House of Cards (season 2)
|House of Cards (season 2)|
Season 2 promotional poster
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Original release||February 14, 2014|
The second season of the American television drama series House of Cards began filming a set of 13 episodes on April 29, 2013 and concluded on November 8. Filming occurred primarily in Baltimore. On December 4, 2013, Netflix announced that the season would be released in its entirety on February 14, 2014. Set in current day Washington, D.C., season two deals with topics such as entitlement reform, Chinese cyberespionage, anthrax scares, Senate parliamentary procedure, and government shutdowns. It begins at the exact time that season one ended.
Critics previewed the first four episodes of the season under non-disclosure agreements that they not reveal any spoilers. Reviews began appearing as early as January 31. Many critics who previewed the season noted the first episode was shocking, but withheld the surprises of the four episodes made available for preview. Willa Paskin of Slate broke the embargo nearly a day early revealing several spoilers. Whereas critics had been somewhat split on the propriety of binge-watching the first season, they were more supportive of the practice for season two.
Early reviews were largely positive, noting that the second season had a darker tone than the first. Molly Parker was praised as an addition to the cast. Nonetheless, many critics were concerned at the domineering presence of Underwood, who appears to have no worthy adversaries. Viewership of the second season was many times higher than season one. Favorable critical acclaim was garnered as the season earned thirteen Primetime Emmy Award nominations for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards and three nominations at both the 72nd Golden Globe Awards and the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards. Kevin Spacey won Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama for playing Frank Underwood in season 2. Season 2 of House of Cards was one of the first shows available in 4K video format on Netflix' streaming service.
Francis spends most of the season as the newly appointed Vice President of the United States. Early episodes see Frank vanquish reporters on the trail of a murder he committed in the previous season. However, the drama soon shifts to tensions involving Frank, President Walker, the Chinese government, and the wealthy Raymond Tusk, eventually culminating in a bitter political war between Frank and Tusk. Frank's wife Claire publicly reveals that she was raped in college by a prominent general and pursues anti-rape legislation. The most significant new character is Jackie Sharp, Frank's successor as House Whip, who soon finds herself embroiled in Frank's plans. As the war between Frank and Tusk consumes the Presidency, things culminate in a scandal that leads to Walker resigning, Tusk being arrested, and Frank ascending to the Oval Office.
Among the new cast members in season 2 are Molly Parker and Sam Page, while directors include Carl Franklin, Jodie Foster, James Foley and Wright. The season features cameos by several notable journalists, including Ashleigh Banfield, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Matt Bai, Morley Safer, Sean Hannity, and Kelly O'Donnell.
- Kevin Spacey as Francis "Frank" J. Underwood, the Vice President of the United States
- Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, the Second Lady of the United States
- Michael Kelly as Douglas "Doug" Stamper, the Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States
- Molly Parker as Jacqueline "Jackie" Sharp, a war veteran, Congresswoman from California and Underwood's successor as House Majority Whip
- Michel Gill as Garrett Walker, the 45th President of the United States
- Gerald McRaney as Raymond Tusk, a multi-billionaire businessman and investor who acts as an advisor and confidante to President Walker
- Nathan Darrow as Edward Meechum, a member of the U.S. Capitol Police and Underwood's bodyguard and driver
- Mahershala Ali as Remy Danton, a lobbyist with law firm Glendon Hill and former employee of Frank Underwood
- Derek Cecil as Seth Grayson, a sinister political operative who becomes Press Secretary for Vice President Underwood
- Rachel Brosnahan as Rachel Posner, a former sex worker seeking a new life
- Sakina Jaffrey as Linda Vasquez, the White House Chief of Staff in the Walker Administration
- Jayne Atkinson as Catherine Durant, the U.S. Secretary of State in the Walker Administration
- Jimmi Simpson as Gavin Orsay, a hacker and informant for the FBI
- Joanna Going as Patricia Walker, wife of President Garrett Walker and First Lady of the United States
- Mozhan Marnò as Ayla Sayyad, a tenacious journalist working for the Wall Street Telegraph
- Jeremy Holm as Agent Nathan Green, the White House/FBI liaison
- Sebastian Arcelus as Lucas Goodwin, a senior political editor working at the Washington Herald
- Terry Chen as Xander Feng, a corrupt Chinese businessman and backchannel diplomat who is Raymond Tusk's business partner
- Libby Woodbridge as Megan Hennessey, a former U.S. Marine Private who was sexually assaulted by General Dalton McGinnis
- Kate Lyn Sheil as Lisa Williams, a social worker who befriends Rachel Posner
- Elizabeth Norment as Nancy Kaufberger, secretary of the office of the Democratic House Whip
- Gil Birmingham as Daniel Lanagin, a Native American casino owner in Missouri and friend of Raymond Tusk
- Reg E. Cathey as Freddy Hayes, friend of Frank Underwood and the owner of a BBQ restaurant that Frank frequently visits
- Samuel Page as Connor Ellis, a smooth talking media consultant who becomes Communications Director for Claire Underwood
- Larry Pine as Bob Birch, a Democratic Congressman from Michigan and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
- Kristen Connolly as Christina Gallagher, a headstrong aide to President Walker and former girlfriend of Peter Russo
- Curtiss Cook as Terry Womack, House Majority Leader from Missouri's 5th congressional district
- Constance Zimmer as Janine Skorsky, a veteran journalist working for news blog Slugline
- Michael Warner as Oliver Spence
- Benito Martinez as Hector Mendoza, a Republican Senator from Arizona and the Senate Majority Leader
- Boris McGiver as Tom Hammerschmidt, former chief editor of the Washington Herald
- David Clennon as Ted Havermeyer, a veteran Congressman from California and PAC Chairman who is a mentor to Congresswoman Sharp
- Elizabeth Marvel as Heather Dunbar, an uncompromising lawyer who is appointed Special Prosecutor in the investigation into money laundering of foreign money via PACs
- Tom Galantich as Reverend Thomas Larkin, a minister and relationship therapist
- Mark Zeisler as Bill Gallich, the White House Counsel
- Reed Birney as Donald Blythe, a Democratic Congressman from New Hampshire
- Sandrine Holt as Gillian Cole
- Ben Daniels as Adam Galloway, a world-renowned photographer and former lover of Claire Underwood
- Kate Mara as Zoe Barnes, an ambitious journalist working for news blog Slugline and former lover of Frank Underwood
Set in present-day Washington, D.C., season 2 deals with topics such as entitlements, Chinese cyberespionage, anthrax scares, parliamentary procedure, and government shutdowns. It begins at the exact time that season 1 ended.
