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House of Cards S02E01: "Chapter 14"


It's been an interesting year for House of Cards. Before its debut around this same time last year, some people (including this moron) wondered how—if at all—the show would help usher in a new era in television production, distribution, and consumption. But while Netflix claimed that House of Cards' first season brought in an acceptable number of viewers (though we'll probably never know exactly how many) and some critics and awards-giving organizations were high on the first 13 episodes (resulting in three Emmys, a Golden Globe, and a WGA award), the series sort of ended up being an afterthought in the larger "Netflix is changing TV" conversation by the time the new season of Arrested Development and the big surprise, Orange Is the New Black, hit in the second half of 2013. In fact, of those three series, House of Cards was the least-viewed. Heck, even Hemlock Grove supposedly did better on its proverbial opening weekend than this David Fincher-Kevin Spacey joint. 

Point is, House of Cards' first season, though pretty good in spots, didn't light the world on fire. To call it underwhelming is probably too harsh, but moderately underwhelming isn't. So it was munderwhelming, or something. Yet, despite my issues with the show—I think it tends to deliver the performance of a GREAT show without doing a whole lot to earn it—I found the first season to be very watchable, and if we're brightsiding it, killing off Corey Stoll's Peter Russo was the kind of ballsy move that told me writer and showrunner Beau Willimon wasn't screwing around. Thus, I came into this second season with tempered enthusiasm, and slightly lowered expectations. And I think that helped my response to the season premiere, which didn't waste any time getting right to what Spacey's Frank Underwood seems to do best: straight-up murdering people.

Though Peter Russo's death served as the gut-punch of House of Cards' first season, it wasn't an entirely unexpected turn of events. Frank's manipulation of Russo's poor life could have gone further, but it also made sense to put a button—a very, very sad button—on that stealth Underwood operation and move on. But Frank luring Zoe into a false sense of security just to push her in front of a moving subway train, thus ending the pressing threat that his role in Russo's death could be revealed? Damn. That's nasty. I actually looked away to jot down a note during that scene and heard the SQUISH and just assumed he tossed her phone in front of the train, or something. Those two sounds aren't remotely the same, but that's truly because I never thought Frank, as evil as he is, would take Zoe out, let alone do it in a public space. 


There are two ways to look at this development. On one hand, offing Zoe further reinforces that the show is not screwing around, that anyone is susceptible to bite it, that Frank Underwood don't play, and that the show's writing staff isn't willing to drag along another season of Zoe trying to get the "truth" of Frank even though deep down, she knows what's up. That's all fine by me, and the shock value of the moment was mostly worthwhile for me. However, on the other hand, killing Zoe removes yet another interesting character from the show's world when there aren't too many to begin with—and reflects one of my biggest problems with the whole enterprise: Frank always wins. As the first season illustrated, he either outsmarts you with a nearly unbelievably orchestrated plan, or he kills you. If he's going to resort to the latter as regularly as we've seen him do in recent episodes (dating back to last year), it's going to be more difficult for the show to create legitimate tension moving forward. Don't get me wrong, there's definitely some appeal in watching Frank maneuver his way to the White House, but he's already the Vice President. There are only so many more places to go, so unless House of Cards Season 3 is about him trying to use conspiratorial and murderous tactics to take down alien administrations and run the universe, the formula could wear thin sooner rather than later. It's a concern.

But it's a concern I'll keep an eye on as we move through this second season. As a season premiere, "Chapter 14" did the smart thing and hit the ground running... literally, with Frank and Claire continuing their run from the end of last season. Starting right where we left off was a fine call, but I also liked how that opening scene brought us back to this world with both Frank and Claire. The opening scene of the Season 1 premiere was much more focused on Frank and Frank alone, and this one signaled that House of Cards is more of a two-hander than originally advertised. It's a little thing, but a purposeful one—and a good one, because while I do enjoy watching Kevin Spacey devour scenery as much as the next dude, Robin Wright is fantastic in this role. Her Claire deserves some more time in the spotlight. And as Frank was off pushing his former bed buddy to her gruesome death, "Chapter 14" made sure to give Claire that time. The story between her and Gillian was a bit of a snoozer by the end of Season 1, but it came out hot here with Claire forging some documents, stopping Gillian's insurance coverage, and digging up the identity of her baby daddy, just so she could tell the man's wife about the pregnancy. Claire ethered Gillian. 


