House of Cards Season 2 releases on Netflix this Friday, February 14th.
I’ll be the first to admit that I loathe Valentine’s Day with a burning passion (probably as an effect of being perpetually single). This year, however, doesn’t seem as bad for me: two of my friends ended up in horrible relationship situations, it’s a Friday so I can always hit the bar, and most important of all it marks the return of Netflix’s hit series House of Cards.
Since we last left off: Storyline wise, season one of House of Cards left a ton of loose ends on the table. Frank Underwood had just accepted the position of Vice President with his plan for revenge just completed. His fixer, Doug Stamper, has a major mess on his hands, as young journalist (and former Underwood paramour) Zoe Barnes is looking to the last days of late congressman Peter Russo. Underwood’s wife Claire meanwhile, is facing a lawsuit from a disgruntled former employee who is not afraid to lie under oath in order to maintain her ideals. Based on Netflix’s official trailer, we should see follow through on all of these.
Many of the main principals remain on the cast, but the show also picks up some fresh blood (which will be necessary since we move from congress to the executive branches). The most notable addition is Molly Parker as congresswoman Jacqueline Sharp, a California representative whom Underwood taps for his old seat as House Majority Whip.
More importantly than what is going on inside the universe of House of Cards is the macro-level effect that it, along with season four of Arrested Development and surprise hit Orange is the New Black had for Netflix and the future of the TV industry as a whole. I’ve touched numerous times on how critical those three series were to establishing the expansion and credibility of web-based distribution (and how they are the future of television as we know it), but House of Cards in particular has brought the bulk of prestige with Kevin Spacey being nominated multiple times for Best Actor in a Drama Series (for his portrayal of Frank Underwood) while Robin Wright scored a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama Series for her work as Claire. Netflix in turn showed the series a vote of confidence by green lighting not only this second season, but a third to debut in 2015.
What I’m Looking Forward To: Having gotten a chance to watch the first season recently, I’m looking forward to seeing what curve balls the vice-presidency throws Underwood. The tension between President Walker and Vice President Matthews is pretty common for the executive branch (one can argue that if there’s a VP whose gotten sidelined more than Matthews it’s probably Joe Biden). One can only imagine that a Walker-Underwood administration may end up looking more like the Kennedy-Johnson ticket (as Underwood is built very much on Johnson’s mannerisms).
Additionally, House of Cards is the sort of show where the whole tends to be greater than sum of all parts and works best when all of the plots intersect. It should be interesting to see if Barnes, Sikorsky, and Lucas are capable of mowing through a maze that Underwood and Stamp keep adding walls to second-by-second, while Claire works to trap those suing her (a suit that ultimately finds it root in Frank’s machinations that affect Claire’s nonprofit) in their own lies.
What I’m a little worried about: One of the things I truly liked about House of Cards was how subtle it could be. The tail end of season one started to get a little loopier and more drastic, starting with Russo’s murder and getting even more so as the investigation wore on. I’m a little worried that the second season could double down on the craziness, particularly with the journalists, who seem to be the ones often thrown into ridiculous story lines involving fake prostitution stings, trysts with colleagues and barging into offices.
Next Week: There’s still another week of the Olympics in Sochi before TV premieres pick back up again, so my series looking in at the major networks at mid-season will continue.