Compared to the first three chapters, these three really just delivered. At first, I knew the show was intriguing but it really took me this long to realize it’s addicting. Sure, a part may account for my fondness of Kevin Spacey as well as political disarray (well, that’s a inside joke between me and myself), but this series is just phenomenal.
Just a recap — House of Cards follows Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), the White House majority whip who was just backstabbed by the president and now is plotting some unknown, but always diabolical, plot. His wife, Claire (Robin Wright), is the president of the Clean Water Initiative (CWI), and Francis Underwood’s loyal assistant is Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), who helps Underwood concoct these menacing acts. Underwood has reporter Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) up his sleeve, and uses Representative Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) to his advantage. Again, just a recap.
The next three chapters deal with Underwood’s new motives to further regain his superiority after being temporarily side-stepped. These three chapters follow Underwood trying to keep the president’s promise of a new education bill within the first 100 days of office. Encountered with a new problem caused by Marty Spinella (Al Sapienza), Underwood degrades himself to come out stronger on top — with an excellent quote of “I’m a white trash cracker from a white trash town that no one would bother to piss on.” And with that quote, Underwood not only defeated Spinella, but rubbed it in his face and let defeat kick in.
Sex, lies, deceit, violence, drugs — everything comes into play here. These three episodes are when we first truly see Underwood in temporary defeat. Yet it’s incredible that the audience does not see it as a low point for Underwood, but with the help of Underwood feeding us “the right” thoughts, it is rather a stepping stone for Underwood, a new challenge in his life that he can easily overcome.
Although the main focus of these three chapters is on the education bill, we see Underwood exploring dangerous territory. His relationship with Zoe Barnes escalates quickly into a quote, “work-play relationship;” all the while, Peter Russo blames Underwood for the hate mail he has been receiving. But what I cannot get over is the fact that no matter what Underwood does — although most of time it seems to be wrongfully intended — the audience cannot help but side themselves with him. His manipulation not only works inside the series itself, but for the people watching as well.
Not only is it in these three chapters that we see just how powerful Underwood is, but we see just how strong his wife Claire is. Claire knows what the relationship between her husband and Zoe is, and she just lets it happen — not because it’s her husband and she can’t do anything, but because she is just as power hungry and manipulative as him. She is probably even worse than her husband; while Francis is a politician and therefore stereotyped into being something evil and scheming, Claire is the president of a non-for-profit organization (CWI) that is meant to help people who are most in need. This is just like The Summoner and Pardoner’s tale in The Canterbury Tales — one is seen as an evil person, but the shy, young, and innocent looking one is in fact far more evil.
And while I just made my English teacher very proud, more pressing matters are at hand — Peter Russo. Having received hate mail because of allowing a navy yard to shut down in his home town, Russo goes to Underwood’s house in the hopes of teaching Underwood not to use him as a pawn. Too drunk to function, Russo instead cries sadistically (and throws towels, which can hurt) and causes Underwood to start a bath for him. This series is just phenomenal for the quotes — just after Russo gets in the tub, Underwood hands him aspirin and states, “The hot water will open up your capillaries. The aspirin you just took will make your blood thinner. It’s up to you, Peter. Oh, and if you do decide to take the coward’s way out, cut along the tracks, not across them. That’s a rookie mistake.” He hands him a razor and walks out.
Honestly, it’s the ultimatums like that in the show that force you to get addicted — you wonder whether he killed himself or tried to become a bigger man. Not to ruin it, go watch the series now, and it will only take you about 12 hours to finish it all — it’s so addicting you won’t be able to stop. For now, enjoy this best quotes compilation from chapters 1 and 2.