House of Cards, season 4 (Netflix, 2016).
Score: On a plateau.
***SPOILERS FOR SEASONS 1 TO 4***
Claire is decided to leave Frank if he stays unwilling to acknowledge a career of her own, but she won’t go public because the momentum he can give her is too succulent to leave to waste. Thus, the first chapers explore what it would be like if the Underwoods were pitted against one another. But that gets boring fast so something must happen to change the direction of the plot. This is where Lucas Goodwin gets in. He gets out of jail for helping the FBI and enjoys some sort of surveillanced freedom. He uses that to try to shoot Frank dead and kill Meechum in the process, because what kind of bodyguard would Meechum be if he didn’t stop a bullet for the President? If they wanted to have Frank shot, Meechum had to go. And thus when Frank finally recovers things get back to normal.
I’m getting a bit tired that this show has to use up full-season arcs to undo what the previous season cliffhanger did. Season 2′s cliffhanger was Rachel attacking Doug and leaving him for dead. All of Doug’s Season 3 arc was devoted to nursing him back to health and putting him back in service of the Underwoods, though he barely does anything this season. The same thing happened with the Claire-wants-a-divorce cliffhanger: they spent half the season undoing all of it (and it required almost killing Frank) until they’re both back at square one: sacking and pillaging back to back. I still don’t get what function Thomas Yates serves as a character, but it looks like after roaming Season 3 like a ghost he’s now Claire’s lover.
This is conflicting for me, because in the one hand it fulfills one of my fetishes: it’s realistic. Like people don’t serve narrative purposes in real life, but things just happen in a more or less sequential order. In the other hand, I’m watching fiction. I want ellipsis, I want what I’m watching to have a beginning, a crux and an ending, and at this pace the ending is far beyond the point I get bored of this. There’s still exciting backstabbing and political shenanigans, but it’s more of the same now. It’s on a plateau of exciting stuff and if it stays up there indefinitely it’s going to stop being interesting.
One thing I liked a lot was Hammerschmidt’s arc. Something has to come back and bite the Underwoods in the butt, and it might as well be Hammerschmidt. Something very positive about this season was that there were a lot of throwbacks to previous arcs. Whether this was the intention all along or just the writers being clever, I don’t care, it was an effective strategy.
This story needs closure now. I know it’s hard to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs, but as good as something is, it needs to end sometime.