Recently, your humble correspondent has had reason to catch up on both "Vikings" and "House of Cards." This research has led to one inescapable conclusion: "Vikings" and "House of Cards" are the same show. Consider the facts! Both are about men obsessed with power and legacy, whose balancing acts and manipulation may lead them to catastrophic failure, imprisonment or death. As they both head into their third seasons, we offer this incontrovertible evidence that Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood is just Travis Fimmel'sRagnar Lothbrok with fewer tattoos.
1. Both men began on their shows as prominent citizens interested in more, before advancing to a new position of power in Season 2 (Earl on "Vikings" for Ragnar, and Vice President for Frank Underwood on "House of Cards") and ultimately reaching the highest point of available power in Season 3 (King for Ragnar, President for Frank Underwood), leading many of us to wonder what they can possibly attain in Season 4, assuming galactic emperor is not an option. An inevitable fall from grace?
2. Both men are aided in their quests by steely blonde women just as capable as them, who they perpetually disappoint and neglect. Both Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) wield considerable power of their own, and Ragnar and Frank wouldn't be where they are today without their help. The question of how far these women will go for the powerful men in their lives is constantly open.
3. Both men have a balding subordinate they can't survive without, except both Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard and Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) seem to suffer from a certain amount of instability, and may or may not betray their leaders if a better option comes along. Again, Ragnar and Frank's policy of taking people's support for granted seems likely to come back to haunt them.
4. Though the timelines are somewhat different, both men had a trusted colleague leave them for a more powerful leader (Earl Borg and Raymond Tusk), only to be forced to return once Ragnar and Frank emerged triumphant over those opponents. Can such men be trusted? To add to the complications, both Rollo (Clive Standen) and Remy Danton (MahershalaAli) are entangled in relationships with women (Jessalyn Gilsig as Siggy on "Vikings," and Molly Parkeras Jackie Sharp on "House of Cards") who have strong motivation to want Ragnar and Frank out of power.
5. Both men find themselves tangling with leaders of foreign countries, whose motives tend to differ from theirs, and whom they must strive to both mollify and outwit. It's tough to be in charge.
6. Both men were allied with a stronger leader in Season 2 (King Horik for Ragnar, and President Walker for Frank) who they ultimately outsmarted and took power from.
7. Both of them have killed people. But only Ragnar is supposed to be doing that.
8. Both of them enjoy eating meat. OK, this one might be a stretch. But we know Frank likes it, and Ragnar doesn't really seem like a vegetarian.