TV Review: House of Cards – Season 2, Episode 9 – “Chapter 22”

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“The road to power is paved with hypocrisy…and casualties. Never regret.”

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Chapter 22

Chapter 22 (directed by Jodie Foster) takes the war between Frank and Tusk to personal levels. The Underwoods deal with scandal from an enemy unwilling to back down. Even when the couple deals with an aggressive offensive from Tusk, the billionaire still has more tricks up his sleeve.

Warning: Spoilers Herein

I was nervous from the opening scene of this episode. Freddy is an innocent and trustworthy ally of Frank’s and from the opening scene, I could tell it wouldn’t end well for him. Much like Adam, Freddy was a pawn in the bigger game at hand. Unfortunately, his pawn fell.

Frank and Claire covered the first scandal well. It was clever how they used Adam as a means to “win.” But once again, Frank has underestimated Tusk. The ruthlessness that Tusk employed via Remy (holding Adam’s future father-in-law’s freedom as leverage) created a shift in my perception of Tusk.

raymondtuskUp until now, I’ve viewed Tusk as a desperate adversary of Frank, I’ve assumed he was scrambling to reclaim his seat at the table of the President. But now I think he’s more calculating than that. Maybe it’s because he has had time to recoup and plan his attacks. I’m left with the question of whether Tusk is inherently diabolical or if his ruthlessness is a product of Frank’s behavior.

Regardless, Tusk’s attack on Freddy is an exercise in tragic irony. The offensive was in response to a reporter’s independent prying questions. The characterization of Raymond Tusk is really fascinating to me. He’s formidable and backed into a corner. Much like Frank, when Tusk is backed into a corner, he lashes out.

Tusk’s threat to the reporter was chilling. Furthermore, the phone call to Remy at the end of the episode was a window to the truest threat Tusk poses. He doesn’t bluff. He orchestrated Freddy’s downfall and was committed to having Remy breakdown any chance of Adam’s fiancée’s father gaining his freedom. I’m curious if he’s willing to do irreparable harm to people who can bite back.

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Frank spent the episode trying to save Freddy’s image and help him. It’s great to see Claire keeping a level head and making sure her husband keeps his eye on the big picture. Tusk wanted Frank vulnerable. Claire keeps him strong. It’s a fascinating dynamic the pair shares.

I have to point out the direction and camerawork in the scene between Frank and Freddy. There’s a subtle camera movement when Frank’s telling Freddy he has to distance himself. The camera moves down slightly while Freddy absorbs the words. The result is a little disorienting and highly effective at showcasing Freddy’s emotions in the scene.

It was downright depressing to see Freddy and Frank’s friendship dissolve in this episode. I believe the pain it caused Frank was real. He now knows how low Tusk is willing to go. I’m sure the Underwoods’ retaliation (I would hope in the next episode) will be something to marvel at.

dougstampersoberTusk killing the bird at the end of the episode felt different. There’s a change in the character. He is now truly ruthless. Killing the bird after insisting that Remy follow through on their threat shows a change in the character. Frank and Claire agreeing they need to obliterate Tusk and “make him suffer” shows a change in the war.

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What did you think of Chapter 22? Let me know in the comments and make sure you check out all my other House of Cards related posts. Also, follow me around the internet with the links below.

CHECK OUT MY EPISODE REVIEWS OF BATES MOTEL AND UNDER THE DOME.

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