House of Cards: Chapter Thirteen

“I pray to myself, for myself.”

Well, that was certainly an interesting twist to this season’s overall arc.

For the past thirteen episodes, I was assuming that Frank was the ultimate player; that it was he who was the master manipulator; that it was he who was the one person in Washington who, somehow, managed to sidestep anyone else using him. Turns out I was wrong.

This episode revealed, brilliantly, that it has been Raymond Tusk manipulating everyone, including Frank, since the first episode. At least on the macro level. It was he who wanted Frank to stay in Congress and it is now he who wants Frank to be the Vice President.

Frank and Tusk make formidable opponents and powerful allies. Frank’s reasons for his machinations are emotional; Tusk’s are financial. Frank has a certain amount of power in Washington; Tusk does as well, but his actions also affect Wall Street. The scene where the two of them face off at Freddy’s was a tour de force. Not only do two driven, ambitious men bang away at each other; two brilliant actors conveyed the tension and subtext seemingly effortlessly.

But, while Frank and Tusk are congratulating themselves on a job well done, clouds are gathering on the horizon. The Janine/Zoe/Lucas team is effective and is getting way too close to the truth. I was pleased that Lucas had something to do this episode other than sleep with Zoe and whine about her affair. The scene where he tricks the prostitute into giving him information showed us why he is the journalist he is and why we should be wary of his joining the two women in their quest.

Another cloud that is gathering is Gillian’s lawsuit. This is a woman scorned and she is going to make life as difficult as she possibly can for Claire. Who, it seems, now wants to have a baby so that she and Frank are working for someone other than themselves. Huh? Two more selfish people it is hard to imagine. Until now, absolutely everything they have done has been about them and what they want. Where this desire for a child is coming from seems a bit off to me. Then it occurred to me -- could Claire want to become pregnant to stall Gillian? I wouldn’t put it past her.

As a season finale, this was an interesting episode. On the one hand, we got the big reveal and we saw Frank achieve what he has been angling for since the pilot. On the other hand, it is setting up what I guess will prove to be the main plots of season two -- Tusk vs. Frank, Claire vs. Gillian, the journalists vs. everyone who wants to keep a secret.

Not a great episode, but it did leave me looking forward to season two. Three out of four broken faucets that Claire fixes. Now, that was a hit-you-over-the-head metaphor.

Trump Cards:

-- Netflix has uploaded audio commentaries by the directors of each episode of Season One. To turn them on, click on the audio button at the bottom right of your screen.

-- I watched the commentary for this episode. Allen Coulter was the director of this episode and his commentary was very technical. Interesting, but only if you are interested in the camera shots. I am.

-- Season Two kicks off February 14th and Season Three has already been ordered.

Speaking Frankly:

Frank: “If he doesn’t deliver, I’m an invader without an army. If he does, I’ve got a fighting chance.”

Janine: “This town is way too incestuous.”

Frank: “Of all the things I hold in high regard, rules are not one of them.”

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Great review. So grateful to get the tip to watch with commentary. I, too, love that stuff!