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House Of Lies Season 3 Ep. 1 Recap ‘Wreckage’

Photo Credit: Showtime

“This is exactly where we’re supposed to be. Just stay here. Stay with me.” Jeannie says this to Marty, pulling him close as the office comes crashing down around them. It’s all a dream of course, as Marty snaps on a flight, sitting beside a woman who we learn is Katelyn, a member of Marty’s new pod.  But what does it mean exactly?

When we last left the Pod…well, there was no Pod. Marty had accomplished his goal of starting his consulting firm through his trademark mix of overconfidence and ruthlessness. Unfortunately, the same qualities that made Kahn and associates a reality laid waste to his relationships with Clyde and Doug, while his pride killed any chance at romance for him and Jeannie Beanie.

All of which brings us back to the dream opening. In my view, you can read as it as these two deeply flawed people finding solace, possibly love, with one another; or it could mean they are soul mates in business only, and any attempt to deviate will result in their worlds being shattered.

The episode’s title, “Wreckage,” certainly gives the sense all is not right in the world of Marty and Co. House of Lies spent much of its first season, and some of the second, presenting Marty as man whose success at work often, if not always, came at the cost of damaging his relationships, be they romantic (remember stripper-turn-uber-capable stepmom April? Oh we barely knew ye) or familial.

But for the moment, all is well on that end. Roscoe’s excited about trying out for the basketball team, and Marty and Jeremiah seem to be getting along. Work, however is another story. Though Kahn and Associates’ has enough coin to say, fly to China to meet a potential client–an organic food company called Free Range–the fact they have to fly to China for a meeting at all suggests the company’s future is tenuous at best. So if bringing in new business means having to listen to anti-processed food diatribes and sampling goodies that taste like “a sick fish’s ass,” as Marty so elegantly put it, than so be it.

What’s worse, the people that make up the Pod–Jeffery, Katelynn and Will–are wondering aloud if they jumped on the wrong ship. “I thought he was like Voldemort” one of them whispers. Clearly there’s some dissatisfaction in the ranks. The New Kids (which shall henceforth be their until they show discernible personalities) don’t make much of an impression beyond conjuring up the old sniping dynamics of their predecessors. But it is the first episode, so they may prove themselves in time.

The other original pod members aren’t on top of the world either. Doug and Jeannie are still at Galweather, and Doug’s still a punching bag for Jeannie, and Clyde, who comes to visit. He puts on his best hard-ass impression for the newbies–a capable accounts girl who he resents for her non-bombshell looks and JC, a chastity ring-wearing virgin saving himself for marriage–but no one, including Doug, takes it seriously. Meanwhile Clyde’s in hell, otherwise known as working for Monica, who either berates, terrifies or plays her minions against one another, depending on the level of trauma she wants to inflict.  Later, Marty lures a client away from Monica and brings it to Jeannie, setting up what could be a tantalizing dynamic. But the fantastic four never get back together.

The breakdown of the Pod is a nice change of pace for the show. However, the separation means a lot of new characters are introduced. If the show were an hour long, this would be less of a concern, but a half hour is a short time to catch up with the major players while also giving the newcomers more depth.  It may also push Marty’s more serious issues, like his mother’s suicide (which hasn’t been touched on ages) further into the background.

I’m not expecting the show to do Mad Men-esque character vignettes; but last season went out of its way to give us some new wrinkles in Marty, Jeannie, Clyde and Doug’s interactions with each other. It’d be a shame if they simply got ironed out.  That being said, “Wreckage”  was a breezy, fun return into the zany, cut-throat world that is House Of Lies.

Other Thoughts:

–No appearance  or mention of Doug’s wife Sarah, played by Jenny Slate, though it’s high unlikely she won’t show up in later episodes.  Marty’s former nemesis Julianne has also vanished. She was such a good villain, and with Jeannie and Marty in collusion, having her in the mix would definitely add to the drama.

–If Roscoe’s wardrobe and his desire to play ball struck you as uncharacteristically butch, don’t worry: he still gushed over the makeup techniques of a Chinese performance troupe. Roscoe and Marty’s relationship is one of show’s best elements, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed the writers won’t neglect it this season.

–Crazy, soul-destroying Monica’s always entertaining; but her affair with Roscoe’s nanny last season showed a softer, or least more level-headed, side to her. Hopefully the show will give us glimpses of this as well.

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