For weeks, Frank Underwood and Raymond Tusk have been sizing each other up, both vying for the President’s attention. But with Tusk now out in the cold, this next chapter of House of Cards saw him make his first definitive move. Though with Frank’s track record of not suffering fools lightly, he’s sure got his work cut out for him if he wants to prove himself a worthy opponent.
All season, Tusk has been set up as Frank’s biggest antagonist but we’ve yet to see him really earn that title. So, after weeks of build-up, Tusk has finally been forced into action. And how does he choose to hit the President and Frank where it really hurts? By helping to fund a series of attack adds against the administration. That’s it. That’s his dastardly plan. Perhaps Tusk’s switching sides would carry more weight if the show hadn’t spent a season and a half building Frank up as such a political badass, but his backstabbing just seems like a minor headache for the new Vice President in the grand scheme of things. We’ve seen Frank murder two people already, and manipulate countless others in his never ending search for power; he’s one pimped out lair away from being a full-blown Bond villain. Tusk is simply outmatched.
The same applies to the Walkers – already Claire has managed to plant a seed of doubt into Mrs Walker’s mind about her husband’s fidelity and the stresses of the Oval Office are clearly taking their toll, coming to a head over a suitably awkward dinner party between the two couples. You’d think that a couple who had been through the long slog of a Presidential campaign and all the problems that must create would be a little more resilient. Once again, it just feels like the Underwoods are in a league of their own. Whilst they are a wonder to behold in all their scheming glory, it would be so much more satisfying to see them pitted against someone who we could actually perceive as a threat.
So far, the only character who might match up to Frank is Remy Danton, the mysterious lobbyist who always finds a way to get what he wants. Remy has been mostly on the sidelines, but his recent dalliance with Chief Whip, Jackie Sharp, has seen him come to the fore and this relationship has really helped to flesh him out. A character like Remy could easily be one-note – an unscrupulous fixer with no morals, but seeing his eagerness to pursue a relationship with Jackie makes him more than just a hired sword. We’ve yet to see him really go head to head with Frank, but that could certainly be a sight to see.
If we’re to continue to be amazed at Frank’s political scheming, then he needs an opponent who’s just as dangerous, someone who actually challenges him. At the moment, it’s just not a fair fight.