House Of Lies: “Our Descent Into Los Angeles”
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House Of Lies: “Our Descent Into Los Angeles”

The best thing about “Our Descent Into Los Angeles” is that it barely touched Clyde and Doug’s hookup game. This has been the most frustrating part of House Of Lies since it showed up in that second episode, and I was all prepared to make it the focus of this week’s review. That it was gone was refreshing, but it wasn’t also replaced by any kind of non-hideous character development for the two younger men, unless you count Doug trying find someone to go see Wicked with him.

It’s not really a good sign when the thing that works best about an episode is what’s missing instead of what’s there. Back when the pilot aired, I mentioned several different directions that the show could have gone, and included “farce” based largely on the dinner scene, which seems to be the core of House Of Lies’ mytharc at this point. With two of the characters back, April, the stripper who pretended to be Marty’s wife, and Greg, still hanging around the office being an ass, the show had enough to do it again. So, April tries to give Marty a blowjob in his office, when Greg bursts in to be a bother. Cue Marty doing whatever he can to keep his pants and prevent Greg from finding out.

Even though this is a pretty straightforward farce, House Of Lies still gets it wrong. The main reason is that it’s caught between wanting to do awkward cringe humor and wanting to do manic ridiculousness. Marty seems to be aiming for the former, Greg the latter. I tend to prefer the latter, but Greg Norbert’s half-insane characterization just rubs me the wrong way. Theoretically he’s an interesting character, theoretically this is an interesting storyline, but it’s so overdone in the part of the show that’s most naturalistic, the Galweather team/office, that it’s jarring. Nothing about this man suggests competence, let alone danger.

The worst and laziest part of it? It doesn’t end. Marty gets a call to go to his son’s school, and the scene immediately ends. The entire scene was built on the idea that he was trapped in a potentially comprimising situation from which he couldn’t extricate himself. So what happens? He gets out without us seeing how.

April is in Los Angeles for two reasons. First, she’s been accepted to USC. Second, she’s being accused of second-degree murder of an off-duty cop. Nothing about this storyline makes sense. What stage is the trial at? Would she really be allowed to jaunt off to LA? Is Marty’s advice actually useful and new at all? I honestly have no idea what the goal with this storyline was.

Jeannie’s subplot just adds to the mess. She takes the weekend to plan her wedding with her fiancé, so they head to the cake store without a plan. Everyone there wants them to have a cake plan, which triggers a nervous breakdown for Jeannie. Some of this even works, thanks largely to Kristen Bell being Kristen Bell (although if you imagine the cake as a sloth, maybe it doesn’t work so well). But since her fiancé hasn’t been given any personality whatsoever, there’s no real tension here. It’s just a bride-to-be flipping out about cake for no apparent reason.

The main plot focuses on Roscoe getting in trouble at school for kissing a boy, which apparently counts as sexual harrassment in a side of the plot that we don’t see. Roscoe says the other boy initiated it, the other boy says Roscoe did, and the school takes the side of other kid because his dad’s a rock star donor. So Marty gathers the team, sans Jeannie, for leverage against the school, presents it, and then gets countered by the principal, his wife, and his father, who all want to talk about Marty’s feelings about his mother’s suicide.

It doesn’t make any sense. Nothing makes any goddamn sense in this episode. It’s just a random collection of half-assed scenes, where the show veers between metaphor and straightforwardness wildly, characters’ motivations are unclear at best, and the plot only exists to string a few scenes together. I don’t care about Marty’s psychology being so easily explained by his mother’s suicide. I do care if the show is amusing, though, and “Our Descent Into Los Angeles” failed pretty miserably at that.

Still, at least it wasn’t actively offensive.

Stray observations:

  • “Oh I have an herb garden!”
  • “We’re going with Hurricane Carter here.”

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