So now I’ve made it through Episode 02 of Season 02 of House of Cards.
In our previous discussion, billcammack.com/2016/03/11/house-cards-season-01-ep01-ep05 I mentioned how they were writing for the long game. I also mentioned what I had thought was going to happen to the hooker in Bald Guy’s car, which didn’t happen….. And then it happened to a totally different character, which I personally saw coming from a mile away, but was still brilliant writing by the HoC staff, and I’m sure it caught people who don’t edit television shows totally by surprise.
The short version is that someone who was being trained in the arts thought they had graduated when she had not, and she paid for that gross miscalculation with her life.
These episodes also continued the (annoying to me, but probably prevalent in real life) show’s theme of people assigning importance, relevance, and power to themselves that doesn’t exist now and never existed to begin with.
Tantrums. People puffing their chests out and proclaiming what they are and aren’t going to do. Blah Blah Blah until the bored dragon decides to breathe fire and turn them into bacon faster than seeing Medusa.
Fortresses & Moats
I was having a discussion about Social Media with a friend of mine the other day and she asked me about my “moat”, which in business refers to the competitive edge you have over your competition that keeps what you’re offering in demand and relevant.
The way I explained it to her is basically that I can tell people everything about the hardware and software I use and they can take as many classes as they want and get as many certifications as they want and edit as many videos as they want and they’ll never be me because they aren’t me.
My moat is myself.
I realize that’s going to seem like a ridiculous statement, but it’s true.
First of all, I have a visual memory so I’m never guessing about what I’m going to do (Other than when I’m trying to do a dramatic fade/dissolve. I can’t think “This needs a 2 1/2 second fade to black” and have that work out 100% of the time. I have to guess and then I know whether the fade needs to be longer or shorter.), I’m merely tracing what I already saw in my mind. This means that I never “rough edit”. By the time I get to the end of a video, I’m finished and it’s ready for review.
Second, I’ve put lots of hours of television on the air, which means that I wasn’t just working for producers but for executive producers who wouldn’t let *anything* go to air unless THEY considered it to be perfect. I absorbed these people’s styles, which is part of what I bring to the table as an editor.. I’m also an executive producer via direct though inadvertent training.
So I can give you every single bit of information that I know about editing video but I can’t give you my personal instinct.
I can’t give you “that thing” that makes me switch camera angles exactly right now instead of two frames later (1/15 of a second) because this one feels right and that one feels wrong.
Because of this, I can be as generous as I want with my information to the community of people trying to learn about what it is that I do because they can be similar to me all they want but they’ll never BE me.
On the other hand, you have lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of people that are scared to death to share anything via Social Media because they know damned well that if they hand out the couple of tricks that they use or mention the hardware and software that they use and show people how they use it that they’ve suddenly flooded their own market with clones of themselves and they’re potentially out of business.
This is one of the reasons why people are so stingy with information on the internet. They recognize that they have no moat.. In fact, they don’t even have a castle. 😀 haha They’re farmers out on the plains hoping the barbarians don’t overrun their settlement, murder them, and commandeer their land.
I wanted to mention that in this conversation because there are some people who ARE a thing and other people who APPEAR TO BE a thing. To the casual observer, these people appear to be peers. However, as they say in the ghetto, “Real Recognize[s] Real”, and it’s clear to the people actually involved when someone’s perpetrating a fraud.
So someone can claim to be a video editor all they like, and you might consider that person to be similar to me, but drop off a drive with 12 hours of footage on it to both of us and watch who figures out a great storyline from the raw materials faster.
Listen to whose audio edits are more believable. Watch which one is compelling and which one is a collection of consecutive non-immersive scenes.
Anybody can drive a race car. Not everybody can enter a race with that car and win. Moat.
