I never imagined I’d end up loving House of Cards. After immersing myself in the unsettling (yet admittedly outstanding) production that was True Detective, I was wary of starting yet another “serious” show. Thankfully, while House of Cards respects the politics at its center, it does so through an iconic lead character who just might be one of the most intriguing and compelling protagonists ever put on screen.
Yes, this is Kevin Spacey’s show, and he owns Frank Underwood down to every nuance. In fact, the show’s most defining moments occur when Underwood breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience directly, relaying important facts or one of his various manipulative plots. It’s a fantastic storytelling device, and I love the fact that Frank is always one step ahead of everyone else. Watching him orchestrate devious machinations throughout the season proves to be extremely satisfying, and each one of his ruses make his ascent to power all the more thrilling.
The show’s other MVP is certainly Robin Wright, and her Claire Underwood is a delight to watch on every level. The actress perfectly imbues Underwood’s wife with the right degree of iciness and vulnerability, while ravaging everyone in her path. The duo form the ultimate power couple, and it’s a testament to how impeccably-executed the show is that you find yourself rooting for their malicious ways.
Season two of House of Cards is an interesting beast. I definitely enjoyed it, and it had its moments of utter greatness (the harrowing murder in the premiere comes to mind), but I don’t think it was as mindblowing as the show’s debut year. Binge-watching the season within the span of two days revealed an obvious flaw: repetition. There are only so many scenes one can take of Frank and Tusk butting heads (while manipulating the President) before things get old.
On the bright side, Claire got some incredible material, punctuated by her fascinating CNN interview in which she used her traumatic history to her advantage. Robin Wright delivered some astounding work this season, and it’s a pity the writers kind of dropped the ball with regards to her character before regaining focus in the finale. Still, it would do the show good to bring her into center-stage in season three.
Nevertheless, the dialogue was as sharp as ever in season two, and it was a hoot to watch Frank and Claire double-team the President and the First Lady culminating with that magnificent final scene. I get chills thinking about all the possibilities the show can explore in its third year. Bring on the evil!
Consistently engaging, House of Cards shines thanks to an unconventional protagonist and brilliant writing.