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date||Production
|14||1||"Chapter 14"||Carl Franklin||Beau Willimon||February 14, 2014||HOC-201|
|Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) warns Frank Underwood, the newly selected Vice President, about journalists digging into the death of Congressman Peter Russo (Corey Stoll). Wanting to remove all connections that tie him to murdering Russo, Underwood kills Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) by pushing her in front of an oncoming Metro subway train. Although Barnes' death is ruled an accident by authorities and the media, Janine Skorsky, after receiving nude photos of Barnes in her mailbox, is frightened into abandoning the investigation, quitting her job, and moving out of town. But Barnes' lover, reporter Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus), is motivated to avenge her death by carrying on her investigation alone. Doug, meanwhile, forcibly relocates Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan), a call girl who can tie Frank to a cover-up of Russo's DUI charge. Frank makes a new ally in Jacqueline "Jackie" Sharp (Molly Parker), a former war hero and his choice to replace him as House Majority Whip. He suggests an open race among the House to elect his replacement so that Jackie has a chance to compete against heavier favorites. Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) deals with former employee Gillian Cole's (Sandrine Holt) potential lawsuit by making a veiled threat and offering her the Clean Water Initiative nonprofit. Claire also consults a doctor about the possibility of becoming pregnant, but decides to support Frank's political ambitions and cancels further scheduled tests.|
|15||2||"Chapter 15"||Carl Franklin||Beau Willimon||February 14, 2014||HOC-202|
|Frank is appointed vice president and rejects moving into the Naval Observatory. Instead, the Secret Service upgrades his home with new security features. At the same time, Frank sets up Secretary of State Catherine Durant's (Jayne Atkinson) team for a bungled trade meeting with China, in order to frustrate billionaire Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney) and loosen his influence on President Walker (Michel Gill). As rivals negotiate to thwart her, Jackie maneuvers to strengthen her race for House Majority Whip, eventually securing the position by destroying her mentor's career. Meanwhile, Lucas looks for a hacker on the Deep Web to access Frank's phone records and establish a connection between him and the deaths of Zoe and Russo. He contacts his former boss Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver), who tries to convince him to stop his investigations. At his first formal engagement as Vice President, a military awards ceremony, Frank struggles to keep his composure when Claire tells him discreetly her college rapist is the newly commissioned general, Dalton McGinnis (Peter Bradbury), upon whom Frank angrily pins a fourth star. Frank later convinces the president to stand tough against China in the wake of the trade talk debacle, resulting in the Chinese government permanently cutting off further talks with the United States.|
|16||3||"Chapter 16"||James Foley||Bill Cain||February 14, 2014||HOC-203|
|As President Walker crafts a State of the Union address, Frank seeks a bipartisan agreement focusing on a compromise over entitlements with Senate Majority Leader Hector Mendoza (Benito Martinez) to secure the legislation's passage through the Senate and avoid a government shutdown. Eventually the Senate Republicans attempt to filibuster and avoid a quorum, which forces Frank to take drastic measures. Aware of Lucas' intentions, Doug sets up a sting operation with the FBI to nab Lucas in the act. Lucas unsuccessfully pursues Russo's former lover, Christina Gallagher (Kristen Connolly), and is eventually contacted by hacker Gavin Orsay (Jimmi Simpson), who claims to be able to help retrieve Zoe's phone records. Rachel contacts her mother, and then meets Lisa Williams (Kate Lyn Sheil), even though Doug has forbidden her to make friends out of caution.|
|17||4||"Chapter 17"||James Foley||Laura Eason||February 14, 2014||HOC-204|
|Before the Underwoods have their first major media interview, Frank attempts to secure the last votes he needs to ensure passage of the entitlement amendment in the House, by negotiating with Donald Blythe, who holds a grudge against Frank regarding the education bill. While meeting, Frank and Blythe are quarantined inside the Capitol when a package containing white powder is received. Doing the interview alone, Claire is pressured into revealing she once had an abortion and lies that the pregnancy was a result of her rape by General Dalton McGinnis. Her account is supported by a woman who was assaulted by him as well. Jackie and Remy Danton (Mahershala Ali) lobby for votes to avoid the government shutdown. Meanwhile, Gavin Orsay, Lucas Goodwin's hired hacker, is revealed to be facing federal charges for his association with a hacktivist group (implied to be Anonymous), and, as part of a plea bargain, is acting as an FBI informant. He is told by his enforcer to lure Lucas into committing an act of cyberterrorism, to force Lucas' eventual imprisonment and end his investigation into Russo and Barnes' deaths. Back at the House, Frank's amendment narrowly passes because of Jackie's maneuvering. Frank and Claire once again enjoy a smoke at their window, and Frank sings the murder ballad "Pretty Polly" for her.|
|18||5||"Chapter 18"||John Coles||Kenneth Lin||February 14, 2014||HOC-205|
