How would you rate episode 7 of
High Card ?
Community score: 3.8
OK, so for about 10 minutes, I wasn’t feeling this episode and was genuinely worried that we would have a repeat of last week but worse. Instead of some epic and involved heist, we have Chris and Finn going after a girl named Chelsea, whose main power gimmick is that she can bond people together against their will. Sprinkle in some yaoi shipping fanservice by forcing two attractive male leads to hold hands, and what we’re left with is something that I thought would be slightly amusing at best.
Instead, we got a surprisingly detailed character study of Chris, how he presents himself to others to hide his pain, and maybe even some subtle storytelling regarding how these cards work. Chris is a character that I genuinely didn’t expect a lot of depth from, given the overall tone and presentation of High Card. He’s a playboy that is incredibly skilled but overall seems to go through life with a very laid-back demeanor which might be tied to the fact that his card allows him to recover from anything at the cost of a few calories. However, Chelsea constantly calls him out on the façade he puts up, and we even get an idea of how that personality manifested. Chris’s younger sister is apparently dying from a rare genetic disease. He’s incredibly overprotective of her, keeps her a secret from everybody, including his coworkers, and seems powerless to do anything to help.
Is it incredibly cliché? Yes, but I have to give High Card a lot of credit for squeezing a surprising amount of depth out of that cliché. Chris seems fully aware that what he’s doing isn’t healthy and, in some ways, even self-destructive. He puts on that façade so other people, including his sister, don’t have to worry about him, and if they can see through his mask, he’ll just put on another one. But like Chelsea says, if he is hiding who he is for the sake of everybody else, how can anybody be there for him? Maybe he doesn’t want anybody to be there for him because he doesn’t want other people to feel powerless to help him the way that he feels powerless to help his sister?
And that got me wondering, do all these playing cards have naturally fixed abilities and pick people whose traumas and social issues reflect those powers? Or do the cards develop power based on the wielders? Finn is a pickpocket with powerful observation skills, so he’s given a gun that can take advantage of that marksmanship. Chris feels powerless because he can’t care for his dying sister, so he’s given a card that makes him unable to die, like a weird ironic twist. Chelsea constantly goes on about how she’s looking for her soulmate and wants to be bound to them forever regardless of how they might feel, so she has a card that allows her to bind people against their will. I don’t know if any of this is intentional or if I’m reading too much into it, but I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face by piecing some of these things together. At the end, when Chelsea said that she’s going to stick around to see whether or not she still even needs the card also felt like a surprising yet satisfying payoff to the themes of the episode because now I have the impression that she’s going to start dating Chris. She will take a chance on somebody without trying to be bound to them, and he will try to be around somebody who can constantly see past his façade.
Again, is this episode a good follow-up to what we’ve got in the past two weeks? No, and if anything, this feels worse than last week’s episode because at least there was an acknowledgment of the overall driving force of the plot. Here, there’s no mention of the Klondike family and no hook that drives back into the overall inciting incident. At worst, it almost feels like some of these episodes are being given to us out of order. However, while I will knock the episode some points, this is hands-down one of the more emotionally involved episodes of the series thus far, with a surprising amount of subtle and implied storytelling.
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