19th Feb2014

House of Cards Season Two: Episodes 1-3 Review

by Catherina Gioino

House-of-Cards-S2

In Netflix’s original series, House of Cards returned for its second season on Friday, February 14th 2014 to blow away audiences everywhere, even causing a 16% spike of Netflix’s new users (and beating out last year’s premiere with a spike of only 2%).

The point is, it’s doing quite well financially. However, since it is such a new form of entertainment- releasing the entire season in one huge clump- there has been an outcry over whether people have the right to give away spoilers to the show. More often than not, people assume that since it was released on the holiday weekend and it was heavily anticipated and met with such a hubbub, that just everyone would drop everything to watch the entire series in one sitting.

Again, those people assumed that everyone would do exactly what they did this past weekend and drop everything to watch the season, but other people had things to do (like sleep) that prevented them from watching the entire series in one sitting. And having done just that, I feel that saving the season one by one is a much better than binge watching, especially if you’re trying to avoid House of Cards withdrawal. And so, in order to prevent those who haven’t finished the season from being spoiled and to aid those who have, I’m going to write a spoiler-free and all-out review of each just so we can all be on the same page. So, here goes.

Spoiler-free Episode One:

We start right where we left off at the end of the first season where Claire and Frank are jogging through the park. Now that Frank’s the VP, he needs to find a new majority whip to take his place, and so he chooses Jackie Sharp who he believes would allow him to use from time to time. At the same time, Gillian Cole (who gave Claire all those problems in season 1) gets a surprise visit from the wife of the man she slept with, and then asks Claire for help later on. Claire has some twisted (but alas, remember this is House of Cards we’re talking about) things to say, but ultimately gets Gillian to settle the lawsuit, and that’s the last we see of her character for the rest of the season. It also happens to be Frank’s birthday and Meechem (his loyal driver) gives him cufflinks after Doug Stamper (Frank’s Chief of Staff) tells him that Frank hates his birthday. And remember Rachel, the former prostitute-turned waitress? Well she plays a huge role in this season so pay attention to her.

Basically this chapter is all about getting back into the groove of the show and reintroducing us to the past while moving the plot along. It instantly grabs you and captivates from the second you turn it on and it just forces you to keep watching until the very end. It does a great job of catching you up with the past with just enough of the current to avoid making you think it was one of those slow moving recap episodes. Not only is it as addicting as the first season, but it makes you question why you went   so long without rewatching the first season again. Of course, be sure to wait for surprising  and brutal acts from Frank as we see a deeper relationship forming between him and Claire.

Spoiler-free Episode Two:

Remember Secretary of State Cathy Durant? Yeah, we like her, since, while she is Frank’s unquestioning servant, she has some sort of innocence in her that we expect to take over once Frank asks too much of her. Anyhow, Raymond Tusk, President Walker’s billionaire friend from season one who was supposed to test Frank to be VP, is urging Cathy not to pressure China into a cyber warfare. Why is this guy involved in everything? Don’t forget he’s a multi-billionaire that needs power over money, so a cyber war would prove costly for him. Meanwhile, Frank is being sworn in at his house which is now being renovated to secure his safety. Lucas, Zoe’s on and off again boyfriend, is now investigating Frank for illegal activities, while Cathy follows through with Frank’s plan and causes outrage between China and the US. All this happening while Frank’s first public outing as VP, he has to award two Army Generals for their work, one of which knew Claire personally. All of this is going on as Jackie Sharp has to decide between her morals and her strife to power, and Frank plays President Walker into his secret plan by not apologizing to China. This episode is all about power over money, about what people are willing to do for what they love, or who they love, and this episode easily undermines the viewer’s scruples it had toward the relationship between Frank and Claire, while just adding to Tusk’s villainous look.

Spoiler-Free Episode Three:

Lucas keeps digging himself into trouble as he tries to find out the truth of what Frank did to Peter Russo and so he finds Christina (Russo’s girlfriend who now works as part of President Walker’s staff) to tell him more information, in which she tells him to leave or get arrested.Lucas then gets a contact who knows how to find out anything Lucas would need to pinpointing Frank to Peter’s murder and more, and there’s some weird bird/shrimp like thing that’s pretty creepy to watch when it’s four in the morning and you’re on this HOC binge. Anyhow, that’s Lucas while Frank has to get the Republicans to vote for a bill to be passed to avoid a government shutdown and so he manages to get the Republicans arrested for stalling the voting process, thus showing the viewer just how powerful he really is. Deliver a handful of bone-chilling dialogue and we have the most eventful episode of the season so far.

Episode One Full Review:

Holy cow did you guys see that? I mean, we all knew that Frank was evil and manipulative and he ‘s killed before, but that quickly? Well it wasn’t surprising since we all expected for Zoe to be taken out by Frank,  but we still expected some warning time, perhaps the second or third episode. Then we see Claire pull her creatively devious master-plan together as we witness her saying she would rather let an unborn child die before she gives in and loses. Can you say twisted? And nothing shows how aloof Frank is when he gets Nancy to throw out all his birthday cards as well as give away all the gifts he received, except Meechem’s cufflinks which ultimately give that punch of an “FU” to everyone who’s at the receiving end of his hands. This episode was really exactly what we all needed to secure our loyalty to HOC and it made us feel giddy yet afraid when Frank broke the fourth wall near the end, although I do have to say that there’s not that much of direct monologues to the viewer in this season. Nonetheless, this episode was an excellent start to the rest of the best twelve hours to come.

Episode Two Full Review:

Just when we started to doubt the relationship between Frank and Claire, we get this sob story of Claire being raped by an Army General no less. And what really sells the viewer on whether Frank truly loves her, he lets his emotions take the best of him and threaten to kill him on the spot. Now we know Frank killed before and his emotions were shown minimally, but this is the first time we see him care, emotionally, for Claire, let alone another person. I’m still not sure what I’m more surprised about- the fact that she was raped or the fact that Frank was going ballistic. What’s even more revealing of Frank’s character is just how two-faced he really is. Again, there are things that the viewer knows but we haven’t been able to put it together in full detail until it just hits you. He’s playing the president into doing exactly what he wants, even if the president wants to ignore him. But this episode goes to Claire for not letting something as huge as rape bring her down from her future and her cold personality. And question of the day- how does Tom bring and then drink beer in Lucas’ glass office without anyone noticing? Come on!

Episode Three Full Review:

Just how much more amazing can this show get? First we have some creepy bird/shrimp combo animated thing on that iPad that just proves how naive Lucas is in this great time of distress, as well as the rash decisions we make with impaired judgement. Now while we knew that Frank was pretty powerful, we didn’t expect him to publically arrest the entire Republican party for his schemes. And while he gets the job done, we also didn’t expect Walker to have a say and show some backbone for once in this series and yell at Frank. And what was with Jackie? She’s a war veteran Majority Whip that is all tatted up? Obviously expect to see a lot more from her in the future.

So top things to remember for this- HFS Zoe Barnes died, but somehow Frank isn’t even seen in the surveillance. . . well played Frank, well played. Also, Claire was raped,which could help explain her cold appearance, and that she hired Connor as their PR person, which could lead to very important events in the near future. So heads up.

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