Sometimes smashing a sink faucet with a hammer is just smashing a sink faucet with a hammer. At other times, as in the finale of House Of Cards' first season, it means a whole lot more. Blunt force might silence a dripping faucet, but it doesn't stop the underlying problem. Frank is surely going to find this out.
For the first 10 episodes of House Of Cards, there has been a layer of secrecy and double-dealing over everything. With Peter's very public implosion, that layer has disintegrated, and the characters on the show have no choice but to reveal their truths. This is the moment before checkmate. It's make-or-break for Frank.
It was bound to happen before long: all of Frank's allies are turning into enemies. Even his beloved Claire, the woman who's stuck by him for decades, has had enough of his lies, his manipulation and his using. For her to break away signifies a major shift in House Of Cards -- could it be that Frank's carefully calculated empire is finally crumbling to dust?
All of our main characters are either rewarded for their bravery or punished for their cowardice in this episode, and we start to see the decline of many relationships we thought were stable, relatively speaking. Tenuous threads of trust are severed as personal interests take precedence over the greater good.
You know when a TV show tries to convey an issue via a metaphor, and sometimes it's subtle, but other times it has all the covertness of a heavy brick hurtling through the air? Well, in this episode, House of Cards uses a very literal representation of what it's trying to communicate. In this case, yes, it's a brick, and it's smashing through Frank's window.
This episode is all about big decisions; nearly every character is told to "think about it" at some point or another. The irony is, in making most of these choices, there is no "right" or "wrong" outcome -- and in some cases, like Peter's, there is no good option at all. I suppose this is representative of politics at large: for every bill passed, for every law enacted, there is a winning party and a losing party. No victory comes without its victim.
In all honesty, I was getting a bit worried for House Of Cards after I'd finished the first two episodes. Sure, the show was intelligent and witty, and the lead actors had their own special brand of charisma. I felt myself caring about (most of) the storylines. But it was missing something integral to any modern TV show (yes, even the weighty dramas have it too): humor. We finally got it in the third episode, in the form of a giant peach.
The premiere of Netflix's House Of Cards thrusts us directly into the cutthroat world of D.C. politics and we take the ride with Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey). In this world, word means nothing. You can trust no one. Through Underwood, we can see that it's literally one man against everyone else.
The fact that Canada has spent a decade creating nothing comparable to House of Cards, Game Change and many more political dramas is a shame, but hardly surprising. We're a plucky lot -- and certainly no slackers in the world of entertainment -- but this is one realm where we're hopelessly out-gunned. There's never been (and never will be) a compelling Canadian political drama for one simple reason: Canadian politics is not interesting. "Yes sir, we'll get right on that, sir" isn't the sort of dialogue from which compelling scripts are made.