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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

House of Cards 2: Even Better than Season 1, and Why

I saw the second season of House of Cards over the weekend - thanks to Netflix seamless streaming - and loved it.   It's better than the first, which is saying a lot, because the first was outstanding, too. Spoilers galore follow.

Among the highlights 

  • Frank's killing of Zoe at the end of the first episode - not only a stunning bolt from the blue, but thoroughly plausible given what we saw of Frank last year.  The killing also had the virtue of getting Zoe off the show - her relationships with Frank last year was the least believable part of the first season.  Later on in the second season, Frank says to Claire that he's not risking any more affairs, which makes good sense for a Vice President
  • Frank also establishes his direct commentary to the viewing audience at the end of the first episode - and, in general, this commentary works a little better than it did the first season
  • Molly Parker, who's great at anything she does, was exciting and refreshing as the new Whip Jackie Sharp, the best new character in the series, who shined in every scene she was in, including those with Kevin Spacey, who gave another incandescent performance.   Her affair with Remy, who also had an even better season than last year, was also one of the two most interesting affairs on the show.
  • The other interesting affair is Rachel's with her lover Lisa, also a compelling new character, albeit with limited screen time.
  • Good to see Rachel kill Doug - not only justified for this sicko political henchman, but another character who, although he had his moments, was mostly a drain on the show.
  • The Freddie story is not a highlight because, although it was ok, I would have rather seen Freddie and Frank continue as they were last year.  I suppose that couldn't last, though, because you can't have a President going out every morning for ribs.
  • Frank's manipulation of events to finally become President of the United States is sheer genius.
  • Ashleigh Banfield's interview with Claire, in which she reveals that she was raped, was superbly acted by Banfield.  (I can't say the same for most of the other real anchors who appeared in the second season.  Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity were ok.   Chris Hayes and Chris Matthews were stiff.  I don't know why real people have so much trouble playing themselves.  I know if I had to play the part of a professor, I'd do just fine :)
  • I loved the opening credits and the music last year, and even more so this year.   When the strings come in near the end I grieve and soar.
So see House of Cards, second season, and treat yourself to one of the best pieces of television to come down the pike.

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