, but Marty found a way to make Planet Curl work.  Clyde, though, focuses in on Jeannie talking with Seth.

Johari Window- Clyde finds Jeannie talking with Seth

Seth tells Jeannie that, in his spare time, he coaches youth league because he loves basketball, not because he wants to stump.  Yes, he hangs out in South Los Angeles for fun and he sees a lot of himself in those kids.  Clyde pops in and that is Seth’s cue to leave.

Johari Window- Pod presentation

The next day, the pod makes their case: all employees of Planet Curl will be absorbed into Delcour.  As the deal is finalized, Marty has something crucial to add: Devin needs to fire Jean-Michal.  No joke.  If Delcour is banking on an image, then understand that, in beauty, you live and die by how the world sees you.  Marty presents the image of Devin and his family.

Johari Window- High tech lynching

Devin feels this is a high-tech lynching.  Jean-Michal is livid about this revelation.  He fires Marty, but Marty cautions Jean to weigh his options.  If he fired the Black consultant who told him about the White man he hired that’s pretending to be Black, it would not look good.  Furthermore, Devin almost blew everyone out of the water.  Don’t let him ruin a good relationship.

There are three qualified candidates lining up for this position.  Devin asks Jean if he’s willing to make that risk.  When he got to Planet Curl, it was a mess, but now it’s poised to hit $100 million in sales this year.  Doug, though, points out that all of the candidates are amenable to doing business the way that Delcour sees fit.

Devin now offers to back off of his demands for budget control.  The pod offers to stay ahead of the narrative of how Devin and Jean found a solution to their problem, but in Devin’s mind, there is no other fucking solution.  Planet Curl may be the chocolate cookies, but Devin is the White guts that make it all delicious.  He’s a real Oreo, not a fake Oreo like Marty.  That would be Devin’s cue to leave.

Johari Window- Marty shows up at Roscoe's photo shoot

Later, Marty shows up unexpectedly at Roscoe’s photoshoot.  Marty didn’t want to miss this for the world, though.  Roscoe won’t wear his Santa hat, though.  This is the worst day of Roscoe’s life, so that makes it the best day of Marty’s life.

I think Marty’s words to Roscoe about figuring out the minimum amount of shit to eat ring true for him as it did his son.  Hell, even the whole pod.  Even if they absolutely abhor their clients or what they believe in, you’ve got to, as Ron puts it, close the deal and get on with business.

Johari Window- Devin tells Marty that being Black has worked out well for him and others

It’s hard to do that with a client like Devin, who might not be true to who he is, but he’s looking at the bigger picture and thinking beyond Black and White.  For my money, it’s an odd thing for Marty to tackle by going after Devin based on his color since he seems to still be good at his job.  However, I get the feeling that Marty is doing this on principle, not necessity.

Johari Window- Marty and Devin talk Blackness

Though Devin did have a point: Kaan & Associates isn’t exactly an advertisement for the United Colors of Benetton and Marty doesn’t really surround or immerse himself in Black culture.  But then, Marty isn’t pretending to be Blacker than he really is.  He’s a businessman first.

Johari Window- Marty closes the deal

A crafty businessman, I’ll give you that, given how he turns things on Devin and convinces to turn on him.  But more than that, the pod is willing to spin a narrative about how they solved a problem that Devin feels was just conjured up to get him out.  Be that as it may, Marty managed to stay one step ahead of Devin, despite getting blindsided by the surprise about his racial upbringing.

Johari Window- Devin out

I don’t know if this is the last we’ll see of Devin, but someone like this, given the business he runs, I think this could have warranted two appearances.  Or at least a follow-up, because I am interested in seeing how he operates his company and, like “Holocracy,” maybe get to meet some of his employees.  That and I just like Keegan-Michael Key as an actor and comedian, so it’d be nice to see him on here again.

Johari Window- Jeannie learns that Seth teaches kids in his spare time

On the other side of things, you’ve got Jeannie potentially warming to Seth Buckley, much to Clyde’s chagrin.  All I can say is this will be interesting to watch unfold, because Jeannie would do this just to piss off Clyde.  At the same time, though, there’s a real look of wonder and curiosity in her face as Seth talks about seeing himself in kids who society has shunned.