Similarly, dropping back in on the final events from Season 1 meant that the show had no choice to clean up messes and tie up loose ends. And on House of Cards, that means a whole lotta screentime for Michael Kelly's Doug. With Peter and Zoe both gone now, Doug should suddenly have more to do, and if this premiere was any indication, the show is ready to make that happen. Most of his scenes here were of the procedural variety—convincing prostitute Rachel that she needs to leave town, putting threatening photos in Janine's mailbox (presumably)—but Kelly did good work nonetheless. I hope Doug becomes more of a force, especially considering the latest void in the show's universe. 

For a show that took its sweet time, narratively, in Season 1, House of Cards' Season 2 premiere was a welcome sight. It moved pretty quickly, made a big move, and cleared the table for a new round of political scheming, secret investigations, and, well, murder. Let's hope this pace continues as the show moves forward.



HOUSE OF NOTES

– Frank doesn't like birthdays. Hot on murder, cold on birthdays.

– I like how the episode waited until the very last scene to have Spacey's Frank address the audience; that showed restraint. But I almost immediately hated it once he opened his mouth. Don't tell me "welcome back," weirdo. Step too far.

– OHHH. The cufflinks spelled out 'FU'. Get it?! Sometimes this show can't resist hammering us right on the nose.

– With Zoe dead, Lucas is likely to take on the Underwood investigation in the coming episodes. I'll be interested to see how the show handles that story, both because of my fear about the ultimate outcome (R.I.P. Lucas) and because Lucas doesn't have the same kind of relationship with Frank (well, yet), so the story is inherently less interesting.

– I need more Christina in my House of Cards life. 

– Hopefully the show gives President Walker a bit more personality and spine this season. If Frank wants his seat, I'd love for there to be some real tension there, and for that to happen, the character has to be better. 


What'd you think of the Season 2 premiere? How will you be watching this season?



HOUSE OF CARDS SEASON 2 REVIEWS ON TV.COM

Note: Due to waning reader interest in our episodic coverage, after Episode 7, we skipped ahead in our reviews to the finale. However, the discussion pages for Episodes 8 through 12 will remain active for anyone looking to chat about those installments individually.

S02E01: House of Cards "Chapter 14" Review: Happy Birthday Mr. (Vice) President

S02E02: House of Cards "Chapter 15" Review: Welcome to the White House

S03E03: House of Cards "Chapter 16" Review: We Have a Quorum

S02E04: House of Cards "Chapter 17" Review: Quarantine My Heart

S02E05: House of Cards "Chapter 18" Review: Beating on that Backchannel

S02E06: House of Cards "Chapter 19" Review: Power Play

S02E07: House of Cards "Chapter 20" Review: A Tale of Two Families 

S02E08: House of Cards "Chapter 21" Discussion

S02E09: House of Cards "Chapter 22" Discussion

S02E10: House of Cards "Chapter 23" Discussion

S02E11: House of Cards "Chapter 24" Discussion

S02E12: House of Cards "Chapter 25" Discussion

S02E13: House of Cards Season 2 Finale Review: New Desk, Same Frank


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 3/4/2016

Season 4 : Episode 13

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Okay I've begun the marathon. Fingers crossed I'll be finished in less than 24 hours. I wasn't sure coming exactly how much I liked this show but I do like it a lot. It's not a contender for the greatest show of all time and there's a certain monotony in character and tone but it's still damn entertaining. Plus it's filmed so specifically that I get lured in. It's amazing how much easier it is for me to love a show when it's filmed as well as this. So obviously it was a pretty eventful premiere. I was liking the absence of the 4th wall breaking and agree with Cory that they didn't reintroduce it well. We had some good plots set in motion, particularly with Mrs Bullock. Other events DID seem to close plot avenues instead of open them (e.g. the pregnancy) which were odd decisions to make but overall it was a thoroughly gripping episode like I've come to expect from this show.

As for the elephant in the room, of course I'm disappointed because I still have a huge crush on Kate Mara (although maybe now she'll be free for a role on AHS 4? I can hope). I was surprised she acted the way she did in this episode, it was practically suicidal. How did she imagine it would turn out? Anyway I new she was in trouble but I still was completely shocked when she died. It's the kind of thing you think about afterwards and say obviously it had to go that way, but it still felt unexpected at the time. It mostly feels right for her to be gone, she's kind of completed an arc. As Cory said the bigger concern is how the show will handle losing her character. It's a big ask.
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"the show is not screwing around, that anyone is susceptible to bite it" ... including F.U. those cufflinks end scene were a "sublime" message to the viewers or what?^^

In any case, so Franky can die too, choking on those slow bleed ribs one fine morning... and henceforth we will be watching House of Ghost Cards... I love the show don't get me wrong, but it's just not true, to say "anyone" can be offed... and to say Zoe was an interesting character well, that's an opinion I don't share.

