House of Cards: Chapters 18 & 19 – Highlights and Commentary

***Mild Spoilers ahead***

The 5th and 6th episodes of House of Cards in Season Two, entitled Chapters 18 & 19, began with Erotic Asphyxiation, then journeyed via a startling jump cut to a place called Spotsylvania, Pennsylvania for a reenactment of the Civil War’s Overland Campaign. While not quite true time travel, we did learn that an Underwood, previously unknown, did die in that fierce battle. Frank Underwood was surprisingly moved by this news.

But as you might expect, he was able to shoe horn this into a secret meeting right on that very same killing ground. Read on.

Xander Feng

thXander Feng

Frank, Raymond Tusk, and the Chinese business tycoon, Xander Feng, went round and round about a number of items. Starting with a bridge from Port Jefferson, New York to Milford, Connecticut, then Tusk’s venture with Feng for a rare earth element called samarium, and then on to funds that went from the pockets of Feng and his associates straight to the Republican Party coffers with Dan Lanigan, an associate of Tusk, with his Missouri casino, serving as the middle or bag man.

(l to r) - Secretary of State Catherine Durant, Raymond Tusk, and Frank Underwood

(l to r) – Secretary of State Catherine Durant, Raymond Tusk, and Frank Underwood

The Frank/Raymond dueling continues with poor Doug Stamper having to be in so many different places. He’s handling the Lucas Goodwin situation,

Lucas and Gavin

Lucas and Gavin

which resulted in Lucas accepting a jail term after Big Nose, who we now know is a FBI agent named Nathan Green, threatened Gavin Orsay to keep his mind on business, as well as Janine Skorsky, now teaching in Ithaca, New York.

Doug is also keeping tabs on Rachel Posner who tells Doug, If there’s one thing I know, it’s when a man wants me. There seems to be a lot more than just watching over Posner going on within Doug. But he manages to keep his distance, this time. From there Doug flies to Kansas City to sniff around Lanigan’s casino, and he manages to bed a barmaid in order to learn about that Chinese money being funneled through Lanigan’s casino. This barmaid hits the nail on the head when she tells Doug that he really didn’t have fun as his mind was on someone else. How very astute.

Doug then flies to Beijing, China to ‘sit’ on Feng until he has the confirmation about the money and Feng lets him in on what he really wants.

It’s not so much that these two episodes are not exciting, but they do seem to be more about moving and positioning also known as plotting and planning rather than about action (aside from Doug). Poor Doug is so tired he can’t even make use of the playmates, arranged by Feng for him. Chapter 19 closed with a power blackout with Vice President

Frank at Camden Yards in Baltimore. He's about to say, "Go Orioles!"

Frank at Camden Yards in Baltimore. He’s about to say, “Go Orioles!”

Frank Underwood on the pitcher’s mound in Baltimore’s Camden Yards, preparing to the throw out a first pitch at an Orioles game. If we are being honest, I don’t think Frank was going to reach home plate with his pitch, so that blackout (courtesy of Tusk) was actually a blessing for Frank.

It is my view that these two chapters, while fine, and on a plane with the first four chapters, were just slightly weaker. I for one would not have shown Spacey throwing a ball. He did not look well in doing so, however it was all a set up so Tusk could toss a small power outage at the country to show Frank that he was not be taken lightly.

I happen to like Tusk very much. And I don’t mean just the character. Gerald McRaney is superb in the role. I like him because he’s got guts as well as the money to wield considerable power. Maybe I should say that he’s willing to spend obscene amounts of dead presidents to get what he wants and achieve his goals – and not leave very much of a foot print as he does so.

Likewise, the fact that he is capable of throwing Frank Underwood for a loop, here and there, only adds to his standing.

I think that President Walker is a bit soft. Thereby making him a malleable tool in the hands of master manipulators like Underwood and Tusk, both of whom have excellent men working for them. Remy Danton, for Tusk, and Doug Stamper for Underwood. Tusk should have an advantage as he is a businessman first and a friend of the administration second.

He is far better able to work unnoticed than Frank, who as the country’s Vice President, not only has a boss, but is likely to encounter a much greater degree of inspection. Underwood has a press retinue hovering around him at all times ()down the hall as it were, while he’s at work,  and I’m not talking about a Connor Ellis or a Seth Grayson. I mean real media people, correspondents, and newspaper columnists with not only a by-line, but also large followings.  These people are in the employ of the media, so Frank Underwood can only try to manipulate them, rather than control them. Tusk only has Remy, I mean at least , there may be more of a staff,  so I mean of those we can see and hear. Remy, as we have seen is no light weight either, some one who obviously cannot be taken lightly.

Clearly, the stakes will rise as the race for the seat at the President’s elbow will intensify.

These two competitors are going to make Watergate seem like child’s play. With the current array of media weapons at their disposal, I would expect many more laser-likes strikes that will come at a faster pace, as well as with the possibility of greater impacts. Now won’t that be fun?

Sorry for the overview, or highlights, or in truer terms, a rush job on these two chapters. I just can’t write at length about every chapter. Besides that Chapters 20-22 are so much better.  Stay with us.

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2 thoughts on “House of Cards: Chapters 18 & 19 – Highlights and Commentary

  1. All fall down.

    I finally returned to House of Cards this week after a two month hiatus watching True Detective and Orphan Black, both shows I admire. But, I was happy to see that in Episode 6 (Season 2), House of Cards has finally delivered some of what I’ve been craving since Frances Underwood killed that puppy during the premiere. A real opponent. And I don’t mean Raymond Tusk.

    From the outset, I expected the driver of this show would become less about Underwood’s dirty politics and more about the coverup of his habit of murdering people who get in his way. As in Nixon’s Watergate debacle, dirty politics goes down much easier than felony behavior by those in power. You may still be able to fool all of the people most of the time, but you can’t shield yourself forever from the press. Underwood may be great at outsmarting his political peers, but he is also stupid enough to believe he can get away with murder. Stupider still, to kill a political reporter. Politicians and reporters are relentless natural enemies.

    Orphan Black starts when a woman jumps into the path of a rushing subway train. House of Cards requires a push. I’m guessing that the murder of Zoe Barne’s will not withstand press scrutiny. The Underwoods are bloodthirsty and cunning. They excel at torturing our democratically elected congressional mice. But these felines are no match for the elephant size memory and power of a provoked press and their readers who stretch far beyond the Potomac.

    The moving finger writes and having writ, moves on. Slowly, but surely, the rampage of words will turn House of Cards into a story worth watching.

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