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House of Lies Season 3 Ep. 8 Recap: 'Brinkmanship'

Photo Credit: Showtime

After two weeks of high octane hi-jinks, this week’s episode, “Brinkmanship,” dials the action back a bit to probe the insides of the Pod’s relationships.

As its title implies, “Brinkmanship,” finds several characters–Doug and Marty in particular–testing the strength of their bonds with others, pushing the other party to the edge of implosion.

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Whether this works to their advantage is up for debate.

In business this tactic unequivocally works. The Pod moves forward with their scheme to put Marissa McClintock back in the driver’s seat of her family company by enlisting the help of her former booty buddy Julian Zunino, a corporate shark infamous for hostile takeovers. Zunino doesn’t actually plan on raiding the company; he just needs to make Marissa’s kinfolk believe he is, so they’ll gracefully (or not) bow out and she can reclaim her media mogul throne.

The Pod’s plan works flawlessly, but the road to the big payday was less than perfect. Marty, still punishing Clyde for his betrayal last season, makes him sweat by threatening to drop Clyde’s idea of using Zunino in favor of blowing the whistle on some illegal activity by Marissa’s family (they’re pumping up their sagging books with her money). Jeannie tells him that he knows he’ll eventually go with Clyde’s plan, but since things are still weird between them due to that Dolla Hyde business–among other reasons–he doesn’t listen, and keeps putting the screws to Clyde, even after the big win with McClintock.

Later, a frustrated Clyde shows up at Marty’s front door and demands to know if they can move past the whole Carlson-double dealing drama, bringing up (finally!) the fact Marty stuck a knife his in back  as well.  I was fully expecting Marty to self-sabotage by tossing off some sardonic low blow and then watch pensively as Clyde stormed out, so color me surprised when he told him “good work today,” and the two rekindled their bromance. Perhaps Monica’s telling remark–they slept together by the way–about them both being irredeemably fucked up forced some part of him to acknowledge his unhappiness, and want to change his narrative. At least at work anyway; he’s still not going anywhere near the Jeannie Beanie “I love you” bomb, and the way he and Jeannie continue to snipe at and undermine each other is proof of how much it’s crippling their relationship.

Doug and Sarah also got a lot of screen time, as the former’s reluctance about having a baby came to a head on the Pod’s trip to Chicago, during which he belittled and ignores her at an art gallery (when dissuading her from going didn’t work) and lavished attention on Katelyn. My initial reaction to this was “who cares?” No shade to Jenny Slate, but other than wanting to have a baby and “knowing what a hot load feels like,” we don’t know crap about Sarah. But the more I thought about it, I realized Doug barely knows anything about Sarah. The two of them got hitched very quickly–she faked a proposal after all. Clearly he’s attracted to Katelyn because of her looks, but he also sees her as cultured in way he assumes Sarah is not. Though she holds her own when asked about art by Katelyn. Key word being asked.

It’s notable that Katelyn, while polite, doesn’t take the bait of Doug’s attentions, and Sarah doesn’t take her anger out on Katelyn. This is Doug’s damage, and when he can’t man up and muster a real answer when she asks if he wants to be with her, she walks away. Doug may be in denial about his feelings for, but his actions, subconscious or not, were definitely designed to push things with Sarah to brink, perhaps blow them up, so he could have a shot at Katelyn. Good luck with that buddy.

Other Thoughts:

—Marty plays the piano? Who knew?

—Jeremiah and Roscoe went on a camping trip, in part so things could cool off between he and Marty over making him stop seeing Lex. While Marty had good reason to stop their dating, after last week’s glimpse of his home life, I hope it isn’t the last we’ve seen of Lex.

—I still think the show doesn’t quite know what to do about Monica. The first season she was the monster ex-wife and business rival Marty couldn’t let go of, at least in a sexually destructive, masochistic way. Season two saw her trying to turn her life around with vegan cooking and a new girlfriend, but eventually giving into her demons. This seasons she’s a bit player, serving as little more than a comic relief with her psycho-scary boss rants; the show is hinting that getting stabbed and fired is leading her down a calmer, more introspective road, but we’ll see how long this lasts.

—Staying with Monica, it was more than a little sad when she noted Marty must be unhappy if he rung her up for a roll in the sheets.









Marty has the house to himself after

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