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Mr. Arkadin

House of Cards

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NBooth   

Additionally, I have to say I'm also pleased with how season two has gradually introduced a set of stronger, more formidable individuals (Jackie, Feng, Grayson, and Lanigin), which is nice, given how season one was awash in largely dopey, pliable politicians.

 

 

I'm liking that as well. I recall that some of the criticism of the last season had to do with how effortlessly Underwood achieved his ends. Now, with him occupying a more powerful position, it's increasingly looking like he was a big fish in a smallish pond--and that fact is pushing him to be more ruthless than ever. If what I think will happen happens, then we may see him over-reaching in the third season, giving a very nice arc to the whole series.

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I recall that some of the criticism of the last season had to do with how effortlessly Underwood achieved his ends. Now, with him occupying a more powerful position, it's increasingly looking like he was a big fish in a smallish pond--and that fact is pushing him to be more ruthless than ever. If what I think will happen happens, then we may see him over-reaching in the third season, giving a very nice arc to the whole series.

Some of the same criticism has been applied to this season, at least in the initial reviews (I'm always somewhat irked by the firm declarations reviewers are willing to make about a show after having viewed a screener containing the first few episodes).

 

Re: the third season, I would imagine that it's likely to be a very tough road for the Underwoods.

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NBooth   

WSJ: 'House of Cards' Does Its Homework on China:

 

The show deserves kudos for the unusual authenticity of its China story line, which has plot points ripped straight from the headlines. Chinese cyber-theft, currency manipulation, a trade dispute involving rare-earth minerals, and escalating tensions between China and Japan in the East China Sea all make an appearance in the show, rendered in the kind of detail that will ring mostly true with China watchers.
 
[snip]
 
The attention to detail even extends to a Chinese foreign ministry news briefing early on in the show, which replicates the real thing almost exactly, from the familiar blue backdrop to the terse and irritated tone. The only inaccuracy – it has the Chinese spokesman delivering his comments in English, which almost never happens – was likely introduced for expedience.

 

 

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NBooth   

I think it's just a symbolic thing. Two eps from the end and it's not come up.

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NBooth   

Finished last night. The ending was, actually, exactly what I expected--that's not a bad thing--and, as expected, it wound up costing Frank far more than any of his victories in the previous season. As of now, he's lost:

Linda--a valuable ally in the previous season

Doug

Freddie

 

--and probably some more that I forgot. The point being: this season forced far more sacrifices on the Underwoods than last season, and sets up an arc that I expect will pay off in spades in the third season. Frank is increasingly out of his depth; so is Claire, to some extent. This is seriously good television.

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I think it's just a symbolic thing. Two eps from the end and it's not come up.

He does mention that he's missing his ring in episode 24, but it doesn't elucidate the symbolic dimensions of his action.

 

I'm two episodes away from the finish line. The Underwoods just get creepier and creepier.

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NBooth   

 

I think it's just a symbolic thing. Two eps from the end and it's not come up.

He does mention that he's missing his ring in episode 24, but it doesn't elucidate the symbolic dimensions of his action.

 

Last two episodes:

It becomes clearer in the final episode what the 

ring does--well, a little clearer--in that the period when he doesn't have it is when he's the most exposed, scared, and desperate. In the final episode he gets a replica back just as he's back on top. Not sure how the burial works, though.

 

I'm two episodes away from the finish line. The Underwoods just get creepier and creepier.

 

 

 

Yep.

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NBooth   

ThinkProgress: How 'House of Cards' Gets Sexuality and Recovery from Sexual Assault Right

 

 

Now, it is second season, House of Cards has exhibited admirable subtlety in taking on a subject that’s had increasing prominence in recent pop culture: how men handle learning that women in their lives have been sexually assaulted. House Of Cards isn’t the first prestige television show to consider this. FX’s biker drama Sons of Anarchy had its best season when it tackled a similar plotline several years ago, and The Americans, which airs on the same network, also used a couple coming to terms with the wife’s sexual assault as a moment of marital bonding. And Sundance’s breakout miniseries Top Of The Lake handled the question to great effect earlier this year. But in House Of Cards, this story has been particularly striking precisely because learning that Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) was assaulted in college forces her husband to confront the limits of his own power.

 

 

Incidentally, when can we start disregarding the spoiler tags? Usually, I'd say a week after the episode airs, but in this case....

