House of Cards (Netflix): Season 2 Preview

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Kevin Spacey House of Cards

At the 2013 Emmys, one show made history by being getting nominated in several key categories, and winning three. What was special about the TV show? Well, it wasn’t on TV! It was among the first generation of big-budget shows made exclusively for the internet, so that viewers can just binge watch the entire season in one go, if they want to. House of Cards paved the way for other high-quality internet shows, like Orange is the New Black. This revolution, led by Netflix, could change how we see television forever. In many ways, it already has.

The show, in case you don’t already know, is based on a British miniseries of the same name. The BBC one ran for three seasons in the 90s, and was very well received. The Netflix version has adapted the broad strokes, but because of this being set in the U.S. political system, many of the nuts and bolts of the plot had to be modified. I think you can find the British show on youtube if you look properly. I haven’t seen it but I’ve heard good things about it.

David Fincher, who directed the first season 1 episode, and won an Emmy for it, won’t be returning to direct this time. He’s probably busy with Gone Girl. This time, the roster of directors includes Carl Franklin, John David Coles, James Foley, Robin Wright, and Jodie Foster. Yes, that Jodie Foster. She has also directed an episode of Orange is the New Black.

House of Cards Kevin Spacey Kate Mara Robin WrightThis season might also be the last for the series. It isn’t easy to keep such a star-studded show going forever. Rick Cleveland, one of the show’s producers, said at the Vancouver International Film Festival in October:

House of Cards is only going to go a second season and I think that’s it. Kevin Spacey likes to do movies and Robin Wright likes to do movies.

I don’t really mind that. The story will be concise, and self-contained, like a televised novel. It’s better than going for eight seasons and ending like Dexter.

House of Cards Season 2 Plot

Here’s the official synopsis for season 2:

Francis (Kevin Spacey) and Claire (Robin Wright) Underwood continue their ruthless rise to power as threats mount on all fronts. Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara, “American Horror Story”), an up-and-coming reporter and Francis’s former paramour, is inching closer to the truth about his crimes. President Walker’s (Michel Gill, “The Good Wife”) billionaire confidante Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney, “Southland”) demands that Francis reciprocate political favors or face retribution. And Claire must confront the increasing glare of the spotlight as it eats away at her and Francis’s once private existence. The Underwood’s must overcome these dangers — past and present — to avoid losing everything, regardless of collateral damage they leave in their wake.

The political world, as portrayed by House of Cards, seems very hyper-competitive, and cut-throat, where people seeking power try to gain it by any means possible. Some of the events seem to be streching plausibility, but series creator Beau Willimon told CNN it’s more or less in line with how it’s done in Washington:

It’s a rough-and-tumble game whenever power is involved — people’s ambitions, their desires, their competitive spirit will often push them to play outside the rules. It’s dramatic, it’s interesting, and I think it’s something we can all identify with to a degree.

When asked about some aspects of the show being beyond the pale:

Well, beyond the pale ethically for most people, sure. But not beyond the pale in terms of reality. That’s an extreme version, but in the history of humanity, a lot of heads have rolled in order for people to ascend to the throne.

House of Cards Season 2 Premiere

The show will premiere on February 14th, 2014. By “premiere”, we mean “have its entire second season available online”, of course. Welcome to 21st century! Enjoy your Valentine’s Day with some lies, deceit, and betrayal.

House of Cards Season 2 Cast

Kevin Spacey as Frank

Robin Wright as Claire

Kate Mara as Zoe

Michael Kelly as Doug

Sakina Jaffrey as Linda

Sebastian Arcelus as Lucas

Constance Zimmer as Janine Skorsky

Mahershala Ali as Remy Danton

Michel Gill as President Garrett Walker

Ben Daniels as Adam Galloway

Gerald McRaney as Raymond Tusk

House of Cards Season 2 Pictures

House of Cards Season 2 Videos

Reasons to see

The acting is great, and the cinematography is as good as anything on TV. Kevin Spacey is a delight to watch, and the supporting cast is fairly entertaining. Robin Wright has great chemistry with Spacey, and together they help some of the clunky dialogue digestible.

This kind of political thriller is rare, and won’t be possible as a network show, or a movie. The fact that you get all the episodes in one go has been highly attractive to many viewers who prefer to binge-watch instead of waiting for weeks.

Reasons to skip

I don’t like Kate Mara. Was she in Twilight? Or was that Anna Kendrick? I always confuse the two. I think Mara’s character’s arc in first season was one of the less believable parts, though at the end it started getting steam. I’m interested to see how it turns out.

I think the show is well-made, but all the praise makes it feel a bit over-rated. It’s sometimes slow and directionless. What was the point of the episode where Frank hangs out with his old college buddies? Also, Claire’s photographer boyfriend is really douchey and I hope Frank gets him brutally murdered.