House of Cards Episode 9

We learn something knew in this episode. Frank Underwood does not like children. I don’t know why I find that surprising, considering him and Claire never had children and never adopted, but I do. He just seems like the type of guy to have a soft spot for them. Another interesting thing about this episode is how they portrayed the far right media. Even though it was a fake news source, a lot of what the commenter mentioned about Democrats being brainwashed by eco-friendly idealists mirrored the kind of far right news media we see today, which I found pretty funny.The show in general does a good job of portraying people and events realistically. Sure, there’s drama, but so far nothing has been so theatrical that I can’t fathom it being within the realm of possibility. (Other than the giant peach episode.) On another note, I am so happy Zoe finally at least tried ended their sexual relationship. It was about time she realized that no one would take her seriously if it was revealed that she slept with her informant. So yes, that was a big step in the right direction for Zoe! Except she only lasted a few days. Hopefully this will come up again and Zoe will realize that you can’t just sleep around to get information. She should use her friend’s story as a cautionary tale. However, this is the first time they acknowledged the age difference between them. Frank did seem a bit bitter about them ending it though. He sounded like a sulky child. The vice president was also acting like a complete child. But the way Russo subtly buttered him up was fantastic. (His speech at the rally was abut hokey for my taste though.) Claire also surprised me in this episode. I think this is the first instance in which her and Frank don’t work together on something. In fact, she works against Frank. To see that the Watergate Bill failed was disappointing. Now that Russo is one of my favorite characters, I want him to succeed! And knowing that that bill was vital to his campaign- well needless to say, I was a little upset. However, like I mentioned, I completely understand Claire’s motives for undermining Frank. She doesn’t exist just to help him in his endeavors, and yet when she wants a favor he declared it impossible. I’m excited to see if Frank ever finds out that it was Claire who lied to him.

3/5 I want Zoe and Frank to stay the heck away from each other.

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House of Cards Eps 7-8

Episode 7:

Zoe Barnes needs to start going after news by herself instead of waiting for it to be spoonfed to her by Frank. She calls herself a journalist, but all she does is sleep with the congressman and then ask him to give her news! I’m so irritated by that. Russo’s whole campaign seems like a big risk as well. I get that Frank wants someone that he can control, but Russo’s chances of winning seem pretty slim, especially when he starts talking about his past. I was surprised to see the prostitute from the earlier episode make an appearance. It seems this show really doesn’t forget anything! Stamper also played a bigger role in this episode, which was nice but I felt a little uninterested in him. Sure, he used to be an alcoholic, but now he’s not, which is boring. He helps the prostitute to make sure she doesn’t blab about anything, but he also looks somewhat concerned for her well being. I think that she reminds me of himself when he used to be a drinker, or at least, that’s how I interpreted it. I’d rather see Zoe Barnes get some real development rather than prance around Slugline and throw her stories at other journalists. Also, it’s finally become clear to me that Frank is trying to get the president to trust him more than anyone else in the White House. I’m a little embarrassed that it took this long for me to realize that, but it was made evident in the scene where Frank basically brushes Linda’s concerns aside. Another person who gets some screen time is the vice-president, who I was wondering about as well. We usually only saw Linda and the president before, and the vice president’s absence was a little conspicuous. Turns out, he was never really consulted with anyway, which is why he never showed up.

2/5 I wasn’t really invested in Stampers or whatever was happening with the vice-president and I also hated that scene when Zoe was on the phone with her father and Frank called her his child or something to that effect. It was really unpleasant.

