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Mr. Arkadin

House of Cards

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NBooth   

Finished it. Liked it a lot. There's a strange lack of monologues in the first half of the season, which is (I suppose) thematically significant, but they come back in the second half--which is, all told, much more "typically" House of Cards than the first. Episodes 5 and 6, particularly, go to some strange-ish places, though they don't exactly handle those places as well as other shows I could name.

Oh, and I'm prepping the champagne for next season, since it looks like my predictions last year might be more right than I had hoped

The last shot of the last episode gave me chills.

Edited by NBooth

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Five episodes so far, for me. I'm enjoying this season more than the last one, too.

Although the demand Claire makes somewhere around episode three or four is so out-there loopy -- even loopier than her becoming UN ambassador -- that it kind of undermines my ability to think of her as a clear-thinking, calculating, tactically-minded whatever.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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NBooth   

The only major beef I have with this season is Doug's arc, such as it is: it makes no sense given the way last season played out. The Claire stuff I take as part of the fantasy-world the show is selling--and, since I really do want the show to end with Claire as president, I'm more than willing to give them a license to play fast-and-loose here. That's less the response of a critical thought-process and more the response of someone who loves the character to death, though, so grain of salt.

Edited by NBooth

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I liked this season, but I thought Fake Rubio/Conway was a misfire. An unconvincing character and a missed opportunity. Once again, this show fails to deliver a worthy opponent for the Underwoods. (Petrov, as always, is a delight.)

The final moments of the finale are genuinely chilling.

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M. Leary   

Yeah, the last episode of this season is probably the best written/conceived of the series so far. A few reasons why spoilers below:

 

 

 

1. The end is entirely conceivable given that we have seen many beheadings of US citizens with the same "we don't negotiate" setup. Most of the shows political plot-twists really push against my willingness to suspend belief. But this one works very well. In fact it works too well. As a political fable, the show has woven in this bit of reality (what Zizek calls an intrusion of "the real"). It really has a chilling effect. House of Cards has converged with our timeline.

2. I like the Conway arc because it first poses Conway and wife as an inversion of Underwood and wife. Over the course of the season, we come down the other side of the Mobius Strip and the two couples become a mirror image. There is resistance on behalf of Conway's wife - but you can so clearly see the pathway the young Underwoods took together. Not sure who it is that said the extremes of both political parties connect at the edges - that our political spectrum is not a line but a loop... House of Cards gets that.

3. There is an inversion of marriage as a life-giving union. The Underwood's restored marriage is a political alliance at first, but becomes a legitimately restored relationship by the end. They experience union again. But this union flips the idea that marriage is about generation and conservation. Claire's one wistful look at the Conway boy playing in the White House is another intrusion of some kind of latent maternal instinct she forcibly abandons. The breaking of the fourth wall by both Underwoods at the very end is chilling for that reason. This is their new intimacy, their new union - which is the gestation of fear and deception.

4. The entire season did a good job of occluding its trajectory. This last episode does that at an even finer, more detailed level. None of us see this coming. Not even the Underwoods.  

5. This is a pretty rote commentary on power, chaos, fear, etc... But it is really well crafted and delivered. The last two seasons did nothing for me. This one - boy howdy that was a good ending. The failure of anyone in the room to understand Arabic, which leads to the death of the hostage, is another little Zizekian detail that ties it all together.

Edited by M. Leary

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NBooth   

Great, great thoughts. I particularly agree with points 2 and 3.

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Ryan H. wrote:
: I liked this season, but I thought Fake Rubio/Conway was a misfire. An unconvincing character and a missed opportunity. 

That everyone-can-read-my-e-mail thing was... interesting. Wouldn't voters *want* a leader who knows how to keep some secrets?

I'm only somewhere around episode 10 or 11 -- sorry, I lost track of where I was when I fell asleep last night -- so I'm skipping over M. Leary's post for now. For once I actually care about spoilers. :)

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Also: Has Kevin Spacey gained weight? I've been a wee bit distracted by his emerging double-chin this season, to the point where, when they had a flashback to 2012, I wondered if it might become a continuity issue. But it's possible I just didn't notice during the previous seasons.

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43 minutes ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

Also: Has Kevin Spacey gained weight? I've been a wee bit distracted by his emerging double-chin this season, to the point where, when they had a flashback to 2012, I wondered if it might become a continuity issue. But it's possible I just didn't notice during the previous seasons.

I don't watch the show, but have seen House of Carbs jokes on twitter.

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On 3/8/2016 at 8:44 AM, M. Leary said:

Yeah, the last episode of this season is probably the best written/conceived of the series so far. A few reasons why spoilers below:

 

 

 

1. The end is entirely conceivable given that we have seen many beheadings of US citizens with the same "we don't negotiate" setup. Most of the shows political plot-twists really push against my willingness to suspend belief. But this one works very well. In fact it works too well. As a political fable, the show has woven in this bit of reality (what Zizek calls an intrusion of "the real"). It really has a chilling effect. House of Cards has converged with our timeline.

2. I like the Conway arc because it first poses Conway and wife as an inversion of Underwood and wife. Over the course of the season, we come down the other side of the Mobius Strip and the two couples become a mirror image. There is resistance on behalf of Conway's wife - but you can so clearly see the pathway the young Underwoods took together. Not sure who it is that said the extremes of both political parties connect at the edges - that our political spectrum is not a line but a loop... House of Cards gets that.

3. There is an inversion of marriage as a life-giving union. The Underwood's restored marriage is a political alliance at first, but becomes a legitimately restored relationship by the end. They experience union again. But this union flips the idea that marriage is about generation and conservation. Claire's one wistful look at the Conway boy playing in the White House is another intrusion of some kind of latent maternal instinct she forcibly abandons. The breaking of the fourth wall by both Underwoods at the very end is chilling for that reason. This is their new intimacy, their new union - which is the gestation of fear and deception.

4. The entire season did a good job of occluding its trajectory. This last episode does that at an even finer, more detailed level. None of us see this coming. Not even the Underwoods.  

5. This is a pretty rote commentary on power, chaos, fear, etc... But it is really well crafted and delivered. The last two seasons did nothing for me. This one - boy howdy that was a good ending. The failure of anyone in the room to understand Arabic, which leads to the death of the hostage, is another little Zizekian detail that ties it all together.

I appreciate the season a great deal more after reading this.

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22 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

Mr. Arkadin wrote:
: I gave up on it. 

After how many episodes? I'm around 8 or 9 right now.

Around that same point. I just realized I wasn't invested or entertained.

They decided to pile on narrative incident, but little of it is interesting. Part of it is a sense of the been-there, done-that (it's a shame that they didn't really go all-in on a WWIII type of scenario to differentiate things), part of it is that this season isn't very good at the posturing that made this show fun.

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