House of Cards: Season Review + To Binge or Not To Binge

Early into the semester, I anxiously await the email from my TA to assign an option, whether I’d be a binge watcher or a standard weekly watcher. I’m a regular Netflix user and saw the show advertised when i’d watch other movies and shows. It didn’t cross my mind to watch it, I figured it would be another boring attempt at political drama and besides Scandal I didn’t have an interest for it. I was assigned to be a standard watcher, watching and blogging weekly.

This show is great, better than i expected. I love how cynical every character is but tie into one another. King of the cynical characters is of course Frank Underwood.

For me, Frank not only represented a politician trying to advance but he represented a general person. As humans we are always working to progress, if it’s not handed to us. He is an opportunist. He is flawed. He is the conniving character we all love and hate at the same time. He made the weekly viewers come back.

But for me i found it difficult to come back when i planned too. It took a great deal out of me not to take my Sundays and binge watch this show. I actually began to envy binge watchers because i always wanted to know what he had up his sleeves next.

Aston Riccio wrote, “Instead of watching live each week by “appointment” viewers are taking a full day (or weekend or even week) to watch a show’s entire season or series from beginning to end.”

That is what I’ve done with many shows to catch up to current seasons such as Law & Order: SVU, Breaking Bad, the Walking Dead, American Horror Story (then i found out each season is actually a different storyline) and another Netflix Original, Orange is the New Black. It was like television overload, I didn’t even need to watch my tv anymore. After a few episodes i found it difficult to stick to my appointment sets. It would slip my mind often. Even though subconsciously i wanted to watch time didn’t permit.

It was easily accessible, the show was captivating, I rarely found myself getting bored but why couldn’t I remember weekly to tune in?

Like Riccio says in his article, “appointment television is dying.”

But I’ve managed to make it through this roller coaster ride of for a season.

In one of my blogs, I believe I referenced how the lighting used in the show played a big part for me. They were able to capture the mood of each scene and how each character is connected.. When Frank and his wife Claire came together the lighting was darker than usual, sort of like in an old detective’s movie. When Frank and Zoe came together it became an intimate lighting but sort of grungy, like the lighting of an old run down motel.

At first I didn’t understand Claire’s story, as episodes went by I figured out that each character has their own story for a reason. Each story helps the other and ultimately helping the main story, Frank’s journey to power.

What also made this show so great is how we could connect to the characters. These characters are supposed to be fictional, almost an hour of entertainment. But after a few episodes I felt like I knew them intimately. Like, I was everyone’s noses neighbor.

I felt the most connected to Peter and Rachel, his mistress, not saying I’m connected to what they do. But their stories are familiar to any one who lives in the United States.

Rachel prostituted for money, ran away from home, dropped out of school, etc.

I’ve lived in Brooklyn all my life and that is something I’ve been exposed too by media, or by simply walking down the block. Prostitutes in the motels of East New York, and walking the strips of Pennsylvania Avenue, or on dating websites, high powered people such police officers and politicians are soliciting sexual advances from women like Rachel. Usually, the women who are like her come from a broken home.

Peter grew up with a mother who wasn’t really connected to him emotionally, his home was broken in a sense. He found the pleasure s of life through committing adulterous acts and feeding his addiction to booze, coke and marijuana.

When he died, I seriously felt like I lost a friend, I was rooting for him to be successful in this election. But that would’ve been to kind of Frank. That’s why I called him an opportunist. He saw the opportunity to take advantage of the weak. Peter was definitely one of the weakest underdogs of the show.

I didn’t expect any one to put the pieces to the puzzle together so soon. I figured it would’ve been done within next season. When Zoe, Lucas and Janine figured it all out, I was like “Yes! Go Zoe! But no , you just dug three graves. :(”

Season 1 has me hooked. I will watch Season 2! But I will be binge watching of the choose to release all episodes at once like Season 1. I am “Team To Binge” or #TeamBinge. It’s like watching a movie for 2 hours and wishing it was longer. When I binge watch it’s like the longest movie ever and I’m hooked. I get my full dosage and don’t have to wait for next week to come to get another dosage.

