House of Lies Season 3 Review “Zhang”

Episode 309

With an inventive opening that immediately grabbed my attention, House of Lies kicked off “Zhang”, a curious mix of an episode in which both Marty and Roscoe were forced to face the truth about their friends while Monica… did her Monica thing at Kaan and Associates. While the episode was mostly filler, it had a decent amount of heart that kept it interesting and watchable.

This is particularly true of Roscoe’s thread this week. Shantel said it best, “I’m so glad I’m not 14 anymore”. That line sums up the entirety of my feelings regarding the Roscoe/Lex storyline. It hits the right note occasionally (usually when Marty’s involved), but more often than not falls flat. It’s a credit to the acting of Donis Leonard Jr. (Roscoe) and Bex Taylor-Klaus (Lex) that I genuinely felt for both of them here.

Though it’s Lex who comes across as the bad boi in this episode, I couldn’t help but think back to the end of “Pushback”, when a brief glimpse of what awaits Lex at home was all you needed to see to comprehend how truly alone she has to feel. Through that perspective, it’s actually understandable that she would, in that 14 year old way, abuse Roscoe to create a kind of dependency on her. She needs him. She’s desperate for him. And because of that I felt sorry for her when Roscoe left.

Of course, Roscoe is blessed enough to have a father like Marty, and a loving home to return to at the end of the day. I love the relationship between father and son in this show, it’s one of the things House of Lies absolutely nails in every episode. Though I may not always enjoy the pre-teen angst that comes with Roscoe, moments like that hug between he and Marty always make that angst worth watching.

The bulk of the episode however was devoted to Lukas’ education of Marty via a reality show tour of Compton, where DollaHyde began. I expected more from this. Though the payoff was meaningful, the preceding scenes didn’t really add much to the DollaHyde story. I understand that we were supposed to see that this is a world Marty doesn’t fully understand and therefore these are people he doesn’t fully understand, but the whole thing came across as a little too preachy. Contrasting the faces of the pod against reflections of Compton in the windows took it over the top. House of Lies has always had a wonderful sense of its innate self, but this aspect of the episode was a miss.

I have a theory, you can always tell when this show runs long on time and short on material based on Doug’s actions in an episode (as long as it isn’t a Doug-centric episode). The crazier and more slapstick Doug is, the less material the episode has. The less crazier and slapstick Doug is, the more material the episode has. He’s House of Lies patented misdirect. And while I found myself laughing at him this week, there was a lot of crazy, slapstick Doug in this episode.

Finally there’s Monica, who at last made her way to Kaan and Associates for a visit. I love her character, but more when she’s on the periphery of events rather than directly influencing them. I continue to pray she doesn’t end up working there, although Clyde’s panicked reaction (especially his cowering in the office corner) when he saw her there was funny.

Things look to be taking a turn for the serious next week, don’t they? I suppose with this season’s gangsta lean it was only a matter of time before we got an attempted drive by on Marty and Jeannie. Not sure how this is going to play. We’ll see on Sunday.

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