Erotic asphyxiation. That’s the opening shot of this episode of House of Cards. Followed by the Civil War. These are the two themes that run through the heart of Chapter 18; a story of struggle, history, power and the faux absence of power in order to gain more power. Oh, Francis.
Playing two billionaires off against one another, as well as poking a pointy stick at the President himself, Kevin Spacey’s Underwood is on top form as he continues his revenge and quest for dominance. Placing himself at the centre of a difficult US/Chinese venture that tests the resolve of both sides, he also manages to find some free time for a walk in the woods.
During a Civil War re-enactment, the power-hungry VP discovers, despite his protests of caring little for family history, that he had an ancestor in the Civil War. Revealing a more open – but not vulnerable – side of himself for the first time since Chapter 8, Frank takes a personal interest in what he can learn from the past.
At work, he is confronted by Xander Feng, a Chinese businessman who is interested in using his relationship with Tusk to engage in a business proposal. Meanwhile, Lucas makes the final move in his dubious relationship with Gavin, though Gavin’s regret and lack of control are placed front and centre during a face-off with a Secret Service agent, who threatens his guinea pig.
Chapter 18 showcases Underwood’s ability to multi-task his connivances, as well as ensuring that everyone is aware he never left the warpath. One situation arose in which the comfort of a guinea pig could have toppled the second most powerful man in the world and it made perfect, squeaky sense. Another saw the tension between ultra-superpowers placed in the hands of a man who takes strategy lessons from erotic asphyxiation. Oh, Francis.