Similarly, in House of Cards, you have at least two sets of people, as I discussed last time. One set sees the tip of the iceberg and thinks that’s real life, similar to the people that believe in the woman with the red dress in “The Matrix”. The other set sees the entire iceberg and realizes that the first set is merely a bunch of pawns in the game, similar to the crew that eats slop and understands that people are being used as batteries in “The Matrix”.
The surface-people, seeing and understanding only the surface, feel like when they have a good grasp of how the tip of the iceberg works, they’re ready to challenge anybody else they encounter.
The entire-iceberg-people know damned well that the surface people only have around 5% of the information they would actually need to a) be able to understand the playing field they’re on AT ALL, and b) compete favorably on this level, much less actually win or influence anything of import.
Think about it this way. I know everything about playing football. I used to play football every day of the football season with my friends. Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Free Safety, Cornerback, Running Back, Middle Linebacker.. I was never fat so I was never a Lineman, but that’s about it.
Meanwhile… 😀 hahaha I would be A FOOL to think that my knowledge of football.. Meaning not a bunch of chumps that can twiddle their thumbs and get a Playstation character to run down the field and dance in the end zone.. Meaning I can actually throw a spiral for a touchdown to a sprinting wide receiver in real life and have done it countless times.. is even 1/100th of the talent and physical ability I would need to play in the NFL (National Football League, the professionals).
Unfortunately for the characters in House of Cards, they’re on the NFL playing field and don’t even understand how serious the game they’re playing is.
Actually, my analogy is slightly off.. Even as a schoolyard football player, I was aware the entire time that there’s a major league where way more talented people than I am get paid to do what I do for free.
The characters in HoC aren’t aware of how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Without recognizing your actually relative level of talent compared to people you engage with, how can you properly engage with them? You can’t.
So what the HoC characters are doing is akin to learning how to play football on their Playstation and then thinking that thumb-twiddling football is the pinnacle of “football playing”, not even realizing that the game was created as an emulation of REAL PEOPLE who REALLY DO THIS IRL. (in real life)
Basically.. You have several people who think they’re on the same level with the people they’re interacting with because they don’t understand what it takes to BECOME someone on that level because nobody ever offered them that training and understanding to begin with.
Put Me In The Game, Coach!
In a brilliant example of long-game writing, the HoC staff introduces Zoe Barnes.
Zoe is a nobody at a newspaper. It just so happens that she goes to an event wearing a dress that shows off her body and Spacey gets photographed checking out her ass.
She wouldn’t have found out about that except an unnamed photographer from her newspaper took a picture of this and sent it to Zoe. She checks who Spacey is and decides to try to throw sex at him, hoping to exchange it for pillow talk that she can utilize to break stories and advance in her journalism career.
Zoe shows up to Spacey’s house thinking she’s dressed provocatively, and after she leaves, Spacey’s wife, having seen Zoe, asks him if the way she’s dressed still works. His reply is “I don’t know, and if it does, I don’t know WHO it works on.”
As I mentioned previously, it’s revealed later in the series that Spacey and his wife use sex for effect.
They understand what their relationship is to each other so they aren’t concerned about who the other one screws.
Neither one of them is going to be able to upgrade from either one of them so the petty business-minding of who’s having sex with whom isn’t relevant to their plan for their life together.
So this is the first indication that Zoe is entirely outclassed. She’s trying to throw sex at a guy that can already get laid any time he wants to with or without his wife.
Spacey trains her in how to move inside the back channels.
Zoe learns what to say, what not to say, why you’re saying it, and how you know whether it worked or not.
This is where she starts getting souped up. Zoe believes that Spacey’s training her to be like him when he’s actually training her to be USEFUL TO HIM.
Zoe’s writing little articles based on the information that Spacey’s feeding her that make her feel important and relevant.. Meanwhile, Spacey’s causing 12,000 people to lose their jobs so he can do a favor for someone he wants to be on board with one of his initiatives.
There’s no comparison between the two, but Zoe doesn’t realize what he’s actually doing because she doesn’t realize she isn’t on the level that he’s on. I don’t suspect she has a clue that his level even exists.
