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 7 (Chapter 59)
A dirty-bomb scare and a military coup—excitement! Well, sort of. Episodes like this validate the common criticism that Cards should lean into its soapiness and inject more kinetic energy, rather than aim mainly for slick dread with occasional winks at the camera. The slow and stately paranoia of this hour did make thematic sense, though. First, the bunkered Underwoods were facing the prospect of horrifying, ironic comeuppance: the administration who cried wolf finally spotting a wolf capable of killing millions. Then they realized the situation was itself a cry-wolf conspiracy from military leaders trying to undermine the Underwoods.
That some generals would secretly support their commander-in-chief’s rival—not Conway but Brockhart—brings back into focus the season’s larger narrative, which has seemed obscured in the past few episodes. Frank and Clare are actively working to undermine the Constitution. Historically, around the world, militaries have often intervened in politics to check the rise of would-be dictators (and generated a few of their own in the process). As far as false-flag schemes go, this bloodless attempt to create an “October surprise” in January is actually a lot less insidious than what Frank and Claire pulled on election day.