House of Cards S01 was a great ride as Kevin Spacey moves from being House Whip to VP in 13 episodes. I was impatient to see where they would go with this in a second season and I was FAR from disappointed. The action is swift and perhaps even more brutal (particularly in E01!) than in the first season, but the realism stays relatively consistent. I will avoid spoilers (as hard as that is for a show like this), but I can say that I’d give Robin Wright the Emmy for Best Actress based on this performance. (I think that despite his excellent here, Matt McConaughley gets the nod for True Detective in my book so far). The action is riveting throughout and there are fascinating new faces and sinister old ones. For those that haven’t even seen S01, this is sort of a Sopranos-type show where the protagonist is a very bad guy but where the writers are hoping that we will root for him in spite of ourselves – and in that sense the show is very successful. The sexual mores of Underwood are mysterious but there is an excellent scene about this in S02 that reveals a little more than we learned at the fraternity in S01.
If I might just make a few desultory comments because nothing is perfect – I was annoyed with three aspects of this show. 1/ The President Garret seems way too manipulable for someone that seems to have an otherwise strong personality. Weak, impressionable presidents (Dubya, Reagan) are usually buttressed by extraordinarily strong advisors and cabinets but this President is – or seems to be – less well-protected and surrounded and thus left a little too vulnerable in my opinion and this made me shed a little suspension of belief 2/ The story line about the rape bill was a bit sensational (although the acting of Robin Wright was captivating) and I got really fed up with the Megan character as being predictably weak and an eventual vulnerability to the Underwoods 3/ the story line of Rachel and Doug Stamper was also annoying and creepy and was really only there to sell S03 and as such could have been shortened a bit I think. All that being said, I liked the view of the Deep Web, however, they quickly buried Lucas – too quickly in my opinion and I found that to weaken the storyline as well.
Is House of Cards S02 as strong as S01? Well, I thought that it was a bit faster-paced and kept me involved but perhaps it was a little rushed from a writing point of view because the ascension of Underwood did seem a little too quick – even given his rapid rise is S01. That being said, I will be impatient to see S03 in 2015…
PS. I noticed that Robin Wright directed a few episodes as did Jody Foster of all people!