Dee Discusses: House of Cards Season 2

Posted: December 30, 2014 by Dee in Dee, General Media, House of cards, Television
Tags: , , , , , ,

There are major spoilers in this review.

It’s laughable that what I talked about in my House of Cards season 1 review was 100% right in some ways, and also I was unprepared in others. What’s impressive is this show is about the long game, the Underwoods set up plots early on that pay off by the end. But at the same time there are some plotlines that move so quickly it’s a punch to the gut. I can’t tell you how many times I went What! at the screen, and I have to admire the speed of how they wrapped up the last season’s major plots and set up the new ones at the same time. Season three doesn’t start until February, and I’m honestly not sure where they plan on going. Someone mentioned that the UK version could give clues, so I might check that out in the meantime. I have a personal love for good villains, and it’s amazing that you can watch this show and want them to be caught, yet want them to win at the same time. The show continues if they win, but man do the Underwoods deserve to get squashed. Every time they have a minor loss, I went ‘oh they’ll get it back. Somehow. They’ll get it back.’

I really do wish we were able to have inner monologues for Claire as well as Frank, but at the same time, having her closed off to us means she remains this composed and aloof ice queen. Hearing her thoughts could ruin what I am imagining her intentions to be, since Frank puts it all out on the table. We may never know who Claire truly is on the inside. Anyway season one ended with Frank finagling himself into the role of Vice President. To do that he needed to get the approval of wealthy and powerful Raymond Tusk, an old friend of the President who agreed to make a vague partnership with Frank. I already figured those two were going to duke it out this season. They’re both brilliant and power hungry, so their peace was never to be. In season one Frank mentioned that he respected people who wanted power more than money, it was what he didn’t like about Remy’s decision to leave him and sell out. He went up against several people this season with a whole lot of money, and Frank proved that he could out maneuver them all. Too bad for the American people. The journalists who started to put together Frank and Peter Russo were handled efficiently. Zoe was murdered by Frank in the very first episode. THE FIRST EPISODE. I was so shocked, as I’m sure most people were. It made perfect sense, it’s just not often people axe a main character so swiftly and ruthlessly. Unless you’re on Game of Thrones.

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This left Janine and Lucas left, but Janine took the smart route out and went NOPE and left town. Lucas unfortunately kept fighting, because he loved Zoe, and he still believed on some level that he could fight Frank and win. He was set up to be arrested for cyber terrorism, and honestly, he should have known better. There were landmines everywhere and Janine warned him they had a giant target on their back. Lucas agreed to a plea deal and fell off the radar of the show … for now. I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up again later on. There were bigger fish to fry. Jackie Sharp was a new main character this season, and I’m very fond of her. She’s a brilliant and focused woman, a war veteran, who Frank hand picks as his dark horse in the Congress. It was interesting to see her play the game with the Underwoods, first as their ally, and then butting heads a little toward the end with the army assault bill. I appreciate that it was Remy who made decisions based on his emotions for Jackie, while she was fully capable of being ruthless toward her personal life. This season we were introduced to a skeleton in Claire’s closet: she was raped in college by a man who became a very powerful army general. Frank was forced to pin a medal on him, and all the awards to Robin Wright for her portrayal of Claire during this storyline. She manages to have her be cold and calculating, with just the smallest hint of true vulnerability and pain. Enough for you to feel for her, while alarmed at what she’s doing. She used the rape to explain one of her abortions, despite it having nothing to do with them, and then made a sexual assault military bill her main project. It’s easy to agree with her, want her to succeed, and still shake your head because man is she as hardcore as her husband. “Let’s make him suffer,” she said. And Frank was proud. And frightened. Love it.

But is she? A sexual assault victim of the same general spoke out, and Claire took her under her wing. She did use her as a weapon of some kind, but the girl got caught in the crossfire of Claire and Jackie, and of the Underwoods’ greater ambitions. She tried to kill herself, and Claire went to see her. She cried, a real sincere moment we observed as the audience, so there’s some remorse there. But it doesn’t stop her. Loving Adam the photographer didn’t stop her from being intent on destroying him if she needed to, to save her own reputation. There’s another guy who got the raw end of the deal, thanks to Remy trying to find fuel against the Underwoods. Their affair was exposed, but he was hung out to dry and forced to say that he was lying for media attention. There are so many people the Underwoods leave in their wake, damaged and occasionally dead. The major storyline this season was about Raymond Tusk and Frank. Frank’s plan was to push his influence away from the President while growing his own, and to put himself higher on the totem pole than Tusk. I knew he wanted to be president, but I’m not sure how early on he decided to cause this plan. Some of it was intentional, but it was more likely he was going to ramp that up for the next election. It happened sooner than he expected, but Frank always intended to try and wrestle the Presidency for himself. I wonder if this would have happened if they just gave him the Secretary of State position from the pilot.

