House of Cards Season 2 Review: Episodes 10-13

The Netflix political drama House of Cards season 2 reaches its finale with our review of the final episodes!

For all of our other House of Cards season 2 reviews, check out episodes 1-3 here, episodes 4-6 here, and episodes 7-9 here! Beware of spoilers throughout!

Why can’t all marriages be like the Underwoods? Why can’t the average American husband watch a little porn, and then excitedly tell his wife about getting walked in on and get nothing but a laugh in return? I want that kind of love.

Episode 10 of House of Cards Season 2 wants us to focus on big events like a bombing attempt outside the Underwood residence or the Wall Street Telegraph’s continued investigation into Raymond Tusk, but the scenes that have the biggest impact are the smaller, more intimate ones, like Frank and Claire’s pillow talk.

Remy goes to work on getting some information out of Jackie Sharp, and while he’s only using sex to get info on her tattoo for now, it’s clear that entire sequence is a metaphor for something larger. Is Remy sleeping with Jackie in order to get info on Frank? The relationship between Stamper and Rachel grows more… well, it’s more of something, though I’m  not sure if intimate or creepy is the right word. What grown man constantly needs someone to read to them? Rachel is clearly inside Stamper’s head and it’s affecting his work.

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I screamed when Zoe was pushed in front of the Metro train in this season’s first episode. I didn’t quite yell with the same impact during Episode 11’s big surprise, but there was definitely something audible escaping from my lips when Meachum and Frank locked lips. In hindsight though, I felt stupid for not seeing this coming. We were told of Frank’s sexuality during an episode at his old college during the first season, so it should have been expected that we might get another nod in that direction. I also thought back to Episode 10 when Frank subconsciously calls Meachum by his first name during a conversation with Claire.

All of Claire’s careful work sabotaging the Walkers marriage is starting to pay dividends, as all of the various storylines are now slowly merging together. The Remy and Jackie storyline goes the opposite way of my expectations. I was expecting Jackie to get burned, not for Remy to give in to his heart.

The Tusk money laundering storyline is still moving along into Episode 12, but it’s now abundantly clear that Frank’s main worry is the President. He begins the episode getting tossed into exile and spends most of the next hour fighting off resistance from all sides. In the end, he’s able to turn it around by tapping the two people whose success he’s most responsible for. He pow wows with Jackie and Catherine Durant in an attempt to get all of his ducks in a row and a battle plan emerges. But there’s one last snag: the President gives a great performance in his press conference and seems determined to make one final stand.

Going into Episode 13, we all know what’s going to happen, right? I mean, sure, the writers attempt to keep suspense high with Tusk and Frank continuing to use the President as a ping pong ball, but if you thought this season was going to end with Walker still in office, you haven’t been paying attention. I didn’t particularly care for the way Raymond gave himself up just to take the President down with him. If I had billions of dollars, I’d use every single one of them if I was trying to avoid jail time. But you know, convenient plot development. I was rather bored by Feng’s contributions to this season so when Frank sent him back to China to be executed, I couldn’t help but smile. Good riddance and a perfect way for a man like Frank Underwood to start his presidency.

I suppose you could say Doug Stamper also got what he deserved. It’s been obvious for a few episodes that Rachel was his new drug, and unlike the alcohol, this one did end up killing him. I’m just happy that Rachel is free from his grasp and on her way back to Washington, presumably. I enjoyed these 13 episodes, but my biggest disappointment was how most of the major plot points from Season 1 were banished to the sidelines (or thrown in front a Metro train) this season. The Tusk and Feng storyline was interesting, but it wasn’t really on par with what we saw from Peter Russo and Zoe Barnes last year.

Frank’s smug gaze as he stands over his new desk says it all. He doesn’t even have to utter a word this time. 26 episodes after getting snubbed for Secretary of State, he’s accomplished what he set out to do from the very beginning. Everyone who has ever stood in his way, from Linda Vasquez to the President himself, is now gone. Frank’s victory is absolute.

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Which of course, begs the question: Now what?

Sure, Season 3 will no doubt bring Rachel back to the forefront and we’ll probably hear from Lucas somehow as well. But part of what made House of Cards‘ first two seasons so great was watching Frank’s slow, meticulous climb towards the top while dealing with the problems along the way. Season 3 will have plenty of suspense, it’s likely that both of Frank’s murders could come back to haunt him, but is it really the same show now that there’s no higher mountain left to scale? The writers will have their work cut out for them as we move into this new phase, and there will be a lot of time to speculate. I’m a huge fan of Netflix’s binge-worthy content dumps… until I run out of said content. It’s going to be a long wait for Season 3. Until then, Hail to the Chief.

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4 out of 5