House of Cards season four left us with the Underwood’s watching a livestream featuring a domestic terrorist decapitating one Mr. “dadbod” Miller. While the rest of the room averted their eyes in disgust Frank gives the audience his trademark breaking-the-fourth-wall stare into the camera, and then — what’s this? — Lady Underwood joins in, staring us down as though she didn’t know we’ve been watching her this whole time.
Tell Us What You See
“I’ve been meaning to talk to you,” Claire says directly says to the camera. OH SHIT, do we get the same pointed monologues and parables we get from our First Lady’s husband? NOPE. The shot widens to reveal this is a PSA to the American folks wondering WTF is happening. Oh, YOU GUYS… I—I see what you did there.
Optics are key in this season premiere with the resounding central message that it is more important to consider what things looks like, as opposed to what they really are. (Hm, wonder if any politicians have ever thought about this trick?)
“I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care.” — Francis “JK JK I DO CARE” Underwood
Frank plays musical chairs at a Congress meeting so he can do everything in his power to detract from the damning article published in The Herald exposing his unscrupulous actions from day’s past. One could wonder if one Francis Underwood would yield. Would he yield in a field? Behind a shield? What if he kneeled? But no, he is steeled in his resolution to never yield to the terrorist organization ICO behind the brutal beheading and proposes war be officially declared. Frankie pulls out all the stops, his voice and appearance verklempt just enough as he speaks about the funeral he about to attend of the headless Mr. Miller.
“It was almost like the real thing.” — Tom “Fuckboy” Yates
Melissa Miller is a sassy teenager who sees through all the political posturing and can see how the POTUS is using her father’s death as a political chess piece. It’s, like, true, but I mean when the President comes to your dad’s funeral, you have to take you pills and shut up, right? Wrong. Melissa is metal as fuck and stops her mum’s eulogy to tell Frank that she wishes that he would die and Claire would become President.
ICE. COLD. MELISSA.
Tell Us What We Want To Hear
Speaking of icy, the usually composed Claire breaks down at the funeral. Are these crocodile tears or is she truly sad? She later tells her hubby she shouldn’t have cried, but he thought it “played” beautifully. But her tears were not a show for the audience, rather a true sign of grief back to the time Frank ate lead and she could have very well been a widow herself. Frank responds by leading her out to the front porch and taking the scope off some dummy’s gun and does a Mufasa style speech, “Everything the fear touches,” he seems to say, “Is ours.”
Claire has never been good with mums. From telling her co-worker that’d she would let her fetus rot dead inside her womb, to basically telling her dying mother to go fuck herself, Claire’s got a touch of a mommy problems, so when she sits down with terrorist Joshua’s mother, this proves no exception. “You had to know,” she accuses her of knowing she raised a monster and manipulates the woman into a the sound bite she needs of Mrs. Masterson begging her boy to turn himself in.
The Conways have had a different strategy with the bereft mother, with Hannah posting a video defending the woman—she is a victim—we are all victims. Will is super pissed, but Hannah defends her position citing the fear her young boy is experiencing. The fear that monsters are real and we are all potential victims.
What Did You See?
Victims of what and who is the shell game that sets House of Cards apart. All the while the nationwide manhunt for the escaped terrorist has proven unfruitful, that is, until Frank decides to show us that he’s had the man in custody the ENTIRE TIME.
“And I thought you knew me.” — Francis “You Ol’Sneak” Underwood
Joshua has obviously been tortured and beaten to try and get any information—of which there is none he’ll give up. The prezzie has a Mano E Mano with the radicalized man. He asks why he picked the Millers and surmises it was because of the girl. That she was able to see through him. To be really seen for what you truly are is a life or death sentence in this House, and after realizing the man is no longer an asset Underwood sentences him to death.
The Underwoods have deftly used ‘splosions to justify straw man hunts, used fear mongering rhetoric to detract from transparency, and finally the unlawful murder of an American citizen to create the illusion of safety. This symphony of Machiavellian intrigue seems to be going the way of the Underwoods, that is, until news comes down the pipes Congress is gonna use the declaration of war to investigate the allegations made against Frank in The Herald.
Frank might be shaking hands with the peasants at the gate telling them they have nothing to fear, but it’s really he who should be afraid of what’s to come.
Outside the Oval
I, Spy – LeAnne and Hackerman are going full crazy spy mode. The hilarious moment when his key card doesn’t work and then someone just LETS HIM IN, is a pretty damming picture of the security measures over at NSA.
War Whores – Claire is accosted by a stander by at the “terrorist related” explosion and splashed with paint and accused of being called a War Whore is another allusion to her Lady MacBeth likeness. Out damned spot indeed.
Closing the Borders – Kathy’s resistance to having emergency measures including the closing of boarders, and the “unprecedented” selection for no-fly lists is completely and totally on the nose and so about Trump it HURTS. As of yet, the show has not directly targeted living and sitting members of office, and this first jab hits hard.