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. (The whole series will appear here.)
Episode 3 (Chapter 55)
Double Indemnity, a tale of romantic collusion and transportation-related murder, is obviously a fitting film for Claire and Frank to watch each election day. The ritual in the White House movie theater was a nice invention from the show’s writers: It gave us the rare chance to see the Underwoods fighting real nervousness, and it filled in a little more of their backstory with the mention of their first kiss. But the most telling moment was when Frank sternly corrected Claire for saying they were together no matter what. Losing the White House is simply not to be contemplated. Also implied: Their marriage would not survive a fall from power. It’s not built for that.
Something has felt a little strained about this season, especially in this episode. It might be the subtle stylistic and instinctual changes brought about by new showrunners. Time and again, the cuts between scenes felt clunkier, more jarring than what we’ve come to expect from this handsome show. More importantly, the plot is being built on the unstable foundation of unresolved questions. Why is Doug drinking again—is it just that he failed one mission, and that the Underwoods might fail too? What exactly does low turnout mean—why does it seem Frank and Claire believe they’ve lost when they were told that both their voters and Conway’s didn’t show up as expected? Are we supposed to guess that this is somehow tied to Conway’s shadowy deal with the search engine Pollyhop?