House Of Lies: “Mini-Mogul”
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House Of Lies: “Mini-Mogul”

B+

House Of Lies

“Mini-Mogul”

Season 1, Episode 4

It’s like a switch went off: “Confront these horribly shallow characters with evidence of their shallowness.” That’s the kind of switch House Of Lies needed to have flicked in order for it to move from its vapid early episodes and turn into something much more interesting. I must admit that I didn’t except the show to realize that this quickly. Who knows? Maybe it didn’t actually do so, and it was just a happy accident. But I genuinely liked “Mini-Mogul,” primarily because it showed to both the viewers and the characters the consequences of the characters' behavior.

This is not to say that it isn’t fairly lazy about instigating those confrontations, though. Marty is forced to take Roscoe on their business trip to “Frisco,” which seems to consist of one warehouse party and one café. Having a child along is the easiest way for these consulting assholes to have to watch their behavior and to realize that their behavior can be inexplicable. Well, everyone except Clyde, really, who’s still the embodiment of sleaze.

Marty has the first major difficulty in dealing with Roscoe. We’ve seen the tension between his job persona and his father persona before. Work Marty is not the type to coddle his son’s gender identity, while Father Marty would probably disapprove of how ruthless an asshole Work Marty is. This isn’t the focus of the episode after the initial scenes, but it is there. Marty’s issues with his work persona fuel his behavior.

It really comes to the forefront when he deals with the consultancy of the week, a hacker who’s gone corporate and hires Gallweather to help himself maintain control of his company. He’s also a ridiculous caricature, using his money to score chicks and drink expensive liquor, but his ridiculousness matches the personas that the Gallweather team uses. Marty recognizes that, hates that, and uses that to get what he wants at the end. He’s proud of himself for getting this company on the organizational “tit” he talks about so much, but he also helped this hacker brat save his soul to some extent.

With Marty distracted by the consulting needs, Roscoe ends up being babysat by Doug, mostly, though Jeannie and Clyde are with them for the bulk of it. Roscoe’s presence (or the show’s growing comfort with its characters) gives the banter a slightly warmer vibe. Clyde’s still a bit of a bully, but it’s nowhere near what it was last week. And in giving advice to Doug about being like George Clooney, the plot creates one of the best lines of the show after Doug fails with his Clooneyness: “That was... the Facts Of Life Clooney.” “TV’s Clooney is not the real Clooney.” Facts Of Life Clooney as a chick magnet is a great way to illustrate both Doug’s dorkiness and his ambivalence about playing the game he’s set up with Clyde. Later in the evening, he starts confiding with Roscoe about their mutual bully problem, and the story Doug tells may or may not be applicable to his current status with Clyde. I thought it was, so I liked it, even if it was obvious.

Jeannie’s subplot is the weakest of the episode, although it still deals with the same themes as the other parts. Suddenly, she’s engaged. She seems embarrassed by the guy, iffy about even throwing an engagement party. And suddenly, she’s in bed with a sensitive singer-songwriter guy. She even says, “Your penis and your mediocre weed, they don’t have anything to do with my real life.” Sensitive dude even tells her specifically that she has “daddy issues” which comes with no evidence, but suddenly seems to be something the show wants to deal with. But it’s early enough that I’ll at least give House Of Lies some points for trying to utilize a consistent, interesting theme. Better to have good intentions and be awkward than to be slick and horrible.

Stray observations:

  • “But don’t say Frisco; only losers say Frisco.”
  • Don Cheadle tap-dances, and Kristen Bell gyrates in lingerie. So if you’re watching this show for sexiness, this would not be a terrible episode for you.
  • “There’s a lot of blue on this page.”
  • “Did you delete your Friendster account?” “No, I kept it open for my band.”