Netflix UK review: House of Cards (Season 2, Episode 1)
Chris Bryant | On 14, Feb 2014
Thundering back into the station, House of Cards – and its lead, Francis J. Underwood (Kevin Spacey) – is an unstoppable train. With a final scene that smirks as it chills and an opening scene showing how easy Frank and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) make it look, it feels as though the two of them could arrive at any destination they choose.
Showrunner Beau Willimon, David Fincher, Kate Mara (as reporter Zoe Barnes) and co. continue along the tracks of the soon-to-be Vice President. Frank’s Machiavellian wrath is tasked with ensuring his election still, but by tying up loose ends from what one might call his campaign trail. If episodes were entitled with tactics, Chapter 14 would be ‘Fear’. Fear about what you know and fear about what you don’t know. Fear about what He might do if he finds out.
He starts the engine on a plan to ensure his replacement as House Majority Whip is someone he chooses, but we see little of Frank’s breaking of the fourth wall at the start of Season 2, only serving to make him seem more knowledgeable and dangerous.
Claire continues being both sporadically kinder and more ruthless than her husband, convincing everyone that the kindness is more than a front for the ruthlessness as she piles more coal into the fire. Confronted by an ex-colleague and forcing upon her an ultimatum (with her trademark air of chilling solidity), she also begins helping Frank become VP material; encouraging his jogging and tossing his cigarettes.
Once again painting Washington DC as a stretching mass of white stone and an ever-growing number of dimly lit rooms, House of Cards hitches its trademark wagons and departs, somehow more intense and more unpredictable than before. Those who thought Season 1 ended with Frank getting what he wanted should know better.
There are no brakes. There are no safety valves. The pressure gauge is red. Francis Underwood and his loyal allies have boarded. And that train is never late.