I assume, as long as there's fresh influx of new offable peeps the show will be fine...
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yeah i cant believe they killed Zoe off right away. she was half the reason to watch. watched half of season 2 so far. it's ok, but season 1 was much better IMO (so far)
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also, i really liked Zoes pics that janine got. nice!
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I loved the first season. It was right up there with Hannibal as one of my favorite new shows last year, and my personal favorite Netflix series (although I do love the new Arrested Development and Orange is the New Black).

That being said, I really enjoyed this first episode. I'm a bit mixed about Zoe's death, because I think Frank is much more interesting when he's manipulating people than when he's actively murdering them. Of course, it's not out of character for him to do so (see Peter's death), and I don't really mind it happening from time to time, but I agree that they shouldn't over-use that as an escape for Frank's problems. But other than that, I'm very happy with the first episode of the season. I may have to get used to the darker tone of the season if this is an indication of what's to come for the season, but I'm already very excited to see where this season is going.
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If this ridiculously all-mighty villain doesn't fall in the 3rd season as he should like the original, we're gonna see the "U" family will have a daughter called Clair. The daughter, disgusted by what the parents do, chooses not to take politics as a prfession, goes for an American Idol audition and then becomes a great singer... blah blah blah.
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Oh my dear, naive little children - wait until you get to ep 11. THAT ending will FU you right up!!
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Dadddddyyyyy.
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I still wonder why they killed Zoe instead of Rachel... She's the only evidence left.
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Doug likes Rachel. That's keeping her alive.
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Sure the first chapter/episode started with bells and whistles but it's left itself in bit of an oubliette to get out of shock-wise. In that Frank's killing of Ms T&A and then the OTT scene of Claire cruelly fucking over Gillian and threatening to indirectly kill her unborn was chillingly good. But, and it's nearly as big as Mara's, I can't see it topping what's already been screened for the evil duo of Frank and Claire; save for political machinations and is that going to be enough to hold interest? Yes it's supposed to be an intellectual show and that should be enough. However, it's always tried to deploy shock factor tactics along the way now and then to stop it merely looking like a tale of two petty and entitled sociopath fuck ups in a sea of similarly minded political ones. I fear boring back-biting ahead and lots of it.
Everyone just yields to them. What I'd like is for someone to just pick up an ornament and lamp one of them over the nut with it, lots. Or to at least be self-destructive enough to realise they're beaten but ding our main cunts a little in a pyrrhic victory.
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For those of you that hate the fact that Zoe died, well...it means you haven't seen the original series. And even though I had seen it, my mouth still dropped open when FU pushed her. I thought they'd build that story to the end of the season. I was delightfully surprised. Nice to know that there is probably a three season plan, just like the British series. At least i hope they stick to that plan and not try to jump the shark.
Anywho, I just wanted to say that normally America messes up remakes. Especially of British stuff. However, this series has far surpassed the original and has turned the original plot driven series into a wonderful character driven series that far outshines its British counterpart. This is not to say that I don't like the original, just that I do like how much more character driven this series is. Looking forward to this show winning more awards this year. For any of you skeptics, season two is even better than the first one. Can't wait to see season three.
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People are almost always harping on how much better the British version is, but I find both series equally good/bad, just in different areas. And one place I do prefer the American - by a lot - are the female characters. The women in the British version were weak or barely visible. The American version...the men are swimming with sharks and don't even know it.
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Agreed, especially the ending. FU's wife in the British series was hardly visible to the point that it made the ending a litte out of left field and Zoe is more prominent and less the prop.
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Judging from the reactions, I'm the only one who screamed "Run!" at the television the second Zoe stepped into that subway station. The entire scene I just kept thinking "he's going to push her, he's going to push her" yet when he did, I was also still somehow surprised.
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I lay myself at the mercy of the more lucid among you:
I don't remember the deal about Claire, her pregnant former employee whose life she's ruining by screwing with her health insurance and the other woman. What S01 episode was this subplot in? I need to re-watch it. And why is she changing her mind about having a child? (I know I would if I was female and married to FU!)
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What had happened was, Claire hired her fresh out of Africa, where she'd been doing some kind of Doctors w/out Borders type of work (may not have been medical, but some kind of help out there), and Claire promised her that they'd do great things together, which the employee didn't immediately trust. Unfortunately, Claire's word isn't all that solid, and when she needed money, she turned to Sancorp (The corporation for which the possibly-no-longer-with-us black guy used to lobby), a dirty company Claire's employee specifically said she wouldn't work with, so they had a falling out, and Claire fired her.

