House of Cards, Season 4 (USA, 2016)

House-of-Cards-Season-4-PosterCreated by: Beau Willimon. In shows like this, like Breaking Bad, I feel like I’m just treading water writing reviews for each season. The show is great, I like watching it, what else is there to say? What keeps me coming back is the inscrutability of these two leads—what are they capable of? What is their end game? How do they actually feel about each other? Every time I think I know the answer, there’s some big event, or some small momentary exchange that makes me doubt. My hope is that this building slowly towards some grand finale, a huge showdown, possibly with violence, but probably something more cool and intellectual, where Claire unseats Frank, and Frank is his own downfall. After this season, I’m not so sure, but again, anything goes, and that’s the way I like it. In passing, I’d just point out some great acting again, from Paul Sparks (the handsome writer, still can’t believe it’s the same annoying guy from Boardwalk), and from homegrown talent Molly Parker and Neve Campbell (great to see Neve back in the game). Also, Ellen Burstyn kind of stole the season a bit with that Southern swagger she brought to the role, I could watch her all day. And boy was it satisfying to see Reg E. Cathy get in the last word as Freddy the BBQ guy (“Fuck you, Mister President!”). Another thing before I go, I’ve had some observations in the past about this “golden age of quality television” and how much of the blueprint of every modern show was laid out when I was a teenager with shows like Oz and especially The Sopranos. There’s this point where you know that every show  that wants to be taken seriously has to, at one point or another, have the protagonist see hallucinations/ghosts, or to have an outer-body dream experience of some kind. Tony Soprano spent more time looking at ghosts and hallucinating in dream visions than he did talking about gangster stuff, and I feel like that was a huge footprint on the medium. It came up in Rescue Me (which I didn’t keep following), and Mad Men I think, and Boardwalk, and maybe Breaking Bad too? And here it is here in this show too. And maybe that sounds like a criticism, but I’m actually quite fond of those moments—that whole period in this season is some of my favourite moments with Frank in the whole series. I didn’t really have anywhere to go with it, but it’s striking isn’t it? Maybe that can be fodder for some TV book club someone is having with their friends: What’s the deal with ghosts in TV?

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One response to “House of Cards, Season 4 (USA, 2016)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2016 | Offhand Reviews·

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