House of Cards: 13 chapters in 11 hours
Not a synopsis, but a paradigm shift.
Sunday the 3rd of February, 2013, 2:00pm
Now, I have been a fan of Kevin's work since I first saw The Usual Suspects and have followed him loosely and called him the best actor in Hollywood (tied for first place with Vincent D'Onofrio and Ed Harris). So what then did I do? Ignored work and dove straight into the show. Now, as usual, I tend to watch programming on my computer, and as is my custom as well, I tend to have my show running on the monitor to my left and my work running on the monitor to my right. Recently, I have moved my monitors around and am now only using just the one monitor and so I have been split-screening everything. So with the Show starting, I opened up the most obvious game to play on the right... Minecraft.
And then Kevin Spacey walks out to the street and kills a dog.
What a beautiful beginning to the next eleven hours of my life.
Now, this article is not here to tell you anything about the show, and what I have already given away was a great device to show us the public audience the inner core of the protagonist, Senator Francis Underwood. What the show is about and what it expects of us as an audience, is left up to IMDB and Wikipedia editorials. What I am here to do in this article is tell you about my reaction to the shit that was that experience last night.
You see, It was around ten hours ago that I finally took my socks off and crawled into bed next to my cute-but-snoring wife. That seems like a lot of sleep until I tell you that I wandered into Church this morning at around Ten. So... Writing this may seem a bit like sleepwalking to me, but this has been the first time I could have any time to myself to incorporate into words and fashion ideas onto a page that resembled some sort of cognitive process. Because, man, my church service this morning was like three and a half hours long and I didn't have breakfast. I did have some weird stomach growls in the middle there somewhere, but I just drank some water and let it go.
And I'm supposed to go to some Superbowl party somewhere tonight and play ping-pong with a bunch of smiling Chinese people, but I've never been that much into punch or soup or whatever it is you put in a superbowl. So here I am, headphones on, listening to Chillstep trying to get this image out of my mind of Kevin Spacey doing ALL THE SHIT THAT HE DOES in this show. Ok. He's not Tony Soprano... He's a little bit different than that... Bullets are words to Francis Underwood. It's all about the power one can wield over someone else. At one point "Frank" quotes the famous Oscar Wilde and says: "Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power."
And this plays true with him and his female counterpart Claire, his wife. As they take people and use them them for their own purposes, you see in them their desire for power... but not so much the desire to destroy that person... just the desire to move those people like pawns in a chess game. Frank and Claire value every pawn in the game and believe that people are better left in their own element except when it comes into direct conflict with their immediate tactics for their long term strategy.
Which was pretty cool and was re-emphasized and re-emphasized over and over and over again. When it came down to it, on the surface, Frank was a congenial and wonderful humanitarian... but everything he ever did in public was for his own gain and fulfillment of his long term goals... even in private everything was about making the next best move. the only time I ever saw him do anything to "recharge" was sleep, play console first person shooter games, eat ribs, exercise and smoke cigarettes by the window. EVERYTHING he did was a chess game with living breathing pieces.
And this was the fun of watching the show. The side characters were interesting sure, and the reporters trying to figure things out was... cute... and watching his wife interfere and interact with him on an intimate level was very sexy and alluring, but the real star, and indeed, executive producer, was kevin spacey. He took the beaten up writers from the BBC and turned the show into the alarmingly sexy beast that it is. I thought the show would offer more TNA, but all you get is an "Echo" of the goods, and that was enough for me, because that wasn't that bad really. And murder, sure there is murder, but it doesn't really get emphasized. This is not a cop show or a who-done-it at all.
House of cards is a political orgasm on Methadone. It takes you deep inside of the heart and mind and intentions of one of the sharpest and most strategic manipulators in all of known history and then teases you with... "What if this guy worked in the White House?".
And just what if?
Maybe the next episode will tell us. Or maybe there will be more cars in garages. But it did not matter, for in the middle of the next episode, something new would come up and I would hang on for another thirty minutes to see how that played out. Around the six hour mark I realized that I was going to try to stay up and watch the whole thing... DAMMIT... but... YESSSSS at the same time. I was set though, I had my pipe filled with LEGAL PRODUCT, Mountain Dew and some Hawaiian Bread stuffed with turkey... I was ok.
I was board with Minecraft so I moved over to a browser strategy game and played that for a while. I will have to say that the part of my brain usually reserved for television was actually overcome with a little extra static trying to figure out what Francis Underwood would do next and when he would again look into the camera and say something awesome like: "You see, one of the best things about being Senator, is that I can fuck whoever I want to. And wherever I want to." And since a browser strategy game was going at the same time, I lost several games.
Disgusted with myself, I went full screen, lit my pipe and lean back in my awetastic chair. And so it went. Around the time where Velma and Shaggy figure out that the clues they found lead Scooby being whisked away by a hidden trap-door, I was on episode ten. And I really couldn't stop myself. It just got better and better and you began to see that Francis Underwood was indeed human and could be hurt and maybe even have plans crumble around him... and his plans fall apart like a house of cards... but... Wait. What? He KNEW this would fail and had an even better plan hidden in his sleeve this whole time.
The last couple of episodes were good. Very good. I am reluctant to relate it to anything but if you like the way HBO has ended the Game of Thrones seasons, then you really know what kind of pot-of-stew cliffhangers they can leave you on.
So. What have I learned from this eleven hour experience? Not a lot particularly, unless you include:
1) How to control people
2) How to acquire desired results
3) How to succeed as a female reporter in Washington
4) How to talk to Union members
5) How to extort prostitutes
And what have I learned NOT to do?
1) How to not run a Newspaper
2) How to not run for office
3) How to not stay in office
4) How to not love a Senator
5) How to not run a charitable organization
-Pauly Hart. 3:00 pm