House of Cards may have started off so-so, but the show has found its groove as the story progresses. It is hard to say though, if the show needed this much setup, or if the writing was just not quite as good as the British counterpart (which I plan on watching after this).
Chapter 5 starts out right where Chapter 4 left off, but takes a very unexpected turn almost immediately. I said in my last review that Frank and Claire seem almost on different emotional plains, and that they are more of a business partnership than a loving partnership. Well I was proved more correct than I expected. I will just come right out and say it, they are open to playing the field (with each others understanding) for gain. What is interesting though, is that Claire still turned down her prospect from the last chapter, which would suggest that she may be open physically, but still does not want to betray Frank on a deeper level. Though she did still keep her line to her extramarital partner open this episode.
The plot still managed to keep chugging ahead this chapter in a satisfying way. Instead of being pigeonholed, Zoe moves on to greener pastures, while her former boss gets sacked. But this show of his execution was rather unnecessary, it could have just been something that was more passingly mentioned. The only reasons that I can think of for them showing this is either A) Zoe may still have a role at her former employer somehow. Or B) Zoe’s sacked boss still has a role to play. I would place my money on the latter for sure.
Frank’s trajectory in this episode is continued from the Peachoid Chapter 3 where he had to be gone during some crucial teachers unions. He may have told a teeny weeny lie to keep them playing ball, but now that he is back in that game he completely screwed the union lobbyist who was up to this point working with Frank. Marty Spinella (the lobbyist) really knows how to hold a grudge and finds a way to take it out on Claire.
Now the second half of the episode really focuses around two things, a fundraising party (crashed by Marty and some protesters) and Peter Russo’s tailspin into despair. The entire sequence of the setup and the party itself are really a great showcase for Claire and Frank working together. They are a formidable power couple to be sure, and seeing them pool their resources and as exceptionally smooth operators is just plain fun. They dip and dive, they push and pull, subtly molding a bad situation into something not only workable, but completely successful. It is great to see what they can accomplish together. On the surface they are sailing along beautifully. However, when both of their flings show up to the party, you can see in both of them that they are somehow, deep down, disappointed.
Peter Russo is by far the most interesting character in this episode, and I am guessing he will only become more integral. In fact, this chapter pretty much spells that out. His emotional turmoil is so real you really start to connect with him more than anyone else. While other people in the show are larger than life monsters (in one way or another), Peter is a flawed and heavily conflicted person. By the end of the episode when you see what is being laid in front of him, but he does not, you really start getting a wrenching feeling in the pit of your stomach. I could go on and on about Peter, but I will just say that he has big plans (that are not his) and it is obvious that he is going to be having some big ethical choices ahead of him.
It is hard to say exactly where all this sudden sexual tension will lead us in the story. But it is certainly here to stay, because Frank now has some leverage (yeah, that is a good term for it) over Zoe that is supposedly just precautionary, but cannot possibly stay that way. So House of Cards is starting to go on a hitting streak with great drama, I am starting to feel like I can truly recommend this show now.