|While attending a Civil War reenactment, Frank holds back-channel trade negotiations with Xander Feng (Terry Chen), a wealthy Chinese businessman with significant financial ties to Tusk, over a proposed bridge over Long Island Sound. Frank discovers Feng and Tusk are manipulating a trade summit to secure greater profits for themselves and strengthen their refinery projects. He retaliates by sabotaging the entire summit with miscommunication and points blame to Feng. This drives a wedge between Tusk and the President, who orders the U.S. delegation to withdraw from the summit, an action that risks initiating a trade war. Continuing on his quest to seek justice against Zoe's murderer, Lucas gains access to a highly secure AT&T data center under the guise of writing a report on cyber security. While on the tour, he inserts a flash drive containing Gavin's code into one of the data servers. It turns out that his tour guides are actually undercover FBI agents, who immediately arrest him. Meanwhile, Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) extorts Claire after learning that her abortion had nothing to do with her rape by McGinnis, gaining a position on the Underwoods' staff. Claire, with support from First Lady Patricia ("Tricia") Walker (Joanna Going), advocates with military officials on behalf of sexual assault victims.|
|19||6||"Chapter 19"||John Coles||John Mankiewicz||February 14, 2014||HOC-206|
|As Frank helps Walker deal with an energy crisis brought about by a Chinese trade blockade, Claire manipulates Tricia into believing that Christina is pursuing a relationship with the president. Frank proposes establishing a subsidy for nuclear power as part of a plan to wait out the trade blockade, earning the ire of Tusk. Doug, beginning to develop feelings for Rachel, attempts to pressure her into cutting ties with Lisa and discontinuing her regular church attendance. Tom visits Lucas in prison and offers to take over his investigation. Tom meets with Frank to interrogate him, but draws up a blank. Frank and Doug then intimidate Janine and persuade her to meet with Lucas and convince him to accept a plea deal. Janine tells Lucas that he has no proof, agrees that Frank will get away with murder, and says that he has to accept the plea deal because he committed an act of cyber terrorism, a crime that could land him with a significant sentence if he does not plead guilty. Elsewhere, Jackie and Remy meet on legislation to pressure Tusk into cooperating with the strategy and end up sleeping together. Remy realizes that Tusk will fight the President's legislation. Frank tells Walker to stand firm, but when Frank is about to throw the ceremonial first pitch at Camden Yards, Tusk's utility company shuts off the power. To personally retaliate, Frank encourages Walker to address the emergency by having the federal government take over Tusk's power plants. Frank and Tusk meet at Freddy's (Reg E. Cathey) barbecue joint, but are unable to reconcile.|
|20||7||"Chapter 20"||James Foley||Bill Kennedy||February 14, 2014||HOC-207|
|Frank finds out that Tusk is retaliating against the Walker administration by funding Republican attack ads for the upcoming election. Upon digging further, he learns that the donations are being hidden through a Native American-owned Kansas City casino, so he sends Doug to investigate. Meanwhile, Frank helps Claire pressure Jackie to stand behind the sexual assault legislation. Grayson is revealed to be a double agent for Remy and helps him eliminate Connor Ellis; Frank, upon learning this, still decides to employ Grayson, who expresses his desire to work for Frank and achieve power over the money Tusk offers. Doug discovers that Feng is behind the casino money and flies to China to negotiate. Wall Street Telegraph reporter Ayla Sayyad (Mozhan Marnò) links Tusk and Feng to the refinery business deal. The Underwoods have the president and first lady over for dinner and discover that they are struggling through marital turmoil. Jackie attempts to stall Claire's legislation and defies Frank. Feng relays through Doug that he will stop funding the attack ads when the Long Island bridge is approved. Frank meets with casino owner Dan Lanigan (Gil Birmingham) to cut off Republican funding, but Lanigan sends him away, explaining that he prefers Tusk's money to the political influence that Frank offers him.|
|21||8||"Chapter 21"||James Foley||David Manson||February 14, 2014||HOC-208|
|Wanting to drive a wedge between Tusk and Feng, Frank lobbies Linda and Walker for the bridge proposal. Elsewhere, Claire vows to stand behind fellow General McGinnis accuser Megan Hennessey (Libby Woodbridge). After finding out that the First Lady is estranged from the President, Claire suggests that Tricia convince her husband to pursue marriage counseling. Helping Jackie investigate the casino money trail, Remy tracks down Adam Galloway (Ben Daniels), Claire's former lover. Frank meets with Lanigan and Tusk, who offers Democratic funding in exchange for helping him reconcile with Walker. Frank has Doug arrange a meeting between Tusk and Walker and clashes with Linda in regards to the bridge, resulting in an argument and Linda's subsequent resignation. Remy figures out that Grayson has sold him out. Walker ultimately commits to Frank's bridge deal and to marriage counseling with Tricia. Doug confirms with Feng that the bridge deal is approved and asks him to turn his back on Tusk. Learning that the refinery project is dead, Remy and Tusk decide to get aggressive against Frank. Meanwhile, Rachel and Lisa develop a sexual relationship.|
|22||9||"Chapter 22"||Jodie Foster||Beau Willimon||February 14, 2014||HOC-209|