It’s a noble cause to take up and, from what I can tell, he doesn’t do it for fame, so I’m curious to see whether Jeannie will truly take a shining to him and how this could affect Clyde.

After our party cruise adventures, “Johari Window” gets right back to business with the pod taking on a very interesting client with an equally interesting past.  Devin’s ethnicity made for some great humor on the golf course, but also a great moment when the pod managed to get him ejected from the Delcour deal.

At the same time, it progressed Roscoe’s storyline by having Marty, Jeremiah, and Rita advise him on how to get what he wants in a career he doesn’t fully like.  And with Seth still eying Jeannie, things can only become more troubling for Clyde.  I would bet money on it.

A Look at House of Lies- Season 5, Episode 5: “Above Board Metrics”

Anyone remember “I’m on a Boat” by Lonely Island?  Given the setting of this episode and that we get a few party sequences, I couldn’t help but think of that throughout most of “Above Board Metrics.”  I wager that I might be alone on that.

Above Board Metrics- Group on escalator as Jeannie spots the twins

The episode begins with the pod arriving at a cruise ship in time for some big game fishing.  Last year, Palace Cruises did just over $4.6 billion in revenue.  And billion dollar clients translates to a huge check that Skip will cut to acquire K&A, so long as Monica doesn’t win first.  This is why Marty wants to accomplish this as fast as possible.

Doug is happy to be sitting at the captain’s table because the captain is Megan Dunleavy: one of the few female captains in the cruise line industry.  Doug apparently has a fantasy of sleeping with the ship captain, but he’s still got Tess, even though they never agreed on exclusivity.

Above Board Metrics- Return of the Dushkin twins

And then they appear: Alex and Kyle Dushkin are running a club night for Palace Cruises.

Above Board Metrics- Captain Megan Dunleavy, played by Jolie Jenkins, dines with the team

That evening, the pod dines with Captain Megan Dunleavy, played by Jolie Jenkins, and Doug is just enamored with her.  He wants to use her story in his TED Talk about overcoming adversity and he figures that the captain’s story would be an inspiration.

Above Board Metrics- Marty and Jeannie with CEO Patrick, played by Johnny Sneed

The talk soon turns to business, though the crew wants the pod to understand how much fun they have.  Marty rattles off some jargon to the CEO, Patrick, played by Johnny Sneed, explain how the company can become more profitable.  Answers will come tomorrow morning, so Marty asks Clyde to fast track a deck with good solutions.  But then, Clyde spends a bit more time talking it up with Captain Dunleavy.

Above Board Metrics- Dushkin twins encourage Clyde to fuck the captain

Later, the pod parties with the Dushkin twins, who encourage Clyde to fuck the captain.  Doug thinks the captain was just being nice to Clyde, but according to the twins, the engine room is off limits to passengers.  Marty and Jeannie crash the scene and demand to know why Doug and Clyde aren’t working.  Simply put, there is a party going on right now.  And none of this is covered in the all-inclusive package.

But people are willing to pay because it’s alcohol and vacation and fuck it.  Clyde ran the numbers: the play to secure optimal profits for Palace Cruises and a ton of after-work for K&A involves the Dushkin twins.

Above Board Metrics- Presentation to Patrick

We then cut to the pod presenting to Patrick: the ship should be run by the Dushkin twins.  After all, the twins have made a lot of money in a short amount of time.  Implement some expansion and they’ll make more.  Though the twins are assholes, they know how to monetize space and advertise a party.  However, the twins won’t sign a contract until the demands in their rider are met.

Marty assures Patrick that his team knows how to talk to assholes and can get the Dushkin twins down to reasonable demands.  If the team gets the demands down to a page, then they’ve got a deal.

Above Board Metrics- Marty and Doug talk about not being made partners at K&A

Doug asks Clyde to stand down and stop hitting on the captain.  But Clyde tells Doug that he won’t have to put up with him much longer.  If this sale with Skip goes through, they’re all fucked.  Even in a best case scenario, Clyde doesn’t think that Skip will let someone from K&A rise up the ranks.  Worst part is that Marty never offered to make Clyde or Doug a partner.  That would have been nice, and Doug can at least agree with that.