 

Episode 8:

Watching Frank goof off with his former classmates was nice to see. I forget sometimes that he’s more than a calculating government worker sometimes. But still, to see him laugh was entirely new. And to hear him sing in a quartet was even more surprising! Although, my first thought when they entered the old, spooky library was that they were going to die one by one, horror movie style. I also can’t tell whether it was just heavily implied or outright stated, but hearing Frank say that he was attracted to another man was jarring. I mean, someone can be gay or bisexual or bicurious or anything on the Kinsey Scale without having a sign on their head about it, but it was never implied before so it really shocked me! Watching Russo get brutalized by the crowd was hard to watch. There’s only so much he can do, and to see every one of the people in the room completely ignore his proposal was sad. Watching him wrestle his friend was pretty hilarious though. Maybe it was the way he goes from elected to official to twelve year old in three seconds flat but I laughed. His mother is a whole different story. I want to know why she’s so indifferent to her son, and yet reacts so positively when she finds out he won a fight. If tha twas the environment Russo was raised in, I can understand why he’d turn to drugs and alcohol later in life.

4/5 Bumped up to a 4 solely for the reveal that Frank was infatuated with his friend when they were cadets.

House of Cards Eps 5-6

Episode 5: Can I just say that I’m so happy to see Russo finally get some character development here? For the first time since this show started I actually felt somewhat bad for the guy. Here he is, getting played like a fiddle by Frank, and he can’t even fight back. Not only that, but in this episode we finally get some real opposition against Frank in the form of Marty Spinella. I mentioned before that I was hoping there would be a main force that tries to go against Frank, and here he is. Marty is nowhere near prepared to win against Frank, at least not yet. His stunt at the gala was cleverly derailed, but I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll see of him. I also enjoy how the show addresses the newspaper industry. It seems very realistic in it’s portrayal. Slugline on the other hand, reminds me of what new-age media tries to be. For some reason I’m reminded of the Gothamist, and I don’t think that that’s unintentional. A character I don’t quite understand the importance of is Freddy, the BBQ guy. I mean he’s nice and all, but I just don’t see what his role is in the show. I get the feeling that he’s supposed to show somehow that Frank isn’t as cold and evil as he seems to be, but that could be achieved through Claire as well. I secretly hope that he plays an important role somewhere in the season that comes straight out of left field. Another thing that I’d like to mention is how shocked I was at the end scene with Russo. I mean Frank literally plans his suicide as if it’s no big deal. I think that Frank knew Russo wouldn’t be able to do it, but still.

5/5 I really like that Marty is around to keep Frank on his toes.

Episode 6: The big thing that got me this episode was that Frank lost his nerve during the CNN interview. He completely blanked out and it cause me such acute secondhand embarrassment that I had to cover my face. We, the viewers, are just so used to watching him sweet talk his way out of things that to watch Frank get tongue tied was shocking. I’m also glad this wasn’t a Zoe centric episode because I really don’t like her all that much. Russo, on the other hand, has completely made a turnaround and become one of my favorite characters. I just like that we get to see him get his life back on track, and get a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of his district by putting together a project with Claire. I have a feeling that at some point he’s either going to A: become governor and get Frank back for closing down the shipyard or B: fail and go back to drinking. When Steve admits that he hated Frank and was in love with Claire I was also shocked. We don’t see much of Steve, but when we do he just seems like a diligent guy. Would not have expected that. I’m sad to see Marty go so quickly though. The matter might still be somewhat unresolved but I feel like Frank has the upper hand now.

5/5 It was nice to see Frank so vulnerable after the debate.

House of Cards Eps 3-4

Episode 3: I was disappointed with this episode. It was still interesting, but I think what disappointed me was the resolution with the girl’s parents. Frank gives one eulogy and suddenly the parents decide he’s not to blame? On the other hand, this episode introduces Gillian, who I think I’ll really like. She plays a good parallel to Claire’s character. While Claire is very demure and somewhat distant, Gillian is easily flustered and somewhat hesitant to work with Claire. Meanwhile, Russo is frolicking around with his assistant and it’s getting really annoying. I didn’t even mention him in my other post because he’s just distasteful. I’m sure everyone has their secrets but Russo is just completely unlikeable. I don’t think Russo is given one redeeming quality other than the fact that he seems to really care for his girlfriend. Zoe continues to be a neutral character. And to be honest, her flirting with Frank through texting made me really uncomfortable. It might be the age difference, or the fact that I was hoping for a mentor/student relationship and instead I got whatever they might do. Claire continues to be flawless, but I really wonder why she was running into the cemetery and if that holds any significance to her. Also, I read somewhere that white tulips signify forgiveness.[1] And that makes me wonder, what is Frank forgiving her for? Or maybe he’s asking for Claire’s forgiveness?

