Since its debut in 2013, each successive season of House of Cards, has always been very eagerly anticipated by millions of fans. The show has been the most talked about political drama series over the last four years.
One of the key elements of the last season's finale was an investigative article on possible crimes committed by the president being written by Tom Hammerschmidt and published by ‘The Washington Herald’, the leading daily newspaper of the House of Cards world. Upto the last season, Frank Underwood had the unparalleled ability to shock us with his unethical ways, thirst for power and seemingly unconventional or unstatesmanlike behaviour. This year however we are in the Trump era. Just five months into the Trump presidency we already have Washington Post articles about his unethical behaviour while his statements and tweets are often far from usual standards expected of world leaders and always very dramatic.
How to be more dramatic than what is being shown on the daily news cycle and whether to draw parallels to the Trump presidency was always going to be a challenge for the House of Cards Season 5.
The season 5 trailer, released earlier this year did manage to add to the excitement in the run up to the season premiere.
The episode picks off from the previous season finale, making it very clear that ICO (House of Card world's equivalent of ISIS) is going to remain a focus in this one as well. A significant part of the episode is about the search for the ICO terrorist. One of the iconic lines of season 4 finale was Frank saying “War. Fear. Brutal. Total.” and in season 5 we have Underwoods implementing their strategy of fear by ruthless manipulation of the events around them to fit their own objectives.
The other theme which carries over immediately into the second episode is the fall out of Tom Hammerschmidt’s article on Frank’s alleged crimes and Frank’s attempt to keep the story from expanding any further. We are treated to scene of Frank tossing away the copy of the Herald with that article which was featured prominently in the season 5 trailer as well.
Much of the fourth season was about an embattled Frank trying to cope with the crises facing his presidency and the election campaign. The manipulative Russian president, his extremely good looking opponent with a picture perfect family, and Claire’s increasingly ambitious demands were all situations Frank was forced into. What feels fresh about the opening episode of season five is that once again we have Frank setting the agenda and doing things his way. This also seems to be the way in which the writers are distinguishing themselves from the Trump administration which is lurching from crisis to crisis. However, the episode does include a sort of a travel ban which seems really familiar.
Having become the vice presidential candidate already, Claire also seems to be aligned with Frank’s objectives in season five and playing a key role in his plans. In that way the episode brings back the memories of the initial seasons especially when Claire and Frank go on to the White House balcony for the final scene of this epsiode.
There is also much to reflect about after watching the episode. Art afterall so often mimics reality. It made me think of the extent to which political leaders closer to home are using fear and nationalism to further their own agenda. Frank Underwood encourages the sort of sentiment which is on the lines of ‘’Either you agree with me or you are an anti-national”, throughout the episode. Eerily familiar, isn’t it?
Watch the House of Cards Season 5 premiere on Zee Café and let me know what you think about it! #HOConZCafe
Frank Underwood is coming to India with the television premiere of House Of Cards Season 5 on Saturday, 3rd June, 5 PM onwards, only on Zee Café!