Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen House of Cards Season 2, Episodes 1 – 3.
“There is but one rule, hunt or be hunted. Welcome back.” – Francis Underwood, “Chapter 14”
Just in case the months away led you to forget, House of Cards wasted no time in reminding us how ruthless the Underwoods are in their pursuit of power.
The second season picked up right where we left off, Francis and Claire out for a jog with little thought to how close their downfall was behind them. Of course, close is an extremely relative term when you exhibit the kind of cold, calculative mind Claire and Frank both possess.
Claire was facing a wrongful termination suit, which for most people would keep them awake at night. For Claire it’s nothing more than a slight annoyance. She sent the wife of Gillian’s baby daddy after her, did some light detective work to figure out Gillian needed a special drug to ensure her baby’s health and then terminated her health insurance to ensure she wouldn’t receive it. She then calmly informed her former friend and co-worker that she would “let your child wither and die inside you” unless Gillian agreed to take over the Clean Water Initiative in her stead. It seems a harsh stance to take, but walking away with a billion dollar organization to run softens that little blow.
And as much as Gillian may wish she hadn’t crossed Claire; she’s damn lucky she didn’t cross Frank. The other half of the Underwood marriage deals with his enemies in a much more final way.
When Frank resorted to murder to tie up some loose ends last season it was shocking enough, the fact that it now seems to be his go to method for shutting people up is downright disturbing. He was mere days away from being named as Vice President and he was secure enough in his power to go to a public place in a disguise even Clark Kent would roll his eyes at and push a former lover in front of a train. That takes balls.
But while the first episode was all about the bang of Frank’s power, the second two episodes were dedicated to exploring his equally masterful soft touch.
One heartbeat away from leading the free world, Frank was up to his usual tricks. His first order of business with his newfound power was to set himself to inherit even more. For now that means throwing covert support towards Jackie Sharp in the race for his vacated seat as Majority Whip and driving a wedge in Tusk’s power over the president.
The latter manifested itself in some backroom dealings with the Republicans of Congress. What makes Frank such an intriguing character is his ability to frighten and endear the audience, many times in the same breath. Having a real-life Frank Underwood in our politics is terrifying, but who can deny wishing there had been someone willing to physically stop the government shutdown we faced last year? Like the senators and congressmen he easily controls, the audience is also scared and impressed in equal measure.
As thrilling as it is to see Frank’s vengeance explode in homicidal rage towards persistent journalists and innocent lighting fixtures alike, his mastery of manipulation is fascinating. As usual his wife is quite right, this is where his success will come from.
But his frequent trips to his more explosive side still threaten to undo his hard work.
Lucas Goodwin has taken up Zoe’s mantle and is obsessed with nailing Underwood for both Russo and Zoe’s murders. He is undeterred by the fact that his target is A) most likely a murderer and B) the Vice President of the United States. Apparently in his grief he missed how messing with this man worked out for his girlfriend.
Lucas took his quest as far as the “deep web” and there he found a shadowy figure ready and willing to help… after some intense precautionary measures, of course. Of course Stamper is hot on Lucas’ trail so there is a very good chance this source could be a stealth subway train in disguise.
If he’s not though, will he actually provide evidence to bring down the Underwoods for good? Will Rachel find religion and a conscious? And just how far will Frank go to get into the oval office? Give me a few days and I’ll let you know.
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