Above Board Metrics- Doug and Clyde give the Dushkin twins an update on the numbers

Jeannie and Marty tell the twins that they found the club depressing.  But one old man got the first handjob he’s had in years.  That’s gotta count for something.  The depressing part is squandered opportunity and wasted talent.  What if the twins owned their own ship?  Dushkin Party Cruise Line.  The twins love the idea, but want to get rid of the family-friendly bullshit.

Before the two can make this happen, Doug and Clyde arrive with a numbers’ problem: start-up numbers are higher than they originally thought, as in this would cost them $200 million.  The twins are concerned, as they doubled down on their cologne.  The twins go off to think about this.  So now the pod waits.

Above Board Metrics- Clyde vents to Marty about not being a partner

On the basketball court, Clyde wants to talk with Marty about his exit strategy, as he has no incentive to stay at L&A if Skip takes over.  Clyde tells Marty that his problem is that he made up his mind about him a long time ago.  But Clyde whining doesn’t show Marty that he’s maturing.  When the two return to the office, Clyde wants to talk severance package.

Above Board Metrics- Pod and Dushkin twins come to an agreement

That evening, at another party, Clyde has soot on himself.  Doug thinks that Clyde might not have fucked the captain.  Clyde just fucks with Doug.  Across the floor, the pod spots the twins coming to an arrangement.  They share their idea with the pod: instead of them putting up the money for a ship, Palace Cruises gives them one to run.

Above Board Metrics- Pod does shots

Sounds good, but Patrick hates the twins because of the rider in their contract.  Marty will agree to talk with Patrick to get him on board, but for this to work, the twins have to back on demands.  The twins don’t want to, but if that doesn’t happen, there’s no ship.  And just like that, rider demands rescinded.  Time to celebrate with shots.  A fuck-ton of shots, followed by dancing.

When the pod is reasonably inebriated, Clyde goes on again about wanting a partnership.  However, Clyde later says that he would have done the same thing if he got what Skip offered.  Jeannie goes off to the dance floor and eventually grabs the mic to tell the guys that she’s got to pump and dump.  I don’t know what that means, but Jeannie drops the mic.

Above Board Metrics- Marty makes partners out of Doug and Clyde

So the pod stumbles around the boat in search of booze, but soon Doug and Clyde find themselves drinking milk from Jeannie’s breast pumps.  And following this, Marty even makes bout Doug and Clyde partners.

Above Board Metrics- Jeannie tells Marty that they're killing it as parents

Later, Clyde heads off because he’s late.  Jeannie tells Marty that they’re very good at life.  After all, they’re about to sell their company for some fuck-you money, they have a beautiful kid, and their travel plans will change.  That builds character.  They are killing it as parents.  But then Jeannie starts getting emotional.  What if they’re not killing it?  Well, that happened.

Above Board Metrics- Jeannie and Marty drunk dial their baby

As the two retreat to their room, Jeannie uses her tablet to drunk dial the nanny so she can talk to Phoebe.  Who does this?  The two look on in awe of their children, but Jeannie is more emotional than a drunk person probably should be at this hour.

Above Board Metrics- Doug visits the captain

Because he can, a drunk Doug goes to the captain’s room.  He tells her that he leaves for Los Angeles tomorrow, but she tells him to head back because he’s being inappropriate.  She has no idea who Clyde is, by the way, or the engine room, but she is calling security.

Above Board Metrics- Jeannie and Marty hold hands the next morning

The next morning, a fully clothed Jeannie asks an equally clothed Marty if they had sex.  No.  Drunk dialed their baby?  Yes.  But even still, they’re fucking killing it.

Above Board Metrics- Jeannie asks Marty how he feels about making Clyde and Doug partners

Marty talks with Patrick about how much he loved the dessert.  As for the twins, they’ll run the boat in exchange for foregoing the rider.  Looks like the twins got themselves a boat.  Oh, where’s Doug?  Getting free from hotel room incarceration.  Jeannie asks Marty if he’s glad that he made partners of Doug and Marty.  Say what?

I hesitate to call this a bottle episode because this doesn’t look like a cheap episode and there are a ton of people involved here outside of the main cast and some guest appearances.  But the bulk of it does take place on the cruise ship and, like “Middlegame,” most of the plot occurs in this one location.