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I'd say give it a while longer before abandoning spoiler tags.

Anyway, Nathanael, you'll be pleased to note that Robin Wright states that David Fincher and Beau Willimon expressly told her to think of the Clintons when trying to understand the Underwoods:

Edited by Ryan H.

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NBooth   

Anyway, Nathanael, you'll be pleased to note that Robin Wright states that David Fincher and Beau Willimon expressly told her to think of the Clintons when trying to understand the Underwoods:

 

 

Nice. And, of course [whole season spoilers],

 

the Clinton parallels do double duty here; not only do they key in to a central mythology of the past thirty or so years, but they subtly foreshadow the way Frank winds up getting rid of the president. The hints that the president is having an affair never develop, but there 

are impeachment proceedings (though, unlike Clinton, [a] it's not toward the end of his term, and this president actually resigns in the manner of Nixon rather than finish out his term). So that's a nice, subtle connection.

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Tyler   

Starting episode 9. Still not sure if the show knows why Freddy is on it.

 

But at least last season's worst storyline is starting to pay off.

 

[edit] finished the episode. So that's why.

 

Yeah, I feel like I'll be hate-watching the rest of the season.

Edited by Tyler

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mrmando   

Starting episode 9. Still not sure if the show knows why Freddy is on it.

 

But at least last season's worst storyline is starting to pay off.

 

[edit] finished the episode. So that's why.

 

Yeah, I feel like I'll be hate-watching the rest of the season.

 

Yeah, I'm with you. That story line takes an interesting character (and one of very few characters for whom we can feel sympathy without hating ourselves for it), turns him and his family into racial stereotypes, then wads them up and discards them. 

Edited by mrmando

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Tyler   

The way the central storyline plays out is satisfying, but I wish most of the subplots, especially what they did to Freddy, the whole Lucas/Gavin cyber-terrorism plot, Ayla Sayyad showing up at a really convenient time, and the Doug Stamper/Rachel Posner thing, had been cut out. The last one is particularly annoying, because it took my favorite character from the first season and made him practically unwatchable.

 

About the

Meechum-Underwoods threesome: First of all, did not see that coming. Second, I got the impression what we saw wasn't the first time something like that had happened between them. It would help to explain why Frank was so insistent Meechum be on his Secret Service detail.

Edited by Tyler

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NBooth   

Aaaand backlash. First, LARB:

 

Is “to James Franco” a verb yet? Permit me: this show “Francos” Shakespeare in its slightly vacant cleverness, in its anachronistic winks and leaden symbolism and campy asides and interconnecting schemes. It wants to be Shakespeare performance but settles for being Shakespeare performance art — the high-concept version of the thing that counts on the “soap-opera-in-drag” fun factor to fill in the gaps. That sounds worse than I mean it to sound; I really enjoyed the season, but there’s a hollowness to the show that comes of its borrowing a form but refusing some of that form’s basic terms, thinking that makes it fancier.

 

 

Then, ThinkProgress:

This total disinterest in ideology and the dynamic ecology of politics has, for me, always undermined House Of Cards‘ claims to be an authentic or realistic. There are people in Washington who behave with ruthless attention to their own careers, but it doesn’t always keep them on a steady ascent to the Oval Office–witness, for example, the way Senate Republicans recently shook off Sen. Ted Cruz’s efforts to turn the latest fight over the debt ceiling into a chance to burnish his own image. Even our fair city’s real-life Machiavellians recognize the value of ideology as a tool to help them gain power, even if they’re personally unmoved by the worldview they’re espousing. Cruz’s stunt was, after all, entirely about burnishing his conservative bona fides.

 


About the

Meechum-Underwoods threesome: First of all, did not see that coming. Second, I got the impression what we saw wasn't the first time something like that had happened between them. It would help to explain why Frank was so insistent Meechum be on his Secret Service detail.

 

Totally saw it coming. And I agree.

We've known from the first that the Underwoods had affairs, each with the other's full consent, so this struck me as a natural continuation of that, in a way. When Claire says "You needed that" the next morning, it's another testament to how terrifyingly functional they are as a couple. Of course, in a way, Meechum was nonessential to the whole thing--afterward he fades back into the background--because the threesome was always about the Underwoods helping 

each other out. Watching them slowly entrap Meechum gives another chilling insight into their character.

