Sunday, March 1, 2015

Frank and Claire Underwood

Nothing is forever - Except us
~ Frank Underwood to Claire Underwood

Have you heard about the Mandala paintings that the buddhist monks spend weeks making? A fine precise art of creating a mandala with colored sand. And then after it is complete, all that hard work, it is blown away. The sand mixed with the seas, so that the water carries the prayers with it.

Magnificent, isn't it? Well, I think so. Most definitely. A metaphor for how nothing stays forever. The action has a sense of meditation, and letting go of the end result, holds the promise of zen.

So, why am I talking about Tantric Buddhism instead of Netflix Original Series, The House of Cards? Because in an extremely ruthless, selfish, often vindictive world a group of monks worked on a sand painting in an episode in Season 3.

**Warning House Of Cards Spoiler Up till season 3 Ahead**

House of Cards for me has never been as much about the story line as about individual performances and impactful moments. 

Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright get great dialogues, closeups and dramatic music. 

We get Zoe Barnes thrown under the train. Metchum kissed by our power couple. Spitting at god, and I do mean it quite literally. A web of lies and manipulations, a man rising through the ranks to become a Vice President. Not to settle for that he aims to be the next president of the United States Of America. In the final scene from last season, the camera zooms in, as the president knocks on wood on his desk in the Oval office.

Plot development wise I think season three was not too strong in the political department. We were bogged down by Rachel and Doug's unnecessary tiresome quest to find her. Russian President, Petrov,  was a slime ball. I learnt what Kremlin is.

There was one new character who intrigued me. The writer, Tom Yates. Right from the beginning I had a hunch that his association with Claire would get interesting. There were so many layers of deceit that as a viewer we can never be sure what exactly is the truth of the President and his first Lady.

As he started digging deeper in what made the Underwoods click I ruminated about that too. 

When was it exactly that I had started to like this couple? As individuals they were ruthless. Frank had not one ounce of altruisim in him and Claire could be cold and unfeeling just as easily as her husband. Together, they were brutal.

Still, I liked them. As a couple. They worked. They got each other. Seemed to respected each other. And did not have to pretend to each other.

They cheated on each other. Both did. Then they forgave each other and seemed to move on. I watched disbelieving, surely no one who lived this way had a perfect relationship.

Strangely, somewhere around the nights when they sat sharing a cigarette at their house window I realised maybe I was wrong. Maybe, they do love each other. 

Whenever a crisis came they did not have platitudes or shoulders for each other. "tell me if you need anything".."i'm here for you".. "is there anything I can do".."what do we do?" That's all they ever seemed to say.

Like the writer said in his unfinished book, they were made from the same atoms, bound together by the power they craved and the efficiency that was in their bones. 

I will never know if normal people can be this way, but what I do know is that many episodes back I had stopped judging and only believing in the strength of this relationship. What it gave to both parties involved. It seemed to empower them to reach the heights they desired. It grounded them, and managed to set them free at the exact same time. It was exhilarating to see them jog together at night when their world was literally coming apart. A sense of stability in an otherwise crazy relationship.

He would spend the nights playing video games on a couch. She would come kiss him and go off to sleep. And still I believed that this couple was here to stay.

When all throughout season three a troubled Claire seemed to be cut off from everyone around it was unsettling. I did think Frank tried to reach out to her, but did he? Could he not see she was messed up inside. Badly.

So, what went wrong I am trying hard to unravel. I think the answer lies in what Claire admits. They stopped talking. Oh, they still spoke about Russia and the UN and the hard to satisfy Congress. 

What they forgot to address was how they were slowly drifting apart.  And how lonely it made them. Oh yes it did. I could feel the sadness from across the screen. Right from the very first episode of the new season, right through my binge watching of all the episodes.

She left him. Perhaps, the visionary in Frank Underwood has to admit defeat. Even he and his other half are not meant to always be.

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