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2 Jun 2017

Chapter 53

When a butterfly flaps its wings in Gaffney, it sets off a tornado in 1600, Pennsylvania Avenue. 
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House of Cards Season 5 Premiere - The Homecoming Of Terror
 [Mild spoilers ahead. Also written under the assumption that you have watched the preceding seasons because, of course, you aren't going to start at S05E01, are you?]


It’s always been interesting to watch Francis Underwood, right from his Whip days, doing seemingly impulsive things, only to find out later that he planned for every last consequence of his actions, with meticulously evil attention to detail. 

The first few minutes of Chapter 51 remind me of a typical session in our very own Parliament - one person screaming for attention, another screaming for order, yet others screaming because they disagree with everything without really listening (because they can and will). Here, the original screamer succeeds in bullying everyone into getting what he wants. As always. 

Welcome back, Francis Underwood. 

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Also, there are parallels being drawn between the current state of the US and the show. It might be true as far as the portrayal of individual incidents, but, to me, Drumpf is a baboon that said global warming is a Chinese conspiracy, Frank Underwood is a ruthless, borderline psychopath (?) who wants to grab and hold on to power. Underwood knows how to work the system and work it well and Drumpf will not know good policy if it dances naked in front of him. 

But none of this matters, because I’m Indian and I have problems like paying off EMIs and getting back home before the Bangalore traffic goes bonkers to worry about, before getting to world leaders who push other world leaders to get to the front of the group.

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I digress. 

More interestingly, Frank’s soulmate, friend, and front-runner for VP, Claire Underwood, seems to be going places. The cracks that started to appear late third season seem to have been sealed, well, at least for now.  

One of my favorite aspects of the show, as a whole, has got to be how Frank breaks the Fourth Wall; he seems like he's giving us the goods but he's only much rubbing our faces in the supreme confidence in his own abilities and pride in having pulled it (shenanigan of the moment) off. 

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But surprise, surprise, this episode starts with Claire doing some Wall breaking herself. While this might simply be an effort to change things up a bit (in a show that has two exemplary seasons and two tiresome ones), it might also be a giant easter egg that alludes to the subtle shift in power that happened last season – I wouldn’t be surprised if Claire pulled the rug right out from under her Francis. She has always seemed to be far too talented, far too strong, and far too conniving herself, to simply be happy playing an ornamental sidekick. 

I’m all but salivating for this to happen - wouldn’t it just be an absolute peach of a twist. 

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[Side note: I accidentally read one spoiler pertaining and I AM DEATHING]

While Will Conway is relegated to the wings (Hannah Conway is still super hot; I may have a major crush on her), this episode sets the scene for another season of Frank and Claire running roughshod over everyone’s lives and emotions; they seem to know what strings to pull when and just how much. You also have got to appreciate the acting chops required to pull such manipulative genius off. 

Hammerschmidt, Catherine Durant (and all the other characters we love and hate and everything in between) do make an appearance, while Yates... lurks (for lack of a better word). Several promising upsets seem to be brewing, much to my delight. Scenes such as the one where Frank puts the public in the crosshairs (literally) and the one with him at the gates being the compassionate POTUS are so meta and so typical of the show; the showrunners still manage to blow my mind at least once per episode. 

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As a kinda, sorta die-hard fan of the show, my first question after the first episode ended: I understand Doug Stamper’s loyalty, he has been Underwoods’ man Friday.  But why are the other people in the White House quiet about the POTUS and FLOTUS running amok with utter disregard for statesmanship? A POTUS is subject to a very high level of scrutiny, so, it is disconcerting to see the First People (?) pull off appalling stunts without drawing attention (especially when they have been openly accused of corruption, arm twisting, and power mongering). 

For example: Why was the agent who was in the room quiet when Underwood ordered the execution of an American scapegoat on American soil? The soldiers who had been ordered to capture Masterson knew that they didn’t find him, so why did they go along with the story that he was supposedly KIA? Hello, bro, would you like to report an act of treason? No? Really? Not even a little one?

No, he's not in the show but I thought you might like some eye candy.
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Overall, a slow but strong start, but the happenings have got this aura of being the beginning of the end, a setting of stage for the grand finale, so to speak. But I’m hoping it might be at least a couple of seasons before the House of Cards is ready to be retired.

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P.S: Frank Underwood is coming to India with the television premiere of House Of Cards Season 5 on Saturday, 3rd June, 5 PM onwards, only on Zee Café (https://www.facebook.com/ZeeCafe). #HOConZCafe

 Thank you, Indiblogger, for this opportunity!