Eventually, similar to Bald Guy, Zoe starts thinking for herself and taking positions on things that are above her pay grade.
At some point, which I consider to be one of the plot flaws but it was useful to advance the story, Zoe tells Spacey that she thinks they should maintain their professional relationship but not screw.
This is a plot flaw because it should be clear to Zoe that she has zero relevance other than having sex with Spacey and disseminating the information he gives her.
It’s the same writing flaw that caused them to make Bald Guy flare up with bravado every once in a while when he was a gullible nobody all the rest of the time.
They wrote a tantrum that Bald Guy threw inside Spacey’s house which ended up with Bald Guy sitting in a bathtub and Spacey giving him explicit instructions on how to properly kill himself before walking away.
I would imagine that IRL, people who are consistently informed about what their lives are REALLY like would get the picture and live that life instead of catching temporary identity crises and bucking the system.
How many times do you have to smash your head against a brick wall to realize you’re damaging yourself way more than the wall?
How is it that Zoe would believe that Spacey would go for a pawn telling the king how to play the game?
Because she didn’t recognize the game so she couldn’t recognize the players.
Life Imitates Art
At one point, Zoe tries to front on Spacey by telling him that she’s been faking orgasms with him.
Again, I’m like the slapping-forehead smiley, going “WHO WRITES THIS GARBAGE?!?!” 😀 hahaha
Before that conversation where she tried to
First of all, why should Spacey give a damn whether she gets off or not? 😀 That’s the first problem here.
He’s screwing Zoe because he feels like it. Period. He checked out her ass, he wanted some of it, he got it.
So if they had written this realistically, when she said whatever she said like “How you you know I’m not faking orgasms with you?”, Spacey would have said “Who the **** cares?” and the conversation would have gone in a completely different direction.
Instead, they wrote him asking her “Are you?” and I’m like OH PLEASEEEE!!!!
These are the same people that wrote a scene earlier in the series where Zoe was talking to her father on father’s day and Spacey started eating her out and she could barely even speak to her pops.
If you know what you’re doing, you know damed well whether chicks are getting off or not.
Also, if you’re there for YOUR satisfaction, who cares if she got off in the first place?
This is yet another indication that Zoe is outclassed. She’s having high school sex conversations with a grown-ass man.
She continues by saying she gets nothing out of the sex. Spacey yet again doesn’t ask her “Who cares?”
Zoe believes she’s trading sex for information. She isn’t. The sex is merely her ticket to the show.
She receives information because Spacey wants her to have it, which is because it’s going to benefit Spacey for her to disseminate it.
Meanwhile, he’s ******* her because he likes her ass.
Also, he makes some corny half-written statement about how having sex with her is about power. *YAWN*
What kind of power is that, dating some broke chick that pretty much anybody could bag anyway?
It’s this insane writing that I’m talking about here.. Spacey doesn’t say a damned thing about causing 12,000 people to lose their jobs when he closed the shipyard, but he claims that screwing Zoe is about “power”.
Who writes this stuff? 😀
When The Music’s Over …
So Bald Guy’s story arc went like this:
He got busted for several infractions and then Spacey bought him by promising the police chief things.
He didn’t realize he was bought until Spacey told him so, at which time he pledged to do *ANYTHING* for him.
He let the shipyard go, causing 12,000 people to lose their jobs, including people he grew up with.
He let them throw the same hooker at him that he originally got busted with, who *EASILY* got him drunk and high in about 15 seconds after more than a year of sobriety, and he didn’t even recognize her.
He showed everyone that he was drinking his life away.
He lets Spacey drive him home while he’s babbling that he’s going to snitch on everyone and topple the House of Cards.
As soon as they entered his garage, as a video editor, I knew he was dead.
He had already asked the concierge how he could get out of the building without being seen, which was a dumb interaction because he had been living there for a long time already and definitely knew how to get in and out of his building undetected, but the scriptwriters needed to utilize that for the setup.
