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HOUSE OF CARDS Chapter 14 (Season 2) Review

Spoiler Warning!

The first thing I realized when turning on Netflix to watch House of Cards season 2 was that I had binge-watched the first season on February 2nd and 3rd last year. I haven’t watched it since. The year flew by and here we are and I’m having trouble remembering every detail of the first season. Which isn’t a bad thing. This show is fudge-rich and requires multiple viewings. And it’s not because you don’t get it. It’s because the characters are so well thought out and so finely crafted that you want to go back and revisit every expression, every movement, and the way they walk and speak, just to figure them out a little more than last time.

While watching the first episode last season, it took about 3 or 4 broken fourth wall moments before I was on board with it. I know a lot of people complained about it and rarely was anyone purely into it right away. I think most people warmed to it. By now, however, I am greatly anticipating that first moment that Spacey turns to us and unleashes his genteel southern drawl with a smirk, keying us into his darkest thoughts. They’ve become some of my favorite moments in the show. We’ll get to that momentarily.

Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) begins this season where he left off, having been tapped for Vice President and preparing to make the transition. He’s cleaning up the mess from last season and putting the pieces into place for the future. He’s the finest chess player ever to live and I have to appreciate it. I love the long game and rarely enjoy a cheap payoff in a film or television series. Suck me in, drag me along and make me scream at you for the payoff before finally revealing everything that’s been going on underneath the surface. Then I sit back, relieved, before realizing that was just the beginning and there’s a whole lot more. We can likely assume that things won’t work out quite as well as he plans and he will spend this season ruining other people’s lives as well.

Alongside Underwood, as always, is his faithful Chief of Staff, Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly). He is working on keeping Rachel safe and out of their hair. Let’s just agree that Stamper is probably the creepiest guy on this show. Sure, he’s a lackey, but he’s far more than that. I think it’s because he finds a darker delight in the horrible things they do. Underwood has long accepted that this is how politics works if you want to be on top. Stamper doesn’t care about such things. He just is this way and he knows it. It’s who he is. That’s creepier to me.

So far, the show is as dark as ever. Maybe even darker. I love the color palette, as well. It’s entirely grey. Even other colors are grey. Which suits the material well. We have moments like how to slow-bleed a hog. Which might be the most disturbing thing I’ve heard in the show. At least until Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) said she was willing to let Gillian’s (Sandrine Holt) baby wither and die inside her. Things get even worse after that.

The next paragraph is exactly what I wrote, in real time, unedited, during the metro platform scene between Frank and Zoe (Kate Mara). It might reflect your thinking and it might not. My wife called it from the moment she watched Zoe enter the station. Anyway, here it is:

Frank has Zoe clean the slate and she does so…but I feel like she’s sucking him…gaining his trust once again. Although, you can never be sure with this show. You wonder, as they talk on the metro platform, who has the upper hand here? Who is playing whom? Who has the power here? It could be one or the other…or both of them do. Then boom, she dies. Wait, what? I’m now firmly rooted in the possibility that Frank Underwood has the upper hand now. She might still be alive…maybe?

I was wrong, okay? Is that good enough for you? I am hoping, however, that Janine (Constance Zimmer) and Lucas (Sebastian Arcelus) are going to become some badass young blogger version of Woodward and Bernstien. In this case, who would be Deepthroat?

It takes a whole 46 minutes until Underwood turns to us saying, “Did you think I’d forgotten you? Perhaps you thought I’d had”. I did think he’d forgotten us! I got so damn giddy. Spacey is marvelous. Although, there was a moment after he first meets with the President and everyone, manipulating a battle for his replacement, as he exited the room, that I thought he glanced, ever so slightly, to us. Maybe I was just anticipating this moment too much.

Keep an eye out for the upcoming reviews, recapping the entire season.

 

And follow me on Twitter @MichaelO_Brien

 

After-thoughts:

  • This is the darkest timeline, you guys.
  • When Claire sees the news break about Zoe’s death…she HAS to know it was Frank. She just has to know.
  • Speaking of Claire, she’s showing interest in fertility test and treatments. Then she says some harsh shit to Gillian about her baby…then cancels any further tests. I wonder what’s going on here.
  • I know Janine says she’s done and leaving for Ithaca. But my fingers are crossed for the Woodward and Bernstein thing.

 

 

 

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The Author

Michael O'Brien

Michael O'Brien

Michael graduated with a degree in Creative Writing with a minor in Film Studies from Western Kentucky University in 2009. He currently lives with his wife, two cats (and Netflix account) in NYC. He has published short stories on 400words.com and asouthernjournal.com. He has published poems in The Poetry Gymnasium by Dr. Tom Hunley and in The Roundtable.