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Getting behind in my reading.... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Getting behind in my reading....

Which is what a sudden Netflix dump of a series of episodes will do to you.

I'm midway through 5/13 of House of Cards series 2. If anything, it's more cynical, and murderous, and convoluted than series 1. According to at least one reviewer, this is entirely on purpose:

By extension, the show’s vision of Washington also expresses an implicit contempt for the American public. We are the ones, after all, who tolerate and thus perpetuate the real-life theatre of venality and aggression from which “House of Cards” derives its plausibility. In the run-up to Season 2, the show's popularity among actual D.C. pols has generated light amusement—as if this fact gives some clue to how they’d prefer to behave. The House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy joked, referring to the show: “If I could just kill one member of Congress, my job would be a whole lot easier.” In December, President Obama said, of Frank, “Man, this guy’s getting a lot of stuff done.” Spacey’s Frank Underwood is not the politician we would want, but, in this cynical moment, the thinking goes, he might be the one whom we deserve.

The show’s creators certainly think so—or at least they enjoy pretending that they do. In Season 2, they have managed to mine still another, deeper level of contempt—an eager disdain for the audience itself. Near the end of the first hour, [spoiler!].  Underwood himself, who, thanks to his dealings in the first season, is about to become the Vice-President of the United States. This is, of course, a significant (if absurd) twist. [Spoiler woiler!] seemed likely to stick around for the duration—though fans of the original British version of the series may have seen [spoiler!]. When the show unceremoniously lowered the blade on Peter Russo, played by a mesmerizing Corey Stoll, it demonstrated a sense of its own bravado, proving that it could be as ruthless and unsentimental as its main character. But the decision was also unpopular: Peter was the show’s most nuanced character, and he is missed. [Wibbly wobbly spoily woily!].

As if anticipating this, Frank speaks directly to the audience in the episode’s final scene, breaking the fourth wall [non-spoiler- for the first time the whole episode] as he had throughout the previous season. He stands before a mirror, his face reflected back at us:

   Did you think I’d forgotten you? Perhaps you hoped I had. [One last spoiler!] Every kitten grows up to be a cat. They seem so harmless at first—small, quiet, lapping up their saucer of milk. But once their claws get long enough, they draw blood. Sometimes from the hand that feeds them. For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted. Welcome back.

The speech is a heavy-handed moment of small-screen auteurism. This is the showrunner Beau Willimon speaking, as much as it is Frank. He is addressing viewers, as well as critics and comments sections. The speech celebrates the very event-ness of the second season (“Welcome back”) and, knowingly, anticipates the chatter about the show’s first big dramatic twist. It is a take-it-or-leave-it moment, a power trip in which the show and its main character assume parallel roles as bullies. Mourning is for the weak. Frank is certain that he can charm us; Willimon is sure that we’ll keep watching.

And I will. Because I've got so much invested into these characters (and Davies/Dobbs's BBC predecessors of them) that I'll pretty much tolerate anything Frank does short of going full-on- Teabagger on me.

The next four episodes that I've seen/almost finished drop almost as many spoiler-bombs on us, as Lucas, Claire, and even Francis himself find themselves subjected to surprising revelations that change the course of this mighty series.  It's amazing that I'm close to the halfway point after only four nights of watching, but good writing, and even better acting, will do that.

Meanwhile, I have three books in various stages of almost-finished; one on my tablet, which I read in the half hour it seems to take before the gym wi-fi finally permits Netflixing; one library tome, which I renewed through next Tuesday and is a bit of a cross between Joss and Garrison Keillor; and one non-fiction memoir about Masterpiece and Mystery!, which I still need to share some stories about here.

Until then, I'd suggest keeping away from my thoughts. Because, as you know (and as Frank has yet to say this series), I couldn't possibly comment.

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