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.)
Season 5, Episode 8 (Chapter 60)
An episode ago I was calling for the show to lighten its tone a bit, and the sight of robed bazillionaire bros saluting a bird idol who speaks in a Mystery Science Theater-worthy voice of God would, by all rights, seem like a start down the road to fun. But this hour, split between Frank at the all-male “Elysian Fields” retreat and Claire dealing with a Russian/Chinese diplomatic crisis, was, on the level of execution, awful. The two main stories were intercut with the subtlety of someone flipping channels. Conflicts were resolved with even less explanation or logic than this show typically allows—which is saying something. Suspense levels were nil. And we had to hear the wooden Tom Yates say the L-word to Claire. A contender for the worst House of Cards episode yet.
The concept of a glamping trip where a handful of well-connected guys decide the fate of the world without actually being allowed to discuss business or politics is, well, goofy. But goofy can be good, and this wasn’t. After the opening ritual, all that we really saw of the goings-on were eggs being cooked by an oil baron and a very weak SXSW keynote about the Black Mirror “Be Right Back” app. Frank kept violating the no-shop-talk rule, fell on his face while trying to scheme with Doug over the phone, had an epiphany that indicated he was going to play by the camp’s rules and not talk about politics, and then ... gave a big speech about politics.