I’m one person who enjoys the feeling of knowing what others don’t about a show. I never spoil it, but I kind of like to see the surprised look on their face when something happens. Like when I made my mother start watch House of Cards with me. I’d watch first alone for details and then with her so she would not disturb me as I watched for details.

Over all, the show according to Netflix’s rating got a 5 out of 5 stars from me.

House of Cards: Season Finale!

Bittersweet ending to my weekly meetings with this other world in the politics. Oh, how I’ll miss it. Hopefully Season 2 premiers before Scandal’s winter season finale.

The final episode opens with Frank breaking a leaky faucet. When Claire ask’s why he said because it wouldn’t shut up. I immediately assumed the faucet could represent his conscience. But I couldnt figure out whether it was a guilty conscience or jujst one of defeat fore he still was not chosen to be Vice President since the last episode.

In other news, Zoe and Lucas are moving forward with their relationship. Yay! Despite her being a little cold towards him , he still is willing to stick by her side. Which is why he is willing to assist Zoe and Janine as they investigate Frank Underwood and associate.

When Lucas comes across the details of the arrest that Paul was cleared of I was like “oh shoot, all hell is about to break loose”. Zoe being the great journalist she has grown to be, chooses to risk dealing with death threats and harassment. She even goes as far as going to Rachel’s old school counselor to gain details.

Meanwhile, all hell is breaking loose for Claire and Frank psychologically, as she shares her haunting dream of Paul’s children to Frank and he shares that Frank haunts his thoughts as well. Is Claire’s dream symbolizing her longing for children? But, if nothing stopped Frank before, guilt sure won’t.

Continuing his quest, he’d ask Remy to speak to Scott Cunningham to not back Tusk as the next Vice President. When Remy fails to do so, he flew out to Atlanta to meet with him directly. He tells him Tusk will back nuclear energy instead of natural gas and put the company at risk. Scott Cunningham is still not willing.

Frank and Linda have become a new dynamic duo. He asks if there is someone in the scheduling department that can be let go. Frank leaks the schedule for who is to visit the White House, by sending it over to Zoe, who sends it over to Janine. Press swarmed around who they believe to be the next candidates for Vice Presidency, Birch and Tusk.

“We are losing control of the process,” says Tusk to President Walker.
But what is the process? Is it to give Underwood the position but with what conditions? Because Frank still won’t comply with his offer either.

When Zoe and Rachel finally meet she acts clueless, for viewers to find out she was promted by Doug what to say. ZOee says she’ll write about her being a prostituite, Russo/s mistress and a runaway.

Doug tells her it will all go away soon. Next season I have a feeling Zoe is a walking target. Her fate may even be death because of how much her revelations can cost Frank.

Raymond Tusk invades Frank’s favorite rib spot to discuss the offer he gave Frank. But Frank being the stubborn yet smart man that he is, flips the script so that he is needed and gets the loyalty he wants.

Meanwhile Zoe, Lucas and Janine put the pieces of the puzzle together and boom, hell just froze over. They figured out Frank Underwoods motives and why he did the things he did. It all started with being passed up for being Secretary of State. But now that they know this, I have a feeling it more dangerous, than beneficial for the group.

After this long jounrey, and yes I felt like I was apart of this journey, Frank Underwood is asked to become Vice President of the United States! Of course he accepts.

This journey was exhausting, I literally sighed with relief.
Not because the semester is finally almost over but he finally got what he wanted. Or did he?

Frank plans to put Meechum on as his secret service agent as repayment for his loyalty. Mean while, Doug meets with Christina and asks if she was being completly honest about her Zoe Barnes meetings, She begins to confess. At that point I begin digging Zoe’s hypothetically grave. My poor Zoe.

I definitely love how it ended, Claire invited Frank to go on her run with her. The ones she usually goes on by herself. Together they run off into the dark night. It can be symbolizing the new life they are running into together. But as the end scene progresses, Claire falls out of the frame and its just Frank running alone. Will he be the last man running?

