Holy Underwood, Batman!!!
Netflix has something special in the political drama House of Cards, and the premiere of their 5th season proved to be no different.
WARNING: Spoilers from Season 5, Episode 1 (Chapter 53) below
First Lady Claire is sending a message out to the American people, two weeks prior to the election, in that we all have a common enemy to fight, regardless our political differences.
President Underwood attends a joint session of Congress as they’re trying to investigate the president’s alleged corruption as determined by legendary journalist Tom Hammerschmidt’s article at The Washington Herald. The POTUS speaks through House Democratic Leader Rep. Bob Birch and requests a few minutes on the floor.
As expected, Underwood squashes any idea that he wants the investigations and committees to continue their drivel and constant pursuit on trivial matters that have nothing to do with national security.
The POTUS makes a declaration of war against ICO, the Islamic Caliphate Organization, in which one of its followers beheaded an American military hero on camera for everyone to see. He wants to stop at nothing until Joshua Masterson, Jim Miller’s killer, is found and brought to justice.
This tactic used by Underwood is looked at two-fold: in his own corner, his urge for Congress to vote on such a request is all they’ll talk about until the election; as for his opponent, Governor Will Conway, he will do everything in his power to keep such a request from a vote.
President Underwood attends the funeral of the fallen soldier who was beheaded. In attending, the daughter
Claire meets with Hammerschmidt on Charlie Rose’s program to discuss the article that he’s written, and how the Underwood administration continues to fight in the shadows without facing him and his allegations head-on. This all comes without an official statement from the White House.
In the midst of the chaos, Conway finds his wife, Hannah, defending the mother of the domestic terrorist Masterson via social media. She faces a huge backlash from Will and urges her to be very selective in how they approach this story.
Claire speaks with Masterson’s mother and wants to know one question and one question only: did his mother know what was happening inside her own home, especially before Joshua made his way to Pakistan to allegedly coordinate and work with members of ICO? Claire urges Ms. Masterson to reach out to Joshua through the media and asks him to turn himself over to the authorities.
Claire makes her way to a convenience store, whose owner is foreign-born, outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, and which exploded for some weird reason. Claire seems to the think it’s retaliatory from the manhunt for Masterson. While making a speech declaring that they need to find Masterson as well as the home network for ICO, a protester yells out an insult to Claire and throws blue paint on her.
Doug Stamper – the White House Chief of Staff – finds out from Birch that the President has stepped in it because the House investigative committee is going to use the declaration of war against the POTUS in order to investigate the corruption charges. Needless to say, the administration was not prepared for this.
The best part of the episode was when Assistant Director of Counterterrorism, Nathan Green, was talking with the Underwood and Stamper in a secluded room. We find out that while the authorities were on the hunt in order to capture Masteron, he’s been held in a maximum-security holding cell inside Washington the entire time. Underwood then looked at the camera and said, “get rid of the asset.”
ANALYSIS & OBSERVATIONS
The Underwood administration is firing on all cylinders in trying to cover-up certain aspects of all that is happening, while also trying to take charge to avoid Conway’s attempts to counter.
It was gut-wrenching to see Miller’s daughter blatantly say, both at the funeral on the dais that President Underwood had her father killed, and when she was being held by the POTUS, and she whispers in his ear that she wished for his death and Claire to be his successor.
The fact that Remy Danton and Jackie Sharp are looking to come out of the woodwork and attack President Underwood with an investigation following his declaration can be seen as a “kill or be killed” mentality, in the political sphere.
Will Tom’s article fall on deaf ears in the end, or will Congress stop at nothing, at the recommendation of their constituents, to investigate the President and hope for information they’re perhaps not ready to comprehend?
This was the wildest premiere to a season of House of Cards since season 2 when Zoe was shoved to her death on the train tracks via then-Representative Underwood. Season 5 is proving to pull out all the stops and pull no punches in a way that could very well define the series as a whole.
One final note, because I’m sort of a move geek: I loved seeing executive producer David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en, Gone Girl, The Social Network, etc.) in the opening credits, and knew that he’d have a hand in showing off the great ruse in the season 5 premiere. He surely didn’t disappoint and I hope he has a bigger hand in this season altogether.