|A scandalous photo of Claire taken by Galloway is leaked to the press, leading to a strategy meeting between the Underwoods, Doug and Grayson. After agreeing to franchise his restaurant, Freddy offers to buy his son, Darnell Hayes (Malcolm Goodwin), and grandson, Deshawn Hayes (Darren Alford) a new house. Eventually his son accepts and begins working for Freddy. Claire has Galloway deny their affair and explains the photo away as one that Galloway took of her as an anniversary gift to Frank; but, Remy coerces him into releasing another photo, this one of Claire in the shower. Meeting at his office, Tusk orders Sayyad to stop investigating the ties between him and Feng by making a veiled threat to have her killed. Remy then reveals Freddy's gang banger criminal past to the press. Frank attempts to protect Freddy, but is thwarted when Freddy's son violates his parole by threatening a photographer with a gun. Grayson attempts to discredit the second photo of Claire by producing a replica with a look-alike model. When Frank realizes the scale of Freddy's problems, he is forced to distance himself from him. Adam explains that he released the second photo because of a threat to his fiancée, Inez (Carme Boixadera), and her family. After pressure from Claire, Galloway lies and makes a statement claiming that the whole thing was a publicity stunt to stimulate his languishing photography business. Freddy is forced to sell his restaurant in order to pay his son's bail; and, because of the contract's morality clause, Freddy loses his deal for a franchise. Frank meets him one last time in Freddy's home and explains why he is forced to distance himself from him in future. Freddy accepts his explanation but refuses Frank's financial help. Freddy bluntly tells Frank he only ever thought of him as a customer at his restaurant. Faced with the loss of one of his only friends, Frank feels true regret for the first time and is energized to brutally retaliate against Tusk.|
|23||10||"Chapter 23"||Robin Wright||Laura Eason & Beau Willimon||February 14, 2014||HOC-210|
|Lisa moves in with Rachel, much to Doug's chagrin. As trade wars escalate, President Walker deals with a Chinese blockade of a Japanese island. At Frank's now-fortified home, a Secret Service agent sees a hooded figure at the side of the house, carrying a large duffel bag. The agents successfully intercept the bomber, an ex-Marine who also claims responsibility for mailing a chemical agent to the Capitol building; the ex-Marine confesses that Claire was the intended target for having had an abortion. Frank requests that Edward Meechum (Nathan Darrow) be her bodyguard. During sex, Remy finds out that Jackie gets tattoos as therapy for her military ordeals. To put more pressure on Tusk in retaliation for revealing Claire's extra-marital affair, Frank's team leaks information to Sayyad linking Tusk to Lanigan's casino, which confirms her suspicions regarding a laundering scheme that is heavily influencing Congress; Sayyad questions Lanagin. Frank and Jackie continue their battle of wills over Claire's legislation. Sayyad publishes her story on the money laundering scheme, which causes a huge stir in national media. The resulting investigation reflects badly on Walker, opening him up to legal troubles. He eventually follows Frank's advice to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the story and purportedly clear the White House of any involvement. As Remy and Jackie argue about what secrets should be shared, Meechum and the Underwoods engage in small talk. Frank starts siding with Seth over Doug on strategy. Miserable, Doug gives Rachel his permission to allow Lisa to stay with her. Meanwhile, it emerges that the code Lucas inserted into the data servers earlier was genuine, and Gavin Orsay is now using it to track Doug's movements.|
|24||11||"Chapter 24"||John Coles||John Mankiewicz & Beau Willimon||February 14, 2014||HOC-211|
|At an AA meeting, Doug confesses his obsession with Rachel. Lanigan accuses Remy of making him a patsy to save Tusk. When a photo of Doug sitting at Lanigan's casino along with proof of his trip to China turns up, Frank scolds Doug for linking him to the scandal. Without support for her bill from Jackie or Tricia, Claire encourages Megan to go public with her story which causes Megan to have a panic attack. Doug mends his relationship with Seth, saying that he was wrong about him. Frank encourages Walker to be open with Dunbar, the special prosecutor handling the corruption investigation. Frank stonewalls Dunbar but appears to cooperate by turning over all his travel logs. As her mission falls apart, Claire resorts to drinking alone, but drops a glass. Meechum cuts his hand helping her clean up, and she bandages him. Remy attempts to pressure Jackie to implicate Frank in the scandal by threatening her with leaking the circumstances of her rise to the Whip position. Jackie refuses to be manipulated, forcing Remy into a difficult position. He proposes a deal to Frank, offering to decrease his attacks on Frank's reputation to protect Jackie from involvement. Frank returns home to a drunk Meechum and Claire; they end up engaging in a threesome. While checking up on her, Doug sees Rachel and Lisa having sex through the window of her home, and his jealousy reignites. Dunbar finds Walker's marriage counseling sessions on his travel log.|
|25||12||"Chapter 25"||James Foley||Beau Willimon||February 14, 2014||HOC-212|
