Warning: this article contains major spoilers for House Of Cards seasons one and two.
Thank God for Netflix. The online streaming website has gone on to become a necessity for the viewing public around the world and has soared in popularity, becoming a hotspot for binge-watching and telly addiction. Weekends get taken over by the oh-so-tempting ‘next episode’ button and holidays are split-second affairs, consumed by Breaking Bad marathons.
I was introduced to House Of Cards early this spring and I finished it early this spring. The rule was two episodes per night – outrageous in the eyes of regular Netflix viewers – and it was swiftly devoured. The first season was engrossing; the second season more so as we watched the rise and rise of Frank Underwood, former Vice President of the United States, and now the most influential man in the world.
The third season of Netflix’s homemade political drama can’t come sooner – and while the climax of the second run gave us some answers, it didn’t tie everything up. As the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens. So what can we expect from House Of Cards next year now that the Underwoods are residing in the White House?
Frank Underwood, ex-House Majority Whip, ex-VP, double killer, longtime figure of speech addict. Before you sit down to watch House Of Cards you can easily draw up a tick-list of requisites. Firstly, Frank must always address the camera directly (in Chapter 14, the second season opener, as an in-joke to the audience he does not break the fourth wall for the majority of the episode and then, with an all too familiar smirk, says, “Did you think that I’d forgotten you?”). Second of all – and this ties in with the first item – Frank has to glance at the camera exasperatedly whenever someone is talking hokum to him. It’s such a wonderfully scathing look. Lastly, the metaphors and similes: Frank’s signature.
Over the two seasons we’ve had such figurative gems as, “The president is like a lone tree in an empty field – he leans whichever way the wind is blowing” or “He’s in the darkness now and I’m the only beacon of light. Now to gently guide him towards the rocks”. Frank Underwood is like a lion, he must use… no, I’m not good at these.
The repercussions of Peter Russo and Zoe Barnes’ death
Ah, Miss Barnes and Congressman Russo. The latter was one of the saddest of House Of Cards’ cast of characters and while he received a properly rounded arc, it was a tragic one. He fought substance addiction and prejudice from top-drawer politicians in order to achieve a highbrow gubernatorial position – and he very nearly did, until Frank sent him tumbling down, leaving two young children behind. Russo’s case was on the verge of being cracked at the beginning of season two before Frank bumped off the ringleader, his lover, Zoe Barnes – and this sent her co-conspirators, Lucas Goodwin and Janine Skorsky scurrying (though the former didn’t go down without a fight).
What House Of Cards has yet to do is show any cracks. At no point has Frank contemplated what he has done or shown any remorse or upset. The show is bottling every single wrongdoing up and, either in the third season (this seems likely) or in the possible fourth season, it will all spill out and have devastating emotional and physical ramifications.
Rachel Posner and the ‘death’ of Doug Stamper
Doug Stamper, Frank’s trusted aide and close friend, met his untimely ‘demise’ in the last half hour of season two as he was clobbered by Rachel, a young woman he had been infatuated with and whom he had manipulated. Now, we saw Doug’s bloodied body lying on the forest floor and he just might not be dead. The man behind him, Michael Kelly has refused to comment on whether or not he perished so Doug’s fate hangs in the balance. For now let’s say he’s dead, given how likely it seems – if he is alive one theory to nurture is that he’ll probably be comatose for much of season three.
Doug was a slimy character but another one of House Of Cards’ wretched characters. An orphan, he had little life outside of work and his unrequited lusting for Rachel was both creepy and incredibly sad. By the end of season two Frank was uninformed of Doug’s death but his passing – or not – will surely be addressed in the third season opener. What’s all the more saddening is that Doug never got to see his boss ascend to presidency, something he had helped him reach.
Rachel, twisted almost beyond repair, has had her life ruined by Doug and offing him was probably the best and worst thing she’s ever done. Rachel now has her freedom but the question of how she will get away with Doug’s murder remains. Easily, she could claim self-defense because she fled into those woods for fear of her life but Frank could step in and have her locked up in one fell swoop. Of all the story arcs that we’ll be seeing in season three, this is the one I’m most looking forward to – as well as finding out if Doug really is dead.
The further adventures of Gavin Orsay and his sidekick, Cashew.
When the story of FBI informant Gavin Orsay first appeared I was quite baffled. He’s a cliché, a geeky, floppy-haired hacker with a pet guinea pig whom he is devoted to, and as a character, is just that bit unconvincing. Gavin was brought in by the Feds to ensnare Lucas, who was on a mission to discover the truth about Zoe’s death, but after the journalist was successfully trapped and incarcerated, Gavin was still around. The last we saw him he was trying to extort his freedom from Doug but if he’s really dead then how will Gavin break away from his position as an informant?
Undoubtedly, Gavin’s guinea pig has more charm than him. The black-and-white rodent has faced a lot of trauma in its short little life and I’m sure we all bit our lip when Gavin’s handler threatened to trample his pet. What fate will season three bring little Cashew?
More Robin Wright
Robin Wright is a complete scene-stealer. Her svelte, icy-cool presence is one of House Of Cards’ strong points and she works incredibly well with her onscreen husband, Kevin Spacey. Spacey is also magnificent but Wright more so and Claire Underwood, Frank’s equal in so many respects, is the most fascinating character on the show. In Chapter 26, the second season finale, she was seen breaking down after visiting Megan Hennessey, a rape victim who had approached Claire after a candid TV interview and who had tried to commit suicide. Claire weeping is the first sign of guilt in either of the Underwoods and it was always going to be Claire that was the first to give way; nobody is quite as evil as Frank. The question is, when will she crack?
The second season of House Of Cards was significantly different to the first in that it widened its scope and zoomed out from Frank, extending the limelight to the likes of Lucas, Gavin, Rachel, Remy Danton and Jackie Sharp amongst others. Claire’s role was also expanded and we were given a fair bit of drama in her workplace, initially. Going by Claire’s involvement in season two and the fact she’s now the First Lady, I’ll wager that she’ll get a fair bit more to do in season three.
Someone else in Frank’s road
In the first season we had Michael Kern for a brief time and then in the second season it was Raymond Tusk, an unctuous businessman who happened to be close friends with the former President. Raymond was surprisingly good at getting his way and sweet-talking the President though he was no match for Frank. Still, things started to get nasty in the Tusk vs. Underwood war of season two and there were casualties, namely Frank’s BBQ ribs dealer Freddy who got caught in the crossfire. The ex-President, Garrett Walker also proved a threat to Frank when he finally, after so very long, cottoned on to his Vice President’s machinations. But now with Walker disgraced, Tusk behind bars and Frank sitting comfortably in the Oval Office – who could possibly stand in his way?
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