House of Cards: Season 1, Episode 1

Chapter 1 (1 Feb. 2013)

TV Episode  |  TV-MA  |   |  Drama
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Congressman Francis Underwood has been declined the chair for Secretary of State. He's now gathering his own team to plot his revenge. Zoe Barnes, a reporter for the Washington Herald, will do anything to get her big break.



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Title: Chapter 1 (01 Feb 2013)

Chapter 1 (01 Feb 2013) on IMDb 8.7/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Dan Ziskie ...
VP Matthews (as Dan Ziske)
Elizabeth Norment ...


Congressman Francis Underwood has been declined the chair for Secretary of State. He's now gathering his own team to plot his revenge. Zoe Barnes, a reporter for the Washington Herald, will do anything to get her big break.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




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1 February 2013 (USA)  »

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The episode won 2 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series and Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series. See more »


The morning after Francis learns he will be staying in congress. He smokes a cigarette when Claire gets up and makes coffee. When Claire returns with two cups of coffee, Francis's cigarette is exactly the same length as before Claire moves into the kitchen, which implicates Claire made two cups of coffee in under 10 seconds. See more »


Claire Underwood: My husband doesn't apologize, even to me.
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References Jerry Maguire (1996) See more »


The Four Seasons - Summer
Written by 'Antonio Vivaldi'
Performed by 'Royal Philharmonic Orchestra'
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"You might very well think that, I couldn't possibly comment."
7 March 2014 | by (Austria) – See all my reviews

As all episodes of the first season of House of Cards were made available for viewing at once, the pilot of David Fincher's Netflix project underwent considerably less public scrutiny as the introductions of other series. But as it's always interesting to see in which way the director and screenwriter pull off the establishing of plot and characters, I'm now going to do exactly that.

Kevin Spacey plays the series's protagonist, the cunning and unscrupulous congressman Frank Underwood, and he excels himself in doing so. I wouldn't go as far as naming it the best performance of his career, but it never fails to amaze me how he can act so well with so few facial expressions. Since 50 minutes aren't enough running time to make the audience understand all supporting characters as well, House of Cards primarily lays its focus on Robin Wright's and Kate Mara's characters in its first chapter. Their characters are about as similar as the keyboard I'm currently writing on and the pear I'm simultaneously eating, but they both make you want to see more of them (A/N: this is not a sexual innuendo). I especially enjoyed how Mara's aspiring journalist Zoe gradually turns out to be more than the bitchy little girl she seems like in her first scene and the chemistry between Spacey and Wright as an on-screen couple.

But while the acting is clearly very good, the quality of a series on politics is inevitably decided through its script – thankfully, House of Cards doesn't fall off on that and has The Ides of March's scribe Beau Willimon establish his reputation. Sophisticated and witty conversations, small details that get important later on (even more so in the subsequent chapters), and an astonishingly accurate portrayal of today's politics are what makes this series worth watching, and, just so we're clear, you don't have to give a fig for politics to get a kick out of it. And with David Fincher responsible for the realisation, there's a wonderful visual style to the whole thing, making it an even greater delight to watch.

For chapter one, which very well represents my general view on the series, my only points of criticism are a tendency for clichés (coughing after taking a sip of spirits as an attribute for a fledgling character, for one), which is a misdemeanour, and the protagonist's breaking of the fourth wall, which is a felony. It went on to become typical for House of Cards, but on most occasions, I'm rolling my eyes once Kevin Spacey starts to address me. Nevertheless, I'd be surprised about anyone deciding to stop watching the series after this pilot, which does an outstanding job at making you want to see more.

Memoranda: • Give it up for editor Kirk Baxter and his beautiful segue from opera to ego shooter. • Same goes for cinematographer Eigil Bryld who captures a phenomenal shot of waste paper flying around in the wind of Washington D.C. • The short picture-only exposition moments for the end of this pilot work extraordinarily well, it's a shame they aren't really used in further episodes. • "I love that woman" – I've mentioned my dissatisfaction with Kevin Spacey talking to the audience in the middle of scenes already and this is likely the most unnecessary thing he says while doing so in the complete series. • The position of Peter's face when talking to Frank had me expecting an entirely different storyline when I first watched this episode, silly me. • House of Cards mostly uses bleak colours and the bright apple Frank slices up in his kitchen was a charming contrast to that. • Best quote: "You might very well think that, I couldn't possibly comment." I am so going to use this phrase in conversations.

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