The employee, having been lied to, told a lie of her own, and said that she'd been fired because she was pregnant, and with that lie, she had a decent case...she just couldn't afford to wait it out.

As for Claire thinking about kids, she and Frank expressly stated that they never wanted kids (Frank hates them, and she knows this), but she was a bit less honest about that, as well...at least to herself, so she started checking out fertility options without talking to Frank. And abruptly, she changed her mind back to default. So far.
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Thanks for the refresher, I now recall the Sancorp thing and all. Is this related to the woman who was screwing someone else's husband? That's the one other thing from S01E01 I didn't recall. Binge watching has its disadvantages.
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That's what I tell people. Gotta let some of it digest. Do I wanna watch the fourth episode of season two? Of course I do, but then I'll have that much more to think about, that much less time to devote to it, and that many less episodes ahead of me. It was all I could do to turn that damn streamer off before the next show kicked in. They only give you a few seconds to think about it...

With Claire and Gillian, no one cared that Gillian was screwing someone else's husband; it was only this episode that Claire went and used that fact against Gillian. I don't think we even knew anything about it until this episode. Claire and Gillian only fought about the work they were doing and with whom they were willing to work who they were willing to work with. Zoe was screwing Frank, but Claire didn't care...much. It was...mostly just part of the game.
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Ok, thanks! It's true one of HoC's big strengths is Claire. I made a comment elsewhere about Boss, saying it had a unique quality where Boss was more evil with every new thing he did, so there was plenty of anticipation built up. In fact, in Boss, the most ethical and human character was the young dope dealer! Unlike boring procedurals where everyone one does what they're expected to do, Boss broke the record almost every episode. FU is pretty bad (the kind of bad we love) but having Claire show alternative just as bad stuff is not just a great marriage, but damn fine television. Claire will be our counter point to Frank, and she's doing a great job so far! Go Netflix!
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I can't believe they killed the second best character in the show , never thought the show would make this turn
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Well, except for Zoe's killing I liked the return of House of Cards.

Apart from the fact that I really liked Zoe as a character and how Kate Mara played her, I think FU and HoC could have used a seasoned journalist knows what he/she is doing and causes trouble for FU. And he could have taken care of that trouble in a different way than plain up murder.

To me, after haveing watched just the first episode for now, it seems more like this show is going the "Scandal" way, getting more and more rediculous. I wouldn't exactly bet on it, but I am fairly sure that murder of jurnalists is not the go-to solution for political problems, even in DC. That seems somewhat over the top.

I'm sure the killing of Zoe will have its ripple effects in the rest of the episodes and I will enjoy those, but right now I'm somewhat dissapointed that they killed of well liked and well acted character.

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Having watch almost all of season 2, I can rest assure you, it is nothing like scandal. I do like scandal by the way however scandal is like burgers while this is gourmet food.
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While i do like House of Cards very much, I can't help thinking Boss was better at almost everything.
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I think you're right but I'm glad both shows exist(ed). There're enough differences to make them stand apart.
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Boss was better, but Boss was meaner. Women did not like that show, and thus, it died, like pretty much anything that isn't Football or Supernatural.

Here, Frank works with his wife, and they're a dark, evil-enough team, while the guy from Boss was a tyrant at home as well as in the Mayor's office. I miss it terribly.
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Boss had one quality that I think made it unique. Almost everything that happened, you' thinking "I can't believe he's that evil!" and then just a few minutes later you're saying the same thing, only out loud. And then... Too bad, too, because Kelsey G was amazing in that role.
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Wait, wait. Can somebody please clear something up for me, because I pretty much marathon watched Season 1 a full year ago and haven't given it much thought since.

