Who is the Grandest Goon? Rowan Pope, Frank Underwood or Gus Fring?
3 of the most binge-watch worthy shows on television in the last 4 years gotta be Breaking Bad, Scandal and House of Cards. Many a weekend have been lost in front of NetFlix, watching episodes back-to-back because those shows are thrilling. But all three shows are also amazing because they have some of the most cold-blooded, calculating, and callous villains in TV history. Gustavo Fring (Breaking Bad), Rowan Eli Pope (Scandal) and Francis Underwood (House of Cards) are three of the most conniving bastards this side of the Equator.
All three of them give so few dambs that they actually OWE some dambs. Satan went to 3rd grade with Rowan, tutored Frank and babysat Gus. Whew. And I am wondering what would happen if they had some sort of Goon Off. Who would win in a battle of the villains? This is not an easy question. Let’s explore.
Disclaimer: there are spoilers all up through here so if you haven’t seen any of the shows and plan on it, GO AWAY RIGHT NOW. SPOILER ALERT.
Why they’re all bad ass.
Gustavo Fring was a dorky looking quiet man with glasses selling chicken and building wealth on good ass poultry by day (Los Pollo Hermanos). By night and undercover, he is (or was) a ruthless drug lord, selling meth all over the country, but running the Southwest and some parts of Mexico. He hid in plain sight, and he kept his nose so clean that he was the last person people thought of. He was running a smooth operation and anyone who got in his way was handled (see: killed) by one of his henchmen. But what made Gus frightening was that he would slice a dude’s throat quick and use his pocket square to wipe the blade clean. Such an evil gentleman.
I referred to Rowan Pope as Phantom Goon at first because he was just the unknown man ordering all types of chaos. Then we find out that he runs B613, a top secret high level organization that even the President of the United States has no control over. He is Olivia’s dad, and he is on the books as the director of the Smithsonian Museum. When a man has no one to answer to, he sees himself as a god, and when he has the resources to back this up a little, everyone should be petrified of him.
Frank Underwood began as a U.S. Congressman and the Democratic Whip so when the position of Vice-President opened up, he thought he was a shoo-in. When someone else was chosen over him, he was out for blood and his goal was to become President now. He didn’t even want to be 2nd in command. Through a series of CRAZY chess moves and master manipulation, Frank took his oath into office at season 2 ended. He schemed, lied, cheated and killed his way to the very top of the food chain. That dude became the President of the United States without ever getting ONE vote.
Position of power
Gus was a druglord and he ran the underground. Frank ran the United States Congress and used all types of schemes to become the President of the U.S. Rowan is the Overlord who runs the off-the-books organization that runs the U.S. government. For that reason alone, he is the most powerful of all 3 men. Rowan is not bound by any rules and he can make calls all in the name of “protecting the Republic.” He has NO ONE to answer to. Frank does, even though he wiggles his way out from behind. And Gus is a player in a grander system that he controls very little of.
Rowan would know about Gus already and can have him taken out by one of his men who doubles as an agent for B613, and Frank won’t even learn who Rowan is until he takes his oath into office. The all-seeing eye here is Papa Pope.
Most ruthless move
Rowan ordered the murder of the son of the President just so he could destroy Olivia and Fitz’s relationship and make Fitz feel the pain he’s brought him. An innocent teenager was used as collateral damage in what is essentially a battle of egos.
Gus killed an entire Mexican cartel by himself because they started infringing on his business and they kidnapped Jesse who had become his main meth cook. He did so by going to visit the main boss at home and putting poison in all their drinks and to make sure they didn’t suspect it, he himself drank it. He sat chatting and then asked to go to the bathroom. When there, he knelt down in front of the toilet seat calmly, stuck his fingers down his throat and threw up.
He walked back out and all the men were dead. He was weak, but alive and he got taken to a medic tent he had set up in the desert. BOSS ASS SHIT!!!
Frank killed a young Congressman he had made his protege because he was derailing his plan to rise to the top by being a druggie. He locked him in his car while passed out and turned on the engines, so the man died of carbon monoxide poisoning. And then when the reporter he was having an affair with (so he could have a media mouthpiece) figured it out, he pushed her into the path of a train.
Love as a weakness
Gus Fring loved no one. He had no real allegiance to anybody and that kept him strong because he made decisions purely on the need to win. There was no one else to consider but himself so that always made his decisions easier. He could go balls out and show out as he wishes. He’s like Voldemort. He didn’t know love either.
One of Frank Underwood’s weaknesses is his love and respect for Claire and his love of other women’s love pockets. Women get him in trouble a lot and they’ve compromised his ability to make moves. He’s had to go to plan B and C because of the women he’s dealt with so they’ve certainly slowed him down. But really, his allegiance is to Claire. However, that’s not as much of a weakness as it is a little place that he can be compromised. BUT since his wife is a down ass chick, she can usually handle herself. Her being cutthroat also makes life easier for him.
Rowan Pope loves two people in this world: himself and his daughter Olivia. He is a man of his word and he’s said many times how he will do everything he can to protect her from harm. I believe him. That is his baby girl and will forever be his baby girl. He lost his job because of Liv (and then used her to get it back). Although she is another pawn in his twisted world, that is the one person who Command actually cares for. So yes, she IS a giant weakness for him because she’s her father’s child and her decisions stay putting him in a bind. But being the Grand Goon he is, he always finds a way out. Olivia is Rowan Pope’s Achilles Heel.
Wives as Strength
Gus Fring was a lone ranger with soldiers but he had no REAL alliances. Frank Underwood has alliances but he’s blown up so many bridges that I can’t even remember anyone who is on his side besides Claire. And Rowan? His alliance is the entire Republic. B613 agents who are more special than any special ops. Oh and Maya Pope.
