House of Cards series premiere recap: Episodes 1 and 2: A Finely Nasty Showcase

Netflix's drama features Kevin Spacey at his waspish, meanly clever best
Ep. 01 | Aired Feb 1, 2013

A MARRIAGE OF TRUE MINDS Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are ideally matched as the ambitious Underwoods

Melinda Sue Gordon

Robin Wright co-stars as Frank’s coldly ambitious wife (her excellent scenes with Spacey suggest what the Kelsey Grammer series Boss should have been but never quite achieved), and Kate Mara is Zoe Barnes, a young woman who in another media era we’d have called a cub reporter. Here, she’s a barely tested journalist burning to gather scoops and launch a blog on her newspaper’s website that will vault her into immediate stardom.

To do this, she’s clever enough to align herself with Frank, to offer to be his media leak in return for exclusive info. She’s also some combination of cynical and dim, enough so that she wears push-up bras and offers herself up as a sexual object to clinch her deals. I say “dim” only in the sense that this behavior would seem not to bode well for long-term journalistic credibility, but maybe that’s just the old-media man in me talking. You know what? Forget I mentioned it…

Fincher’s stamp is all over this production, the way (as he did in feature films such as Zodiac, Fight Club, and Seven) his camera conveys a sense of firm gravity even as it glides smoothly across a scene, an all-seeing, all-knowing instrument of knowledge and drama.

Will you be watching House of Cards on Netflix, and if so, do you want to watch a whole batch in a row, or parcel them out for more conventional TV viewing?

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