|Walker accuses Frank of engineering his downfall, dismisses him from the Oval Office, and breaks off all contact with him. On cable news, Jackie is derided by Megan for opposing the sexual assault bill. She retaliates by calling in and acerbically attacking Claire. Frank convinces Secretary of State Durant and special prosecutor Dunbar to ignore Walker's wishes and offer Xander Feng, who has fled from China to Dubai to escape prosecution and potential execution, diplomatic immunity and political asylum. In return, Feng tells Durant and Dunbar of the existence of the laundering scheme to gain influence in Congress. The mass of revelations results in the Walkers waiving an already-thin therapist/patient, priest/penitent privilege between them and their counselor, Reverend Larkin, to appear to fully cooperate with the criminal investigation. A jealous Doug forces Rachel to break up with Lisa and evict her. Now having the upper hand, Gavin presses the FBI for his freedom and other conditions, to which Agent Green says the FBI has agreed. Claire reconciles with Jackie, by dropping the military sexual assault bill. This leads to Megan having a falling out with Claire. Prosecutor Dunbar deposes Reverend Larkin and discovers he was coached by the White House counsel to withhold the fact that he prescribed medication to Walker from his testimony, which further endangers Walker's position with the public. Tusk is subpoenaed but invokes the Fifth Amendment, confident he will get a pardon from Walker. Grayson divides Tusk and Remy by revealing that Remy offered to rejoin Frank's team. The Underwoods convince Jackie to help in guiding Walker's impeachment, reasoning that not doing so will spell disaster for the Democratic Party in the upcoming midterm elections.|
|26||13||"Chapter 26"||James Foley||Beau Willimon||February 14, 2014||HOC-213|
|Walker offers Tusk a pardon in return for implicating Frank in the scheme and exonerating him. Linda speaks on behalf of Walker during her testimony to Dunbar and makes the pardon offer to Tusk, who appears to accept. Claire consoles Megan following a suicide attempt and is pushed away by the newly broken girl. This and her repeated deceptions to Tricia Walker in aim of ruining her family finally make Claire break down. Meanwhile, Gavin, having infiltrated AT&T's cell servers through the code he gave Lucas, has enough leverage to press Green for a meeting with Doug, who ultimately agrees. As Jackie works to secure votes for Walker's impeachment, Claire pushes Frank to reconcile with the president. After the Walkers retreat to Camp David, Frank sends Walker a letter feigning an offer to accept all responsibility for the scandal. Walker states that, in order to gain his trust, Frank will have to produce results by whipping enough votes to stave off impeachment. After Frank accepts the task, Linda is forced to contact Tusk to inform him that the deal for a presidential pardon is off. In retaliation, Tusk sides with Frank and implicates Walker while testifying before a Congressional Committee, stating that Walker knew about the laundering scheme. This leads to Tusk being taken into custody, and Walker's approval ratings drop to 8 percent. During a meeting with Doug, Gavin tells him he knows about Rachel, and pressures him into giving him FBI protection. Doug goes straight to Rachel and tells her to pack, intending to relocate her. He accidentally leads Rachel into thinking that he is about to kill her, and she leaps out of his car while stopped at a traffic light, running out into the woods. Doug pursues her, but she jumps out from behind a tree and beats him with a brick, before fleeing in his car. Meanwhile, the House votes to pursue Walker's impeachment. Seeing no hope for survival, Walker decides to resign. He and Frank part on friendly terms, Walker none the wiser that everything was part of Frank's plan of revenge for his having reneged on nominating Frank for Secretary of State. At Camp David, Frank is immediately sworn in as President of the United States. His first act is to place a call with the Chinese President and instantly negotiate an end to the dispute. Secretly, part of the deal includes revoking Feng's immunity and having him deported back to China, where he faces charges of corruption and almost certain execution. For Frank's birthday, Claire has remade Frank's class ring (which he buried earlier in the season at a Civil War memorial). He enters the oval office, puts on the ring and triumphantly double knocks it on the desk, his signature style.|
The second season was made available in its entirety on February 14, 2014 (Valentine's Day) at 12:01 a.m. PT. Prior to the release of season 1, three reviewers, Hank Stuever of The Washington Post, Nancy deWolf Smith of The Wall Street Journal, and Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times, commented on possible binge viewing by Netflix customers. Stanley notes that the show "is probably seen best one episode at a time. It's a delicious immorality play with an excellent cast, but the tempo is slow and oddly ponderous—a romp slowed down to a dirge". Smith also notes that due to its "relentless theme", "House of Cards might go down better in smaller portions and thus be enjoyably prolonged", deriding potential binge watchers as people who liken a delicacy to a "bag of M&M's". However, Stuever disagreed about season 1 saying "So, on the iffy chance that House of Cards draws you in and you simply cannot stop watching, then, yes, you may power-binge your way through all 13 hours at once". Upon viewing the four episode season 2 preview Time 's James Poniewozik says "I could easily see powering through the season in a free weekend, precisely because no individual episode needs much time to sink in". Stanley also felt the second season was "binge-worthy" upon viewing the preview. However, Ellen Gray of Philly.com supports not binge-watching the season, as she believes it does not serve it well.
