Monday, February 17, 2014

House of Cards, Season II: A Review - All about Claire

Seasons Two of House of Cards was released on the 14th of February.

If you're not finding some time to watch, you are missing out. But, word of warning, if you find yourself watching the first episode, you will be hooked.

I have an unforgiving schedule, but I found time to watch it: start to finish. I was compelled to. This is the sort of season one needs to plan for and make time for.

Yes, it is that good!

At the end of the first episode of Season Two, Frank turns his gaze on us, the viewers, reminding us that he's not forgotten about our all-watching eye. Coldly and sentiment-free, he says (Hint: the quote will contain a spoiler alert.):

"Did you think that I'd forgotten you? Perhaps you hoped I had. Don't waste a breath mourning Miss Barnes, 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!"

And one is compelled to obey and jump on the subsequent episode.

After completing the second season, it becomes clearer that Frank cannot be Frank without Claire. Claire, in all of her Lady Macbeth-like froideur, is the reason why Frank seems to always be two steps ahead of everyone. Devoid of sentimentality, and fully subservient to pragmatism and calculation, the really scary force in this narrative is not Frank. He's very much puppeteered by Claire. Claire's emotion-free delivery, her utter detachment from her former lover, Adam, whom she doesn't think twice to throw under the bus when it comes to protecting her own path, her disgust of conventional human attachment make her a dangerous force to be reckoned with. Impeccably dressed, well-spoken, and free of aesthetic blemish, she is unapproachable and rightly so. 

When Frank says about Claire: "I love that woman. I lover her more than sharks love blood," one should understand one thing about Claire. That she is substantive. That she dictates Frank's own path. She can match whatever he brings to the table and she even surpasses his ruthlessness.

Whatever Frank has to say, Claire can say it better.  While standing on some killer Louboutins and rocking impeccable Burberry. She's not just a privileged Texas-born girl who's moneyed and a product of a privileged background. Claire is flawlessly educated, aesthetically superior, calculatingly fit, held in high regard, and admired. First and foremost, she is feared. Frank fears her. This is why he concedes to her as easily as he does. After all, Frank knows his limits. And he knows that someone else, besides him, knows his limits. And this is why he is smart. This is why he works. He succeeds, fundamentally, because of this. He is skilled at surviving. because of Claire.

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