House of Cards—Season 1

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9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great story and Spacey and Wright are perfect

Dense and not always easy to follow intricate parts of the plot

 
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DC never saw Frank coming…

Do not cross Senator Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey).  When the new president (Michael Gill) passes him up for a Cabinet position, Underwood sets his sites on revenge.  With his faithful (and also plotting) wife Claire (Robin Wright) by his side, Frank has plans for the future…and he knows how to play the press, politicians, and the public right into his hands.

House of Cards—Season 1 was released on February 1, 2013 on Netflix.  The drama was an adaptation of the 1990 British series House of Cards which in turn was based on the 1989 novel by Michael Dobbs.  The series was adapted by Beau Willimon.  The series became the first online series to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy award and won Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (“Chapter 1”), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (“Chapter 1”), and Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series with nominations for Outstanding Drama, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Spacey), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Wright), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series (“Chapter 1”), Outstanding Music Composition for a Series—Original Dramatic Score (“Chapter 1”), and Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music.

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Dare to play Frank’s game of chess?

House of Cards was a very buzz-y series that got more and more buzzier.  As the series continues, more and more people have switched over to Netflix and Netflix’s original series are gathering more and more steam.  House of Cards really gave Netflix the power it needed to become a major player in the original content providing field.

The series is smart…a lot smarter than most of the series out there.  It is smart because it is very layered and the writing is very tight (feeling like it borrowed from HBO’s playbook).  Despite this tight-smart nature, it is quite attainable.  Even if you have lost some of the complexity of the plot, you can still follow House of Cards and enjoy it…leaving room for a re-viewing sometime.

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Still one of the head scratching moments from the season…what’s Frank’s relationship with his old classmate?

Part of the joy of the series is the great cast.  Kevin Spacey was built to play the smarmy but effective Frank Underwood and Robin Wright is perfect as partner in one of the strangest husband-wife combinations on television.  The supporting cast shows a lot of strength too and this season proves you can never expect a character to stick around in Washington where they can be eaten alive.

The show looks and sounds great.  A good soundtrack and excellent shooting adds to the story.  Underwood’s breaking of the fourth wall is well timed and not overused so his direct addresses to the audience don’t come off as intrusive.  The DC setting provides a lot of ground and it gives great contrast when they leave the city for episodes.

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The Gospel According to Frank

House of Cards is a very good but very dense series.  Just when you think that the series cannot switch directions or you think Frank’s been thrown a curveball, it turns out it was all part of the plan.  Often when you watch a show like this, you can see where it is ultimately going.  I could see this show go in two different directions.  One direction is eventually Frank burning for his crimes or the other direction (and more scary) is Frank managing to keep it covered, becoming a great president, and no one ever knowing the truth…which probably happens a lot in Washington.  It is an addictive show and with multiple seasons following, if you watch House of Cards, you might end up stuck to the couch for days.

House of Cards—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

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“Chapter 1”

1.1       Chapter 1 Release Date:  02/01/13

Change is coming in Washington, D. C.  A new president named Garrett Walker (Michael Gill) has been appointed and instead of being rewarded with Secretary of State, Democratic House Majority Whip Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is passed over to keep Underwood’s power in Congress.  Now, Underwood is secretly out for blood and he has help from his environmental activist wife Claire Underwood (Robin Wright).  Now, Frank must raise an army and begins to recruit allies in his fight.  When a young reporter for the Washington Post named Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) comes to Frank to become an informant for her, Frank decides she can be a use to him in sabotaging the President’s education bill.  Also falling under Frank’s control is a Pennsylvanian Congressman named Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) who is caught for drunk driving and forced to swear allegiance to Frank.

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“Chapter 2”

1.2       Chapter 2 Release Date:  02/01/13

The President’s education bill is published by the Washington Post with Frank’s secret leak, and Frank is given orders to rewrite it so it passes…giving Frank more power.  An old editorial at a college paper is discovered with inflammatory talk on Israel tied to the Secretary of State candidate Michael Kern (Kevin Kilner), and Frank uses it to raise questions about his allegiance.  Peter is sent on his first assignment by Frank to speak to a subversive publisher to solidify Kern’s ties to the article.  Claire fires a majority of her staff and tells the remaining staff about the future of the agency.  With Kern’s ability in question, a new player named Catherine Durant (Jayne Atkinson) could change the game.

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“Chapter 3”

1.3       Chapter 3 Release Date:  02/01/13

A teenager’s death in Frank’s district forces Frank to take away attention from the education bill during an importing union meeting and head home.  With opposition at home, Frank tries to turn the tide against a giant peach water tower that could cost him his post.  Zoe finds her star rising at the Washington Post but faces opposition from her boss Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver).  Claire goes after Gillian Cole (Sandrine Holt) for her organization.  Peter works to clean up his act.