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Frank plays a gambit at the end: he appeals emotionally to the President and offers to take all the blame. At this point Walker is well aware of how manipulative Frank is. He figured out all of his machinations to that moment. He saw through his plots. So why would he be tricked at the end? Probably because he’s a nice person. I’m not sure. Or he saw the writing on the wall and didn’t feel like he could salvage a good presidency from that amount of scandal. Tusk was given a presidential pardon if he implicated Frank in his laundering scheme. He used that scheme to counteract Frank’s power earlier on, giving the money to the Republicans so they could get mid-term power. Jackie was already working on impeachment plans, so maybe Walker saw everything coming down on his head, and just gave up. He didn’t come off as having much of a spine in the first place, he was easily manipulated by the other two from the beginning. So now Tusk was taken down, Walker willingly handed the Presidency over to Frank, and Frank has what he wants. The question is what next? Frank’s still in a bad position here. Walker might be gone, but there will still be people who question how much he was aware of the scandal. It’s going to be unsteady ground. With the Democrats now losing their elected president, and mid-terms coming up, it could still be a blood bath for the party. I have no doubt Frank will find a way to win, because we’d have to stop watching when he lost. But what next? His presidency starts out tarnished. He has plenty of enemies to make. And Doug’s gone now, which Frank doesn’t know, but he will once the show comes back. Oh Doug. He’s another character I wish I could understand more, but we get so little of his inner workings. I don’t blame Rachel at all, however. He was so creepy, and driving her out to the middle of no where! I would smack him with a rock too. I worry about her now though. Poor Rachel. Frank will find a way to punish you, he looks after his own.

It was a great season, a perfect continuation of the story we already saw. I saw Zoe’s death again, and wow was that intense. I don’t know why it surprised me, because Frank clearly had zero problem murdering to get ahead. I think it’s interesting that we see Claire’s breakdown, maybe so we feel more for her, but I’m not sure. The Underwoods are human. Frank was hurt when he had to push Freddy away. They are capable of making emotional connections, it’s just that they care about themselves and their power more than anyone else. I find them one of the strongest couples on television. Their love for each other, their complete devotion to their shared goals, it’s unnerving and admirable at the same time. People have compared her to Lady Macbeth, but I think he’s too independent and strong to be Macbeth himself. I’d put him more as Iago. Iago and Lady Macbeth, taking over the world, partners in crime. They’re both capable of bleeding and making mistakes, but as long as they’re an unshakeable unit? I’m not sure anyone will be able to take them down. Separate them, and the world might have a chance. Fantastic acting all around. I know people questioned the threesome with Meechum at the time, and I’m surprised that people didn’t see it coming. They put plenty of clues down beforehand, and Frank already admitted to having a romance with a man in his prep school days. They’re also a couple with a very open marriage, and this is a safe way for them to continue finding freedom together. What I would like to see is Claire putting her own wants above his now. They fought about that in season one, and a little this season, but now they’re at the top of the pile. She deserves to let her goals be first in her mind. I’m sure that will cause more friction. Good. You get yours, Claire. Frank’s certainly gotten plenty of his so far.

It comes back in February, and we’ll see what comes next. A lot of wheeling and dealing, a lot of backstabbing, and probably at least one or two more deaths. The Underwoods should be on Game of Thrones. I would love to see Claire and Cersei confront each other. I hate to admit how much I love the Underwoods, but it’s mostly for the same reason I love the Lannisters: you can’t deny they are fun as hell to watch. I feel like I have to now watch something innocent and PG rated so I stop thinking of the world as a chessboard and hearing a Southern drawl monologue in my head.

“Something my father taught me. It’s meant to harden your knuckles so you don’t break them if you get into a fight. It also has the added benefit of knocking on wood. My father believed that success is a mixture of preparation and luck. Tapping the table kills both birds with one stone.” Knock on the desk twice.  Epic ending.

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Comments
  1. […] you haven’t read my season one and season two reviews of House of Cards, there you go. Watch me fall in love with the show and the deliciously […]

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