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 10 (Chapter 49)
“I don’t use national-security matters for political purposes,” Frank says to the press scrum, and viewers are supposed to snort. He has of course used national-security matters for political purposes time and again, and is now doing it more drastically than ever by modulating his decision-making on ICO and wiretapping the American public in pursuit of votes. House of Cards is in large part about how for the Underwoods and for many of their peers, there is nothing that can’t be brought into the political arena. Perhaps that’s because nothing really exists outside of the political arena anyways. Even death.
Claire resists her mother’s request for assisted suicide, at first. But then Elizabeth argues that her death will help Claire politically. On one level: Wow, that’s messed up. On another, it’s a touching indication of Elizabeth wanting to reconcile and help her daughter after so many decades of clashing with her. On another, it’s a demonstration of Claire’s moral lineage—no wonder she is the way she is. And on yet another, it’s simply a statement of the obvious. Elizabeth dying was going to matter to the election regardless of whether she and Claire acknowledged that fact. The issue was simply how much of an effect it would have, which in turn was an issue of timing. Elizabeth certainly would have applauded as Claire (with Tom’s help) then fabricated an entire deathbed conversation for a national audience the next day.