And so another “season” of House of Cards has flickered and flittered before my eyes in much the same way as the opening credits. If there is only one criterion for a passing grade for a sequel, it is that the sequel not repeat the successes of the original, which I am pleased to report was not the case here; it was quite obvious, though not painfully so, that the writers and producers did not want to re-air season one. The only major similarity was the building to a climax of Frank Underwood’s seizure of power, though the attempt at acquisition was not made as blatant to the audience as it was in season one there were hints of the coming mutiny.
Of course, Kevin Spacey offers another stellar performance as Frank Underwood, and his savory charm is as infectious as always – once again I find myself imitating the melodious timbre of his voice, oozing oily venom strong enough to kill a hundred men and their political careers a hundred times over. Likewise, Robin Wright was phenomenal as Frank’s right hand woman, Claire Underwood, having an uncanny ability to convey her political calculations in the twinkle of her eyes and the slight tilt of her head. One of the most admirable qualities of the show is how truly invaluable Claire is to Frank; they are a power-couple unlike any other, and this season reveals that Frank could not succeed without the aid of Claire, who we see to be as ruthless and cut-throat as Frank. There is something quite captivating about their marriage, without the saccharine qualities of a story-book romance and with the known infidelity, we see as real a love as ever captured on film, a feat to be attributed to the incredible talents of Spacey and Wright, as well as to the writers and directors – I have never been as invested in an onscreen relationship as that of the Underwood’s.
Like Washington, the revolving doors spin incessantly this season, and the cast of characters becomes much larger than that of season one, allowing for subplots to secondary characters that have just been introduced. One might mistake such story-lines as filler, but the cautious viewer knows that the show mirrors the psyche of Frank Underwood; every bit of information provided has been given for a reason – ignore a character development at your own peril.
Overall, season two of House of Cards was an incredible spectacle to behold, in some ways equal and in other ways superior to season one – the image war between Frank and Raymond Tusk is riveting political theater at its finest, and to see the fruition of Frank and Claire’s knowing glances is a moment you won’t soon forget. Sure, nothing exactly like any of this could ever happen in Washington; the point of the show is to speak in hyperbole. The question is: how extreme is the hyperbole?