Actually, let’s talk about Claire and Maya. These aren’t just goons adjacent, but they’re real ass down ass Gs themselves. Behind every powerful man is a woman willing to threaten and blow shit up to win.
Claire is Frank’s partner in most ways and she’s strong when he’s weak. The speech she gave him when he thought the jig was up and he’d be going to jail made him step up to the plate and come correct. She grabbed him by the proverbial balls and told him to get his shit together and stay free because a husband in prison is not what she’s here for. He dug deep and wrote the best most bullshitting ass letter and made a friend out of an enemy (the President). GENIUS. We also cannot forget when she told the woman she hired that she’d let her baby die. GAHTDAMB.
When I watched this scene, I had to pause it here and say GAAAAHHHHTTTTDDAAAAMMMBBBB!!! She does NOT play with her fierce ass. Frank cannot even afford to be weak. She. will. not. let. him.
And Maya Pope. Although she’s Rowan’s prisoner now, she was his wife FIRST. We thought HE was evil until we met her slick ass. With these 2 for parents, there’s no wonder Liv’s main food group is fermented grapes (wine). Maya has many aliases, can escape multiple armed guards and got some amazing hair (that she passed down to her daughter). But nothing and no one on either show has beat her level of crazy. The woman ATE HER OWN WRIST to escape jail. I mean how can you trump that? Rowan had to learn a few tricks from this vixen.
I think Mama Pope and Rowan have an understanding but she isn’t fully loyal to him.
Well, we can say this definitively about Gus since we know how that story went but his is that he was so enraged about the Mexican cartel. He was so thirsty to see them all go and he took it upon himself to kill the very last person, Old Man Tio. Had he sent one of his goons to kill Tio, he woulda lived to see another day.
Frank is so power-hungry and attention-seeking that it might be what makes he fall. He’s made it to the top but the fact that he is in the most public position is what exposes him the most. He’s made so many enemies that surely someone is going to be waiting for him to blink wrong and the walls of the Underwood White House might come tumbling down. Also, now that his most trusted right hand man is dead (he doesn’t know it yet), who will he turn to when he needs dirt done? He is now arguably weaker than he’s ever been even though he’s got the most power he’s ever had.
Rowan’s downfall will be his love for Olivia. And THAT I believe to be true. I feel like what will take him OUT will be IF/when he has to choose between him and Liv. As cutthroat as Papa Pope is, I think he’d lay his life down for his daughter. And one day, he might need to. Since she can’t stay outta trouble and all the trouble he’s seen so far has revolved around HER and her gaggle of men. Rowan doesn’t have enemies besides Fitz and Jake because no one knows he exists as Command.
The last time we saw Gus was in season 4, episode 13 of Breaking Bad when he went to see Tio in the nursing home so he could kill the old man. Walter White went to see the super sick old man first, appealed to him because of their shared hatred for Gustavo and the man agreed to die and take the druglord with him. Walt rigs Tio’s wheelchair with a bomb and uses his bell as a detonator. When Fring shows up and sits in front of Tio, the old goon starts ringing his bell and by the moment after Gus figures out what is happening, the bomb goes off.
Somehow, Gus walks out fine, and the camera pans over as he adjusts his tie. We see that the right side of his face has been blown off and he falls to his finish.
THIS is the level of thug we’re dealing with here.
As episode 13 of House of Cards season 2 wrapped up, Frank Underwood is strolling to the Oval Office after taking his Presidential Oath. How did he get there? Well, he locked the current VP out of the President’s circle of trust by making him seem unreliable and untrustworthy. Then he convinced the VP that he will have more power and command more respect if he became the Governor of his home state (Pennsylvania). Because he had wiggled his way into the POTUS’ love and respect, he became VP. Then he got the President under Grand Jury investigation, pulled crazy ass tricks so he was forced to resign. Making HIM the President of the United States without one vote.
Rowan Pope’s grand exit at the end of Scandal season 4 episode 8 came when he was having dinner with Olivia. His daughter lured him there so he could be captured and taken to have a military tribunal for his B613 shenanigans. But because Command knows all, he knew of the scheme between Liv, Jake and Fitz. He sat at the dinner table and told Olivia that she is on her own for the first time in her life. As that is going on, the snipers stationed everywhere were sniped from behind. And the special ops men who surrounded the building were killed. Rowan calmly walks out the restaurant into a waiting black car.
LIKE A BAWSE!
Whew. Although it’s easy to point out Gus’ missteps since his show is done and he’s gone, I’m sure Satan’s other minions will eventually meet defeat. If/when it happens, I expect them to both go out in a blaze of glory because they will not go down easy. Also, I might cry whenever Papa Pope dies.
I would pay good money to see Rowan Pope and Frank Underwood have a READ session, though. 3 rounds. Winner takes all. Those two are brilliant with the monologues. Gus moves in silence, though and that makes him mysterious and he’s a formidable opponent. I just don’t think he’d stand a chance.
All three men are strategy savants. They all excel at staying steps ahead of everyone. They will remove anyone and anything that gets in their ways by any means. All three men are snakes in the grass but Rowan is the green anaconda. When he strikes, he doesn’t just bite you. He will swallow you whole.Rowan IS the entire chess board. Everyone else is a pawn. He ain’t e’em the most powerful piece. HE is the game. So I think he would win the Battle of Goons.
You know who would not win? Earth. If those 3 battled, they would blow up the entire planet.
So yes. Lemme know your thoughts on this Goon Battle. Who’d win? Leave a comment on why too.