I just binged on the second season of the Emmy-award winning “House of Cards,” the Netflix-produced political saga starring Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood and Robin Wright as his wife Claire as it continues its narratively complex drama– even better than 2013’s! (See my February 2013 review of the first season, “House of Cards”–A Bulimic Buffet for Couch Potatoes?)
In this riveting thriller of political ambition, power, and hubris of Shakespearian proportions, we see the Underwoods cement their lethal relationship as the über power couple on the Beltway, energized by each other’s ruthlessness. Determined to leave no enemy unharmed, the two share everything: strategy, tactical maneuvers, and annihilation without mercy. But both Claire and Frank have backstories, hinting at the damage that has been done to them. Their wounds remain unhealed.
Claire and Frank Underwood pursue power without any internalized sense of obligation, morality, or responsibility resulting in the viewer’s fascination and fear of the Underwoods’ impending path of destruction. Frank is unmoved by barbecue vendor Freddy’s refusal to patronize a new butcher who tortuously slow-bleeds the hogs. Slow-bleeding hogs do not even register on Frank’s radar, a Vice President who wants policies made his way, and only his way.
In episode after episode of this alarming drama, this pair of frightening anti-heroes–nonetheless earn our reluctant admiration for their brilliant understanding of human psychology. They can visualize motivations and blind spots even their foes are not fully aware of. Consequently, the Underwoods seem to have no worthy adversary except each other.
In the season finale, Frank is alone in the Oval Office –or rather, talking to us, the viewers on camera. He taps twice with his ring, a lesson his father had taught him: knock once to toughen your knuckles for a fight and once for good luck.
Prepared, with bare-knuckle fighting almost certainly in his future, Frank knocks twice on the desk in the Oval Office. But will Claire be the one he has to fight, the blind spot for him? The one he can’t overcome? We’ll have to wait until February 2015 to see how this immorality play unravels, and how the toy soldiers Frank loves to create symbolize a challenge to his game.