TV Review: House Of Cards Season 2
I’ve seen some criticism online that this season of House of Cards was in some way more predictable than the previous one and that Frank Underwood lacked someone to match up to him.
For me, I think that misses the real point of the entire show. I knew where the season was going to end up, just like I knew roughly where season 1 was going to end up. The fascination of this show is how the Underwoods (and they are more clearly a team than ever in season 2) get there.
Frank Underwood is machiavellian to the extreme and while it’s clear he had to improvise from time to time looking back you can see that everything largely followed the trajectory he planned from the beginning. There’s an elemental inevitability to his progression.
And along the way of course, everyone suffers. Innocent (though there are very very few of those in the show) or guilty alike are thrown onto the tracks if it serves the goal.
The depth of the supporting characters in the show is quite impressive, but it can be rather distracting. As some of the characters disappear from the show you are left with the nagging feeling of unresolved storylines. In some ways though, that merely mirrors real life.
But in the end it’s all about the Underwoods and the stellar performances from Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are what really sell it. Spacey’s Underwood is somehow simultaneously charismatic and friendly while stone cold pragmatic. You shouldn’t like him. You know you shouldn’t like him. And yet you do.
Meanwhile Claire Underwood almost always comes off as cold and almost robotic. Even her relationship with her husband seems at first glance to be calculated convenience. And yet she is the one who is finally pushed to break down in tears and what she has to do.
And the relationship between the two of them has a depth of commitment that’s hard to even fathom. Mostly passionless on the surface, from time to time the emotions bubble to the surface and in the end you’re left with the feeling that these two are committed to each other and no one else.
I’m curious where they’ll go with Season 3. I know how the story needs to end and I’m fairly sure they’ll go for it. But the question is whether they think they can get away with an intermediate story.