House of Cards: Season Two In Review

SPOILER ALERT! Series 2 of Netflix favourite, House of Cards, is upon us and Deputy Editor Michael Cogley has the lowdown.

Inconsistent would be the last adjective anyone on Capitol Hill would use to describe Frank Underwood, yet it fits perfectly as a descriptor of his second series.

It was safe to assume that season 2 was going to be good. Regardless of story, the sheer production quality from the first season ensured it was always an enjoyable watch.

Beau Willimon and co. did keep their side of the deal up and delivered with some of the finest direction and camera work seen on television. It is rather a lacklustre script and inconsistent characters that proves to be the series’ stumbling blocks.

If you want the short story, season 2 of House of Cards was made knowing it would get a third.

This is a worrying trend for such a terrific show. The way season 2 panned out purely from a storyline point of view would make one very sceptical as to what season three will be about.

Put it this way, in Frank’s current position the only way is down. Played by A-list actor Kevin Spacey, it could be speculated that he may be on his way out of the show, which would surely plummet it into disarray and disaster.

The second series of the political thriller starts with something that has become very characteristic of Mr. Underwood. Murder. While the show suffered a huge loss in Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), her dismissal did give the desired effect, which was to have audiences literally stunned.

The series’ start punched us in the stomach and then gave us the time to slowly crawl back to our feet following the shock death.

However once we had collected ourselves we remained upright with no real necessity to sit back down except perhaps tiredness.

Season 1 constantly had stomachs in knots with the tension Frank’s plans seemed to conjure. With his ascension into the Vice-Presidency, it just seemed to make every illegal and backhanded action inconsequential.

The manipulation of the President was child’s play. Frank could twist whatever decision he made far too easily and it seemed as if President Walker didn’t even notice Frank was running the country.

As regards the side stories, they were bordering on boring and attempting to be weird for the sake of being weird.
While I did find the Lucas story to be rather interesting and albeit straightforward, it was very well portrayed. The convincing of a man, so certain that his girlfriend was murdered by the Vice President, that he was mad was truly excellent and one of the few times we see Frank’s true intelligence and manipulation values.

The rest however seemed packed with tropes and clichés. Stamper’s weird fatherly affection for Rachel seemed completely out of character for him.

Claire’s sexual assault bill was to all intents and purposes, filler, which was very disappointing as she was one of the few powerful, meaningful female characters on television.

Granted season 2 suffered from the weight of expectation. I myself, expected it to continue along the same ruthless theme of the first series and was disappointed to see it water itself down, perhaps to cater for a wider audience.

One thing I must constantly remind myself of, when critiquing season 2, is that it’s not a bad series. House of Cards’ second outing would best a lot of television out there, the acting is terrific, there are a few shocks that really draw you in but it’s the inconsistency that stops it from being in the same league as the first.

Too many characters spoiled the broth on this one but hopefully we’ll see a return to form in season 3 and maybe even the downfall of President Underwood.

FluxInSight: Regardless of reviews, if you’ve watched the first season you’ll enjoy the second, just not as much.
3.9 / 5

Michael Cogley

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