He had driven to his kids’ house where he apparently wasn’t supposed to be, talked to his daughter on the phone and leaving his cell phone at the scene, which means that when the cops investigated they would have known where he was when he made that call.
He tried to turn himself in for an expunged violation, which is REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY STUPID and I’ve never seen anything like it in all the television and film I’ve watched.
If it was that easy to get into jail, everybody would be doing it who doesn’t want the pressure of trying to survive in real life.
All you would have do do is walk into the precinct and say “I stole some woman’s purse” and they would lock you up and give you 3 hots and a cot like you want.
So he turns himself in to the same system that released him with no charges in the beginning of the series because the police commissioner or chief or whatever is in cahoots with Spacey….
Think about that.. The same guy that did all this stuff in order to pay Spacey back for getting him OUT of jail has now decided that it’s better to be IN jail.
How dumb is that? Doesn’t make any sense.
Anyway.. This dude turns himself in to the same system that’s going to result in Spacey springing him again and then he’s saying that he’s going to snitch on everybody including himself and then they get to his garage and I’m immediately like
“Carbon Monoxide. He’s Dead.”
So then Bald Guy and Spacey go blah blah blah blah blah for a few minutes and then BG gets gassed by carbon monoxide, except in yet another plot flaw (which came in handy down the line, as we’ll discuss), BG died in the passenger seat with all the doors closed, not in the driver’s seat.
According the the script, the same guy who threw a tantrum and was offered explicit suicide instructions and conditions by Spacey got in a car with him and told him he was going to ruin his life.
It apparently never occurred to Bald Guy that Spacey would rather kill him than allow him to ruin his life.
This is what I mean about that tip-of-the-iceberg understanding of the world.
The only reason Spacey didn’t kill Bald Guy is because he never had a reason to.
That option was always on the table ready to be executed.
BG didn’t realize that when he signed on for that program, there wasn’t going to be any signing off.
… Turn Out The Lights
So that brings us back to Zoe, who by now considers herself a peer to Spacey and is attempting to dig up dirt about him.
After all that “You aren’t necessarily causing me to have orgasms” nonsense she was telling him, she’s feeling herself.
She starts looking for and finds the hooker, finds out that she’s connected to Spacey’s assistant, finds out that she had a room in the same hotel where Bald Guy was when he got drunk and self-destructed, and starts putting together a blockbuster story about corruption and vice in Washington DC that’s going to name Spacey, his wife, and everybody else.
What’s WORSE is that she TELLS SPACEY that she’s looking into these things, which is when I said “She’s Dead.” hahaha
So the same thing I said I had thought was going to happen to the hooker is what happened to Zoe.
I’ve been to DC lots of times and I know how their subway system works.
Dissimilar to NYC, there are round lights on the edge of the platform that start flashing when the train is arriving.
Because of this, there’s no reason for you to stand anywhere near the edge.
In NYC, we stand near the edge so we can look down the tracks and see whether the train is coming or not.
So as soon as I saw Zoe walking over towards a choke point near the edge of the tracks, I was like “She’s Dead.”
There’s no reason AT ALL in Washington DC for you to be that far down the platform, and no reason for you to be standing so close to the edge.
The reason you shouldn’t be at the end of the platform is that the trains aren’t as long as the platforms, so you’re going to end up walking quite a distance, sometimes around half a NYC block before you get to the first door at the end of the train.
Nevertheless, the script has Zoe walk over there to talk to Spacey.
She deletes the text conversations and his contact information, both of which are irrelevant because as anybody knows who switches phones, either a) your text messages are kept on a server, or b) you can archive your text messages to the phone so they’re there whether you delete them or not.
Actually, c) you can offload all your text messages to your computer, and d) you can screenshot all of them so they’re in your phone’s picture gallery instead of your text message app.
