Contains spoilers -- do not read unless you've seen House Of Cards Season 1, Episode 3
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. Not just the Kevin Spacey wry-comment-to-the-camera humor, but something more.
We get it in the form of a giant peach, affectionately known as "the Peachoid." Located in Gaffney, South Carolina, the Peachoid really exists, and it functions as the town's water tank. It is visible for several miles and it stands four stories tall. On House Of Cards, It turns out that when Frank was running for election in this particular South Carolinian district, he fought for the Peachoid to be built. Amazing how a gigantic piece of fruit could pose such a threat to a powerhouse like Frank -- and therein lies the genius of this story. It's ludicrous, it's ironic, but damn, it's also really funny to see Frank sizing up his bulbous opponent with a sneer.
Frank's in trouble with his home jurisdiction of Gaffney because a 16-year-old girl crashed her car while texting a joke about the Peachoid. The logic goes that since he fought so hard for the creation of the monstrosity, somehow he's responsible for the girl's death. I was born and raised in a city, so I'm not totally behind this train of thought, but several small-towners have told me that this is an exact response from a tight-knit community. Instead of the girl being responsible for her own death (texting), the powers-that-be are to blame for not considering how big a distraction the monument is. As sorta-backwards as that seems, Frank's in the hot seat, and local community administrator Orrin Chase has several axes to grind with Frank, so he's making the situation much worse than it is.
So poor Frank has to leave D.C. at the worst possible time, just as the education bill discussions are about to start, in order to put out the fire in Gaffney. Just as he does it in Washington, Frank steamrolls the town's politicians. And citizens. And pastor. Come to think of it, it must have been simple for Frank to fly down to South Carolina and take control -- this is small potatoes compared to The Big Game in D.C. Despite some roadblocks put down by Chase, Frank slowly but surely wins over the dead teen's parents, with the ultimate manipulation delivered via church sermon. In one of the best scenes of House Of Cards so far, Frank yells out "I hate God!" to several gasps, but somehow manages to not be chased with pitchforks and burned on the pyre. In fact, he comes off looking like a saint (even though nearly every word out of his mouth is a lie).
It's one thing to lie in the halls of Washington, but quite another in the hallowed wooden walls of a local church. To hear Frank so easily spew forth falsity, it's clear that any sort of internal moral compass has long disappeared. This may be, truly, the lowest low he's sunk to so far. In the end, he emerges victorious by completely screwing over Chase (on his property no less), solving that pesky education bill problem (over the phone, at times while napping on the speaker) and making sure the Peachoid isn't lit up at night (and creating a scholarship in the dead girl's name with the no-lights savings). A masterwork, really.
In other news, the Peter/Christina love saga continues, in this case with her wanting to take a (better) job in another office. After Peter dumps the rest of his cocaine in the sink, he blurts out that he doesn't want her to leave his office; he wants her to stay as his assistant. While it ends sorta happily here, you can just tell this is going to end badly overall. Rule #1: Don't shit where you eat. Sorry, dude, it's just fact.
Frank's better half, Claire, is relentlessly pursuing Gillian Cole, the leader of a grassroots organization called Charity Well, to join CWI as a full-time employee. Claire does everything short of having sex with Gillian to get her on board, including getting her access to her personal physician, bringing over food when she's sick and kissing her ass from here to Sunday. Gillian hesitates because Claire just fired most of her staff, but her passion for the cause and Claire's endless needling make her cave. Claire also mentions the name of that photographer we've been hearing so much about -- Adam Galloway -- and looks dreamily into the distance. A former lover? A current affair? I'm sure we'll find out soon.
And Zoe. Oh, Zoe. The journalism side to this show still continues to be the weakest part. The owner of the Washington Herald gives Zoe front-page placement with her latest story, and because of it, she's called onto numerous TV outlets for interviews, CNN among them. Can I just remind everyone that she was on a Metro beat a few days ago, and now suddenly she's being interviewed on CNN? Highly unlikely. Her editor-in-chief is not pleased with her lightning-fast rise to fame/TV performances, and he chastises her like a child.
Zoe texts with Frank about her ordeal, and he, of course, talks her off the ledge. But the twosome's texting is starting to take a sexual turn, and I was grossed out by it. Something tells me that they're just using each other, though. Neither of them seem like particularly sexual beings.
So ends the tale of Frank and the Giant Peach. May the real-life pilgrimages to the Peachoid begin.
Best Frank quote: "Please, distract me from giant peaches and dead teenagers."
As I mentioned in the comments of my last post, this is a really easy show to spoil for everyone. So please, if you do comment, try not to reveal any information from upcoming episodes. Thank you!
You can stream House Of Cards at any time on Netflix.