Dramatic irony: when the audience finally understands what’s going on in that another character might not know.
Now this gets used all the time in plays and dramatic works, and often to deepen the sense of suspense the audience now has with extra information. Think of horror movies where you know where the bad guy’s hiding with a knife, or in dramas where you know that some impending deadline will cause grief for the other characters.
And then comes the special kind of understanding between the audience and the characters who do know what’s going on. That’s exactly what House of Cards plays on—the audience is always looking after the character who tells them what’s going on, thanking the character for letting them in on the inside information.
That’s why House of Cards works, especially when Frank breaks the fourth wall and tells us what his thoughts are. We love it when he tells us “I still hate children” or that his plan is going along just well. We’ve come to look for those moments and appreciate them as they come: we know that there’s valuable information that comes with these scenes and so we feel honored in being told what’s going on.
So when we figure it out by ourselves and piece things together, that’s when we really fall in love with the plot and root for the character to win. These three episodes fully defines that feeling of acceptance and intelligence—we know what’s going on, we’re trying to make the secret plan happen and keep anticipating what could happen next.
The past three episodes bring us deeper into Claire’s relationship with Frank—now after his transplant—and with the Republican opponent Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman) and how he admires Frank’s power hungriness but hates him as a human. So the entire time we’re now put on a path to cheer on Claire (mostly her) and Frank’s plan, while it hatches before our very eyes. We can’t help but wonder what’s next and we need to find out what happens before the suspense gets to us.
These three episodes are all about suspense. He’s been shot, he survives the transplant, there’s some trust issues between multiple people, and here we are, waiting to see who wins the VP nomination and what Claire and Frank have played against people and against each other. While this set of episodes is more about their relationship with other people, we find their true colors in their relationship with each other. It seems that the operation has really left a resounding mark on Frank since he is all the more homely and benevolent towards Claire and others, and it seems that Claire is finally getting her wishes when it comes to seeking power.
So now that everyone’s getting along all of a sudden, what does this mean for everyone else? Well Doug has some guilty-conscious to deal with, but I guess we need to find out with the next few episodes to find out more.