There were a lot of characters in Chapter 2 that flexed a lot of muscle and threw up some pretty big numbers in the Power category. Or maybe Chris and I just inflated everything. Who knows. Here we go:
8. Rachel Posner - 5.1 points (Last week: Not ranked)
She might not even know how much power she has. But you get the feeling that since she's not a complete idiot, she might be able to turn her nighttime job into a recurring "let's ruin Russo's life" role on Team Underwood.
7. Remy Denton - 5.5 points (Last week: Not ranked)
He falls into a weird position between Claire and Frank. Claire can directly benefit from the money he and Sancorp can provide, but Sancorp's success depends a lot on what Frank does. It's a weird kind of non-romantic love triangle. Remy lost some points for choosing the money of corporate America over the power of political America. But he gained some back because the new Secretary of State supports his business.
6. Cathy Durant - 5.7 points (Last week: Not ranked)
Yes, that picture is from her days as President on 24. Yes, that probably influenced the rankings because we're big 24 guys. All of her points came from the fact that she's the new head of the State Department. Lots of Power, pretty significant Goal Accomplishment.
5. Roy Kapeniak - 6.1 points (Last week: Not ranked)
I couldn't find a picture of him so I just googled "dirty hippie" and picked the dirtiest of the hippies. He snuck up the rankings, because he hangs out with a naked stripper, backstabs significantly, accomplishes his goals in the process, and it all adds up to a pretty decent overall score.
4. Doug Stamper - 7.0 points (Last week: 8th)
Steals a quickie while he's paying off a prostitute. Power move. Ruins the life of a congressman because a more powerful congressman tells him to because it keeps him close to power. He scored fairly well on Goal Accomplishment, but only fairly well because "his" goals are actually "Frank's" goals.
3. Zoe Barnes - 7.5 points (Last week: 4th)
No Sex points (c'mon, writers) and a mild amount of backstabbing hurt Zoe. But her ability to basically decide who the new Secretary of State was resulted in the second-highest power score of any character. And it seems like her power is going to stay up in that range because Frank's tendency is to immediately text her when news happens.
2. Claire Underwood - 8.0 points (Last week: 3rd)
Absolutely ruthless showing out of Claire, making Evelyn fire everyone and then firing Evelyn. She cut nineteen people from the nonprofit and didn't bat an eyelash. She also convinced Frank to get in the habit of using the rowing machine.
1. Francis Underwood - 8.5 points (Last week: 2nd)
A serious lack of airtime for the President moved Frank into first place for the first time. No shot that it's the last time though, because Frank seems to always manage perfect scores for Goals and Backstabbing. He's also supremely powerful because he has pawns everywhere. Media, Congress, Presidential staff, legislative interns, State Department, everywhere.
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Going into the first episode, we assumed that the power rankings - and the airtime - would be split pretty evenly as the show introduced characters and plotlines. For the most part, that's the way it went. Here are your top eight players in the House of Cards world for Chapter 1:
8. Doug Stamper, 4.5 points (Last week: There was no last week)
The chief of staff on Team Underwood gets most of his power and goal accomplishment points from doing Frank's dirty work. He's also really scary looking, which I'm sure helps him in conversations where he has to intimidate the chief of police/potential future mayor of Washington. He feels like the kind of guy who is going to score big in the future based on his ability to ride coattails and screw people over.
7. Peter Russo, 5.4 points
It's an Agualarchy. It's ruled by water (and honestly, who the fuck knows? It could be. China is a huge question mark). Russo maxed out his Backstabbing points by lying to his campaign donors, his local government allies, a police officer, and his girlfriend. He also had the only sex scene of anyone who is ranked in the top eight. However, he is now completely submissive to Frank so his Power score is down in Janine/Lucas territory (they aren't ranked).
6. Michael Kern, 6.0 points
I couldn't find a picture of him from the show, but here's him in a turtleneck. Power and Goal points for the guy who is on track to be the Secretary of State, slight deduction for the plastic surgery. Not much else to say about him other than he was grilled in the hallway when he walked past Frank.
5. Linda Vasquez, 6.3 points
Backstabbing Frank, keeping everyone in the dark about Kern, and being the gatekeeper for the leader of the free world means Linda had a big opening week. Sort of unrelated to the scoring, her quote about winning versus leading explains why Presidents run on platforms that say one thing and then don't necessarily stick to that when they're in charge. America.
4. Zoe Barnes, 6.8 points
HUGE episode for Zoe. Started by having her boss not know her name even though she's a smoke. Ended with a connection to the most powerful man in Congress. That's about as much as you can possibly do in terms of accomplishing your goals. She also received points for the Sexual category because of the picture above this and because of, "Oh, Brian, you're so sweet. But if I was going to fuck you, you'd know."
3. Claire Underwood, 7.3 points
Icy. Heartless. Connected. She scores fairly well in Power, Goals, and Backstabbing. No perfect scores in any of the categories, but she can tell her husband when he needs a haircut and she can tell her office manager when the office needs to be cut in half. I get the feeling that Claire won't fall far below the three spot in these rankings.
2. Francis Underwood, 7.9 points
I don't feel good about not having him in the top spot. This look terrifies me and I really don't feel safe in my own house knowing that he might be out to get me. The big downfall for the first episode was his lack of Goal Accomplishment. He thought he had Secretary of State locked up, and he got blindsided. Claire said it best: "How could you not see this coming?" But he did score very well in Power, and it was capped off by his final scene. "Nobody can hear you. Nobody cares about you." I can't find it on YouTube and it's a major failure on the internet's part.
1. Garrett Walker, 8.5 points
President of the free world, check. Promised the number two ranked character a promotion, didn't give him the promotion, and then kept him around to help, check.
Going to spend the entire season being crushed by Frank Underwood, check.
If you have not yet watched the first season of House of Cards, you are missing out. The whole thing is on Netflix, and once you get hooked it should take you three to five days to finish. It's a political drama (which doesn't sound super interesting), but believe me when I tell you that it's a gripping show. As we write this introductory post, we are talking about how it's by far the most political show we've ever watched. For 21 year old kids, the most political show that's ever interested us was 24. Don't ask me to choose between Jack Bauer and Frank Underwood because I will not make that choice.
Just know that you should be watching House of Cards, and following along with our power rankings. I've watched the whole first season. Chris has watched some of it. We're starting over (together) and doing an episode-by-episode power rankings on the blog. All of this will lead up to the launch of season two (also on Netflix) on February 14th.
Join in with us and give us your thoughts in the comments and on twitter. I'm @jaylike, he's @cmalone20, and the whole blog is @bulletsblog.
Here's how we're determining which of the characters is highest in the power rankings, out of ten points total:
Power (5.0 points) - Power is an ambiguous word. The President of the United States would seem to have the most power of anyone in the world. But we're thinking that we might find that he's handicapped by the other players in the government. So, for us, "power" just means "power" - it's entirely subjective.
Goal accomplishment (2.0 points) - This is significantly less open for interpretation. Everyone in the show - executive branch, legislative branch, corporate world - has goals. Ability to accomplish those goals is important.
Backstabbing (2.0) - Chris put it best: backstabbing is what puts people in the seats. It adds a whole level of intrigue to the show. Let's be honest. People stabbing people in the back is what makes politics interesting enough for a major television show.
Sexual prominence (1.0) - Sex sells. Plus, it gives Kate Mara and Kristen Connolly some incentive to take their clothes off.