Above Board Metrics- Doug and Clyde talk about never being made partners

While there’s not a ton to say about the episode, it was damn fun from start to finish.  Character development and plot progression are fine, and we do get that, but this felt like a break from the seriousness to let the gang have some fun.  And it’s not like this is a filler episode with no connection to the ongoing storyline because Skip’s potential acquisition of K&A is still a conversation topic.

Above Board Metrics- Clyde asks Marty why he has never been made a partner

Clyde is now thinking of his exit strategy.  Sure, part of that is because Marty never made him or Doug partners, but also the prospect of working for Seth Buckley’s mayoral campaign.  He wants to prove his worth, and despite how long he’s worked with Marty, he’s not a partner.  So he has a reason to be resentful.

Above Board Metrics- Clyde screws with Doug

But it didn’t turn him into a complete sourpuss.  He still manages to screw with Doug in the race to lay the captain.  Well, Doug’s race to lay the captain, since Clyde just wanted to interfere with Doug’s fantasy of sleeping with a ship captain.  It was fun to watch him stumble and try to worm his way into the captain’s arms, yet ended up getting incarcerated.  I imagine that will be omitted from his upcoming TED Talk.

Above Board Metrics- Doug and Clyde do shots of breast milk

I’m all for the pod getting into drunken shenanigans, and this was no exception with everyone stumbling around the ship to find more alcohol and pouring out their feelings.  Jeannie in particular was more emotional than usual as she again talked of Phoebe and how she and Marty are killing it as parents.  But then that’s followed by Jeannie drunk-dialing the babysitter just so she can see her kid.

Above Board Metrics- Drunk dialing your baby

It’s a tender moment as she and Marty admire what they’ve produced, but it’s funny when you consider that they’re still calling in the middle of the night, while drunk, just to see their child.  They care for Phoebe, they just have an odd way of showing it.  Parenting, I suppose.

Above Board Metrics- Dushkins cheer on Marty

And I’m always glad to see the Dushkin twins because they inject a level of fun into House of Lies that is welcomed.  Even though we’re headed back to the office, I would like to see some follow-up and learn how their cruise ship exploits go.  But since the brothers only pop up every now and then, that could be wishful thinking on my part.

“Above Board Metrics” was a simple, fun episode that took us away from the office.  While the team was still hard at work, having to endure the Dushkin twins of all people, and dealing with some interpersonal issues, the drunken shenanigans, late night baby calls, and captain mishandlings made this an entertaining watch.

A Look at House of Lies- Season 5, Episode 4: “End State Vision”

So after that Holocracy trip, let’s catch up with the pod as they pursue another client.  And contend with a certain Monica at the same time.  That’s always fun.

End State Vision- Roscoe and his selfie stick need to get a job

The episode begins with Marty asking Jeremiah to take Roscoe to school since Marty has a plane to catch.  Rita likes that Marty is getting in practice with his golf swing, but she doesn’t want an invite.  She plays on the public courts, though she’d gladly make an exception.  Black people are allowed.  Roscoe strolls in with his selfie stick- I now hate him- as a way of starting off his vlog.

Roscoe’s real life job aspirations haven’t gone so well.  Businesses aren’t hiring because they’re more concerned with the slow rate of economic growth.  Rather than doing the fatherly thing of talking to his son, Marty heads off to have his breakfast.

End State Vision- Tess finds Doug's bucket list

Tess finds and reads Doug’s bucket list.  She finds it great and likes that Doug is a confident, ambitious person with tangible goals, like going through a car wash with the windows open and act out an episode of Bones.  Tess offers to help him cross off a few things like receive oral sex in a revolving restaurant and get him a TED Talk because the Executive Curator is a friend of Tess.  Doug is more excited about the TED Talk.

End State Vision- Bronwyn, played by Jolene Kay, dines with Clyde

Clyde dines with an old friend, Bronwyn, played by Jolene Kay, to tell her that he had a thing for her back in college, but that’s not why she called.  Bronwyn works as campaign manager for Seth Buckley’s mayoral run and Buckley is unhappy about the economic advice he’s getting.  She offers Clyde to attend a meet-and-greet fundraiser on Thursday, but Clyde is busy.  But hey, there will be free food and wine.  Hard to turn that down.

End State Vision- Jeannie tells the realtor, played by Emily Kosloski, that her baby came from her vagina

Jeannie and the baby that came from her vagina meet with a realtor, played by Emily Kosloski, who is also thinking of adopting a Black baby.

