By Karen Valby
Updated February 24, 2014 at 06:57 PM EST
Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix

House of Cards

  • TV Show

One of the more enervating moments of this stretch of episodes happened in episode 6 when poor Lucas practically whimpered to his former ally Skorsky from behind plate-glass in a federal prison. “He’s going to get away with it, isn’t he?” Lucas asked of their evil, palm-rubbing vice president. Skorksy, defeated, nodded sadly. “Yes, he is.” Spoiler Alert?

There was a nice hard-charging energy in the first half of the premiere when it seemed like Zoe, Lucas, and Skorksy — especially Skorsky, who I always loved because she seemed like the rare grown-up in the room — could actually take a bite out of Frank’s heel. Of course Zoe was then shoved out of the equation, Skorsky fled to Ithaca, and Lucas turned to pallid mush. This whole Lucas diving deep into the web and aligning himself with that sinewy cartoon figure Gavin and his chirping guinea pig has been a non-starter for me. And that goes double for that smash-nosed federal agent in his JCPenney rubber-soled shoes. (Sit, Gavin. Good boy. Ruff!)

So what a relief when Lucas reached out to good, old-fashioned Tom Hammerschmidt, the ousted Herald editor who long knew Zoe Barnes was tinsel. Lucas pleaded with Tom to follow up on his reporting, reach out to Skorsky, bring this story of toxic power to light. I trust Tom and his working-man chinos! Frank and Doug feared the man enough for the vice president to summon him to his office at the White House. “We’ll intimidate him with formality,” said Frank. Ha, as if Tom could be intimidated!

There proceeded a nice and tense little exchange between the two — McGiver’s ruggedness a nice counterpart to Spacey’s elegant ooze — as Frank flipped through the man’s story. “Why don’t you just ask me if I strangle other people’s pets?” asked Frank, a line that actually made me laugh. “Did you kill Peter Russo?” Tom came out and asked in his great, unexcitable voice. “Tom, you’re embarrassing yourself,” said Frank. “Did you kill Zoe Barnes?” Tom continued. Frank maintained his glib composure throughout, insisting that a credulous article such as this would only torpedo a vulnerable Lucas’ chances of scoring a lenient sentence. Their exchange ended on cold, polite terms, with Tom pausing ever so briefly before shaking the vice president’s hand. Meanwhile, the Fed knocked menacingly on Skorksy’s addled mother’s house. He tried to bully Skorksy into turning on Lucas, but she seemed unwilling to let herself be intimidated. The old Skorsky was back! You going down, Francis.

But apparently it was all a big psych. Because Tom ended up showing Lucas a draft that cast tremendous doubt on the younger man’s credibility. And Skorsky went ahead and lied, or at least left out damning evidence against Frank, to Tom and the Feds. Sorry, Lucas, you’re going to be in jail awhile. Could that really be the wrap of those characters? Now we’re just left imagining Lucas sobbing into his cell pillow at night and wondering if Tom is going to be forced to get a job at a dot-com.

The muckraking baton has now been handed to a Skorsky look-alike at the Wall Street Telegraph. Thanks to an early tip from Connor, who’s out on his oblivious ear thanks to Seth, the new PR man with a Disney villain’s face, she’s digging around the link between Feng (I can’t even with the sex-with-a-plastic-bag-over-his-head scene), Tusk, the administration, an oil refinery, a bridge, some hookers in Spotsylvania, and who knows what else. But that digging of course plays out in a scene where her translator barely covers the receiver with her hand while asking how exactly she’s supposed to lie to the Chinese again? A quick Google search mid-call turns up the link between Tusk and Clayton West.

Do I sound cranky? Well, maybe I am. Doug’s in over his head with Rachel. There’s not enough scenes of Remy and Jackie, individually or together. The first lady is an insecure ding-dong. And I believe that young blonde with ’40s waves in her hair singing at Camden Yards was supposed to be a Taylor Swift type. This show is in grave danger of losing me, because I fear Lucas and Skorsky have already given away the promise of a very unsatisfying ending. All that said, I would buy Freddy’s barbecue sauce in an instant.

Episode Recaps

House of Cards

Ballots, betrayal, and barbecue combine in Netflix’s original drama, which stars Kevin Spacey as cunning congressman Frank Underwood and Robin Wright as his equally ruthless Lady Macbeth. Based on a 1990 BBC serial of the same name.
  • TV Show
  • 6
  • 73
  • TV-MA
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