Netflix’s House of Cards Chapter 14 TV Show Review. House of Cards: Season 2, Episode 1: Chapter 14 was the strongest second season first episode most-likely in television history. It was a trimmed down beast with zero fat or filler.
Unlikely Game of Thrones where major characters’ deaths are led up to and expected later in the season, there was no way to expect what happened in the third act of Chapter 14. The individual that died in the latter half of Chapter 14 had been a character that the viewer had followed since the outset of series. The viewer watched this character grow in stature and editorial reach, in relationships, and as they came to know themselves and their limitations.
On-screen, the decision to eliminate this person was made in a microsecond but there was a vast thought-process behind it. This person’s death eliminated: a living witness, a connection, evidence, and “the right” questions from being asked. It was a brilliant, cold-blooded, and calculated move that will have zero blow-back on the perpetrator: it was done that cleanly (think CIA and TNT‘s mini-series The Company). It was also completely shocking and out-of-left-field. The viewer may have a physical reaction to it (I did) and its bluntness. As soon as it began, it was over yet the reverberations from it did not stop for moments afterward. It was brutal and efficient story-telling.
House Deputy Whip Jacqueline Sharp (Molly Parker) was almost benign in her first scenes on House of Cards but Netflix would not have chosen Molly Parker to portray Sharp if her character would not eventually have meat on bone. The fact that she was willing to entertain employing under-the-table tactics, e.g. using Underwoods’s files, showed that she had the moral ambiguity that House Majority Whip Francis J. “Frank” Underwood (Kevin Spacey) suspected she possessed. What he can’t possibly know is if she possesses the will to employ it.
The adultery confrontation and medical insurance scenes at the non-profit in Chapter 14 were instances of how high the quality of the House of Cards had risen. More importantly, they were the ending of a lingering storyline that increasing had nothing to do with the central plot of the show. Through both scenes, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) showed that she could be as strategic in her actions as her husband.
The ‘F.U.’ cuff-links at the end of the episode and the monologue that proceeded their presentation were about the tone of the House of Cards and the audience’s reaction to the murder of a key character in the episode. In the past, House Majority Whip Underwood always found a way to justify his actions to the audience: sometimes as nature transpiring, or an unavoidable eventuality, or as a circumstance of his personality. This was no different except for the component of contempt that the last image of the episode held.
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