Jane Davis isn’t introduced in the fifth season of House of Cards until its seventh episode. But from the delivery of her first line (“It’s been a long time,” crooned while shaking Claire Underwood’s hand) she becomes the show’s most captivating and mysterious character since the introduction of Jimmi Simpson’s Gavin Orsay way back in Season 2.
Indie film favorite and TV guest star extraordinaire Patricia Clarkson, with her luxurious voice and unparalleled ability to steal a scene with a glance (both Bacallian traits), instantly douses Ms. Davis with a level of intrigue that almost feels undeserved by the now-tedious House of Cards at this point in its run. She is part Washington insider, part consultant, and part embodiment of the military-industrial complex—but we don’t really know who she is, how exactly she knows Claire, or what she’s plotting, and the genuine mystery of her intentions reignites the show’s long-extinguished pilot light.
Jane Davis’s fuzzy past, impressive Rolodex, and disarming familiarity have brought House of Cards back from the dead, so let’s take a moment to appreciate the work Patricia Clarkson did that brought her to life.
Here’s her first scene in the show, screengrabbed as she was saying, “A think tank in Aspen.”
Here she is pretending to be ignorant while in a bunker:
Here she is pretending to be ignorant while drinking whiskey in the backseat of a town car:
Here she is pretending to be overwhelmed by the Underwoods’s treachery:
Here she is pretending to be immune to Campbell Scott’s charms:
Here she is pretending to be confused by Claire’s art purchase:
Here she is casually eating soup in the middle of the day:
Here she is being emotionally vulnerable for the first time:
Here she is regretting that vulnerability:
Here she is refusing to be intimidated by the President:
Here she is crawling into some weird mindfulness (?) station:
Here she is literally creating light:
Thank you, Patricia Clarkson, for making House of Cards worth watching again.