House of Cards junkies across the world are having very little sleep this week.
*** SPOILER ALERT: Contains spoilers for season 4, episodes 2-6.
So far I’ve managed to jam six episodes into the last two days, which may not sound like much, but I’ve been busy, and have had to resort to watching bits and pieces on my phone at any opportunity possible. Surely even meth isn’t this addictive.
I was exited by episode 1, but was a bit unsure where this season was going to end up. Was it really just going to become Frank Versus Claire in a national shootout? Was Lucas really going to do something painfully predictable and ruin Frank’s campaign at an ironically awkward moment? The scene was set, but the path wasn’t predictable. But we’ll come back to that.
The new additions to the cast have continued to blossom as this season pans out, and extra credit must once again go to Ellen Burstyn for her role as Claire’s cancer-suffering mother. One scene where she chucks an old lady tantrum and screams “I am the mother” while ripping her wig off, was matched only by Claire’s cold ambivalence as form of a reply. (Just on this, does Claire actually have a heart? Surely she’s a vampire, she can’t be human.) Storylines that have centered around Claire have tended to drag in previous seasons, but it’s fair to say shes gone up a few notches on the devious dial this year, and her arc has become far more interesting because of it.
Now, there was plenty that happened; Claire leaked an image of Frank’s father at a KKK meeting, which caused him to lose the nomination in his home state, Frank had homeland issues in the form of sky-rocketing petrol prices due to Russia’s seeming inability to run an economy (stupid Russia, and it’s fictitious President who most certainly isn’t based on Putin) and Lucas sucked a dick in order to borrow a car, just so he could meet with Heather Dunbar. But really, it was all leading up to…
THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN SHOT! OMFG! #justlikeJFK
As far as individual episodes go, episode 4 would have to be right up there as one of the best hours of TV in recent years, and when that unhinged scally-wag Lucas came out of nowhere and shot the President, the whole series was turned on it’s head. The sad part in this, was that the shots that ‘wounded the president as much as a bullet could without killing him,’ also found their way into our favourite secret service agent, Edward Meecham. Remarkably though – and this is just how hardcore Meechum was – he managed to fire off a shot that killed Lucas, after he himself had been shot. A bodyguard till the very end, Kevin Costner had nothing on this guy. He had been there from the start, was probably Frank’s most loyal friend, and he just seemed so nice, didn’t he? It’s sad to see a likable and familiar face go, but this show doesn’t muck around.
While the build up to the attempted assassination of the President was masterful, the aftermath was a little sluggish. It seems even a show of this calibre can suffer when you put your protagonist in a coma for a few episodes. The ensuing mess, which saw Vice-President Blythe shakily step up to the plate, went a little weird. Firstly, Claire just seems to go into ‘this is my big chance’ mode, and proceeds to bluntly tell everybody – especially the acting president – what to do, and for some weird reason, people are listening. Secondly, Frank is having these weird hallucinogenic dreams, which escalate to the point of… Zoe Barnes cameo! Sure, Peter Russo was there too, but that was far less interesting. Kate Mara had lost none of her screen presence, and the scene only served to remind us all just how integral she was to this shows early establishment. But back in the real world, the reunion hour continued with Remy Warren and Raymond Tusk back to talk about oil drilling, Acting President Blythe reminding us that his wife had died and Claire heads back to talk with Vladamir Putin. Only this time, she does good.
The president has just got himself out of hospital, Lucas Goodwin ended Heather Dunbar’s campaign rather than Frank’s and Claire is proving to be a real political force. I’m sure the Russians will likely consume much of the remaining half of the season, but who knows? This show can throw a twist when it needs to.
Seven more episodes to go, I wonder how many days that will take me?