Note: the following post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Season 2 of House of Cards. If you have not watched the entire season yet, do not read this article.
Last weekend I finished my binge of the new season of the Netflix hit series House of Cards. I had been looking forward to the new season ever since I had binged my way through the first season back in February of 2013, and I (un)surprisingly got through this new season quicker than the previous one. I wrote about in my non-spoiler review my love of this new season, and how the plot thickens each episode, as well as the tale twisting and turning at nearly every frame. Naturally, it was inevitable that I write a spoiler-filled analysis of this new season, because there is a lot of ground to be covered from the past couple of episodes. As I said in the title and the header above this paragraph, (I’ll even make this next statement bold if you can’t read the words major spoilers), but the post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for this new season. I don’t think I can stress that enough, but there are a lot of dumb folks on the internet (such as myself). So let’s begin the analysis of Season 2 of House of Cards, and let’s start quickly because there is a lot to cover.
Okay, so let’s get the cat out of the bag. The elephant out of the room. Kate Mara’s character Zoe Barnes is killed by Frank Underwood in the first episode. A friend of mine had texted me that I would exert a certain reaction to something crazy that would happen in the first episode, and that friend was absolutely right. It was a shocking twist, and one that felt so sudden. I watched the episode with my father, and I had to help him with picking his jaw up from the floor, as we hadn’t seen such a thing coming. I would have thought that a twist like this would be saved for toward the end of the season, but no, right off the bat is one of the biggest shocker’s in American television in quite some time. But in some ways, it wasn’t all that unexpected. Zoe had some suspicion that Frank had something to do with the death of Peter Russo, so in a way it was just a matter of time before she bit the dust. But it was an incredibly ballsy move on creator Beau Willimon’s behalf to kill off such an essential character in the first episode.
Another storyline that was almost as shocking to this season was a revelation by Mrs. Underwood, Claire, that she had been raped in college by a man whom Frank had just given a medal to for being a high-ranking military official (forgive me if I have little knowledge of the military, I’m just a dumb critic). The storyline was kept in private for the first couple of episodes, but was brought to the public eye when Claire lies about an abortion she had, with the lie being that the abortion was right after she was raped. This is all for Claire to introduce a bill in front of the House and the Senate for more casual abortion laws. This is another examination of that the Underwood’s will do whatever it takes to have as much power has humanly possible, as due to Claire’s revelation to the world is revealed on television, a rape victim within the military is brought in as a recurring character that Claire essentially uses as bait on television, then withdrawals that bait as she withdrawals the bill. It’s a very cold and calculated move from Claire, and thanks to Willimon’s writing and Robin Wright’s incredible performance in this role, makes the character lack sympathy while still having sympathy.
A sad storyline happened in the middle of the season, as Freddy, the owner of Frank’s favorite D.C. BBQ joint is about to make a franchise out of his restaurant after Frank becomes Vice President, but like all dirty politics, the dirt starts piling up. Freddy has a shady history, and toward the end of the episode where you see Freddy’s life inside the ghettos of Washington D.C. start to fall apart, Frank Underwood comes to him, and basically tells him that he can’t be associated with him. It’s a heartbreaking scene, as that BBQ joint was the only thing that made Frank Underwood relatable to people like me. You see that just go away, like that, all in the sacrifice of a higher power. It’s fascinating to see Kevin Spacey play a character so calculated like that, and how somebody could just stab a friend like that in the back. That’s one of the many reasons of why Frank Underwood is one of the best and most complicated characters on television.
But the biggest storyline of the season that guides the season is Frank’s continuation of getting the highest office in all of the land, and in the end, it does just that for him. President Underwood is the name you should all remember come next February. President Walker is forced to resign his office after a scandal shakes the administration about Chinese businessmen and Native American-owned Casinos, and all that complicated mumble jumble. To sum it up, Raymond Tusk, who was a close friend of Walker, stabs both of them in the back and this story gets planted everywhere. It turns into a Nixon-esque storyline of if the president will be impeached for his cooperation with such shady people. Frank is even willing to sacrifice himself, by writing a letter basically confessing that he was essentially behind these crimes to save the president’s back, and that he is willing to go to prison. Of course, Walker is flattered, and both men quite their bickering and Walker resigns, and Underwood is president.
Now many complained that in this season, Frank did not really have any enemies that were trying to get him in prison like Zoe. Her like trio of journalists try to find something that can pin Russo to Underwood, but in the end, one of them goes to prison and accepts that Frank has won. I would say that it’s a big plot hole, but I don’t, and I accept it 100%. I say this because there are a lot of crooked people in Washington, both in the show and in real life. Don’t worry kids, I’m not gonna start going off on a political rant, I’m wise enough not to go down that rabbit hole. But politicians get away with LOTS of things, and many of us never know about it. It happens all the time, and hell, some of them have probably gotten away with murder. I personally think that Frank’s past will definitely come back to haunt him, whether its next season or in future seasons (if the show goes that far), it will happen. It happened to Walter White, and chances are it will happen to Frank Underwood.
Now I didn’t even touch base on the fact that Underwood’s right hand man Doug Stamper was murdered by Rachel, or that Raymond Tusk exposed the affair that Claire had with that photographer last season to the world. But I’m gonna end this post with class, and of course that means talking about that threesome. Last season, the episode with Frank and his college buddies, it was hinted at that Frank was a little light in the loafers (yes, this is the type of site that we run around here), and now it’s nearly proven in this one scene, where Claire, Frank, and Frank’s loyal Secret Service agent Meechum, It’s a bizarre scene, like the first episode that I didn’t really see coming, and while I’m not quite sure what it symbolizes, maybe because I don’t spend enough time paying attention in school, but maybe it means that due to the Underwood’s lust for power, and all the power that they have, they may feel invincible, like gods, or like Shakespearean characters (lots of Shakespeare themes and metaphors in the show, but like I said I didn’t pay enough attention to Shakespeare in school so I can’t hell ya there). Maybe that’s it, but who knows. All I can let you know is that this was an unexpected and exciting season of House of Cards, and it’s one of the finest shows out there, and while most people would rather watch the soapy and procedural ABC series Scandal, for all the grown ups out there, we still have House of Cards.