House of Cards Season 4 is simply spectacular


By James Meaney, Staff Writer

The mechanics and intelligence used when writing, producing and directing “House of Cards” Season 4 doesn’t vary a great deal from the amount of strategic planning and pedantic intelligence needed to actually run the country.

The fourth season was just released on Netflix on Friday and after a weekend of binge watching, I can say that neither my eyes nor my mind regrets the strenuous viewing. It pushed the boundary of how great a television season can be.

Season 4 is by far the most intellectual of all the seasons. The production of the show allows and, sometimes frustratingly, expects the viewers to figure it out for themselves. But when we dig a little deeper into why each character is saying or acting a certain way and we do figure it out, the show becomes multi-dimensional. It is a truly phenomenal chapter of television.

The early episodes of Season 4 dig up unturned stones that we forgot about toward the end of Season 3. We forgot almost everything when the first lady, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), told the blue-collar president, Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), that she was leaving him. Everything from “mentally impaired” journalists, power hungry presidential candidates, and home-wrecking affairs are quickly forgotten. Season 4 quickly snaps us back into reality, a reality that holds grave consequences, and reactions to said consequences.

Season 4 also, of course, offers multiple plot twists capable of convincing us that Donald J. Trump himself might actually be better suited for the job than President Francis J. Underwood.

The Underwoods rule victorious throughout the season even when pitted against each other at the beginning of the season following the aftermath of Claire separating from Frank. The writers make it so difficult to hate the two “bad guys.” They characters fight, scrap and stab at each other through every episode. It’s sometimes difficult to decide on whom to hate most. That is, of course, once we realize that Claire is as coldhearted as her husband.

Frustration boils as a chess game unravels throughout the season, strategically and anxiously played as Claire and Frank ploy against each other for political gain. It isn’t until an almost campaign ending twist, and a new liver, (and that’s all I’ll say) that Claire and Frank put their differences aside in order to begin their (world) domination.

Anxiety builds as the season progresses, with former journalists we thought had been officially scared off resurfacing, scrounging to bring their corrupt president to justice. Affairs spiral out of control and then back under control again. Everything about the season perfectly ties together, unlaces and then ties together again multiple times throughout episodes.

The show’s ability to continue background plots with subtle, quick hints is also an amazing attribute. The viewers are prepared for the brewing storm around the corner. We know of the ruckus, and when it hits, it will hit hard. I find myself thinking about how a certain character will deal with a certain situation before the character even finds out about it (no spoilers), but I’m amazed to find the writers of the show time and again outsmart me and find a loophole to squirm and squeeze through. But I guess that’s what politics is.

The jaw dropping need for me to continue watching is a testament to the writing and the production of the show. The tenacious research and believability of the fictional presidential race seems more organized than many of campaigns of the real life candidates today.

There have been comparisons to villainous lead characters in other shows, but President Francis Underwood is by far the most vindictive, destructive and addictive character I have ever had the pleasure of watching. And Claire’s uprising and more dominate role in the series correlates perfectly with the actress’ more frequent and important appearances.

Ever since Season 1, “House of Cards” has showed us the dark side of politics: the corruption, the scandal, the damaging journalists, and the self-disruptive congressmen. The first 3 seasons, although showcasing the amazing Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright (Jenny from “Forrest Gump”) was for the most part about the steel stomach it takes to get the top. But the new season has turned the show into much more than that, Season 4 provided a cryptic message that strength comes from within, within marriage, within the white house, within turmoil, within power, within war.

Claire and Frank Underwood nest right in under the skin and could manipulate even the real world America into voting for them. And after binge watching Season 4, and knowing how toxic they are, they’d still have my vote; after all, the Underwood’s are what the people want to become.