So that was nonsense, but I see why commoners would think that that deletion dialogue was important.
Games Without Frontiers
Next, when he throws her ass in front of the train, croaking her, he immediately walks out from the other side of the barrier.
When the script shows you the video of Zoe getting run over by the train, the video fails to show Spacey emerging on the other side.
Yes, he was still disguised with his hat and all that, but the video would have shown someone walking out from the same area where Zoe “tripped or jumped” in front of the train and the case wouldn’t have been closed.
In fact, they would have started searching the rest of the video that they have to find characteristics of the person who emerged, such as how he walks.
Anyway.. She went out the same way Bald Guy did. She wasn’t aware that she was on the NFL field about to get smashed.
Zoe thought that taking off her clothes for Spacey made her immune to death.
In fact, as a demonstration of trust, she told Spacey to take naked pictures of her, which he did. I thought that was a really stupid plot element. At the end of the day, the pictures weren’t used against her even though she went renegade.
Spacey could have told her “Stop investigating this or I’ll post your naked pictures”, which you would think would be the point of taking them in the first place, at her insistence.
Actually, ZOE never thought about those pictures ever again. Not even during her last scene where she was talking all this blah blah about murder and whatnot that ultimately got her croaked.
That whole picture thing was just a waste of film, other than the pictures being sent to the other chick that was investigating the situation, causing her to pack what she could ASAP and get the **** out of Dodge.
Which actually set up one of my favorite scenes so far in the series, which is when the female is the rational person who would rather save her own life than play stupid games that have already gotten someone close to her murdered, and the male is the hysterical, irrational, idealistic person that’s telling her she can’t leave because blah blah the story they’re working on.
Much Credit to the writers for that one. 😀
I’m glad the chick broke out and I hope she lives.
The dude, on the other hand, is a Herb, and I expect him to be dead by the time I get to the end of Season 02.
Play Your Position / Know Your Role
Learning about the system and becoming part of the system doesn’t make you an important player in the game. It doesn’t even make you a *necessary* player in the game.
Another dumb dumb dumb dumb ridiculous scene was when the two dudes are told by Spacey in no uncertain terms that they need to vote YES on this bill “or else”, and then they go to a meeting with Spacey’s wife where she tells them it’s ok if they “vote their conscience” and they listen to his wife instead of him and the bill is defeated.
Spacey is “The Guy With The Power”. His wife is “A Representative Of The Guy With The Power”.
Why in the world would they listen to what his wife said instead of what he said? Doesn’t make any sense, but the screenwriters needed it for the plot development.
The wife defied the husband and Zoe found out and told the husband which is part of what got her thrown in front of the train and killed.
If she and Bald Guy would have played their positions, they would still be alive at this point in the series.
They both died because they started to believe they were more important than they actually were.
In chess, the pawn is worth 1 point while the queen is worth 9. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_piece_relative_value
If you’re a 1 and you believe that everyone in the world’s value is also 1, you’re going to find yourself consistently outclassed by the 2-9s and you won’t be able to explain it to yourself or anybody else.
You’ll notice that the king doesn’t even HAVE a value. 😀 Priceless.
Can the pawn capture the queen?… Yep. 🙂 It happens all the time.
Can the pawn beat the queen 1-on-1?… Nope.
The pawn requires superior reinforcements and/or the mercy of the queen to even remain on the board, much less to become a player of higher worth.
The pawns in House of Cards weren’t content with their station in life or didn’t believe that their station was as low as it actually was, so they challenged the rulers and got dealt with.
To this point in the series, there’s no acknowledgement from any of them that their “power” is entirely derived from the people they think they’re equals to.
Like Spacey told Zoe… “Don’t step out of the sunlight for no reason”.
He was trying to explain to her that her lights were only on because HE turned them on.
He also foreshadowed Zoe’s pending doom when he told her
“We’re in the same boat now, Zoe. Take care not to tip it over. I can only save one of us from drowning.”