In interviews during the writing and filming of season 2 showrunner Beau Willimon said he had drawn inspiration for the series from a variety of sources including Robert Caro's The Years of Lyndon Johnson and Jeremy Larner's Nobody Knows. Lyndon B. Johnson was a repeated source for themes and issues. Willimon also commented on the fictional world of politics that the show represented: "It's a rough-and-tumble game whenever power is involved—people's ambitions, their desires, their competitive spirit will often push them to play outside the rules." Willimon noted that "I don't think about topping things ... The evolution of character is not a game of one-upmanship. It is about change. Souls are vast and so the opportunity to explore ways in which characters contradict themselves and evolve is also vast" and that season 2 provided the opportunity "to expand the world and more deeply explore the characters".
Spacey viewed continuing to portray Underwood for a second season as a continuing learning process. "There is so much I don't know about Francis, so much that I'm learning ... I've always thought that the profession closest to that of an actor is being a detective ... We are given clues by writers, sometimes clues they're aware of and sometimes not. Then you lay them all out and try to make them come alive as a character who's complex and surprising, maybe even to yourself". Gerald McRaney spoke about his expanded role by saying that whereas in season 1 the challenge to playing his character, Raymond Tusk, was in "having to learn Mandarin", in season 2 his character has become "somebody who you don't know which color hat he's wearing".
Netflix had ordered two seasons of 13 episodes when it made its original commitment to the series in 2011. According to Governor of Maryland Martin O'Malley, production of the first season brought $140 million in the form of 2,200 jobs and transactions with 1,800 vendors to the Baltimore metropolitan area economy and the Maryland General Assembly expanded its Film Production Tax Credit so that season two could have similar impact over the course of 150 days of filming. Like the first season, the second season was largely filmed in the Baltimore area. Although production was publicized as being in Baltimore, Season 1 had based production in Harford County, Maryland, and season 2 also had its production office in Edgewood and a Joppa sound stage. The April 27, 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner spoofed House of Cards from the Maryland set prior to the beginning of the filming of season 2. Filming began on Monday April 29, 2013, which was just a few weeks later in the year than season 1 had started. On May 14, O'Malley visited the set to publicize the success of the tax incentives.
During spring and summer 2013, the show hosted several large casting calls some of which had over 1000 hopefuls. On June 13, crews began preparing the State House for filming on June 17 and 18. The Maryland State House is not available for rent so the producers made donations to various organizations. The show filmed in Annapolis at the Maryland House of Delegates and the wife of House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Cynthia, was cast as an extra. She played a United States Senator as the set depicted the United States Senate chamber. The scenes were used as part of "Chapter 16" (season 2, episode 3). On July 24, the show announced that it would film at the Baltimore County Circuit Courthouses in Towson, Maryland on July 31. The filming occurred at this location on August 7.
On August 3, House of Cards was going to film a presidential motorcade at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. at 3 PM. However, Chief of police Cathy L. Lanier of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPD) revoked the permits that morning. An MPD spokesperson explained "The Metropolitan Police Department is not the lead agency on presidential motorcades and we did not want to portray ourselves as such". As a result the production crews did a last minute filming of the desired scenes back in Baltimore. The next day, Mayor of the District of Columbia Vincent Gray stated that there was confusion on what role the MPD would play in the filming. A spokesperson from his office stated that ""MPD is not going to rent itself out as extras for film ... That's what MPD's decision was focused on. We're not going to be actors." On October 2, all issues were resolved and the motorcade was filmed as originally planned without any MPD personnel "actively participate in the filming".
In August, several areas in Harford County were used for filming season 2, including areas in Bel Air and Edgewood. Havre de Grace had been used in season 1 to depict Underwood's home district in South Carolina. The Liriodendron mansion was the scene of filming on August 12 and 13. Bel Air police were paid $1550 for August 13 duties at another filming location.
Although there were reports that the filming was largely completed by October 1, Willimon tweeted on that date that he had just finished writing the season finale. Willimon and others tweeted that filming was completed on November 8. The following week, House of Cards workers got involved in the Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts.
