Holy Shakespearean drama! Frank Underwood is Macbeth, Iago, and King Claudius all rolled into one. His every action became more duplicitous and enthralling as the second season of House of Cards played out. As Netflix’s first show, it’s still proving how strong the material is by returning with another released all at once season. If there was ever show that deserved marathon viewing, it was this. Even if some of the results seemed a little too coincidental.
The second season picked up immediately following the first with Frank (Kevin Spacey) and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) reunited, and still jogging in the park. While the Underwoods were the center pieces of the show, each having individual arcs that played out over the season, minor characters from the first season were brought to the foreground, given paths of their own to walk. Ultimately, all of them played second fiddle to Frank’s conquest, becoming casualties both in and as a result of the main plot.
Claire’s path started off intriguing with her being interviewed and caught with a line of questioning, eventually admitting she had an abortion. She managed to dance around the questions, implicating a now decorated four star general for raping her in college, finally getting her revenge. This set her on a path of introducing a reform bill for civilian oversight in such matters. Like the proposition, this eventually fizzled out, with everything just ending. Not necessarily neatly tied up, just, over. This made it seem like it was to keep her character busy than grow her. While she did have a bit of emotional fallout in the end, this point could have easily been reached another way.
Molly Parker joined the cast as Frank’s replacement for Majority Whip Jacqueline Sharp. Early on she proclaimed to fellow Congressmen that she was not Frank Underwood. I have never heard a character make a more spot on declaration. She was shrewd, tough, and calculating but fair and balanced. She stood for what she believed and wouldn’t be manipulated by anyone else, be they Underwood or otherwise. She was easily one of my new favorite female characters in a long time. The writers managed to avoid every female stereotype with her.
The story line with the reporters, Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus), etc., was wrapped up too neatly. Seeing Frank deal with the situation in the first episode was jaw dropping and solidified his character for the betrayer he was. Seeing Lucas pick up the torch after was harrowing, but it ended to quickly. While I completely believe the FBI would entrap someone, I didn’t think the plot line would disappear so easily. This didn’t seem like a resounding conclusion, just something that was tucked away. Hopefully next season someone will discover him and put the pieces together.
While there were many other characters that felt the repercussions of Frank’s ambitions, none touched me more than Freddy’s (Reg E. Cathey). If Frank had a friend, it was Freddy. Someone who Frank could let down his guard with, put politics aside, and enjoy each other’s company. Like so many others, Freddy became collateral damage. This was when Frank lost his last, true friend. Watching Freddy tell Frank he was nothing more than a customer as he walked out the door was heartbreaking. Frank left, leaving what bit of his humanity he had left with one of his own bleeding on the sidewalk.
Finally, their’s Frank’s quest for power. This season had him sworn in has VP and climb up the ladder, separating the President from all his confidants and allies before taking the office for himself. It is a little hard to fathom that Frank was able to plan this many moves ahead, given how everything played out. Frank is more of an opportunist. Follow the chain of events back. The President was facing impeachment because of Frank’s actions, and accused of tampering with a witness. The witness was the President’s and First Lady’s marriage counselor, who the two were seeing at Claire’s suggestion, which they needed because of the insecurities Claire put in the First Lady’s mind. A little too convenient.
Frank is an opportunist. He strikes when he sees an opening, taking what he wants. Granted, he more often makes the openings, sometimes coincidental ways, but he creates them. Both he and his wife use people at their leisure. Nothing drove this point home more than the sex scene with their bodyguard. While some plots fell to the wayside to make way for Frank’s path into the Oval Office, this in itself more than made up for any subplot sort comings. My only question is, who will stand in Frank’s way now that Raymond Tusk is down?
How quickly did you marathon this season? Think some points were too coincidental? Comment below!
Now I want to reread Macbeth.