End State Vision- Pod talks about Daniel Hathaway

Following this, the pod talks about Daniel Hathaway, who is in the middle of a battle with his board.  See, the board wants him to embrace digitalization, but Hathaway finds the Internet too commonplace. The pod will make sure that a risky strategy could put Hathaway’s personal fortune in great jeopardy.  But they’ll rest easy knowing that they fucked over a man who murdered his own wife.  Wait, what?

Well, to be fair, Hathaway was acquitted.  The fights were epic and the wife stood to gain a lot from the divorce.  Doug wonders how amazing it would be to be so rich that you could get away with killing your wife.  There’s no clear way to explain that.  To bring it back, Marty reminds the pod that Hathaway has a market cap of $3 million, so for now, go murder.

Doug asks Marty if the pod has business on the 18th of next month since he has a gig in Los Angeles, but Marty isn’t sure as of now.  Doug tries to get Marty to ask, but he doesn’t, so he eventually says that he’ll be giving a TED Talk on being the Dungeon Master of your own destiny.

End State Vision- Surprise Monica

On the plane, surprise Monica, who is competing for Hathaway’s position.  She went to Skip, turns out, and will be meeting Hathaway this afternoon while the pod has to wait until tomorrow.  Jeannie is a tad upset that Marty didn’t tell her about Skip offering to buy K&A- a huge decision on the financials of the company and the baby, but Jeannie was still working for Davis/Dexter at the time.

Doug tries to remind the two that they could give the baby to him and Sarah, but that’s not something to say, so he shuts the fuck up and sits back down.

End State Vision- Daniel Hathaway, played by Ed Weeks, speaks to the pod about art

The pod finally meets with Daniel Hathaway, played by Ed Weeks, who talks about art embracing mortality to so we come to a closer understanding of earthly endeavors.  Time shouldn’t be wasted on trifles, but appreciating beauty that appears before us every single day.  Marty couldn’t agree more.  The pod says Hathaway’s strategy is go big or go home.

End State Vision- Jeannie has a different suggestion for Hathaway

Jeannie, though, says that such an idea sounds appealing, but it’s also business suicide.  The art market is overinflated and the bubble could burst at any time.  Hathaway has been through enough as it is with him losing his wife and then being accused of being involved.  The last thing Hathaway needs is to be fed a mountain of bullshit.  The pod will baseline the numbers and do a SWOT analysis to take care of the company.

Hathaway wants to speak privately with Jeannie while Clyde and Marty explain to Doug that Monica clearly pitched their strategy.  If they go in with something similar, things will go badly.  Turns out that Hathaway asked Jeannie to dinner.  She says that she’s just trying to win the client.

End State Vision- Clyde, Doug, and Marty go over a plan for Hathaway

Marty, Clyde, and Doug work.  If Hathaway stays the course, it will indeed be a bad financial move.  Staying the course means no afterwork.  Doug talks about being a Dungeon Master and how his journey became one of seeking out his essence.  He points out that Clyde, despite being pushed down when Jeannie returned, is still ahead of Doug.

End State Vision- Jeannie in a fancy-ass dress

The answers, though, are in the heart.  Clyde needs to realize who he is and be the Dungeon Master of his destiny.  Clyde, though, believes that Doug landing Tess was just dumb luck.  Jeannie then arrives in a fancy-ass dress that Daniel had sent over for their date.  Until then, have fun with O.J. Clyde’s words, not mine.

Hathaway and Jeannie will be heading to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is closed to the public, but not for them since Hathaway has a key.  How and why would someone have a key?

End State Vision- Monica buys Marty some Jose Cuervo

The guys discuss whether Hathaway really killed his wife.  As Clyde reveals, Hathaway did have a first wife who died in a car accident, but in light of later events, it’s unclear whether it was an accident.  Nah.  Jeannie will be fine.  But if she dies, Clyde wants her office.  He even bought stuff for it.

Monica orders some Jose Cuervo for Marty- that’s a $2000 bottle- and offers to throw Marty a pity fuck on her private jet.  Doug tells Marty to cheer up- he’ll have his own fuck jet one day.

