House of Cards (2013–2018)
10 user 33 critic

Chapter 1 

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.


David Fincher


Michael Dobbs (based on the novels by), Andrew Davies (based on the mini-series by) | 3 more credits »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Kevin Spacey ... Francis Underwood
Robin Wright ... Claire Underwood
Kate Mara ... Zoe Barnes
Corey Stoll ... Rep. Peter Russo
Michael Kelly ... Doug Stamper
Sakina Jaffrey ... Linda Vasquez
Kristen Connolly ... Christina Gallagher
Sebastian Arcelus ... Lucas Goodwin
Boris McGiver ... Tom Hammerschmidt
Constance Zimmer ... Janine Skorsky
Jayne Atkinson ... Catherine Durant
Michel Gill ... President Garrett Walker
Reg E. Cathey ... Freddy
Dan Ziskie ... VP Matthews (as Dan Ziske)
Elizabeth Norment Elizabeth Norment ... Nancy Kaufberger


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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Did You Know?


Reg E. Cathey, who plays Freddy, also starred in Se7en (1995) as an autopsy doctor. In that same movie Kevin Spacey starred as John Doe, the villain. Both were directed by David Fincher. See more »


The very first scene features a dog being hit by a car, at night, in Washington around the time of the Presidential Election. This occurs in November. The characters are outside, at night, only in shirts, and no "breath is visible". The trees are in full leaf. While Washington does get warms spells throughout the winter, the trees would not be in full leaf. In addition, throughout the rest of the first year, people are in wool overcoats in Washington in May/June, which once again would be extremely unlikely at that time of year. See more »


Francis Underwood: I almost pity him. He didn't choose to be put on my platter. When I carve him up and toss him to the dogs, only then will he confront that brutal, inescapable truth... my god. All I ever amounted to was chitlins.
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References The Dukes of Hazzard (1979) See more »


Will It Go Round In Circles
Written by Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher
Performed by Billy Preston
Doug meets Barney Hull in the restaurant
See more »

User Reviews

"You might very well think that, I couldn't possibly comment."
7 March 2014 | by axel-kochSee 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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Release Date:

1 February 2013 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
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