3/5 this time around I thought this whole episode was a little out of place.

Episode 4: Again, lots of things happen in this episode. Thankfully, there aren’t any more field trips, but a lot of mastermind plotting on Frank’s part, which I love to watch. We also get to see a bit more into Claire’s line of work, and her complicated relationship with the famous photographer. At the same time, Zoe is also conflicted about her line of work, and the comparison between the two is fun to watch. They both have qualms about their work and the next step it’s taking them to, and both of them decide not to make a change. In Zoe’s case, she gets fired. I wanted to scream when she didn’t take the job as White House correspondent! What is wrong with her?! I also wanted to scream when Claire didn’t take the money. She could have hired all of her old employees back, give a dozen people their livelihoods back. Russo continues to be not only an incompetent boyfriend, but an incompetent father as well. I’m so glad his girlfriend left him. Frank seems to know what he’s doing for now, but I’m wondering when something will go wrong for him. The series is great, but I keep waiting for some sort of contender against Frank. It looks like Russo has the motive to do that but he doesn’t seem smart enough. I’m still really upset with Zoe and Frank getting together in this episode, especially when Claire turned down the opportunity to have an affair in the same episode. It would have been fairer. Still sort of weird, but fair. Than again, I still think that Frank and Claire have one of the strongest marriages on television, even if they sleep around for their own agenda.

4/5

House of Cards Eps 1-2

Episode 1:

I’m not usually into shows about politics, but this one really caught my eye. Frank Underwood has all the markings of an anti-hero that the audience usually eats up, a sarcastic guy with morals that fall somewhat into the gray. I could tell right away that I would love him too, from the moment Kevin Spacey opened his mouth and that marvelous Southern drawl came crawling out. You also get an understand as to why he’s going to eventually try to take people down. He was promised something, and he seems like the type of man no one wants to mess with. His wife, Claire, mimics Frank in a way that I really liked as well. All too often you see the trope of a successful man and his supporting, but boring, wife. Claire is none of that. Well, other than supportive. She’s cool and collected and very business oriented. The dynamic Frank and Claire have are also really interesting to me, as they seem very much in love but at the same time are very cool with each other. You can tell through their interactions that they’ve been together for a number of years and know each other inside and out, It’s very enjoyable to watch their snarky conversations take place.  As for the rest of the characters…meh. I could take or leave Zoe Barnes, and no one else has left an impression.

Overall this episode gets a 4/5, would’ve given a perfect score for that southern drawl alone but we’ll see how the rest of the series plays out.

Episode 2:

There was a lot going on this episode that I was trying to keep up with. Frank Underwood has definitely proven himself as a mastermind here, and again, I really enjoy watching him. He just eats up every scene. The look on his face as he watches Kern effectively destroy his chances of becoming Secretary of State are spectacular. Zoe Barnes is still sort of a take her or leave her character: on the one hand I like how ambitious she is but on the other I’m so sick of seeing the “newspaper rookie” character that she just doesn’t seem interesting to me. Or at least, not as interesting as Claire is. She’s affectionate with her husband, but when it comes to business she’s ruthless. Zoe isn’t like that at all. She’s still the newcomer, the girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing and might be biting off more than she can chew. Her partnership with Frank is a little weird, considering I feel like Frank could have definitely gotten a more experienced reporter with more weight behind their name. I’m hoping their relationship doesn’t become intimate because I really can’t see Frank and Zoe together that way but I feel like the show is hinting at it. However, watching the events play out this episode was a treat and I hope the rest of the show keeps this up. I’m a sucker for intricate revenge plots!

