House of Cards (S1 E1)

There are many reasons why this is a stunning kick off to a drama series, and Frank strangling an injured dog to death is one of them. Before you get all PETA on me, let me explain. This moment was not only a brilliant way of introducing Francis Underwood’s vicious character, but it also perfectly sets the ruthless tone for the entire series, using just a dog and Francis’s bare hands.

House of Cards

Review and recap House of Cards s1e1

In the beginning, a new years party is taking place for the newly elected president, Garrett Walker, in which Francis takes time to mention—while looking directly into your soul through the camera, mind you—that he doesn’t like Walker, but is backing him anyways in hopes of being elected as Secretary of State. Francis has been the Majority Whip for 22 years after all…

However, Linda Vasquez, the President’s Chief of Staff, breaks some bad news: Walker is giving the position to Michael Kern, aka the guy that basically looks like a Ken doll. This act of betrayal unavoidably leads power-obsessed Francis to initiate his unmerciful plot for revenge against Walker and Vasquez, using his trusted right hand man, the creepy Doug Stamper, to do his dirty work.

House of Cards

When the president-elect requests an Education Reform bill, Francis conspires to use Donald Blythe, a widely known liberal, to write a proposal for the bill. Francis later shreds the bill in front of Blythe, claiming his plan as too radical, and then makes Doug retrieve it later from the dumpster (I was serious when I said he did the dirty work). On top of that, Francis is also working on swaying Cathy Durant, the supposed tough lady, to accept the job of Secretary of State so Francis can use her as his pawn.

In the mean time, Francis’s equally conniving wife, Claire, (who is always fabulously dressed), has no choice but to cut half of the staff from her internationally expanding charity organization, CWI, to make up for the loss of Francis’s position as Secretary which would have come with a heavy donation from SanCorp.

Also, the young, alcoholic, hooker-loving Congressman, Peter Russo, ends up being arrested for drunk driving. To cover up the incident, Doug meets with the Police Commissioner to offer a bribe for a Mayor position, which he then accepts.

House of Cards

Russo is eventually released from jail, due to Francis’s help, but Francis did it solely to blackmail Russo into being one of his loyal minions by threatening to expose all of his previous run-ins with the law. Russo has no choice but to accept. But wait, there’s more!

Later on, Francis hands over the partially shredded Reform bill to another one of his minions, Zoe Barnes, a newbie reporter for the Washington Herald who is willing to do anything, like showing off her assets, to move up the career ladder. Zoe immediately releases a refined copy of the draft to the Herald, (bumping her senior colleague, Janine Skorsky in the process) which will inevitably damage Walker’s reputation.

On the morning of the President’s inauguration, Francis sits himself at an outdoor table of a shady-looking restaurant called “Freddy’s BBQ Joint” and reads Zoe’s article, which is now on the front page of the Herald.

The news spreads like wildfire throughout Washington as Frank casually orders a second rack of ribs, waiting for his first move of defense to wreak havoc in the White House.

Characters and cast of House of Cards include:

Frank Underwood – Kevin Spacey (American Beauty, The Usual Suspects, Margin Call, Beyond the Sea, The Shipping New, K-PAX, Seven, L.A. Confidential)

Claire Underwood – Robin Wright (The Princess Bride, Forrest Gump, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Moneyball, White Oleander, A Most Wanted Man)

Zoe Barnes – Kate Mara (Shooter, 127 Hours, The Martian, 24, We Are Marshall, Entourage)

Rep. Peter Russo – Corey Stoll (Girls, Black Mass, This is Where I Leave You, Non-Stop, Cafe Society)

Doug Stamper – Michael Kelly (Taboo, Everest, Man of Steel, The Good Wife, The Adjustment Bureau, Changeling, The Sopranos, Generation Kill)

Linda Vasquez – Sakina Jaffrey (The Mindy Project, Mr. Robot, Sleepy Hollow, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)

Christina Gallagher – Kristen Connolly (Zoo, The Cabin in the Woods, Revolutionary Road)

Lucas Goodwin – Sebastian Arcelus (Ted 2 Madame Secretary, The Leftovers, The Best of Me)

Tom Hammerschmidt – Boris McGiver (Boardwalk, Empire, Flesh and Bone, Allegiance, TURN: Washington’s Spies, The Wire, Person of Interest)

Janine Sikorsky – Constance Zimmer (Entourage, UnREAL, Agents of SHIELD, The Newsroom)

Catherine Durant – Jayne Atkinson (Free Willy, 24, The Village, Syriana, The Good Wife, Parenthood)

Garrett Walker – Michael Gill (Mr. Robot, Everything)

Call Girl – Rachel Brosnahan (Beautiful Creatures, Manhattan, Black Box, The Blacklist)

Freddy – Reg E. Cathey (Seven, The Machinist, American Psycho, Outcast, Banshee, Grimm)