House of Cards is not a TV show. It’s a deeply emotional and personal annual event during which I don’t engage myself in any other relevant activities. So in three sittings, I completed these 13 episodes (thanks to work, or I would have completed it in one go) and this is what I think:
Lighting: I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again, one of the most striking things about House of Cards is classily ambient light in which the whole series is shot. All the indoor shots are shot in sombre, modest and mellow light that it has a mystifying feel. Hands down, the best lighting arrangement I’ve seen in a TV show.
Dialogues: Sentence formation is the greatest of all arts known to mankind. I get high on perfect sentences. HoC S4 delivers knockout punches in every episode. I am itching to share a few, but last year, I was admonished for spoiling it for a few friends. But like Frank Underwood, I don’t give a damn. So, here it is, in a scene, Claire’s mother says to Frank Underwood, ‘Not even being president could give you any class’. I have never seen a more savage insult in my life. And that, coming from a mother-in-law, is possibly must be the lowest point of Frank Underwood’s life. This was just one such instance. For dialogue-addicts, this season is cloud no 9.
Boldness: House of Cards is the poster boy of boldness on TV. Some scenes are so bold that it takes a heart to digest them. Using sex and violence to get classified as bold is one thing, but sending a terrifying shock down your spine without any bloodshed or show of skin is an art HoC has mastered over the last four years and it takes it to the next level in this season. A scene in which, he speaks to (read threatens) the Secretary of State, Cathy, is so brilliant and so bold that you wouldn’t want anyone like Frank Underwood within a hundred miles of your house. And then there are many such.
But, the last one minute where Frank Underwood, looks at the camera and utters two sentences, the very last two sentences that will make you shudder. I am yet to recover from that jolt.
Imagination: There are a few scenes where Frank Underwood is hallucinating. The kind of imagination that has gone into writing these scenes, I wonder what these writers are on, for, pardon by naivety, I cannot fathom how their brains work. These David Lynch-esque sequences that will blow your mind... God, what I wouldn’t do, to be in the writers room while they conceived those scenes.
Acting: The acting, without exception, was top notch. I am not qualified to enunciate on the greatness of Kevin Spacey’s acting as Frank Underwood. The others: Robin Wright was strong gritty and evil as usual. It was enchanting to see the human side of Michael Kelley for a bit, but I think the new entrant, Jeol Kinnaman, the Swedish actor is the find of the season. And his wife is coma-induing-pulchritudinous-British-bombshell ;-)
Now all this, is great. But every show, has a moment. A moment where your jaws drop, your eyes are wide open and your heart pumps blood twice as fast. You won’t know what hit you. You feel your nerves pulsate and there’s a rush of blood in your head and the vessels throb so hard that you feel you’ll explode. You’re immersed in the sheer brilliance of the creator. That moment where use of civil language is so undermining of the brilliance, yes, that moment, comes at the end of episode 6. The final scene. I’ve seen it over twenty times and I am sure I will, many times over again, because, that’s what you do when you encounter brilliance, you surrender.
- Deepak Karamungikar