Netflix’s remake of House of Cards has set the bar incredibly high for television drama. The first season of the show achieved the rare feat of garnering even more critical-acclaim than the original series it was based on. It also highlighted why more and more of Hollywood’s top actors are turning to the small screen in search of meatier roles.
Earlier this year the second season of House of Cards was released in its entirety exclusively on Netflix. Arriving on Valentine’s Day, the show was binge-watched over the weekend by lots of viewers and the critical acclaim poured in thick and fast. The second season picks up with Frank Underwood’s (Kevin Spacey) continued rise to power in the aftermath of Peter Russo’s (Corey Stoll) death in the first season. With reporters digging around about the Congressman’s death, Frank turns to his loyal aide Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) to throw them off the scent and distance him from the murder.
Many of the storylines from the first season continue in this season. Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) is battling her former employee Gillian (Sandrine Holt) over wrongful termination, Doug becomes infatuated with prostitute Rachel (Rachel Brosnahan) who was tied to Russo, and Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) teams up with Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus) to try and take Frank down.
There’s new blood in the mix this season with the arrival of Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker) who takes up Frank’s old position of House Majority Whip and quickly becomes involved with her new boss’ former employee Remy Danton (Mahershala Ali). There’s a shift around with some of the characters from the first season too but we don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t seen it.
The main theme for the season is Frank’s determination to take the seat of President Walker (Michel Gill) and the under-handed politician will stop at nothing to manipulate his way further up the White House chain for his own gain. This of course means constantly butting heads with the President’s confidante Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney) who is partial to manipulating the President too. Whilst Frank is busy doing that Claire gets herself into the middle of another controversial situation when she publicly reveals a secret from her past in order to try and push through new legislation.
As always with House of Cards, the drama is high and the performances excellent. From the opening episode of the season there are twists aplenty and our jaws hit the floor many times throughout the season. There’s one particular scene involving Frank’s bodyguard Meechum (Nathan Darrow) that will take you by complete surprise and look after some characters in a different light. At the heart of the show are Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Their performances are nothing short of extra-ordinary and their chemistry is one of the standout things about the show. Also worthy of a mention is new addition Molly Parker who is superb as tough-as-nails war veteran turned House Majority Whip Jackie Sharp. Her performance is confident and assured and she holds her own against Spacey.
Special features on the release include 5 featurettes taking you behind-the-scenes of the show and exploring its themes. You can also get a glimpse into how the show is put together with the Table Read featurette.
House of Cards: The Complete Second Season is a superb watch and it manages to better the first season. The show is set to return for a third season on Netflix in early 2015 and we absolutely can’t wait. This could be amongst the best performances from Spacey and Wright and we can’t wait to spend another season with them. The season finale sets up a very interesting and different third season and we’re counting down the days already.