First things first, there are spoilers in here. Many, many spoilers. Turn back now if you must, otherwise let’s get to it!
One of the greatest elements in TV construction is the manipulation of the fourth wall. You watch your typical TV shows as a bystander, a viewer of the scenes that are unfolding. We are not part of the action that is going on on-screen. This is created by the fourth wall; each scene has three walls, the right, left, and backdrop of the set. But the fourth wall is the one that is right out front, the one separating the character from the viewer.
The fourth wall is often the TV screen, but back in early theatre (and still today) the fourth wall was just the front of the stage, the invisible barrier between the actors and the audience. However, in theatre, unlike television, the barrier between the action and the viewer is often broken by clever monologues of sinister characters diverging their evil plans to the audience so they could watch the madness unfold. Or by a swooning lover confessing their adoration to the audience and their plans to fulfill that love. In many instances, breaking the fourth wall is common or easy in theatre as a way to involve the audience. Yet, when it happens on television, it is quite a rare treat.
House of Cards is one of the premier shows for breaking the fourth wall. As Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) slyly takes over Capitol Hill, he includes the audience in all of his mischief, like we are his accomplices and it is so thrilling! It creates a series and plot that are interactive and something viewers become intensely invested in. Hence, the clear House of Cards hype. So without further ado, I give you some of the best fourth wall breaks in House of Cards that are real kickers.
Money vs. Power: S1, E2
Within the first few episodes of House of Cards, we are presented with these magical moments where as viewers we actually become Franks confidant, his mentee, if you will. This was one of first and arguably the best break advice from Underwood.
Many have dabbled in the money vs. power debate, but I don’t think anyone has put such an edgy, blunt spin on the topic. Money breaks down but power sustains; and while it might not be the happy-go-lucky advice we want to hear, Underwood has a way of making the malicious advice alluring. Frank calls it like he sees it, and his vision is crystal clear.
Opening of Season 2: S2, E1
After watching the entire first episode of the newest season without Kevin Spacey even saying one word to me, I got chills when this happened.
Earlier in the episode the biggest shock of all was when he personally killed Zoe Barnes. Just threw her right in front of a train! I gasped and sat up on my futon, mouth agape, headphones in. My roommates had no idea what was going on, but they didn’t see the murder I had just witnessed. This twist and the craziness which was the premiere for the second season, had me begging for some sort of guidance from Frank, anything at all. And then he hit us with this! It was truly bone chilling and I loved it.
Frank’s VP: S2, E2
At the beginning of the second season, Frank is “conveniently” vetted to take the Vice Presidency position. After a slue of impressively clever tactics, Frank manipulated and exploited his way to the top. As a brief recap, Frank killed Peter Russo, the Governor of Pennsylvania, with some car exhaust and a closed garage door; You remember that scene, right?! Poor thing was trapped and unconscious! And then the current VP had to take the position of Pennsylvania’s Governor, since Russo was literally ousted. And of course, the current VP was previously the Governor of Pennsylvania, so who better to fill Russo’s shoes after the tragedy of his death. After all of these twists and turns we are left with a nice, open Vice President seat for Underwood. So devilish, but such a great scheme.
Getting sworn in as Vice President with little to no objections was definitely well played on Frank’s part. One step closer to the Presidency for him and he will single-handedly take that spot in any way he can because obviously the democratic way is overrated.
Finale of Season 2: S2, E13
While this may not completely count as a fourth wall break, Frank stares into my soul in this scene.
At this point Frank has completely manipulated his way from being Majority Whip, to Vice President, to the President of the United States. He has killed, blackmailed, exposed, and stomped out any threat to reach this pinnacle point. This is the key moment where his reign will continue to build and dominate the White House. And that knock with his ring is beyond perfect!
But if you haven’t had enough sassiness from Underwood, here’s just a super magical video of some of the best times Frank shot us the look!
Also, I do not own, nor did I create any of these YouTube clips. Credit: LimeWorks US, supplevideo, Lokesh Bhaskar, 1stdk, Cesar Edwin Ramirez
Featured Image Credit: Federico Mauro via Flickr