Francis Underwood takes no prisoners as he claws his way to the top.

by Ed Blackadder

After the success of the first season of House of Cards, I had high hopes for the same team to put together more-of-the-same or better, delivering another possible win at the Golden Globes, where the first season managed two nominations and a win for ‘Best Television Drama.’

Of the many things that made this series shine brighter than the competition, was the spot-on casting of key characters, with Robin Wright playing a very complicated woman and wife of a Congressman, Claire Underwood. We had to wait a few episodes before learning just how cunning Claire really could be, and we also learned she was more than able to handle her husband. Congressman Francis Underwood had an axe to grind after he was made promises by several party members, only to have him left out on a limb. Francis Underwood took no prisoners once he got started and proved to his enemies just how utterly ruthless and duplicitous he really was.

House of Cards: Season 2
Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly
Series Release Date
14 February 2014
Ed’s Grade: A+

As mentioned, the casting helped make this show the best political drama I’ve ever seen, with Robin Wright perfecting her role and playing Clare with utter conviction. But Kevin Spacey as the Congressman was where he got a chance to truly perform. The two movies that come-to-mind are American Beauty, and The Usual Suspects (which I mentioned in the Season One roundup). Another example of perfect casting is inGame of Thrones, where we watch Charles Dance literally become Tywin Lannister. I find when we are presented with a show where a strong character is needed, if the casting team don’t get it right, the audience just can’t buy into it or invest time, but Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are incredibly well suited to their roles.

As well as settling us in to the premier of Season Two, the first episode is about Zoe Barnes with two others, attempting to find out what really happened to Representative Peter Russo. Russo was a recovering addict/alcoholic who Francis needed sober for one of his many schemes. Russo ended up dead with it appearing to be a suicide, committed after he got drunk at a party. Zoe and co. remain unconvinced then Zoe starts communicating with Francis after months of avoiding him, but Francis appears to still want to be friends with the reporter, even though she won’t stop asking questions about the police report regarding Russo’s death.

Inbetween Underwood being under suspicion over Russo’s death and Claire proving just how ruthless she can be, Francis is days away from being confirmed as the new Vice President, and because of this has his man, Doug Stamper, up to no good, as usual. The ending of the premier is both shocking and extremely amusing. We see the soon-to-be Vice President murdering someone, then shortly after, we watch as Clare sees the news of the death on TV, and although she realises what Francis has done, acts as if it were nothing worth bothering about, by getting ready for the party that’s about to be thrown in the new VP’s honer.

Because it was Frances’ birthday he’s been getting gifts, which he hates, but his new lead, Secret Service protector gives him a set of cufflinks, which bare his initials. As he’s finishing getting ready, Francis says out loud, “did you think I’d forgotten about you?” then stares into the camera via the mirror, which was a great piece of levity, and then goes into an explanation of why he committed murder. We’re left with a final shot of the initialled cufflinks, telling the world to, F.U..