House of Cards: Chapter 12

Im still not over Peter’s death and neither is Christina and Paul. But Christina is cold as ice. She looks like she has not had time to greave. But in the world of politics, the show must go on. Christina asks Paul to run for Peter’s vacant seat in congress. But he feels it is too soon, since it has only been a month.

Linda, Frank & President Walker interview “potential Vice President candidates”. Linda & Frank purposely put together a list of people they knew the president would not be to fond of. Putting that list together, left a window open for Linda to throw Frank’s name out there as a potential.

But Walker had other plans. He suggests a billionaire from St. Louis, Raymond Tusks, to be a candidate but he needs a little convincing. Frank volunteers to be the one to go speak with him. I knew off the back he would go with intentions to play mind games with this candidate and attempt to get him to reject this opportunity.

I’ve often heard once you’ve reached the very top, the only place to go is back down”.
Janine reveals to Zoe she knows Frank is her source and will investigate furthur. Her investigation can possibly take down Zoe, which I feel is her reason for investigating as well, by retracing his steps.

While Frank is using his kill them with kindness tactics. He finds out Tusks & President Walker actually know each other. He then questions “I’m getting played but why?”

Since President Walker and Tusks are coming from far, he values his opinion and would be the one to determine if Frank could get the position.

I always knew Frank did not like to be out of control but for Walker to kind of make Frank apart of his plan is interesting. Maybe the president has a plan to take Frank Underwood out by giving him a little power or saving his seat by keeping the enemy close. But who knows because we still don’t know the deal Tusks wanted to make with him.

Meanwhile Zoe begins to try to put together everything that has happened leading up to this point. But fears what revealing it can do. One of her main target is Peter Russo’s girlfriend Christina, asking her to remember what happened on the 24th of January. Will that cause Zoe’s plan to put the pieces together to be halted by Frank?

House of Cards Chapter 11

I don’t even know where to start with this episode. But, it definitely made my heart a little heavy.

Frank is up to no good as usual. His plan continues to move forward. Peter has relapsed. I feel like that was Frank’s plan all along, to build up the underdog then tear him down. It’s evident when he proposes for the Vice President to run for governor, instead of helping Peter. I almost thought Frank was going to say he wanted to governor but that would be considered too small for him.

Frank calls Zoe over, and at the end of their visit, he ends their affair by asking to simplify their relationship. She agrees so that she would seem weak. I loved how Zoe was able to satisfy her conscience’s need for revenge against Claire’s intrusion last chapter.

She puts on Claire’s dress (compares it to steel) and even messes up her side of the bed to let her know she was there. Although slightly heart broken, she’ll probably sleep better in her grungy apartment.

But who would’ve thought Linda would be the first outside person to call Frank out on his games. She knows he only got her son into the school, so that she’ll have to return the favor one day.

“I must gamble everything i have right now. If I’m honest, she may use it against me. If I’m not, she won’t life a finger. I’ve used this same tactic myself. Once someone is exposed, they’re at your mercy.” – Frank Underwood

I thought it was all over now. But Frank’s word play and mind games won’t allow that too happen. Besides that would be too easy.

Peter seemed at his wits end. His children were being kept from him, he absolutely lived for them. He even attempted to get a clean slate, kind of a way to break his deal with the devil by turning himself in for the drunk driving incident. But the officer phones Frank instead.

Frank sees a similarity between him and Peter, being that both childhoods were not that great. Frank tells him he’s braver than him for producing children, etc. Peter seems exhausted but not just one long night of drinking exhaustion but a long life exhaustion.
Frank tells him to close his eyes and let it all go. That he does, as he took his last breath. I fought back tears.

He was really one of the few characters, that us viewers would connect with. He was broken and needed redemption and as soon as he was on track to it, it was pulled right from under him. *sigh*

(Rest In Peace Peter 😦 Maybe he’ll come back as a ghost and haunt Frank next season or is that too supernatural for this kind of show?)

Frank made sure he was not tied to this death, he cleaned the crime scene of his DNA quickly. Plus side, Peter’s death got his wife to come back home. I don’t think Claire willingly left Adam, but duty called or text, in this case.