End State Vision- Hathaway invites Jeannie onto the roof

Jeannie and Hathaway dine at the museum while Hathaway talks about neoclassicism.  Dull as it may sound, Jeannie listens.  She always wanted to learn about art, as there wasn’t much of it in her life.  Not so much love in the past, too.  That’s why Jeannie wanted to have a child, so they’d do better than she did.  When asked how that’s going, Jeannie has no answer.  Then Jeannie gets back to work.

The business should create a separate online brand- purely as a VIP experience- while the brick and mortar of the company remain strong.  Hathaway likes the idea.  He invites Jeannie up to the roof to see the moon.  When Jeannie declines, Hathaway wonders whether it’s because she doesn’t like the moon or that Hathaway’s been accused of pushing someone from a high balcony.  It’s a bit of both, but luckily, Hathaway only kills his wives.

End State Vision- Hathaway and Jeannie argue

Next day, Jeannie briefs the pod on her night.  Jeannie then put on her clothes and left.  In other news, Hathaway has chosen to go with another consulting firm.  So Jeannie talks to him in his office.  She’s angry, but Hathaway tells Jeannie that she doesn’t get to take the moral high ground.  They used each other: he wanted to have sex with her and she wanted the business.

Jeannie says that she didn’t fuck him for the business.  But even if she did, she claims that she can stake out the moral high ground.  Jeannie takes her anger out on a piece of art.

End State Vision- Marty tells Roscoe that he needs a real job

So Clyde ends up attending the fancy gala after all while Marty returns home to learn that Roscoe got a lead on several jobs.  He even got himself a modeling agent.  Fine, but Marty still wants Roscoe to get a real job.  Yes, Roscoe has to be miserable like everyone else.  Both want Jeremiah to intervene, but Jeremiah won’t be able to drive him around. He’ll be in San Diego for a few days to attend Rita’s niece’s confirmation.

End State Vision- Jeremiah gives Marty encouragement to be a good parent

However, Phoebe will be around this weekend.  Jeremiah asks Roscoe to buzz off for a second so he can talk to Marty.  He tells his son that he’s done him a disservice.  He was there for Roscoe, physically and emotionally, but Marty has been skating by so far.  It’s not good for the kids or Marty.  Jeremiah was ready to enjoy retirement, and he wants to be grandfather, but Marty has to do the parenting.  Jeremiah knows that he can.

End State Vision- Clyde and Seth Buckley, played by Glenn Howerton

Back at the meet-and-greet, Clyde speaks with Seth Buckley, played by Glenn Howerton, about how he roughed out some numbers to find a feasible path forward on a government-private sector partnership.  Cost will be controlled since most of it will be defrayed by the businesses.  Seth notes Clyde’s interest in Bronwyn and figures that’s why he’s really here.

Seth is certain, though, that Bronwyn is a lesbian because he officiated her wedding to her wife, Katie, who is also a woman.  Well, shit.  However, she got Clyde, so he’s here.  Seth still wants Clyde to advise the campaign.  He gets that Clyde is kicking ass, but he can get in on the ground floor of something great.  He’ll take no for answer, but that would make him sad.

End State Vision- Jeannie and Marty talk about their future

Jeannie brings Phoebe to Marty’s and he literally accepts her with open arms.  They lay the screeching toddler down to swaddle, swing, shush, side, and stick the pacifier into the baby’s mouth.  Phoebe falls asleep.  Marty learns that Jeannie was outbid on the house she wanted.  Well, that’s unfortunate.  She’s not sure if she even wants to move, or what she wants.

Marty admits he should have told her about the offer.  Also, Monica says that Skip is prepared to shell out seven times her firm’s revenue.  It’s not guaranteed for Monica, though, as Skip is eying a number of firms.  Most can’t compete, but some can.  It’s so much money to walk away from and Marty doesn’t know what to decide on right now.  It would be nice to step off the hamster wheel for awhile, Jeannie says.

There will be a need to reflect on what comes next.  The two of them could be there for Phoebe, who wouldn’t see the stressed out versions of themselves from work.  Travel would only be for good trips.  Jeannie, for example, always wanted to go to Barcelona.  They could even travel as a family.  If they take this from Monica, maybe she’d kill herself.  Dark, but good.  Plus, Monica is still Roscoe’s mother.

Sounds like Marty and Jeannie are jumping right into this.  Well, fuck yeah.

