By Alysse Glick
There’s nothing more simultaneously terrifying and comforting than a serious southern drawl.
Even more so when it’s Kevin Spacey staring through the screen, into your soul, and over emphasizing his H’s. Part of you wanted to laugh every time he said “whip” – but you didn’t. You wouldn’t dare. I’m about halfway through the new season and stepping back to take a serious look at it. So far I’m unimpressed, but I’m also not sure if that’s the right word.
I was so used to a menacing, bullying, murderous and scheming Frank Underwood – my jaw dropping each time he screwed someone over with such grace and ease, as if it was the most natural thing. And that’s the funny thing about Frank – it is natural to him. The lying, whipping and strategic plays come out so effortlessly you can hardly tell he planned it.
What isn’t natural is seeing him with Claire, his wife. Their forced sex scene, as he lay crying in his study, seemed to serve only to bring him back to life, and out of a dire moment.
Their relationship is a duty – to support and propel each other forward. What once appeared to be a loving and mutually beneficial companionship, sharing cigarettes and secret service agents, has turned to a more clinical and strictly functional pairing. I’m not sure if I like it.
In fact I find myself missing Claire’s indiscretions with the photographer. And I’m secretly hoping she’ll hook up with the author of his America Works propaganda book – he’s handsome and rugged along the same vein. If this affair wasn’t planned, they should have cast a George RR Martin facsimile. But no, you’re right. Half the show is sex appeal. Even the Russian president had his own thing going.
The first season, I was cheering for Frank, wondering how he’d maneuver around his obstacles and always come out on top. Shocked and delighted each time he did. It seemed he took Woodrow Wilson’s words to heart: “The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome”. He charged through like the bull he is until he hit his own glass ceiling – a term normally reserved for women and minorities, but existent here none the less.
And so he began throwing stones, larger and larger, pushing journalists in front of subways and staging faked suicides. He clawed his way through the broken shards and ever since half way through season 2, it seems like he’s been running with the wolves always on his heels.
Although, no actual cardio seems to be taking place, as demonstrated by his generous girth – one somewhat unaligned detail of his presidency. I like my Commander in Chiefs slim.
Maybe that’s the nature of gaining office. The glamour and appeal of the oval compensate for all the decisions and unilateral movements you can’t make anymore – as it should. You know, democracy and that. Perhaps the office is oval shaped so you can keep running from the enemies you’ve made along the way.
But the power of Frank was his inability to conform to expectations, and behave as he should. Now he’s having trouble. Doug Stamper is no longer at his side. His creepy, dirty right hand who – against my better judgement – I’m attracted to. Must be the voice. Frank’s plays are sterile at best. But maybe that’s the new approach – playing nice.
So far the most satisfying scene was Claire in the ladies room, showcasing her strength while she not-so-strong-armed the Russian delegate of the UN. I mean, if peeing with the door open doesn’t convey power, then I don’t know what does.
All last season I was waiting for something horrible to happen to Frank Underwood. I knew that some day his deeds would catch up to him and he would meet his (un)timely demise.
And then he became President Underwood. He’s lost the upper hand ever since, and other than losing his un-elected seat there seem to be no imminent threats except for ineffectiveness. Which let’s face it, is just a side effect to the office he holds.
I’m waiting for a fantastic, devastating demolition of this man – not because I don’t like him. Not because his former position reminds me of Brian and Stewie saying “cool whip”, but because that’s just what I want. I’ll miss him, I’ll feel bad too because for some reason he warms my heart and I’m pulling for him against all common sense. But it needs to happen.
So perhaps unimpressed isn’t the word – but expectant might be.