Review: ‘House Of Cards,’ Season 2

One heartbeat away from the presidency and not a single vote cast in my name. Democracy is so overrated…

Frank Underwood (played by the talented Kevin Spacey) utters these words in episode two of the second season of House of Cards, a political thriller that took us all by surprise. While being sworn in for winning the vice presidency after a full season of political  scheming involving lies, betrayals and even murder, Underwood sets his sights on the road ahead.

Season 2 starts with an episode that literally stuns. I obviously can’t spoil the decisive action and unexpected plot movement that sets the tone for this season, but I can almost guarantee that fans of the show will undoubtedly be hooked.

My laments about the first season were few but potent. One too many episodes were imbalanced scripts compared to the ones surrounding them, as they failed to deliver the same heart-pounding storytelling on a consistent basis.

A few episodes in, I can safely say that this has been somewhat remedied. Now that the characters are settling comfortably within their roles on Capitol Hill and beyond, we’re finally done with exposition and ready to fully sink our teeth into the motivations and struggles that plague these complicated faces.

Robin Wright in particular provides new material to her cold character, especially when confronting past turmoil in episode two. We also see a new side of Frank Underwood when it comes to the complex passion and love he has for Claire. It’s not rooted in anything apparently sexual, but it still contains the same mad devotion and loyalty you would expect from an honest-to-god romance.

Their dynamic alone is enough of a reason to tune in, but then you enter the subtle paradigms and nuances that litter the script, especially with new faces joining the cast in the form of Jackie, Frank’s hopeful replacement for Majority Whip. She is already shaping to be the next Frank Underwood in terms of her ruthlessness and ability to manipulate anyone, no matter how close they are to her.

What truly works for the script this time around is that it’s not choosing to rely too heavily on the sub-plot surrounding the conspiracy and suspicion around Frank Underwood. It’s there, and people are still catching on slowly, but the titular house of cards still feels pretty secure early in the season, which will be necessary if the script hopes to contain itself as we watch Frank Underwood continue his rise to power in the most corrupt way possible.

House of Cards Season 2? Definitely worth watching if you were at least amused at the first season. I would even go as far as to say that critics of the previous episodes may find something here that was missing before, as many good shows tend to mature for the better as they enter their second round.

And House of Cards is no exception.

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12 thoughts on “Review: ‘House Of Cards,’ Season 2

    • This is a fun series to watch but also a sad commentary on the state of our gov. if any of this is true we spend much more time making each other look bad and very little on the actual problems of the country.

  1. Thank you, Jon! I was already excited, but now I can hardly wait to get home and turn on Netflix!!

  2. I devoured the first season of House of Cards. I loved Kevin Spacey’s deliciously plotting Senator – especially his Shakespearian asides. Can’t wait to binge-watch Season 2!!

    • Yes, I definitely agree! He’s a Congressman, not a Senator, though. Well, technically he is now the Vice President!

      • Oh my, that just shows how long it’s been since I’ve watched the show. 🙂 whoops.

  3. Hank Stuever has a different opinion. “When people tell me how much they love “House of Cards,” I like to ask them to describe how it makes them feel. I keep waiting for someone to say ‘happy.’ As good as it can be at its very best moments, ‘House of Cards” is a deeply depressing way to spend 13 hours.” Writing in the 04-14-14 Washington Post Style section, page C1, Stuever calls the show “post-television masochism.”

    “By being so cruel, so grueling, ‘House of Cards’ is the perfect show to dump on viewers all at once. It’s a test to see how much hurt we can take,” Stuever continues.

    Even as cynical as I can be about politics, I fear that “House of Cards” is painting a seriously distorted picture of our government that most viewers will accept as real. If you want a realistic inside view of Washington with all its warts, including corruption, read “This Town,” by Mark Leibovich.

    In the end, Hank Steuver acknowledges that after seeing the first four episodes of Season 2, he’ll continue to subject himself to the “almost prohibitively sinister” show. But he is, after all, a reviewer, so I suppose he has to. But I’m happy to say that his review has saved me from wasting 26 hours to catch up on what sounds like a depressing show. As Steuver says, “It’s only ever about people doing wrong.”

    • You are correct. It is not a happy feeling you get with the show. But I am intrigued by Frank’s attitude and ruthlessness, honestly.

    • I somewhat disagree. While the show can be depressing at times, the darkness is half the fun! We watch shows as some form of escape from everyday life. So we’re watching HOC to see what will eventually happen to the sinister Frank Underwood. On the other hand, the cinematography, acting and high production values are all joys to take in. I was literally giddy watching season 2 because the joy is just gorgeous to look at. The HOC opening credits are the only credits I dont immediately skip because the shots just pull the viewer in. Anyway, those are my thoughts, Happy Watching!

  4. Excellent assessment. I have just come across your blog today and I must say I am a fan of your writing!

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