5/5

 
 
 

The Dilbit Disaster

The Dilbit Disaster is something I have literally never heard of before reading this book. It’s surprising, considering how this article paints it as one of the worst oil spills to hit the U.S. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that it happened so close to the BP Oil spill, but again, I am very surprised that if there was new coverage of it, that it didn’t reach me. 

I really like the use of imagery in the book to describe the oil. It’s description as being “slick” and “oozing” which are such deliciously evil terms. It’s almost as if the bitumen is given a persona. I was very anxious while reading about what had happened. We get an account of the time that the oil spill occurred, from the evening it happened to the morning that someone finally figured out that this wasn’t just some bubble in the pipes. It was so frustrating to me that no one at Enbridge ever stopped to think that maybe they should be doing their jobs instead of handing it off to the next person. And it’s great that Enbridge offered to help out the residents in the area of the disaster, but again, hey, maybe they should have mentioned that this was no ordinary crude oil spill. It really makes you think about what safety procedures other oil companies may have, or lack thereof. At some point the oil was in danger of spilling into Lake Michigan, which is used as drinking water for millions of people, and still Enbridge kept silent. That’s so messed up! 

The article really opened my eyes to how ill prepared we are for problems that we cause. Sure there was a team of specialists in Marshall trying to help out, but they had no clue as to what they were dealing with or what the long term effects were. Something that has been running in the pipes near a city for years, and they had no idea what the risk would be if it were exposed to humans for an extended period of time. Recently, there’s been some talk of a Keystone XL pipeline being proposed to carry bitumen. Wheres before, I had no strong opinions on the matter, now I am fuming. I strongly oppose the idea of the risk of another Dilbit Disaster. If the long term effects are unknown, and the prevention methods aren’t working properly, why would anyone approve of this? Is money that much more important than the environment or other people’s lives? It’s sickening.

If I were to ask the authors one thing, it would be how they came up with the idea to cover this story. From what I understand, there really wasn’t any coverage on what happened in Marshall, Michigan, so how did they hear about it? I would also like to know if they did this article partly because of the proposed Keystone Xl pipeline. Was the motive to get people to be vocal about opposing it? And if so, did they think it worked? It did for me, but I am hesitant to say that many other people have read this.

 

Jon Stewart’s Take on Fox News

The Daily Show is one of my favorite shows. It’s always a treat to see Jon Stewart take apart someone’s point by throwing back what they have said in their faces. Such is the case here with Fox News. This is a classic example of the fifth estate being used. Jon Stewart makes fun of the way Fox News has handled the protests in 2009 and the (then) recent presidency, considering their stance on such things not too long ago. By calling them the new liberals, he not only uses a term that conservatives see as negative but also highlights the fact that by switching stances they have undermined their own point about sticking with the president and seeing the “big picture”.

That being said, both Fox News and The Daily Show’s audiences used selective exposure when picking which program to watch. The audience wants to watch something that they agree with. The Daily Show audience are mainly liberals, and so The Daily Show interprets that the conservatives are being whiny and hypocritical about being in the minority when it comes to reporting. They are catering to their audience the same way that Fox News is catering to theirs. The irony here is that according to Fox, they are the most watched News channel in the U.S. Of course Fox is going to make very opinionated statements – it’s what people want to hear. The Daily Show isn’t any different in that aspect for claiming that Fox is now liberal. (Of course, this is a satirical statement, but it’s still an outrageous claim.)

I always find it a little sad when people claim that the way they get their news is better than another person’s. There’s no “right” news, there’s news you agree with and news you don’t agree with. All news is biased, and they’re all biased because we as an audience love to hear someone agree with us and enforce opinions we have. It’s just how we are. I love the Daily Show, but I’m aware that using clips out of context is a little bit like cheating. Of course, this isn’t going to drive me to watch Fox News in any way shape or form, but at least I’m aware of the fact that not everything is this or that.