How did Frank become the Vice President? As in, what happened to the Vice President that he needed replacing in the middle of a term? Somebody made reference to 2016 in this episode; is it 2014 right now in the show's universe, or has not enough time passed?
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Russo, the candidate Underwood championed to run as governor of Pennsylvania, was murdered by Underwood. all this was revealed to be a plan to get Matthews, the current VP, to run for governor, something Underwood knew Matthews would do because he felt worthless as a VP. Matthews agreed, thus leaving the VP spot vacant, and Underwood took it.
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Right. Thank you greatly.
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I was expecting Zoe to bite it at the end of season 1, just like the British version of the character did in the first mini-series, and when it didn't happen I rolled my eyes, expecting that she'd be a problem for season 2, but I was not expecting that shove at all in the first episode.
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I thought exactly the same and was very surprised that she died in this episode.
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Zoe dead means Lucas won't be naked anytime soon? Noooooooo......
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I was totally surprised by Zoe's murder. I knew he was a snake but just didn't know he would go beyond killing injured dogs. As Instant view is much less than instant (unless you really like all the "loading, please wait" pauses) I have to watch in the afternoon when the web trafficd is low enough for me to watch a full episode.
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Did you mean you did not know F U is a murderer? Did you watch season 1?
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Still, this murder felt *extremely* risky given its public nature. Yes, Zoe had pieced together all of Frank's wrongdoing, but she couldn't prove it, at least not anytime soon. I'm shocked they didn't let her get closer to finding a smoking gun before killing her off, and also shocked that Frank wouldn't send Doug to his dirty work for him. I get that Frank's evil nature is the point of the show, but it will quickly push way past its already tough to swallow believability if the Vice President of the United States is regularly offing people.
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I agree with what you mentioned and then again I thought Frank was actually quite smart to do all the murders himself. I meant you always run the risk of the henchmen turning on you if you delegate. Doug is very loyal to Frank but his closet is full of skeletons the enemies can use.
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That took me completely off guard and I loved it! This episode really felt like the Season 1 finale and I think that it should have been. It literally took place immediately after the last chapter and served as a great ender to that part of the story and all of those loose ends. I hope that they take us in a new direction and add new characters to the rest of the season. But excited to be along for the ride.
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Also, Claire definetly delieverd my favorite line of the night and it was nice to see her playing hardball, "I am more then happy to watch that baby wither and die inside you."
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Zoe's death was due.
By the second scene of this episode it was obvious she would die this season, it took balls to do it in the first episode though. It's just nowadays shows have people used to getting so eased into it, they crave having the character completely worn down before they kind of agree to let him/her go.
There was only monotony left there.
I'm more curious to see were this season is going now that the show is done with Zoe because, from experience with other shows and the previews, I thought I'd had to sit through at least 6 episodes of that repetitive storyline.
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"Frank Underwood always wins"

Well, Sir, I'll tell you a secret... That's kind of the point of EVERY freaking show on tv (except maybe GOT, which is a really gritty fantasy show). I mean the good guys/main character will eventually always win. You can't really make a tv show about I guy which is just gonna loose, and then die at the end of the season. I mean of course it's about Frank winning. The thrill of the show is how he'll do it, what crazy plan he will put in motion or how he'll overcome it's enemies.

House of cards is a great show, with great actors and, a great story. I usually don't like slower paced shows like this one (I didn't really enjoy breaking bad for some reason). Yes it is slow at some point but, there is always a twist or something that's gonna completely drag me back in.

I actually had a "OMG moment" with my hand coming to my mouth and me going all... no you didn't... she... wait.. what? Then it was the, holy shit that's awesome moment. Yes I liked her, yes I'll miss her but something I like about a tv show is when it's unpredictable and when it is willing to kill off main characters on a bang like this. Most shows just want to introduce core characters and then, keeps then going and going and going... and going. At some point, you don't even feel anything when some threat is coming there way. They'll just beat the bad guy and move on. In shows like that, where main characters could die on the next episode, it keeps you on the edge of the seat. which is really nice. I mean, the first few times Sam and Dean died in Supernatural it was alright, but after 8 seasons.... them dying every season is kind of getting old.

