It's only a matter of time before they make at least one misstep and others start catching on to their game -- and it's hard to decide so early on whether it is a game we should be cheering for them to win.
The production values are lush, the pacing tight, the dialogue razor-sharp ("I love that woman," Underwood says of his wife at one point. "I love her more than sharks love blood"), the tone dark and delightfully nasty.
It's a very promising start, at a minimum. The distribution model for House of Cards may be looking to reinvent how we watch TV, but the show itself feels very much of a piece with what we've been seeing for the last 10 or 15 years.
A middle section of six episodes gradually took hold, but only the final four instalments really made me want to keep watching, thanks chiefly to Corey Stoll's portrayal of self-destruction, a real tragedy, followed by growing tension in the plotting.