Good episode.  I’ll give Doug this: his words about being the Dungeon Master of your destiny, while not the best advice for the pod members, did seem to resonate.  Okay, not that Doug had an impact on Marty, Clyde, and Jeannie, but they’re doing some serious reevaluations of their current plans

End State Vision- Doug talks about his bucket list

In fact, let’s start off with Doug.  He’s not the most outgoing, abrasive, or even outspoken guy and definitely the least outspoken of the pod.  And yet, he took a risk by encouraging Tess to take Marty’s advice and then later worked up the courage to ask Tess on a date.

End State Vision- Tess and Doug

The fact that they wake up together at the start of the episode shows how things have progressed for Doug in a short amount of time, but here, we see his future aspirations.  I’ve never written up a bucket list, so I can’t say whether some of Doug’s ideas are a bit out there, but there’s some real passion in his voice when he talks about giving a TED Talk.  Instead of staying the course, Doug takes Tess’ advice to live out his dreams.

End State Vision- Doug asks Marty about the team's schedule

This being Doug, though, of course he can’t help but get the pod in on his activities, even if they’re not at all interested.  As per usual, they screw around with him when he talks about being the Dungeon Master of your destiny, but it’s still important nonetheless.  Where’s the fun and risk if you just stay the course and don’t draw outside of the lines once in a while?

End State Vision- Doug talks about being the Dungeon Master of your destiny

So Doug has already stepped out of his comfort zone by courting Tess, but now he’s on the verge of making another big step with his upcoming TED Talk.  Now, this also has the potential to go 100 percent wrong for Doug, and if I were a betting man, I’d say this could end up as a disaster, but given how this is on his bucket list, I do hope he succeeds in achieving some items on this list.

End State Vision- Clyde mocks Doug

Clyde, meanwhile, might think little of Doug’s Dungeon Master talk, but as the pod discussed, staying the course could put you and your work at risk.  Even more so when the odds are against you.  But now, Clyde has the potential to be part of a political campaign that could springboard him into something greater.  It helps that Clyde is good with numbers and Buckley is in need of economic advice.

End State Vision- Seth asks Clyde to join his team

As of now, not that I see Clyde leaving the pod to pursue a career in politics, but like Doug wanting to do a TED Talk, this could be a new experience for Clyde.  I’m also curious what kind of politician Buckley is, but I think I’m more just happy to see Glenn Howerton.

End State Vision- Jeannie talks about being a good parent

Continuing something Jeannie has struggled with since the previous season, she worries that she’s not a good mother.  She wants to be the role model and inspiration that she never had, but there’s a constant struggle of balancing her home and work life.  We don’t see Jeannie spend a lot of time with her baby, and I think that’s telling.  Her home life is next to nonexistent because work takes priority.

End State Vision- Marty and Jeannie talk about Phoebe

It’s not intentional.  And it’s similar to Marty’s situation.  Yes, we’ve seen Marty be a parent to Roscoe, but a lot of times, Jeremiah plays the mediator.  But Jeremiah is getting up there in age and can’t always play babysitter, even though he wants to be there for his grandchildren.  Even still, he knows that Marty has what it takes to be a confident parent, even if Marty himself doesn’t realize that yet.

End State Vision- Jeannie and Marty toast

So like Doug and Clyde, both Marty and Jeannie are ready to make a change in their lives by not always showing their stressed out sides to their daughter.  Even though they aren’t living together, they can still show some semblance of being a family.  More so considering Jeannie’s relationship with Roscoe, which has remained consistent since the series began.

End State Vision- Monica and Marty

And while Marty turned down Skip’s initial offer, it appears that he’s now more open to it than when he shut down Skip at their first meeting.  It would put more money in their pockets and help alleviate some stress.  And the biggest win would come from beating Monica, who I’m glad is back because Dawn Olivieri sells the performance and makes you dislike Monica so much.

Power- Christy unhinged and about to stab Monica

Plus, in a nice nod to continuity, we got Clyde referencing Christy stabbing Monica two seasons ago.  I still flinch while thinking about that.

Even with the humor throughout, “End State Vision” was a very reflective episode with the pod taking chances and risks to change their current situations, even though they didn’t land Hathaway.  Regardless, a lot set up with the characters making moves to become the Dungeon Masters of their destinies.  And then they become the masters of their domains.