According to an October 10 story in The Huffington Post, executive producer Rick Cleveland stated that he believed that season 2 would be the final season because both Spacey and Wright prefer to act in movies than in television. However, Willimon remained optimistic that the show will continue. The Baltimore Sun reporter, David Zurawik contested the journalistic process of The Huffington Post report because he says Modi Wiczyk, CEO of Media Rights Capital, the company that produces House of Cards, told him "I would basically be shocked if there wasn't [a season 3, 4 and 5]". A few weeks later, Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos confirmed that Netflix had an earnest interest in continuing House of Cards beyond its second season.
On December 4, 2013, Netflix announced that the 13-episode season would be released in its entirety on February 14, 2014. Along with the scheduling announcement, Netflix confirmed that Francis (now Vice President) and Claire would "continue their ruthless rise to power as threats mount on all fronts". After season 1 received four nominations for the 71st Golden Globe Awards on December 12, a season 2 trailer was released on December 13. However, the first official full trailer was released on January 6.
Willimon has stated "In conception of the second season, I put a lot of thought into the doors open to us in seasons three and beyond ... I didn't want to paint ourselves into a corner in the second season." On February 4, 2014, Netflix announced it had renewed the web series for a season 3 of undisclosed length. In May 2014, the season became one of the first Netflix streaming offerings available in 4K video format.
Critics had access to the first four episodes of the season for previewing as early as late January with a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). According to Pam Brown of The West Australian, the season 2 NDA included the following statement "I understand and agree that any breach of these conditions will cause irreparable harm for which recovery of money damages alone would be inadequate."
The season was generally well received. The review aggregator Metacritic gave the season a score of 80 out of 100, based on 25 critics. Another review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes gave the season a rating of 85%, based on 34 reviews, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "House of Cards proves just as bingeworthy in its second season, with more of the strong performances, writing, and visual design that made the first season so addictive."
James Poniewozik of Time says "It is the same show you saw last season, the same weaknesses and strengths intact, but, as it makes clear before the first hour is over, every bit as brutal and sanguinary." According to Sara Smith of The Kansas City Star, "The shock and delight of the showy storytelling ... has faded a bit". Smith says that Barnes, Skorsky, and Goodwin's "investigation sucks them down a rabbit hole into a surreal underworld no sane reporter would explore". Regarding Frank, Smith says "A show can successfully revolve around one man, but a flawless winning streak gets monotonous" and that "it's time for someone to take Frank down a notch".
David Zurawik The Baltimore Sun notes that the season starts off with a bang: "The first hour of Season 2 is better than anything in Season 1" and at one point it is "going to knock some fans out of their seats". Poniewozik says "if you really care about spoilers, watch episode 1 the first chance you get, and stay off social media until you do." Michael Starr of the New York Post described the premiere episode as "Wow. Just... wow." Alison Willmore of Indiewire says that "Something shocking takes place early in the second season". Willa Paskin of Slate found the premiere episode of the preview to be notable for its ending, which she described as a literal "F. U." to the audience.
Willmore says that since characters have been introduced, "season two of House of Cards begins in a fashion that's far more free and quick-paced" than season 1. Willmore also notes that, "If season one slowly grew blacker in tone as it went from serious games of power and manipulation to life-and-death ones, season two starts off there and looks to only get darker in content." However, she stated that season 2 appeared to be lighter than season 1: "delivered with more of a wink by Frank than before. It may be darker, but it's also less heavy". According to Zurawak, "Willimon ... and Spacey ... have managed to bring the power of live theater to this drama with a consistency and seamlessness never before achieved in television."
Stanley praises the series saying "It's not clear exactly why this bleak series is so exhilarating and binge-worthy. It could be that just as victims of tragedy find it hard to accept that their suffering is random and purposeless, voters find it intolerable that so many of the petty, shortsighted moves by elected officials have no greater meaning than small-time expediency." She also notes that the series "is more cynical than The Americans on FX and more pessimistic about human nature than The Walking Dead on AMC". However, The Americans "is more complex and inventive" according to Stanley who concurs that season 2 is darker but notes it is more compelling than season 1. Stuever compares the show unfavorably to both Veep for its "bumbling chaos and ego implosions" over House of Cards "prohibitively sinister" execution and The Good Wife for its superior delivery of "nastiness and self-interest in power plays".
Poniewozik notes that "Francis needs a stronger nemesis, if not for the sake of justice then for the sake of excitement. And House of Cards would be a greater show if it had characters who were people more than game pieces. Still, on its limited terms, it's absorbing to watch". According to Entertainment Weekly 's Karen Valby, the show's fundamental problem is that "The Underwoods have no worthy opponents." According to Variety 's Brian Lowry, as conniving as Underwood is, it is unfathomable that "nobody else in a town built on power seems particularly adept at recognizing this or combating him". Valby notes that neither Tusk nor Goodwin is an effective foe, leaving the audience longing for a comeuppance in the first four episodes that served as a preview for critics and his hopeful that Sharp provides a good foil as the season progresses. He also wrote that House of Cards overplays its depiction of the edginess of "Washington being venal and corrupt". He describes the show as a "mixed bag". Andrew Romano of The Daily Beast claims the second season was better than the first because Tusk is as worthy an adversary as could be expected.
Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter describes the preview of the season by saying "It's entertaining and cruises along with a strong pulse. There's a core mystery and American politics is mocked, appropriately, for being a two-party hustle of recrimination and separatism." Goodman notes that writer Beau Willimon has Frank "pontificate to the point of spouting cliches from time to time" and Frank's "conniving wins too often". Goodman feels that the delayed use of breaking the fourth wall is clever, while Smith feels the delayed use of breaking the fourth wall is coy. Stanley notes that while breaking the fourth wall "his cynical asides are not as clever as his underhanded actions". She notes that the execution of the technique is less successful than in the original.
Goodman sums things up by saying "There's a heavier hand than is necessary at times" and "House of Cards needs to stay more focused to be successful." Starr also notes that "The show's writing, breathless pacing and even its clever use of graphics (visually superimposing phone text messages onto particular scenes) stands head-and-shoulders above most of its TV brethren."
Chuck Barney of the San Jose Mercury News notes that the preview episodes show that the series is as "handsomely crafted and marvelously acted as ever" but the episodes don't "provoke the same kind of adrenaline rush as last season". Barney was also impressed with newcomer Parker: "She's an agile actress who can deliver a sense of soft-spoken warmth but also a steely fierceness that comes with an underlying message: 'Underestimate me at your own peril.'"
The addition of Parker is widely praised among critics. Stanley notes that as Underwood's "protégée and, like everyone else in his poisoned orbit, soon discovers that Underwood expects his people to cast aside principle and pursue his grand plan." Valby describes her performance as one "played with throbbing edge". Goodman notes she serves to somewhat counterbalance Frank.
In terms of cinematography, Stanley notes that "Colors are so washed-out that the closest thing to brightness in all that gray, taupe and black is an orange Post-it note."
Bob Samuels of The Huffington Post compares House of Cards to The West Wing. He notes that whereas The West Wing depicted "political idealists dedicated to the discussion of public policy", House of Cards presents "the cynical manipulations of isolated careerists". Samuels says that in addition to presenting a new method of distribution of content, the show represents a change in our society by demonstrating the change in what is perceived as popular political television drama: "the series presents a social shift from political idealism to social cynicism". Samuels defines cynicism as "the desire to succeed in a system in which one does not believe". Regarding the extensive use of notable journalists, Samuels says, "House of Cards uses real news broadcasters to appear more realistic, but the end result is that the real news personalities end up being fictionalized." However, Politico reports that rather than give an alternate perspective, the series was misleading in its depictions especially those related to campaign financing. Romano notes that the show is "about power that happens to be set on Capitol Hill as opposed to a show about politics".
The Wall Street Journal 's Wayne Ma praises the originality of the China storylines, which are rare for television: "Not since counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer stormed the Chinese consulate in the fourth season of 24 has there been a major story line about China featured on a mainstream U.S. TV series." He also lauds their authenticity of them: "The show deserves kudos for the unusual authenticity of its China story line, which has plot points ripped straight from the headlines. Chinese cyber-theft, currency manipulation, a trade dispute involving rare-earth minerals, and escalating tensions between China and Japan in the East China Sea all make an appearance in the show, rendered in the kind of detail that will ring mostly true with China watchers."
On July 10, 2014, House of Cards earned thirteen Primetime Emmy Award nominations for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards. Among its nominations were Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Kevin Spacey, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Robin Wright, Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for Beau Willimon and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for Carl Franklin. The second season was also nominated for several 66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, including Kate Mara for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series and Reg E. Cathey for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. Other Creative Arts nominations were received for Casting, Cinematography, Picture Editing, Music Composition, Sound Mixing, and Art Direction.
Other recognitions included a TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Drama nomination at the 30th TCA Awards and the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series for Wright at the 4th Critics' Choice Television Awards. For the 67th Writers Guild of America Awards, the series was nominated for Best Drama Series. For the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards, the cast was nominated for Best Drama Ensemble, Spacey won for Best Drama Actor, and Wright was nominated for Best Drama Actress. For the 72nd Golden Globe Awards, the series was nominated for Best Television Series – Drama, Wright was nominated for Best Actress – Television Series Drama, and Spacey won for Best Actor – Television Series Drama. For the 67th Directors Guild of America Awards, Jodie Foster was nominated for Outstanding Directing – Drama Series for the episode "Chapter 22".
U.S. President Barack Obama quipped about his interest in an advance copy of the second series: "I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient ... It's true. I was looking at Kevin Spacey thinking, 'this guy's getting a lot of stuff done'." The evening before the season was posted, someone responsible for the @BarackObama Twitter account (which is run by Organizing for Action) tweeted a request that no spoilers be posted online. Since the season debuted on Valentine's Day, The New York Observer created themed cards in honor of the series with quotes such as "A great man once said everything is about sex. Except sex. Sex is about power" (an Oscar Wilde quote Underwood had stated during season 1).
Whereas less than 2% of Netflix subscribers streamed season 1 during the first weekend last year, over 15% streamed at least one hour during the business day on February 14.
Home media release
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- Carter, Bill (July 10, 2014). "Emmy Nominations Cross a Few Lines". The New York Times. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
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- Official website
- House of Cards season 2 at Metacritic
- House of Cards season 2 at Rotten Tomatoes
- House of Cards at TV.com
- List of House of Cards episodes at the Internet Movie Database