Anyway, all that to say, I do not agree the 1st season was "watchable" and it's a hell of a start to this season. Dead zoe or not, I'll keep watching. I like it when anybody could die at any moment. Bring some more!
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I think the word you are looking for instead of good guy is Protagonist. That would be Frank, a protagonist can be good or bad, it doesn't matter, but they are generally the focus in fiction.
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You say that like Frank is the good guy in this series...he's not. He's the main character but he's also the main villain. And storytelling isn't about the main character always winning. A show where your main character is never tested and just breezes through any situation and wins without really trying isn't interesting television. You don't take any threat seriously because you know they'll just be thwarted. In order for a series to be successful and ripe with tension you need a push and pull. Frank has to experience setbacks. Plans have to backfire in his face and he has to feel like he's losing everything. It's way more interesting to watch a character fail spectacularly and have to re-build than to watch someone get everything they've ever wanted completely untested.
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I didn't mean good guy literally, I mean't protagonist, just couldn't think of the word at the time of my comment. If you think Underwood hasn't had any setbacks, I think we didn't watch the same show. Since he had to fight off something in almost each episode. Russo, Zoe, his wife, politicians, voters... the teacher's strike. He may be masterful at what he does and always end's up on top but still. There is a price. Still, is better than most of tv shows out there where the protagonist's are just invincible and will never die cuz the producers are just to afraid to make bold moves.
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Underwood's plans backfire all the time. Go back and watch season 1. Or just finish season 2. He may or may not achieve his main goals, but there are costly defeats on the way. It's the storytelling that makes the show work.

And yes, he is the protagonist. Not Hero. I think it's masterful when a show can keep you rooted and in some way rooting for the evil protagonist. In that regard, this show is doing the same thing that other great shows have done before it like Boardwalk Empire and The Shield.
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What THE FUCKING FUCK??? That made as much sense as it would have to kill off Raylan Givens, Jack Bauer or Buffy the vampire slayer in episode 2x01 of their shows. I don't think I even want to watch this anymore. Seriously, what, the, fuck.

(I just finished episode 2x01, if that's not obvious).

Zoe Barnes was the only good character in season 1 other than Frank Underwood and Peter Russo. (I know that some like Robin Wright and her character, but I really don't. I think that's an extremely boring character). And as we all know, Russo got killed off in season 1. She was the only interesting female character, and the only interesting character on "team good guys". She's also incredibly hot, and a very good actress. And they kill her off right at the start of the season?? What the f...I can't even...I'm...I mean WHAT THE FUCK??

I'm so pissed off right now. I've been waiting for months for this to return, and Kate Mara was about 70% of the reason. Kevin Spacey was about 10%, and the remaining 20% was a desire to see Zoe Barnes give Frank Underwood what he deserves, or at least some of it.

I knew that there was a chance that something like this would happen at some point in the season, because what would the show be about if Zoe sends Frank to prison? But in episode 1?? If you really couldn't think of any way to both keep her alive and keep the show going for one more season, then at least have the common sense to take her out at the END of the season, after introducing another good character that can take over in season 3.
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I will elaborate a little...

I see several comments about how this was great, brilliant or whatever your favorite adjective is. I strongly disagree. The death scene itself was great. If you have a gun to your head and you're forced to write Zoe Barnes out of the show in 2x01, this is the way to do it. The scene was also very surprising.

But the reason it's surprising is that it's a terrible idea. This death just turned House of Cards into one of those shows where all the characters are very unlikable and/or boring. I can handle a show with only unlikable people if the acting is fantastic and the characters at least aren't boring. (The Sopranos). But I can't make myself care about what's happening on a show where the characters are both unlikeable and boring. I gave up Boardwalk Empire (twice) for this reason.
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I understand your rage. For me it is lucky that I am in it 70% Kevin Spacey and only 15% Kate Mara so I could still stomach it. Molly Parker was the replacement this season I think. She is as morally bad as Frank but that also means she will be a nastier adversary for Frank. I cannot wait to see both of them go head to head. And i did not give up on BE even after Jimmy's death and I was rewarded with a very good season 4 that just ended.
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To clarify a bit: I didn't give up on BE because someone's death bothered me. I did it because I found myself not caring about what was going to happen to the characters I was watching. The first time I stopped was half-way through the season 1 finale. I had started watching when I was really tired, so I switched it off and went to sleep. The next day I didn't care at all about how things had turned out on the show, so I didn't start watching again until more than a year later.

I enjoyed it for a while. It's certainly not badly done. But a few episodes into season 3, I found myself in the same situation again. I just didn't care what was going to happen, so I stopped again.

I can't think of any other show that has had this effect on me.
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Two words: HOLY CRAP!!!

