Netflix TV review: House of Cards Season 2, Episode 11 (Chapter 24)
Chris Bryant | On 02, Apr 2014
“You’re scared, I can tell.”
After weeks of Frank playing with his enemies, friends and neighbours, taking their pride and upending their beliefs, in Episode 11, he finally makes his move. His move, however, is the political equivalent of standing near your enemies, spontaneously combusting and hoping that a) they all catch on fire, and b) that somehow you survive and they don’t. Then again, if anyone can do it, it’s Francis Underwood.
Dropping a couple of hints to a streetwise reporter leads to her pulling back the curtain on the super PACs scandal. The investigative attorneys involved only have to connect the dots. This puts Frank in a tough positive. To put it in perspective, he develops a nervous tic – this from a man who has barely experienced nervousness.
20 minutes into the episode and the stage is set. It’s like watching an explosion in ultra-slow motion; serene and chaotic at the same time. This is a strange kind of back foot that we find Frank on; somewhat alone and momentarily helpless. The superb writing team ensure that those truly loyal remain: Stamper, despite his increasing infatuation with Rachel Posner; and Claire, offering support and sacrifice but with none of them having any control over what is happening. After all, the Underwoods are used to avenging their fort, not navigating the minefield outside of it. The melee, not of Frank’s making, is a challenge we’ve yet to see him face.
After many episodes of fourth-wall breaking and immoral manoeuvring, Spacey is presented with an episode that asks him to be more than the ever-ready deity of vengeance. A little forgiveness here, a little honesty there – everything his character would look upon and laugh, Spacey delivers in a manner which not only presents the Vice President as believable, but without telling us anything we didn’t already know. That’s the beauty of Kevin’s performance: Underwood has always been a person. Throughout his felonies and his schemes, there has never been a point at which Francis has seemed outside of the realm of realism.
In Chapter 11, he is defensive, he is uncertain. He is scared – we can tell. But Frank has always been Frank, which is why his terrible deeds seem so much more terrible. And impressive.