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“Chapter 4”

1.4       Chapter 4 Release Date:  02/01/13

Hammerschmidt learns that Zoe must stay on staff from orders from above.  Claire is approached by lobbyist Remy Danton (Mahershala Ali) who considers backing more of her organization but finds it goes against Frank’s plan.  Hammerschmidt tries to give Zoe a promotion to the White House, but Zoe realizes it could interfere with her relationship with Frank.  Frank works to push his plans through Congress and turns to Peter with orders to shut down a base that he fought to keep open…leading to a rift with Christina (Kristen Connolly).  Claire has the visit from a former lover named Adam Galloway (Ben Daniels) who has a proposition for her.  Frank creates a fake coup involving David Rasmussen (Michael Siberry) by getting the black caucus to support him.

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“Chapter 5”

1.5       Chapter 5 Release Date:  02/01/13

Zoe weighs her options having quit the Washington Herald and finds herself in bed with Frank…literally.  Frank deals with Marty Spinella (Al Sapienza) of the school lobby and a potential strike.  Peter finds shooting down the base could break his allegiance.  Hammerschmidt faces the fallout from Zoe’s quitting.  Frank finds the union is going after Claire’s organization and decides he has to fight back.

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“Chapter 6”

1.6       Chapter 6 Release Date:  02/01/13

The teachers are striking, and Frank finds his plans could be collapsing if he doesn’t settle it…but an attack on Frank’s house could be the spin he needs.  Claire reaches out to Frank’s former bodyguard Steve (Chance Kelly) who is dying…and reveals her true self.  When Frank faces off against Marty in a CNN debate, disaster strikes as Claire finds herself pulled into the argument.  A drive-by shooting of a child may be the ammo Frank needs to get control of the situation.

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“Chapter 7”

1.7       Chapter 7 Release Date:  02/01/13

With the education bill signed, Frank finds himself closer to the President while the Vice President Matthews (Dan Ziskie) feels himself being pushed out.  Peter’s political vetting begins as Frank and his men look into Peter’s past to find out any dark secrets that could be used against him.  With Peter’s assistant Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) as a potential ally and Peter attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, the return of a prostitute named Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan) could mean future problems.  Frank and Zoe continue their games, and Zoe uses one of her former Washington Herald coworkers to prop-up Peter’s past.

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“Chapter 8”

1.8       Chapter 8 Release Date:  02/01/13

Frank goes back to his alma mater for the dedication of a library in his name and is reunited with his classmate Tim Corbet (David Andrews).  Peter heads home to try to settle problems with the dock workers over the closing of the shipyard and faces opposition to his plans.

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“Chapter 9”

1.9       Chapter 9 Release Date:  02/01/13

Frank fronts Peter’s watershed bill and rallies his people to get the bill passed so the Democrats can keep control.  Zoe makes a decision about her relationship with Frank as Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer) begins to dig into the watershed bill.  Peter’s attempt to stump with the Vice President backfires and Peter questions how to get rid of him. Stamper sets out to go after the boss who harassed Rachel.  Claire finds that supplies for her organization are held up in Sudan which leads to a face-off with Frank and an ultimatum from Remy Danton.

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“Chapter 10”

1.10     Chapter 10 Release Date:  02/01/13

Frank finds himself under attack after the watershed bill’s failure and sets out to find out who lied about supporting him…leading back to Claire.  Claire faces off against Zoe and Frank realizes that they both might be out of his control.  Peter turns on Frank for the failure and demands Frank fix the problem which means with potentially dealing with Remy.  Frank orders Stamper to spring his trap with Rachel Posner.

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“Chapter 11”

1.11     Chapter 11 Release Date:  02/01/13

Frank has sunk Peter Russo and set the Vice President up for another run at governor of Pennsylvania…making a power-play for himself.  Peter finds he’s hit rock bottom and seeks a way to atone.  Claire spends time with Adam but must make a decision about Frank.  When Peter finally surfaces, Frank decides the Peter problem must be settled.

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“Chapter 12”

1.12     Chapter 12 Release Date:  02/01/13

Peter Russo is dead (with Frank’s help), and Frank is pushing to be the President’s choice for Vice President.  Janine digs into Peter’s involvement with the closing of the shipyard and learns that Peter might have been manipulated…and put Janine on Frank Underwood’s case.  Gillian learns about Remy’s involvement with the Sudan shipment and questions their involvement in Claire’s organization.  Frank is sent to St. Louis to vets the President’s choice for Vice President and meets with Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney)…but who is testing whom?

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“Chapter 13”

1.13     Chapter 13 Release Date:  02/01/13

Frank must stop Tusk and teams with Remy to bring down Tusk’s nuclear interests.  Zoe and Janine are joined by Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus) in an attempt to link Underwood to Russo’s suicide and seek out Rachel Posner.  Claire finds herself embroiled in a potential court battle with Gillian and learns Gillian doesn’t intend to settle.  Frank’s plan has come to fruition…will it succeed?

Related Links:

House of Cards—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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