House of Cards—Season 2

8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Strong political drama

Hard to watch post-2017, don't believe Frank's actions with Zoe

house of cards season 2 episode 13 chapter 26 frank claire smoking robin wright kevin spacey

Welcome to another season of one of TV’s strangest power couples

Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) has fought his way up the ladder to the post of Vice President.  As his wife Claire (Robin Wright) looks toward a bill stopping sexual assault in the military, Frank seeks a higher office and prepares to burn anyone who gets in his way.  With the President Walker (Michel Gill) his unsuspecting target, Frank with Claire’s help could become the most powerful man in the world…all he has to do is tie up loose ends and hope his planning works.

House of Cards—Season 2 was released on Netflix on February 14, 2014.  The series continued to garner praise and awards from critics.  It won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) with nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Spacey), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Wright), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (“Chapter 14”), Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Reg E. Cathey), Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Kate Mara), Outstanding Art Direction for a Contemporary or Fantasy Series (Single-Camera) (“Chapter 18” and “Chapter 24”), Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series, Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series (“Chapter 14”), Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score), Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (“Chapter 18”), and Outstanding Drama Series.

house of cards season 2 episode 6 baseball pitch frank underwood kevin spacey

Nothing more American than baseball and scandals…

I enjoy House of Cards but I admit that I am watching House of Cards after its popularity has already faded.  While the series is already in its “death spiral” with the Kevin Spacey scandal and a scheduled ending, I struggle to catch up on the series.  I went into House of Cards—Season 2 knowing the basics of where the season goes but not knowing the plot points.  That being said, House of Cards is still a strong drama that even manages to surprise despite knowing information on where it goes.

House of Cards—Season 2 really amplifies Underwood’s rage to an almost unrealistic level at points.  Be it the shocking murder of Zoe Barnes (which I do not believe Underwood would directly involve himself in) at the beginning of the season to the quest for the Presidency, Underwood is a villain that surprisingly has people rooting for him.  In the post-Trump and pressure on women’s rights era, the series feels prophetic at points with everyone except Spacey paying their dues…which is ironic due to Spacey’s actions in real life.  The character of Frank Underwood feels very modern but somewhat unbalance in that respect…but it is hard watching this series in the current U.S. world.

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A simple scene showing why Claire is the more interesting character

Kevin Spacey likewise is difficult to watch as Frank Underwood who is willing to anything reach the top and protect himself.  The character becomes a mirror for both current political standings and Spacey himself who fought to keep the truth from being revealed…he’s a sociopath like Dexter in a political office.  Even scripting-wise, Robin Wright is the far more interesting character of the series.  As seen in dealing with her rape accusations, she isn’t a sociopath like Underwood and does have emotions…she chooses to go along with Frank and his crimes.  The series is bolstered by a great supporting cast with tons of standout that enhance the lead actors’ performances.

house of cards season 2 episode 13 chapter 26 frank underwood sworn in as president kevin spacey robin wright

It’s all led to this!

House of Cards is shot like it was a movie and that helps.  The level of cinematography on the series looks even better than the standard hour drama on network TV and with a strong cast, it pays off.  The DC world created in House of Cards is dark and foreboding and echoes the tone of the series.

House of Cards in 2014 can’t be judge the same way as House of Card of 2017.  There is a different political climate and a different societal climate that has rocked the Netflix series.  That being said, it is interesting to revisit House of Cards and see where it was prophetic and where it underplayed events.  There is enough drama in the real Washington, D.C., and a fictionalized account of corruption and drama sometimes feels redundant…but it is still worth watching.

House of Cards—Season 2 Complete Episode Guide:

house of cards season 2 episode 1 chapter 14 metro station frank kills zoe kate mara kevin spacey

“Chapter 14”

2.1       Chapter 14 Release Date:  02/14/14

Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is poised to become Vice President of the United States and looking for his replacement in the House as the House Majority Whip with eyes on Jacqueline “Jackie” Sharp (Molly Parker).  Claire (Robin Wright) debates going forward with her plans to have a child while dealing with her former employee Gillian Cole (Sandrine Holt) .  Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus), and Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer) seek out Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan) to tie Underwood to Russo’s death…but Frank has a surprise for Zoe when he decides to rekindle their professional relationship.

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“Chapter 15”

2.2       Chapter 15 Release Date:  02/14/14

Zoe has been killed, and Lucas is out to prove Underwood is somehow involved by turning to the “deep web”.  Frank is sworn in as Vice President and helps Jackie turn Wes Buchwalter (John Scurti) and Howard Webb (Spencer Garrett) against each other…but might force her to compromise herself with Ted Havemeyer (David Clennon).  Frank uses a debate with China over privacy to work against the Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney) and his hold over the President (Michel Gill).  Claire learns that being the Vice President’s wife means responsibilities and a ceremony with Frank puts her face to face with someone from her past she’s tried to forget.

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“Chapter 16”

2.3       Chapter 16 Release Date:  02/14/14

Frank is out to prove his worth to President Walker by attempting to avoid a government shutdown through a bipartisan agreement before the State of the Union address.  Rachel is monitored at her job at a call center by Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) and befriends a woman named Lisa at a local church.  Lucas’ probe into the deep web leads to results and a possible ally (Jimmi Simpson) for his search for proof.

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“Chapter 17”

2.4       Chapter 17 Release Date:  02/14/14

Frank and Jackie try to wrangle votes for the entitlement amendment, but plans are sidelined when Frank becomes trapped by a lockdown at the Capitol.  Lucas and Gavin Orsay seek to hack into a big system to get access to Zoe’s phone records, but Gavin hides a secret.  A one-on-one live interview for Claire leads to a big revelation and a quick attempt to spin the situation.

