Last night I watched “Chapter 14” the first episode of season two of House of Cards, and about 19 hours later I’m still finding myself shocked by the events of the episode.
I’m glad that I made the choice not to binge on the series this season, because it’s a lot to take in, and if you haven’t started watching season two yet, then trust me when I say read no further.
So if you’re this far in, you know why fans everywhere finished the first episode like an individual in an abusive relationship. Now I don’t make that statement lightly or insensitively, but before going into a full breakdown, lets look at why House of Cards has the kinds of fans (myself included) that I’ll refer to as having “battered audience syndrome”. The show emotionally neglects us, beats the emotional crap out of us, and then makes us feel like we’re its best friend at the end, leaving us begging for more.
Here’s what I mean. Halfway through the episode (this scene particularly) I realized that, unlike all of last season, Frank hadn’t said a word to me all episode, and I half considered if the breaking of the fourth wall was about to shift to Robin Wright’s character, Claire.
It didn’t, and for the rest of the episode I felt very left out. A feeling temporarily forgotten, by what was definitely the biggest shock of the series and (maybe I’m wrong but) likely the series overall.
Now it’s easy to start speculating on how this will effect Frank, but before I get ahead of myself, I’ll finish my thought, regarding how the episode neglected, abused and then tempted viewers like myself to keep watching.
In the final scene when Frank actually finally began speaking to the audience, this was literally how the one-sided conversation went for me:
Frank: Did you think I’d forgotten you?
Frank: Perhaps you’d hoped I had.
Frank:Don’t waste a breath mourning Ms. Barnes-
Me: -But it was so sudden!
Frank: every kitten grows up to be a cat. They seem so harmless at first, small quiet, lapping at their saucer of milk, but once their claws get long enough, they draw blood. Some times from hand that feeds them.
Me: I promise never to scratch you.
Frank: For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule. Hunt, or be hunted. Welcome back.
Me: Thanks so much for welcoming me back, I can’t wait to watch you hunt!
Do you see what I mean? If he didn’t in season one, Francis Underwood fully joined the ranks of Dexter Morgan, and Walter White. We know that everything he does it wrong, but because it’s done so well, we don’t care, and we actually enjoy the emotional abuse.
Now that I’ve finished my point, let’s get on with examining the episode as a whole. Regarding Zoe, as scared as Skorsky is to stay involved at this point, I don’t think she’ll stay out of things for long, and I know that Goodwin will be following up. Also, with the short but intentional shot of security cameras behind Zoe in the subway, I’m sure that things aren’t wrapped up as nicely as Frank would like, especially since Rachel Posner was so unwilling to leave.
For the other pieces that Frank is trying to put into place, his replacement for whip seems like an odd choice, since he mentioned that he has nothing on her, but hey when have we known Frank to be honest, or to use someone that he didn’t have a way of using?
At this point, it seems like Claire in some ways is really the biggest wild card. She’s giving up her organization to make the lawsuit go away, and Gillian’s visit (where Claire very calmly told her that she was willing to let her baby “wither and die”) definitely reminded her never to be vulnerable, which is why she ended up sadly cancelling any fertility tests.
Claire’s given up so much supporting Frank in their pursuit of power that it may seem like she’d do anything for him, but everyone has their breaking point, and if Claire begins to feel that all her efforts really weren’t worth it, then who knows if she’ll stand by her man if ties between Frank, Zoe and Peter Russo start to become apparent, and this house of cards starts to shake.
So for final thoughts, I can believe that Frank would push Zoe in front of a train, but I’m still surprised that she deleted their texts for him. Here’s the big question for me overall, at the beginning of season one Frank killed a dog in the street, at the beginning of season two we watched him kill a “cat” when he threw Zoe in front of a subway train. What will he kill in season three?
Also, why am I trying to think so far ahead? Looking forward to watching and blogging about episode two.
Have any thoughts about the episode? Leave it in the comments!