Last week, the Galweather and Stearns 'Pod' went to con(sult) a hotel chain in "Utah" and, even though it was far from good television, it was still an improvement on House of Lies' previous episodes. The two minor stories didn't find much success - Clyde's run in with the technical virgin as well as the Mother and Son bonding break and enter - but the narrative that focused on Marty, Jeannie and the week's procedural aspect wasn't too bad. The series has been paying attention to its own shortcomings and trying to pick up the slack, mostly by cutting down on the bullshit when it comes to the visuals and amping up the entertaining bullshit when it comes to watching the consultants at work. A procedural comedy.
After the Law & Order-esque titles, Episode 6, "Our Descent Into Los Angeles," opens aboard an airplane with the team's literal descent into L.A. And in case you haven't been watching "Fridays at Galweather," the Showtime web series focusing on the exploits of Doug and Clyde back at the offices during the one day of the week they're actually there, don't worry, Marty fills you in on their schedule right after he wakes up and checks out Jeannie's ass. She doesn't seem to mind. On the contrary, she seems quite happy when Marty expresses how 'not bad' it is, and it's becoming more and more clear that the show is building towards them ending up in bed together. For now, the team is home in Los Angeles, ready for work in the office on Friday morning and it seems like this week won't have a procedural aspect. So, the only part that worked last week won't be featured this episode. I want some of what Marty is smoking.
The team is home for the end of the week and weekend so the storylines obviously stray towards their personal lives and since Doug and Clyde's character aren't really flushed out at all, that means they are relegated to the sidelines. Marty has dual threads this episode, first having to deal with the return of the stripper from the premiere named April. The last time we saw April, she was busy contributing to the divorce of the Norberts, therefore she's obviously a less than welcome visitor to G&S. And yet, the scene where Norbert burst in on her under Marty's desk giving him a blow job is a perfect example of how this show struggles because not only are the events unoriginal and poorly executed but it actually betrays it's own premise - the scene's conflict comes from Marty stuck in the sticky situation (especially given the circumstances of the other players and their previous dinner table history) and then, the phone rings and... nothing. The show just moves on the the next scene. Zero resolution. It just ends and deflates everything it had built.
Oh well, on to Marty's other problem at home. Friday began with a young boy kissing Roscoe at school and, presumably confused and embarrassed, the boy blames it was the young Kaan which causes some problems. Marty, The Monster (Monica) and Jeremiah are called in for a meeting and the principal has decided to expel Roscoe. For some reason, Marty is the only one who seems to care and he forces them to schedule another meeting to continue to discuss the same things, only, uh, later. Yeah, not much in the episode makes sense but Sunday at 4, Roscoe's fate will be decided. Oh, that's why.
Now we have the week's procedural element after all, the team will have to come in on Saturday and help Marty fix the situation with Roscoe and the New Pacific School. A solution that, if you've been watching the series then you probably guessed it, involves blackmail. However, not all of the team is coming in to help as Jeannie, after getting hit on by Norbert (presumably another 'thing' for he and Marty to fight over), declines the order and ventures off for a weekend free of G&S.
Her weekend is free of G&S because she's busy further developing this mysterious dual life thing she's got going on all of a sudden. It started with the introduction of her fiancé a few week's ago (out of the blue) and now Jeannie is again showing her cold feet while out looking for the cake. In the show's usual overstated manner, they are anything but subtle with showing Jeannie's obvious discomfort in the marriage arena, first with the creepy twin pastry chefs shocked that she didn't have everything picked out and then reinforced by bringing in another perfect couple who has everything planned. To her credit, he dude seems like a great guy, too bad she runs out on him and the rest of the episode. She continues to be one of the few interesting things about the show but I wish they give us a few insights as to why Jeannie is this way.
Of course, as I mentioned earlier, it doesn't take long for Marty, Doug and Clyde to find something out of place with Roscoe's school (they're fudging test scores) which means they quickly and conveniently have enough leverage to use against the principal at the hearing the following day. Good thing too because Doug has to catch that performance of Wicked and Clyde, well, who knows, Ben Schwartz had all but four lines this week (and even though I like the actor, this is not bad thing for the show).
Marty decides to catch up and have passionate sex with April who, more than three quarters of the way through an episode, decides to tell Marty that she's into some hot water for second degree murder of an off-duty cop. Wow. Just tossed in there nonchalant. While you might think this storyline will unfold over the remainder of the season, House of Lies manages to (possibly) dispatch of the problem in two scenes and maybe a handful of lines. Pretty impressive.
Okay, to be fair, I'm sure this isn't the last we'll hear of April and the second degree murder storyline but they treat it so casually it's hard for me not to do the same. And this is before mentioning that the soon to be law student and all her lawyers couldn't come up with this pretty simple suicide defense. But hey, he is the best. He's Marty Kaan and his mom committed suicide so he was able to make that connection when others couldn't.
Speaking of suicide, the meeting with the principal once again turns into a psychoanalytic gang up on Marty - even after he pulls out the blackmail card, Monica and Jeremiah continue to go after him and ignore the expulsion - until Roscoe himself interrupts with the problem solving confession from his accuser. Does Marty go ballistic and rub it in like we all expect? Nope. He just goes on a date with April, tells her his brilliant new defense and lets us know that next week, he'll be back traveling to consult with another company. No big deal. Business as usual.
House of Lies is so casual, it's just about as interesting as its episode titles. This week was theoretically another improvement for the series but I can't help but feel like it's even less enjoyable to watch. While it's undoubtedly better both stylistically and narratively, actively trying to develop the characters and rely less on the visual flair and sexual gimmicks passed off as story, the creatives have managed to turn what was a fascinatingly bad show (entertaining to gawk at) into a boringly not so terrible show. And while that's technically an improvement, it doesn't change the fact that House of Lies is now basically no fun to watch. At first I was at least laughing at it, now I'm not laughing at all. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure if the series is even supposed to be funny anymore. And I don't think it knows either.
House of Lies airs Sundays at 10 p.m ET on Showtime. It stars Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, Ben Schwartz, Josh Lawson, Dawn Oliveri, Glynn Turman and Donis Leonard Jr. It was created by Matthew Carnahan.
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