Reality Check.

Duana Posted by Duana at March 27, 2012 16:02:58 March 27, 2012 16:02:58

House of Lies Season 1 Episode 11 recap

I don't hear a lot about House Of Lies.  It doesn't get recapped much, and I know it's not for everyone, and I don't even know if it would be for me for years on end.  It's hard to take.  But the reason it's so compelling to me is that the lead character is not supposed to win.  He's the anti-hero, and I'm falling more in love with him every week.

They've been setting up Marty Kaan's downfall since week one.  His hubris and stupid mistakes have put him on this path, he keeps moving further toward it, and it's okay because now we know him.  Now we know what's wrong with him and why he's so incredibly self-destructive - at least sort of.  He clearly has some things in his past that make his complete and utter self-absorption make sense to him.  What's better - he's not a drug addict or a loser.  Marty has found a way to take what happened to him in the past and make himself a success.  A success he hates, of course, but that makes it more interesting.  Because even though he hates himself every second minute, what he's doing makes sense to outsiders, too.  How else do you explain that Monica keeps trying to best him in every aspect of his life?  She thinks he's a worthy foe, both in work and in life.  You don't keep running up against people you don't respect, you move on to greener pastures.  (Also, you know what I love about Monica?  How often she switches between casual wear and work clothes. They trust us to remember that she's an executive even when she's in a sweatshirt.)
People respect Marty.  They can't help it, somehow.  How else do you explain that when he loses his mind with his adorable tweenage silent treatment son and barks “Fix it” at his father, Jeremiah nods.  He NODS? Instead of reminding Marty that he's not too big for a lecture - or worse - from his father, he agrees to what Marty's asking.  That means he commands respect - and that Jeremiah clearly sees some way in which he's responsible for the way Marty operates, both at home and at work.  That's some major parental guilt right there, and it's a nice touch that he assuages his own failings with his son by tidying up after Marty in his relationship with Roscoe.  I swear you are not seeing that anywhere else on TV.  Are you?

The episode was a downer but there was fun; nobody's grown on me as much as Doug has.  Mix-CD-making Doug.  Many guys I have known make mix CDs.  The thing that makes it so endearing in Doug's case is that most of the dudes I know do it because it worked - more than once.  We've never known him to land a woman on the show, but he must have sometime.  Where else do you get that level of confidence?   "Doug is now giving me 20 bucks every time he says something that makes him sound like a serial killer.”  This is true male workplace friendship.  I know these guys, I've worked with these guys.   Maybe it means every workplace I've been in is morally decrepit and all ... but it's so much fun.  Isn't it?

The most exhausting part of the episode was watching the lead balloon information blow up in the team's face.  Everyone in this situation should know better: Marty has learned, even in the short time we've known him, not to trust info that comes across his desk so easily.  He deserved the sh*t in his briefcase, if only because nobody who wins lets other people do their digging for them.  Marty was a little too quick to take the reports and do his damage - and it wasn't even like he had a parent-teacher conference to get to this week.  I think the Richard Schiff character was a little underused to make this moment really matter  but I still enjoyed it and I'm going to miss him on the show, assuming this week's exit sticks.  Skip really is Toby Ziegler's alter ego - another reason why this show is a cautionary fairy tale

The question now is how much Jeannie knew and took to the Rainmaker.  I know she realized she wasn't his only action - and did anyone notice how strategically the elevator scene was shot to not show the lack of height difference between Jeannie and the Rainmaker? - but was this a power play to prove she was his most valuable piece in the office?  If it was, will it actually land?  We've seen more of Jeannie but still don't have a read on her - for all her power play moves, I'm not sure what she actually wants, because when power walks up to her and introduces itself, she quakes and can't deal, at least not without Marty berating her into doing her best work.  It's Don and Peggy all over again...with the most nefarious result - at least so far.  With one episode left, which of Jeannie's “daddies” is going to earn her loyalty?

I love that in the boardroom scene, Marty had to look for the camera to complain to.  It's a nice touch.  For all its gimmicky POVs and stopping time like Zack Morris, the premise from the very beginning has been that Marty's telling his story to the one person who will listen - me.  He shows off all the sides of his persona, as well as the guy inside it, who kind of can't believe he's being handed a sh*tty deal again and again.  But here's where I think the one-sided storytelling is brilliant: even though he's looking at me, begging me to understand and help him ... If I actually did?  If I sat down and said “here's where you've gone wrong and what you need to do about it”? ... he'd tell me to go f*ck myself and then live his life exactly the way he had before - even though he was the one asking me for help.

Yeah.  I know someone like that in real life too.

Attached - Kristen Bell performing last week at the 20th Anniversary Alzheimer’s Association event.

(Lainey: God, does she sing too? Why does this annoy me?)

Jason Merritt/Getty

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