Sunday, February 23, 2014

House of Cards, season 2, ep. 3

The stories seem to be hitting its stride a bit. There's a neat scene here where Frank needs to get a certain bill through the Senate, and the GOPpers are absent so as to throw off quorum. It's about social security age and entitlement reform, and the Republican Party is of differing minds not he degree to which to cooperate. (The WaPo write-up indicates a lot of people online see one of the dissenting delayers is a Ted Cruz pastiche.

Things this episode got right:
Star Wars Phantom Menace famously flubbed the idea of building suspense in something as wonkish as parliamentary procedure. Simpsons really nailed them on this in Cosmic Wars: A Gathering Shadow. This HoC episode did a neat job of making "how do we break this gridlock" interesting without being too much of a departure from reality. There may have been some "I'm not sure it'd work just like that", but that's okay. That's different from "Shenanigans!!" Five years ago we might have said nothing like rounding up the absent senators under threat of arrest could happen, but with some state legislative factions getting cutesy over the past couple of years this seems much less far-fetched.

Very well done --- this episode managed to contain both tea party legislators AND someone (the resurfaced Rachel, re-re-re-stashed and threatened ex-hooker that knows too much about the late PA rep's fall off the wagon) being invited to a local Christian group and deciding to go there in search of a little solace when beaten down and confused.  Amazingly, both are presented not with the usual Hollywood straw man ridicule but actually in a relatively straightforward way. Kudos for that.

The guy applying to be the Underwoods' new press officer also got a great intro, in terms of saying actual astute press officer things. Hope they keep with that.

The male RIP-Zoe-ex-bf journo editor gumshoeing about seems a bit meh. It's good in that it's suspenseful  and you really don't know who's behind the "deep web" info he's getting with tantalizing promise of records on Frank... But I came out of it a bit when he gets a burner ipad (helluva expensive way to connect with someone), complete with a magazine cutout note with the completely unnecessary instruction to turn it on (what else did you think he might do with it, lacking that helpful instruction?) They also seem to be doing the "I asked you if you're an undercover cop so you have to tell me by law" thing, which is of course fertilizer.

The Frank vs. Major Dad Warren Buffet thing is played much better this time. That ol' buddy warns the prez against Frank shitting the bed, and then Frank (for the...6th time in a dozen episodes?) gets the bill he wants through a step, to which Major Dad sez "I said all along you had this on lockdown"... Frank nicely calls BS. For maybe the first time I'm genuinely interested now to see how that dynamic rolls.

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