I had to pause for a minute and wonder if they were messing with the format of the show and threw in an Ally McBeal'esque "wishful dream sequece" cause there's NO WAY Frank just killed Zoe!

"...he's already the Vice President. There are only so many more places to go, so unless House of Cards Season 3", "Let's hope this pace continues as the show moves forward."

And this was my though exactly. I thought the premiere was a master class in story telling that SO many shows could take lessons from. There is however a "but". Season 1 was slow and methodical, which while I don't mind that style so much, can get a little dreary at times. If this is a sign of things to come for the pacing of season 2, I'm worried this show is going to Homeland itself...burn through so much quality story so fast, it's going to be 1. impossible to keep up that pace 2. when it eventually slows down, it's going to see extra slow because of the standard it's set.

I don't know what the plan is for the rest of the season (but I'll find out by the end of day tomorrow). But here's my concern. The relationship between Frank and Zoe, in part, is what made her going after him so compelling. More games of cat and mouse where seemingly the mouse is getting the better of the cat. Spacey's 4th wall speech at the end re-affirmed that metaphor.

"Lucas is likely to take on the Underwood investigation in the coming episodes. I'll be interested to see how the show handles that story, both because Lucas doesn't have the same kind of relationship with Frank (well, yet), so the story is inherently less interesting."

I know they hinted at Frank's sexual orientation last season, but I'm pretty sure he and Lucas aren't going to be sharing pillow talk, and that part of the relationship with Zoe is a big part of what made it so good. Not the actual sex part but that it was another power struggle between the two. Lucas, looking for vengeance/justice just isn't the same. I dunno...we'll see.
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The creator in one of the interviews have admitted they will go full throttle and keep nothing back every season as if it is their last. This is what I liked. I read in on TV fanatic.com
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Well I couldn't help but binge this on VDay, and I am so glad I did (just in time for dinner). Some parts were a bit snooze worthy and others I wondered just what in the sam hell was going on, but overall it is a very good and entertaining season. Can't wait for Season 3 next VDay.
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I did not see that death coming at all. I kept expecting her to just show up and to have magically survived somehow. I just really love Kevin Spacey. I actually like when he talks to the camera. It's a little creepy, but Frank is so arrogant and it is totally something he would do if it really happened in real life. And I can't disagree with more Doug. He is awesome.
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One word : Brilliant !

House of cards season 1 was my best NEW TV series 2013. Not many agree with me,more preferred OITNB or OB but I love House of Cards.

I was so shocked by Zoe's death that I had to rewind and watch it again. It is kind of pointless but I still wanted it to NOT to be true. I did not object to any TV death as much as this one, not even the red wedding. I expected characters to get knock off easily on GOT or TWD but I never expected it on this show hence the greater shock value.

I like Zoe's character in season 1 and I really thought she will still be a major character in season 2 so I was sadden by the death.

By the time the episode ended and Frank finally talk to us, I have only one word - Brilliant ! It was as if the creators want us to feel this way about Zoe's death and then have Frank tell us he meant business.

Moving forward, I am now looking for more Molly Parker as I liked her in many other shows and perhaps she can filled the void left by Kate Mara.

For viewers who have a strong moral compass about TV shows will probably NOT like this show. I leave my compass on the porch when I enter TV land.

Now on to episode two !
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The road taken in House of Cards is so different than the UK one, but the destination is the same and all the piece of To Play the King are put on the board as well so that might play out similarly although I have no idea how. (King and President are very different beasts.)
I think the FU at the end was partly to those people that have seen the original. There Mattie (Zoe) was killed in season 1 and they might have thought/hoped they were not going to kill Zoe. So FU.
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I loved Francis Urquhart so much and was very meh about Frank last season. Now that he's finally living up to his predecessor's level of evil, he's much better. I like Claire better this season too,
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I was so shocked, really, so shocked. I was thinking "um, it's being an ok episode, nothing much is happening" and then BOOM. I couldn't believe it. Now that I finally liked Zoe...