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“Chapter 18”

2.5       Chapter 18 Release Date:  02/14/14

Frank attends a Civil War reenactment and negotiates with the Chinese on the construction of a bridge…while using the moment to drive a bigger wedge between Tusk and the President.  Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) investigates Claire’s claims of rape and leverages the situation to procure a spot in Frank’s staff.  Lucas continues to work with Gavin on hacking the phone system but finds himself the target of a sting.

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“Chapter 19”

2.6       Chapter 19 Release Date:  02/14/14

The conflict with the Chinese has led to a potential energy crisis as Frank prepares to throw out the first pitch for the Baltimore Orioles and plays hardball with Tusk.  Rachel discovers Stamper has more interests in her other than covering the Vice President’s tracks.  Jackie finds herself in bed with a new ally in Remy Danton (Mahershala Ali).  Claire begins to create conflict in the relationship between the First Lady Tricia Walker (Joanna Going) and her husband by insinuating that the relationship between Christina Gallagher (Kristen Connolly) and the President is less than professional.  Lucas finds himself under arrest for cyberterrorism and asks Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) to investigate the possibility of a cover-up.

house of cards season 2 episode 7 chapter 20 attack ads

“Chapter 20”

2.7       Chapter 20 Release Date:  02/14/14

Attack ads begin to target the President and his staff as Frank and his crew track down the source of support.  Freddy (Reg E. Cathey) finds sudden success when he talks about Frank Underwood’s love of his barbeque with a reporter.  Tricia begins to question if her marriage is falling apart.  Frank’s discovery that Tusk is secretly funding the attacks through an Indian casino leads to a confrontation with the casino’s owner Dan Lanigan (Gil Birmingham).

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“Chapter 21”

2.8       Chapter 21 Release Date:  02/14/14

Frank tries to mend differences with Lanigan while Remy (Mahershala Ali) tries to hire Claire’s former employee while getting dirt on her.  Frank tells the President about his plans with the Chinese and Tricia continues to manipulate Tricia.  Frank finds Lanigan and Tusk are teaming up to squeeze Frank, and Frank faces off against Linda (Sakina Jaffrey) over her role in the President’s staff.  Seth learns Remy is seeking dirt on Frank and Claire and lets them know of the danger.  Rachel finds herself in a new relationship with Lisa Williams.  Frank pushes the Chinese to cut their deals with Husk, but Husk and Remy have their own plans.

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“Chapter 22”

2.9       Chapter 22 Release Date:  02/14/14

Frank and Claire deal with fallout of Husk’s publishing of the photograph of Clair by Adam Galloway (Ben Daniels) and seek to destroy the evidence…but Claire and Frank have their own plans.  Freddy works on selling his brand and mend the differences with his son Darnell (Malcolm Goodwin) but finds he is about pulled into Frank’s controversy.  Alya Sayyad (Mozhan Marno) tracks the photo leak to Husk and has a meeting.  Doug and Seth butt heads over their role in Frank’s organization.  Remy finds that Husk’s opportunity to get back at Frank is closing.

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“Chapter 23”

2.10     Chapter 23 Release Date:  02/14/14

Doug learns about Lisa and Rachel and puts an ultimatum forward, but Gavin’s plot to find Rachel could pose a problem.  A raise in tensions between China and Japan leads to a crisis at the White House while Claire finds herself the target of an anti-abortionist with a grudge.  Jackie continues her relationship with Remy and changes her stance on Claire’s bill.  Ayla gets a lead on the Chinese connection and makes her move.  Frank cracks down on Jackie, but the Chinese story might change everything.

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“Chapter 24”

2.11     Chapter 24 Release Date:  02/14/14

Frank is having to answering questions about his ties to Husk and Lanigan and learns that Doug’s meeting with Husk and the Chinese might bring him down.  Doug realizes he has to get serious about protecting Frank and severs his ties to Rachel and unknowingly Gavin’s tracking device.  Remy must make a decision between his loyalty to Jackie or Husk, but Frank could be an option.  Claire’s assault contact Megan Hennessey (Libby Woodbridge) comes through for Claire in push for her bill, but Claire worries that Megan’s behavior could be dangerous.  Claire and Frank’s security detail Edward Meechum (Nathan Darrow) relaxes a bit and discovers that Frank and Claire have different tastes.

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“Chapter 25”

2.12     Chapter 25 Release Date:  02/14/14

The investigator into the Chinese ties to the President have revealed the marriage counselling and exposed Frank to the President as the man setting him up.  Megan’s attack on Jackie has Jackie realizing that Claire is using Megan to attack her…forcing a confrontation.  The President finds himself under fire from all fronts as Husk finds himself called to Washington to testify on the case.  Doug makes a demand of Rachel while Gavin finds himself dealing with the FBI.  Frank and Claire go to Jackie with an offer that she might not be able to refuse.

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“Chapter 26”

2.13     Chapter 26 Release Date:  02/14/14

Claire learns that her actions have consequences as Megan’s mental health spirals out of control. The investigation into the President is getting deeper as both the President and Frank realize Tusk could be the key chess piece in the turnover of power. Jackie works to swing the votes for impeachment on the Hill and reaches out to Remy for help. Doug realizes Rachel has become a problem when Gavin contacts him about what he knows, but Rachel might not be as easy to silence as Doug believed. Frank’s goals are coming to fruition…but can he survive?

Related Links:

House of Cards—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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