TV Review: House of Cards – Season 2 – Episode 2 – “Chapter 15”

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“One heartbeat away from the Presidency and not a single vote cast in my name. Democracy is so overrated.”

Chapter 15

I’m back with my second review of House of Cards season 2. In the second episode of the Netflix series’ sophomore season, Frank dips his feet in the presidential arena of power plays and deceit as he’s officially sworn in as VP. Meanwhile, Claire deals with something from her past resurfacing and Lucas (Sebastian Arcelus) looks into the truth on his own. 

Episode 2 really gave this season room to breathe and allowed the show to flex its storytelling muscles a bit. A lesser show would have dedicated the first episode to cutting out the journalists’ pursuit storyline entirely to make room for more of Frank’s White House power plays, but House of Cards is different. The show isn’t sacrificing storytelling and development from last season for the sake of a premiere episode shock. I really respect that and look forward to seeing what kind of trouble Lucas creates for our morally vacant Vice President.

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Frank exercised some subtlety in this episode as he manipulated his way toward usurping Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney) as the President’s confidant. It’s interesting to me that he would make the point that Tusk doesn’t address the President by his title. Frank even tells us how disrespectful it is; almost as it he is some honorable man. Maybe in Frank’s mind he is and that scene is meant to illustrate it.

Or maybe I missed the point entirely and it’s just a mark of his disdain for Tusk and the way Frank (who fought and clawed to be where he is) feels that the billionaire has no right to be in the President’s ear. Most likely, Frank sees Tusk for the threat that he is and he wants the President all to himself.

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The race for Frank’s former job as Whip gathered some manipulative steams as Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker) burned a bridge to get closer to the job. This character is very interesting to me. I feel like she’s being depicted as a Frank-in-training and I’m wondering if she might present a threat to Frank in the future. The question is, could she become a formidable enough opponent to take down him down?

For that matter, is Lucas capable of orchestrating the downfall of Washington’s most likeable son of a bitch?

I don’t think so. As much as I love the guerrilla journalism aspect of his storyline, I really think he may be too distraught over what’s happened to actually have the drive to be more than just a pest to Frank. On the other hand, this hacker angle may set him apart and give him some much needed grounding. In order for this to happen, he’ll have to make sure he creates a dead man trigger of some kind as insurance. I’m looking forward to seeing how this subplot plays out.

theunderwoodsLastly, Claire had an unwelcome blast from the past and I thought it was a really interesting direction for the show to take. Throughout the end of season one and now into the beginnings of season 2, we’ve seen a lot more humanizing character development for Claire Underwood. She’s conniving and calculating, just like her husband, but she’s also got her skeletons and this week (I did it again!), I mean this episode, we were given a glimpse into her psyche.

The scene where Claire lays in bed and explains Frank’s feelings toward him showed me more about her character than any episode previous to it had. She’s suffered in the past and rather than hate the things that have happened to her, she hates the way her past self dealt with things. She bemoans her past weakness and explains both to her husband and (indirectly) to the viewer that she can’t afford to carry any kind of weakness in her.

When she speaks to Frank about the anger he feels, she does so with caution. It actually helped me understand the greater context of her quiet reaction to the news from the season premiere’s biggest moment. In my review of episode 1, I questioned whether Claire was growing a conscience. I feel like the scene between her and Frank in episode 2 answers my question. She’s not worrying about the morality of what they do. I think she’s just conscious of the drastically increased exposure they now have and is worried that their secrets may come out.

Check back often and let me know what you think in the comments below.

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What did you think of Chapter 15? Let me know in the comments and make sure you check out all my other House of Cards related posts. Also, follow me around the internet with the links below.

CHECK OUT MY EPISODE REVIEWS OF BATES MOTEL AND UNDER THE DOME.

Parting Thoughts

  • Not much Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) in this episode. I’m a fan of Michael Kelly so I’m anxious to see where his character goes.
  • Does Frank’s insistence on keeping his townhouse say anything about the character? Or is it solely a way for the production to avoid using its budget to build new sets?
  • This episode had some of my favorite use of the show’s occasionally obnoxious product placement. It actually added something to the scene of Frank wanting privacy.

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2 responses to “TV Review: House of Cards – Season 2 – Episode 2 – “Chapter 15”

  1. Pingback: House of Cards – Season 2, Episode 3 – “Chapter 16″ | The Obsessive Viewer

  2. Pingback: TV Review: House of Cards – Season 2, Episode 7 – “Chapter 20″ | The Obsessive Viewer

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