TV Review: House Of Cards 5.1 “Chapter 53”
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House of Cards
Season 5 Episode 1: “Chapter 53
Directed by Daniel Minahan
Written by Frank Pugliese
Created by Beau Willimon
Starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Paul Sparks, Joel Kinnaman, Neve Campbell, Boris McGiver, Jayne Atkinson, Damian Young
Air Date: Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Somewhere over the past year the line between television drama and reality blurred. There is a President who talks down to people, commit heinous acts of violence and depravity, we have issues with the Russians, and we live in a perpetual state of fear from terrorist cells worldwide… quick, am I talking about America 2017 or Season 4 of House of Cards? A show that cuts this close to reality is not going to be shy with the current scope of American politics, and I expect this will be a unique and interesting season for Netflix’s award winning political thriller. I wait with baited breath to see how far the writers will push the boundaries.

Spoilers below.

We left President Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his wife and running mate Claire (Robin Wright) as they watched along with Americans nationwide as a journalist was brutally murdered by terrorists. But this despicable act played right into the Underwoods’ favor. You see a scared nation is an easy nation to control and there are mere weeks before the Presidential election. The competition is stiff from young Republican upstart Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman).

The stage is set immediately as Frank, the POTUS, uncharacteristically and some say illegally, takes to Congress to interrupt a session and demand a formal declaration of war against ICO, the terrorist group responsible for the public beheading of Jim Miller. Spacey standing before Congress, his ignorance of the chairwoman’s gavel as he screams “I WILL NOT YIELD!” is the kind of scene Emmys are made for.

Frank’s got other problems aside from terrorism and an impending election. He is under investigation, (sound familiar) stemming from the accusatory article from Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver), which goes all the way back to Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) and season 1. Claire goes as far as to openly debate Tom on the Charlie Rose show and it becomes a dirt slinging contest, one she is quick to disrupt to draw attention back to Frank’s declaration and the urgency for war.

The Underwoods brazenly thump the fear card (sound familiar). In one scene, Frank demands to Secretary of Defense Catherine Durant (Jayne Atkinson) that we need to shut the borders down and expand the no fly zones (sound familiar). Meanwhile they both duplicitously sit for photo ops at Jim Miller’s funeral much to chagrin of his wife and daughter, the latter openly accusing Underwood of actually murdering her father… well that’s one crime we know he didn’t commit. She whispers something to him inaudibly, which he confides to Claire in the car was, “She said she hopes I die, and you become President.” He is almost smiling when he says this.

The joint Underwood assault continues as the election nears, with Claire doing ground duty by a bombing in North Carolina, and then holding a personal meeting with the terrorist’s mother. Robin Wright is just stunning in this role. It’s hard to believe that 30 years ago, she was young, beautiful Princess Buttercup, Wesley’s “twu love” in The Princess Bride. Her and Spacey have become these characters to the point where I have trouble seeing where Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright end and the Underwoods begin.

There are so many little side stories as usual with the political intrigue of House of Cards. Tom Yates (Paul Sparks) is still hanging around, and still sleeping with Claire. Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) and Aidan MaCallan (Damian Young) are trying to tap the NSA, and Doug (Michael Kelly) is left flummoxed when the President’s Congressional committee to oversee the declaration of war turns on him, and there are threats of his staffers testifying.

But in the end, this is Frank Underwood and Spacey nails one of his best 4th wall breaks ever on this show in the last 5-minutes, when after a major reveal he almost mockingly tell us, “And I thought you knew me.” There are many forms of evil in the world. The obvious types hide behind masks and decapitate innocent people on TV in front of millions of scared onlookers. The far more subtle and darker evil is the one that hides in plain sight with no shroud, and offers false hope and security while plotting the world’s demise. The Underwoods are almost Shakespearean. She is Lady MacBeth, and he is Richard III. Brace yourselves folks, this is going to be a crazy season.

House of Cards has traditionally been the most binge-worthy show on Netflix, and my wife and I usually burn through a season in a few days. I think I want to savor this one a bit as it goes so well with the daily news feeds. It’ll be interesting to see how long into the season before Frank is calling out the “fake news media.” The lines, as I said earlier are blurred.

House of Cards season 5 is currently up and available to stream on Netflix.


House of Cards | Season 5 Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

“The American people don’t know what’s best for them…. I do.” House of Cards Season 5 is now streaming on Netflix.

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