House of Cards Chapter 10

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During our in class discussion on House of Cards, one of my classmates said, about Frank, that viewers feel a kind of intimacy with him because we know what’s going on, like he confides in us. As my classmate said it, it was like that moment of realization, like yes! That’s definitely how it feels. It’s like he can’t do wrong.

Zoe tells Francis that Claire is the reason why the bill failed. But he will not believe it! Especially since Zoe is feeding him information in exchange for information. Now she is starting to play the game. Frank gets confirmation from Vanderburgh and Abrams and confronts Claire. Claire confesses she did tell them to vote what they want too and that it was to get the investment from Remy and SanCorp. In the mix of all of this, she confesses her feelings again, about not feeling equal, and being used like everyone else for his benefits.

            Peter calls Frank to complain about the bill not following through and his campaign being lost to empty promises and threatens to reveal everything to the public. Frank warns him about consequences that could suffice. But Peter wouldn’t back down, “If you destroy me, you destroy yourself.” His top game pieces are not making the right moves; I can see the house of cards collapsing with every minute

The biggest slap in the face for Frank was Claire’s departure after her impromptu “invasion” of Zoe’s apartment. Frank could not find Claire, no phone calls, no emails, etc. Claire turns out to be in New York with the handsome Adam. They observe a picture of her sleeping taken at 7:00am she says she’s “always slept so well in this apartment.” Going back Frank says during his monologue that at 7am Claire would be going for her morning run. It can be said Claire is restless in her home, uninterested and not in love.

            During his campaign trail, Peter meets a hotel worker named Rachel, who comes on strong, drunk and lustfully. She will be the one to make him relapse into his drunk, adulterous ways and causing him to bomb his phone interview about the new plans to help his people. Is this apart of Frank’s plan to destroy him? Maybe not fore he says “It takes 10 second to crush a man’s ambitions, I need to take care and protect mine.”

Things are getting extremely hectic and this has by far been my second favorite episode. To me this is the climate, the high point of the show. Maybe it’s because I see the weaklings beginning to step up to the plate even if it’s against Frank’s plans.

 

“Rebellion on all fronts, Claire, Zoe, Russo; I must not lose my resolve. I will march forward even if I have to do so, alone.”

 

House of Cards: Chapter 9

Francis’ house is a little unstable again. But, every time he loses stability, he gets it back almost immediately. He’s the “you’ll see me stumble but never fall type”. Zoe begins to contemplate her relations with him. With her contemplations, there is bound to be a major disturbance in their alliance and it’s all because of Janine and Zoe’s growing friendship. Janine reveals that she once had relations with a congress man and it does not end well. Maybe she see saw so much of her old self in Zoe, although Zoe will not confess it to her.

When she decides to run a little late for her meeting with Frank, he becomes upset and goes back home to play his video games. Lately he has been displaying a hint of jealousy. It’s confusing. Is he feeling her slip from his firm grip? I think he does, and so does Zoe because she tells him she wants end her affair with him and keep the work relationship, only. He nonchalantly accepts her decision by saying “I don’t punish people for making adult decisions”. But as she leaves he says, “She was never more than a faint blip on my radar. We served each other’s purpose. If she wants to be an adult, see how she can fly once she leaves the nest.”

Claire is finally beginning to voice her feelings, in reference to her thinking all her goals come second to Franks’. Little did Frank know, she was about to put herself first. Upon meeting with Remy and asking for them to consider their offer for CWI, he says they’ll make an offer if The Watershed Bill fails. Frank arranges Claire’s meeting with Vanderburgh and Abrams, and assumes automatically that their vote was in. Instead, Claire tells them to vote for what they feel is right (which means vote no, so I can get that sponsorship) and that they did! To everyone, in the room, except Claire’s, surprise, the bill fails! Claire is beginning to defy Frank. But what will that mean for their partnership? Will Frank find out she convinced them to vote against the bill? Is this foreshadowing the fall of all his allies or puppets (as I like to call them)?

