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#FreeLucas: The Fourth Estate Roars Back On House Of Cards
Crusading journalist Lucas Goodwin returns to Frank Underwood's story. He could save the world -- and this show.
He's back! Lucas Goodwin is back! Sprung from a life of narrating erotica in jail, the former Washington Herald editor has returned -- as beautifully mop-headed and righteous as ever -- to carry us through the dramatic circus House Of Cards has become.
At the end of the first season, Lucas, Zoe Barnes, and Janine Skorsky had been investigating the murder of Congressman Peter Russo. Primary suspect: Frank Underwood, whom Zoe had been sleeping with to gain political access and further her career. Doug Stamper, Frank's henchman, learned of their investigation and warned Frank, who then pushed Zoe off a train platform to her death. Janine received nude photos of Zoe in her mailbox, and was understandably spooked. She fled to Ithaca, New York, to live with her mother.
Now alone, Lucas continued to investigate both Russo's and Zoe's murders. He needed Zoe's cell phone records to prove that she had a relationship with Frank and that she was investigating his connection to Russo's death -- both of which could show his motivation for killing her. Lucas worked with a hacker, Gavin, who said he could provide access to AT&T's data. Unfortunately, Gavin was an informant and compulsory agent for the FBI. At Doug Stamper's behest, the FBI lured Lucas into a trap. When he was about to insert a flash drive into an AT&T server during a facility tour (as instructed by Gavin), he was arrested and charged with cyber terrorism.
Janine was tracked down and intimidated into signing an affidavit denying Lucas's credibility, and all recourse was lost. He accepted a plea deal: ten years in prison with the possibility of parole after seven.
Lucas was imprisoned in the middle of Season 2, and we didn't hear from him at all during Season 3. In the meantime, Frank, Claire, and their murderous thugs continued their bloodthirsty march toward the White House. As Frank launched his bid for the presidency, things started to get almost as crazy as the insanity of our current real-life U.S. presidential election, and no credible journalist around to say, "Excuse me, WTF?"
That brings us to 2016. In the Season 4 premiere, Lucas used his formidable reporting skills to gather crucial evidence about an Armenian gang from his cellmate, which he then shared with the federal government. As a reward, he was released early, having served less than two of his ten years. He was placed in the witness protection program, which is a special kind of prison of its own: no internet, no driver's license, and a crappy job at a car wash. Some might say he should be happy he's alive, but for Lucas Goodwin, just being alive isn't truly living. He must carry on the fight to avenge his friends and reveal the truth about Frank Underwood.
Just like Zoe, Lucas will do absolutely anything for the fourth estate. Not long after his release, he exchanges sexual favors with a male coworker for access to a car. He sneaks into one of Heather Dunbar's campaign events, and schemes his way into an audience with Heather and her campaign manager, Cynthia Driscoll. He makes his case, but when he can't provide hard evidence, they brush him off as a quack. As they walk away and he holds the bars of the stairwell, crying and begging them to believe him, I wanted to cry and beg, too. Believe Lucas! Take him at his word! Investigate further! Bring down Frank Underwood! Otherwise, this story has no momentum.
Lucas, and everything (and everyone) he represents, is what has been missing from House Of Cards for the last two seasons. With Zoe dead, Janine in hiding, and Lucas in prison, there has been no proxy for us, the good, kind-hearted, non-bloodthirsty people of the audience. We have been forced to choose sides between two conniving, power-hungry monsters. There are no hands to hold, no good guys to root for. Without the furious journalists laboriously piecing together shredded documents and brainstorming conspiracies, we're left in a heroless hole of misery and pain. Frank is not our hero. Neither is Claire.
It's time to face facts: Claire is no less megalomaniacal than Frank. She is as petty and ruthless just as he is, and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. She was a worthy hero when she was an independent, ambitious woman and a smart, strategic partner to Frank. But now, she has slid firmly into Frank's messy territory, and it's time to shift our approval to someone else.
Lucas, with all of his enthusiasm and sharp skills untarnished by the miseries of prison, can right the sinking House Of Cards ship and bring back a vision of the world in which we don't have a con man running for president, who is openly unconcerned about the well-being of the American people. (Hint: I don't just mean Frank Underwood.)
I believe in you, Lucas. Give us hope. Take us home. #FreeLucas