As in previous years, I’m binge-reviewing the latest season of Netflix’s House of Cards, the TV show that helped popularize the idea of “binge watching” when it premiered in 2013. Don’t read farther than you’ve watched. (The whole series will appear here.)
Episode 6 (Chapter 58)
President Claire says she doesn’t feel any different now that she’s ascended to the highest office, but Frank immediately calls her a liar for that, and he’s right. For one thing, she’d have to feel a bit flossy in that fetching blue dress with gold buttons (squint and it’s a muted cousin to what Kellyanne Conway wore on Inauguration Day). And in her private moments Claire is obviously experiencing some new pangs. She’s spending late nights lovingly rifling through the nuclear briefcase. She’s fantasizing about nixing her husband’s security clearance.
But perhaps that last instance—when her pen skipped the box next to Frank Underwood’s name and then finally returned to it—wasn’t a sign of new feelings at all. Quiet competition between the spouses has been a constant in this show, and Claire’s resentment triggered the domestic dispute of a season ago that resulted in her improbable nomination for vice president. Their contretemps may feel like a faint memory by now, but it appears she still toys with the idea of ditching her husband and his low approval ratings.
Whatever Claire’s deepest desires, she seemed to opt for the most selfless options of all the convoluted, Veep-ian gambits presented this episode: having Tennessee’s and Ohio’s citizens vote again—which LeAnn said could be ideal for Frank but not ideal for her—while agreeing to step down from the vice presidency if Conway ultimately triumphs. She told Frank that she went along with this idea, proposed by Mark Usher, because she believed Usher was actually trying to get Conway’s…