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Aaaand backlash. First, LARB:

It wants to be Shakespeare performance but settles for being Shakespeare performance art — the high-concept version of the thing that counts on the “soap-opera-in-drag” fun factor to fill in the gaps.

Nothing as hyped as House of Cards could avoid a backlash, and it's not a perfect show.

Still, I'm wondering what other shows these folks are watching that they sneer at House of Cards. It's not The Wire, but there's only one The Wire. Considering the big shows of the current television landscape--i.e. American Horror Story, The Americans, Boardwalk Empire, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Justified, Mad Men, The Walking Dead and others--it looks pretty good, at least to my eyes. Maybe that says more about those shows than it does about House of Cards, but still.

At any rate, the glorious closing shot of the first episode of season two suggests to me that House of Cards knows *exactly* what it wants to be, and it ain't Shakespeare.

 

Totally saw it coming. And I agree.

We've known from the first that the Underwoods had affairs, each with the other's full consent, so this struck me as a natural continuation of that, in a way. When Claire says "You needed that" the next morning, it's another testament to how terrifyingly functional they are as a couple. Of course, in a way, Meechum was nonessential to the whole thing--afterward he fades back into the background--because the threesome was always about the Underwoods helping 

each other out. Watching them slowly entrap Meechum gives another chilling insight into their character.

Yep. Edited by Ryan H.

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NBooth wrote:
: Totally saw it coming. And I agree. . . .

 

I wouldn't say I saw it coming, but I love your comment here, NBooth. (Also, it has been noted that Frank's bisexuality was already hinted at in the first season, in that episode where he meets up with some friends from his university days.)

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Aaaand backlash. First, LARB:

It wants to be Shakespeare performance but settles for being Shakespeare performance art — the high-concept version of the thing that counts on the “soap-opera-in-drag” fun factor to fill in the gaps.

 

Nothing as hyped as House of Cards could avoid a backlash, and it's not a perfect show.

Still, I'm wondering what other shows these folks are watching that they sneer at House of Cards. It's not The Wire, but there's only one The Wire. Considering the big shows of the current television landscape--i.e. American Horror Story, The Americans, Boardwalk Empire, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Justified, Mad Men, The Walking Dead and others--it looks pretty good, at least to my eyes. Maybe that says more about those shows than it does about House of Cards, but still.

 

True Detective. It makes House of Cards and all the others you've listed feel like Duplo blocks to Legos.

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True Detective. It makes House of Cards and all the others you've listed feel like Duplo blocks to Legos.

I've been very eager to see it, but I have to wait for the DVD release.

Still, I'm skeptical it can beat Hannibal.

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True Detective. It makes House of Cards and all the others you've listed feel like Duplo blocks to Legos.

I've been very eager to see it, but I have to wait for the DVD release.

Still, I'm skeptical it can beat Hannibal.

 

 

I haven't seen Hannibal yet, so maybe I should before proclaiming, I'm skeptical it can beat True Detective.

 

 

...feel like Duplo blocks to Legos.

 

 

Someone's not looking forward to

the

Lego Movie sequel.

 

 

Exactly!

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I haven't seen Hannibal yet, so maybe I should before proclaiming, I'm skeptical it can beat True Detective.

At least one critic thinks Hannibal is tops. I can't weigh in until I have True Detective on DVD. For now, I'll simply note that Hannibal is so impressive that I'll be floored if True Detective can knock it off its pedestal (but I'm certainly eager to give True Detective the chance to do so).

 

But back to House of Cards, I do think my original point stands: House of Cards compares well when weighed against most current TV series (and I think it holds up well against most past series, too).

Edited by Ryan H.

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I was nervous to enter this thread. Again. I stayed out because along with True Detective, I watch this with my parents and they were out of town...but we finished the season last night. I was nervous because on the Oscar discussion on Facebook, someone made the comment that "apparently there is someone who still cares about House of Cards". That is paraphrased, but I thought "Oh boy, is everyone hating on this season?!" So, glad to see that actually, most are in at least general agreement. I enjoyed the season overall. And seriously, the last shot oof the season finale was perfect.

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NBooth   

Elizabeth Norment (Nancy Kaufberger, Underwood's secretary on House of Cards) has died.

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