House of Cards: Chapters 7&8

Finally! Frank Underwood gets the recognition he has so desperately been seeking. Is this card game over? As humans we all like to be recognized for our hard work. But with rising power, someone is losing power. There is an underdog for every alpha dog. These chapters are filled with secrets revealed, reunions and even more revelations. But I know it’s the least of the secrets yet to come.

Last blog I was trying to figure out the symbolism of the origami birds. Claire is shown streaming a tutorial from her IPod on how to create the origami birds. Later in the chapter Frank asks her if it’s a new hobby but she calls it an interest. She has a new interest in this origami swans. But why is it that interesting?

Douglas Stamper, Frank’s right hand, joins Rachel at a diner. Rachel was the young lady who Peter was arrested with for the DUI. She had plans of outing Peter and possibly jeopardizing his future campaign. But all she wants is help so Stamper reluctantly will help her. For some reason maybe he feels some kind of connection to her. Maybe it’s an awkward daughter/father complex.

Meanwhile Peter undergoes numerous drills about his past. Quite obviously he is not ready to face them and as a defense mechanism lashes out. But he has to get it right because the press will not go easy on him. Everyone can tell he lacks the motivation he needs, since at that point everyone who was once with him seems against him. Frank convinces Peter’s ex-girlfriend, Christina, to reconcile with Peter. Yes! Is it weird to have a bit of hope and sympathy for the adulterous, alcoholic and drug abuser? I guess when I put it that way. Christina encourages him to face his past.

Another love story almost sparked up between Zoe and her ex co-worker Lucas. But Zoe declines despite the passionate kiss they shared, by saying she isn’t in the “right place”. From his car, Frank watches, with an unreadable facial expression. I was not sure if it was jealousy on his face or a smirk of satisfaction. When will Zoe be in the right place? We probably won’t know because according to Frank, they’re all trapped by their secrets.

When Christina encourages Peter to face his past, he takes her advice and goes back to his home town. That reveals a lot about who he is, well was, and why he is who he is now. Frank goes back to his college, The Sentinel, a military based college. With a couple of strings pulled and big investments, a library is built and named in his Frank Underwood’s honor.

“How quickly poor grades are forgotten, in the shadow of power and wealth.”

On his campus Frank and his old quartet members break in to the old school library like they used too, very drunk of course. In a conversation with one of his guy friends, it is revealed they were close friends, brothers, possible ex-lovers?!?! I had to pick my jaw up when the friend said they fooled around a couple times.

Amongst the minor secrets revealed about him included Frank was in a quartet, Remy was his press secretary at one point and he wasn’t necessarily the honor student turned congressman.

            Peter’s visit home is opened with him visiting his mother, who has brain cancer. Her attitude towards him is cold and distant yet he still tries pleasing her in every little way. Could that negligence be what turned him to drugs and alcohol? He feels defeated but is there on a mission, and that’s to get things right before his campaign begins. But he needed his people’s support. Angry town’s people yelled and argued about him not standing up for them, and losing their jobs have affected their family. They walk out, without remorse.

            But with the help of his old friend Paul, after their scuffle, he gets the people of the factory to come down to the bar and hear him out one more time. After a few, hesitantly, they decided to comply and give him a chance. Things were falling into place for Peter or Frank, who ever shall benefit more.

            The greatest part of Episode 8 is the conversation between Peter and his mother. For the first time she showed some kind of emotion. At first a concerned mother, then spins it around to humor.

What happened to your hand?

I got into a fight?

Did you win?

Yeah, I guess I did.

That’s my Peter!

 

When he says fight, he more than likely is referring to the multiple fights he was facing. His mother only acknowledges her son the winner, not the son who keeps himself down and self-loathes.

I’ve noticed over the past few episodes how lighting can make a difference in what you are viewing. When Claire and Frank are in a scene together, especially in their house, the air seems really intense; the lighting seems dark and gray. But when they get around their others, Zoe and Adam, the lighting seems brighter and their personalities are so much livelier. Some times I think think they’re are more business partners than life/love partners.