Netflix TV review: House of Cards Season 2, Episode 12 (Chapter 25)
Chris Bryant | On 04, Apr 2014
House of Cards is cool. Kevin Spacey’s cool. The entire cast is cool and they’re dressed cool and they are given cool lines to say in cool settings. Episode 12 marks the penultimate episode of Season 2 and, as you’d expect, it’s pretty… well, you know.
Like its protagonist (or antagonist, depending on your moral standpoint and ability to withstand persuasive Southern accents), House of Cards picks its battles and does not back down. What it does, it does better than any other television show. Episode 12 merely shows that off.
Francis Underwood tricks, back-stabs and stares right down the camera and tells you why he’s right. Or, more accurately, why he’ll win. Of course Episode 12 is good. But more than that, it’s cool. The audience is given just enough to see where Frank is going. (Here’s a hint: it’s up.) Castrating Remy and Tusk in one move, Frank sets his sights on a bigger fish. A fish that only realises not to trust him until its too late.
The success of this chapter is that, as with many series towards the end, each character is placed in a position they’ve been direly trying to avoid. Remy is forced to compromise; President Walker is forced to confront; Rachel is forced to cut her newfound ties. Frank’s camp, however, seems untouched. The writers – ever precise, ever subtle – have Claire bonding with Jackie (Molly Parker, as stern and hostile as anyone that attractive) and Doug bonding with Seth (Derek Cecil, a newcomer who brings a knowing stillness to the screen). All the while, Frank watches over the dominoes falling just as he had planned.
Aside from the suits, the carefully executed betrayals and threats that flow like rural streams, Episode 12 effortlessly displays this cooler, slicker side of House of Cards through its volume. Tusk shouts at his lawyers, Frank discusses urgently with his PR double-team of Doug and Seth, Remy is silent. It’s a treat to hear a cast of actors skilled in smooth monologues (helmed by an icon with two Oscars) quietly threatening and smirking and coercing each other until they see who’s left standing.
But Chapter 25 manages to be more than the typical exciting penultimate episode; it selects a portion of what makes the series a masterpiece and hones it into something even smarter, sharper and slicker. As you watch the credits roll, undoubtedly craving the next chapter, you become acutely aware of exactly how cool the show is.