Netflix TV review: House of Cards (Season 2, Episode 2)
Chris Bryant | On 16, Feb 2014
After the first episode’s explosive final minutes, Episode 2 of House of Cards Season 2 may seem a little slower, but make no mistake: the events of Chapter 15 are far more worrying.
How often do you see Joe Biden in the news? He’s been the Vice President (one of the most powerful people in the world) for over four years and yet is very rarely reported on in any way. House of Cards’ fictional VP holds the same position and is possibly the single most powerful man on the planet – certainly the most dangerous – and he’s only just been sworn in. The episode opens with both Frank and the media noting that no one has ever voted for Frank and yet, here he is. They propagate that he’ll be gone soon, after the next election. The way Underwood operates, they’ll be lucky if there’s anyone left to challenge him.
Frank involves himself in the President’s relationship with Raymond Tusk, both of whom seem uncertain whom to trust, thanks to Frank’s spinning and hypothesising on the subject of Chinese cyber-terrorism. Elsewhere, Claire encounters an old college classmate and reveals some of her past (once more making her vulnerable and formidable simultaneously) and Lucas tries to find a way to find out the truth about Frank. Unintentionally, he’s started playing by the new VP’s rules – of which there are none.
Underwood tests out the stomach of his protégé – or his next victim, who can tell? – as he advises her in her quest to become the new Chief Whip. The breaking of the fourth wall moments are again kept to a minimum, leaving the audience as in the dark as everyone else, including the President, about what Frank wants from any of them. Ironically, an uncharacteristic moment of rage reveals Frank’s softer side, as he begins his new duties – and has to deal with a few inside his own house. Spacey continues his award-worthy performance, ensuring that the few smirking monologues there are, delivered in his luxurious Southern drawl, are as intimidating as high school chemistry teachers, redneck zombie killers, remorseful mob bosses and dragon-commanding Queens.
Frank Underwood is now the Vice President. That’s the message here. Naturally, he wastes no time remoulding the world stage to his own ends and it’s here that House of Cards stops to let you consider that, as entertaining as it is, there’s nothing stopping a real Francis Underwood somewhere, advising the people you see on the front page so regularly. This week, Frank begins his new position: as puppeteer of the entire world.