House of Cards season 5, episode 1 non spoiler review

Francis and Claire Underwood return to terrorise the USA as they set out on their quest to seek revenge from the people who betrayed Francis in his successful climb to supremacy.

Starting off from where the last episode of Season 4 ended, it opens up with Claire staring down the camera with her trademark icy glare, setting up her purported war on terror, while underlying their actual intention of declaring war on the USA itself.

The first episode of Season 5 builds a narrative that skews eerily close to modern politics, strengthening the tertiary connections between fictional and real-life presidents.

To rule with fear was Frank’s strategy for re-election as it was clearly unveiled in the Season 4 finale. The first episode of this season makes his intention clear with no qualms that he wants to start a war in order to scare his constituents into supporting him. 

Season five picks up a few days after last season’s final episode, which saw ICO, the terrorist group capture an American family named the Millers.

Though Frank and Claire manage to negotiate the release of mother Caroline and daughter Melissa, the father of the family, Jim is beheaded live on television.

Declaring an all-out war on ICO and promising to “make the terror” in its true sense, Frank and Claire conspires to use the attack to their advantage.

Trudging the thin line of surely not spoiling the key plot points for the fans, here is what is in store for the viewers in this Season as is clearly evident in the first episode.

So here is my non-spoiler review of the first episode:

Claire’s icy-glare is surely terrifying as the episode starts with her words,  “There’s a lot of noise out there, a noisy press that’s choosing to dwell on the past instead of what’s happening right now”. It is only when the camera zooms out and she asks whether she needs to do it again that it is revealed that she is actually filming an election address.

The scene moves to the Congress and the much awaited entry of Frank, uninvited and taking his firm stand while an opposition politician keeps screaming at the top of his lungs for a “debate on the miscreant [the president]” and his war on terror.

Frank’s soliloquies is evident as he says as incredulously as he could ever, “I am on my way to the funeral of an American patriot [Jim Miller]; a good man, a husband, a father, who was beheaded on American soil. And this chamber chooses to debate me.”

The political conspiracy is seen at its best when Claire enquires what Melissa told him in his ears while storming out of the funeral service of Jim interrupting the eulogy and Frank tells her that she said she hopes he dies, and that Claire becomes President. You can almost see the spark of an idea forming in her eyes.

Claire’s hunger for power is evidently displayed in the First Lady’s appearance on television to debate about her husband’s declaration of war  with the pesky journalist Tom Hammerschmidt who is still investigating Frank’s catalogue of misdoings, now with the help of an unassuming style reporter. “We’re fighting to keep this country safe,” she says, and reveals that the White House is circling in on the killer, Joshua Masterson.

While Claire says that she wants to meet with Masterson’s mother, saying “We need to dial up the terror. And the mother can help us with that”, while in reality she is determined to one-up her rival spouse, Frank takes her out to the White House terrace, where they watch the crowds that have assembled at their front gates, holding signs that read “we are all Jim Miller”.

Frank shows that he has all his cards well placed in their plans to terrorise the nation, when he reminds Claire that the crowd are wondering what the President and First Lady are doing, and if they will be able to protect the nation.

While rolling news channels show coverage of agents raiding an empty bunker, back in the Oval Office, Doug Stamper tells Frank that the FBI has located Masterson and is ready to act, Frank asks him, “Did you think I didn’t already have him, that I would have left him out there somewhere? I thought you knew me” Of course, Frank has had the terrorist in custody the entire time.

I think discussing any further plot would be a spoiler, and so that’s where I would end for you to watch and figure it out.

While the earlier seasons were so dramatically satisfying consistently capturing a political authenticity in a world of great melodrama, it reveled so much in being bad that they almost broke more bad than good.

The way the Season 4 has ended and the Season 5 began exactly where it left last year, it puts the series in fine position to keep telling realistic political stories with powerful resonance.

As Francis Underwood declares in his absolutely calm and composed tone that “there is nothing to be afraid of”, the first episode ends up in an absolutely chilling note, keeping the viewers to the edge of their seat eager to know how terrifying would the story unfold in the episodes to come this season in this Emmy and Golden Globe winning political drama, when this ruthless politician will stop at nothing to conquer Washington, DC.

Hey! Did I forget to mention that Frank Underwood has come to India? Tune into the House of Cards, Season 5 Marathon (Episodes 6-10) on Saturday, 10th June, 5 PM only on Zee Café.

Be terrified! #HOConZCafe

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