House of Cards Season 4, Episode 5: The Live-Binge Review

Chaos ensues, and Raymond Trump—er, Tusk—reappears to cut a terrific deal with China.


As in previous years, I’m binge-reviewing the latest season of Netflix’s House of Cards, the TV show that helped popularize the idea of “binge watching” when it premiered in 2013. Don’t read farther than you’ve watched.

Episode 5 (Chapter 44)

Oh good, dream sequences. Frank’s visions of someone I believe is his great-great-great grandfather Augustus, a Confederate soldier killed in battle, suggests that the secrets and sins in his past are catching up to him. But mostly they helped break up an hour of what felt like a condensed version of all the previous House of Cards mid-season slog episodes. Raymond Tusk and Remy Danton, China and Russia, Kim Dickens and Tom Hammerschmidt, that crooked-nosed FBI agent and the tragic tale of Donald Blythe’s wife: all back to weave a web for the viewer’s mild amusement and confusion, evoking the chaos that surely would ensue following a president’s incapacitation.

The driving storyline continues to revolve around Claire’s scheming and manipulation, for as yet unclear ends. Seeing her upset the poor/evil Stamper makes me like her less, but you have to give her credit for the way she’s able to nail the appearance of being a grieving wife on national TV then turn around and tell Remy Danton to not waste condolences in private. Truly a consummate politician, she is. When Stamper murders someone for their liver (does Seth have Type-O blood?) and allows the president to wake up, perhaps Frank will realize that she’s proven her worthiness for the Oval Office. Or perhaps she’ll have taken his spot there already.

But also important is the ongoing interest in Lucas’s investigation into the Underwoods. For not the first time on this show, a character (in this case, Hammerschmidt) wrote off some theories about Frank’s criminality … and then, haunted by some lingering curiosity, returned to his notes, portentously. If Dunbar’s campaign ends up going down thanks to her unwanted meeting with Lucas, you can bet that she’s going to start taking a hard look at some of the writings that Claire has savvily labeled the rantings of a troubled young man.

The real question, as a viewer, is who or what to root for in this scrum. A bailout of Russia backed by big business, the IMF, China, and the U.S.? I’d call it preposterous, but maybe this is the kind of terrific deal that Trump wants to start cutting as POTUS. Underwood’s survival? Sure, pray for him for entertainment’s sake, though we all know he has to fall permanently, eventually. As far as I can tell, the only actual good guys in this show, the only ones who give viewers the warm fuzzies, are Jackie Sharp and Remy Danton, furtively holding hands as they get in an elevator. So it’s scary that their relationship has been turned into a liability by Claire’s blackmail, amid so much Francophone promise.

Read the review of the next episode.