17. House of Cards: “Only Us. Small. Solitary. Striving.” #CaPC25

17. House of Cards: “Only Us. Small. Solitary. Striving.” #CaPC25 December 31, 2013

All this week, the writers of Christ and Pop Culture unveil their 25 most loved things of 2013. 

Previous #18: Jason Isbell – Southeastern

#17: House of Cards (Netflix)

Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, is a Democratic Congressman out for revenge after he is passed over as Secretary of State. This original web drama series produced by and available exclusively on Netflix, is set in Washington D.C.’s political scene, as Frank maneuvers and manipulates people and events to satiate his desire for prestige.  The series highlights D.C.’s distinct regional emphasis on reputation and influence and shows how those specific forms of power are as intoxicating and sexy a seduction as any other. Throughout the series, Frank Underwood is both cunning and calculating as he engages and navigates that world in pursuit of a powerful position.

Underwood’s partnership with his wife, Claire (played by Robin Wright), seems to work more like a corporation than a marriage, but their shared value for prominence is what binds them. It’s not the typical romance, but it does have its charm. They constantly watch one another’s back, and often save one another from downright humiliation and failure.

In exchange for sexual favors, Frank catapults up-start reporter Zoe Barnes’ career by giving her insider information.  Their relationship is awkward and forced, and portrays not only the desperation a lowly reporter has to make it big, but the role media plays in politics and how it directly influences the public’s perception of ideas, events and people.

House of Cards is summed up in one scene from the last episode.  Frank enters a church sanctuary in which he betrays a tiny sliver of guilt over Peter’s murder, but in the end, he mocks God instead.  He falls to his knees before the altar and says, “There is no solace above or below. Only us. Small. Solitary. Striving. Battling one another.”  He folds his hands in prayer and states, “I pray to myself. For myself.”  Then he pulls himself up to his feet and turns away from the altar striding to the back of the sanctuary to the candles lit for the dead.  He lights a candle for Peter.  Then he bends down and blows all the candles out.  As the smoke rises, he walks out.

Frank pronounces himself as his own god.  He no longer has any respect or compassion for the good of humanity, but forges ahead to crush anyone that dare get in his way.  As most arrogant individuals that fall into that deadly sin of pride, Frank is blinded to the truth, and even small oversights will catch up with him in the end.  As Frank Underwood builds an intricate, delicate house of cards, it’s made apparent that character matters.  There are always those, like Zoe Barnes, who make it their job to search for the truth, who above anything else want to expose the hypocrites and liars, and yes, break a front page story while they’re at it.

Suggested Reading:
House of Cards: The King is Dead

Next #16: Kentucky Route Zero (PC/MAC)

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