[Warning, this blog post is full of spoilers for House of Cards, not to mention The Player, All About Eve, Breaking Bad, and The Great Gatsby. Proceed with caution]
House of Cards is great television. Season 1 is better than Season 2, I thought, but both seasons are very good.
The drama is excellent, even if the show’s reading of politics is a little absurd. But that’s like complaining that Lost didn’t show what it was really like to crash on a tropical island.
If you’ve watched the show (and again, this is your last chance to avoid spoilers) you know that Season 2 ends with Francis Underwood rising to the office of President of the United States.
It’s a very different cliffhanger than Season 2, which left us with the expectation that Frank would be Vice President, but a series of scandals swirling around him that make you wonder how he will beat them.
This time, the central question is: now that Frank has the prize he’s been aiming for, just what is he going to do with it?
I thought it would be interesting to look at where it could be going, based on some other movies and TV shows. This isn’t meant to try to suggest the plot of Season 3. Just to try to wonder where–emotionally or thematically–Season 3 will leave us and our feelings about Frank–and how people like Frank succeed (or don’t) in the world.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
So here we have a character who gets everything he wants (when Daisy comes back to him) but once he gets it, it isn’t enough. So he ups the stakes to an unrealistic expectation. Could Frank Underwood go through the same thing? There’s nothing left to desire so will he create a new–and unattainable–goal?
Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013)
Here’s another possible ending: justice. Frank and Claire Underwood will reap what they’ve sown. Just as Walt ended up paying the highest price for his behavior, so will they. This feels slightly more likely than the “he doesn’t know what to do with the power” ending, but still not very likely.
All About Eve (1950)
Eve usurps the previous star of Broadway with the same kind of wile as Frank. But the movie ends with an almost chilling scene: there’s a new woman who wants to replace Eve, and we see her multiplied in a dressing room mirror out to infinity. The message is clear: even once you get power (or stardom), there will always be someone to come along and take it from you. This feels like it is definitely a possible ending: Frank will find that Jackie (or someone even newer) plays the game better than him.
The Player (1992)
He gets away with it. Just like Tim Robbins in The Player, who kills a writer, gets away with it, marries the writer’s beautiful wife, and rises to run the studio. In this ending, Season 3 will set you up to think that justice is coming. And then everything will work out for Frank.
I love this ending in The Player. The visuals get flowery and the lighting goes soft. There’s beautiful music playing, and under it you can just hear a voice taunting you. Truly, it’s there, a voice singing “nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.” What a killer ending.
I think this one has some serious chance, with the world-view the series has taken so far.
Are there any other movies or TV shows that you think might be good additions to this list? Send your idea to me on Twitter and I’ll mention the best of them.