And I also want more Christina, please!
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r/HouseofCards practically exploded last night. Wow.
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I'm still picking my jaw up off the floor. If there's any doubt about this new season, doubt no more. Where season one had a bit of a slow start, season 2 has hit the ground running in ways I never could have imagined.
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I really didn't expect Zoe's death, let alone so early in the season. I honestly hadn't even considered her death a possibility, despite all of the images with Frank covered in bloody promoting the show until now he'd only killed one guy, and as far as murder goes sit was pretty tame, he didn't cut his throat, he didn't stab him a bunch, he didn't shoot him in the head, and he didn't throw him in front of a fucking train. But this time to hell with subtlety, to hell with waiting until there's no other option to kill someone, this bitch asked if I murdered someone so time to die. I like the show but it's always been kind of slow, killing off one of the chief characters in such a violent way and so early was the shot in the arm it needed. Also I've always liked Frank talking to the audience, it's one of those love it or hate it story devises, it adds up to the same thing as a voice over but it's a bit more fun and engaging, not quite as passive.
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Good stuff overall. I feel bad for fistpumping Zoe's exit, except I'm lying and I don't. It was equivalent to someone pushing Jar Jar in front of one of those speeder bikes, only I still have to dream about that. Cleverness shouldn't overwhelm intelligence, and this is one of those freak shows that...er, show exactly why. She sucked, she bugged, I'm glad she's gone.

Zoe: "Sure, totally clean slate. Just...can you tell me everything you did so I can decide whether or not to take you down to make me feel better and / or rocket launch my career...?"

Anyway, Lucas won't be anywhere near as interesting, but he also won't be anywhere near as annoying. Fair trade.

I'm not as fond of Claire, as she's far less loyal to her employees than Frank is, but they make a good couple, and the dark stuff she pulled off this episode reminded us why. A lot of shows place us in the middle of a couple who've been together for however many decades, only to immediately make us question why they're together as we watch them implode. These two are the same. She knows he killed Zoe, but not only does she not care, she doesn't even seem worried that he may've been careless about it. I did worry (that's not really the word) that they were going to immediately fall apart 24 style now that we were watching, but so far, they just seem to mildly quiver away from each other before coming back together. So far.

So yeah, there's not too much forward for Frank to go for himself now, but he does have to weather the conformation, and a good portion of this season can go to shoeing in his replacement for Whip. I can't remember her name, but she's sharp and I like her. I'm hoping for good things even if there end up being trust or control issues.

I was thinking about the President, as well, but since Frank was actually chosen by him, and not forced down his throat (knowingly) like most VP's are, I don't see them butting heads too often, and thus, I don't expect the President to become interesting anytime soon. Of course, he could always accidentally kill someone and only have Frank to turn to, but nah. Next year?

As for the 4th, it's what he does, like The Newsroom sucking at news, intelligence, excitement, or originality. I never loved it, but I've grown to like it, and I was actually relieved to see that Frank was going to keep with it. Anything else would seem like he'd been doing something...wrong. I actually find myself saying "Talk ta me" when he begins. In my head, of course. I wouldn't talk back to him. Not out loud, anyway. That'd be weird.
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"...his replacement for Whip. I can't remember her name, but she's sharp..."

Haha, did you write that on purpose, and I'm being captain Obvious here, or was that by coincidence? :) Her name's Jackie Sharp.

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Heh, total accident. I don't hate how it worked out, though
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You're 2nd and 3rd points in the notes make very little sense. If "welcome back" went "too far" for you, you may want to realize what you've been watching. The 4th wall has been broken throughout the series, the fact he's recognizing it makes no difference. In fact, I think it was a great touch. As for the "FU".... so what? Yet again, a little bit of adult humor to go with the 4th wall breaking. I think you're being a little too sensitive for analyzing an adult show.
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There's breaking the 4th wall and then there's breaking it in a way that is about the breaking itself instead of just addressing the audience.
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Wow, I think you need to do some more research. The show in some ways parallels the original BBC House of Cards. The main character in that version, Francis Urquett, usually won as well, until he didn't. The idea isn't that he has a setback, but that he wins at a terrible price to those around him and eventually to himself. Further, the cuff link placement with the letters "F U." was more likely than not meant to have double meaning. However, this show is classier than to imply a direct expletive and solely that. Francis Urquett (original Frank Underwood) was known by the nickname "F.U." Lastly, Kevin Spacey will continue to break the fourth, get over it. For anyone who knows the background of the original series and can read from the gray areas, nothing is out of place and is more brilliant than ever. I invite you and anyone else who seems to not understand what is going on and what some scenes imply to watch the original series; before you find fault with the new one.
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I loved how even the press would refer to Francis Urquhart as FU!
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Cory, I'd echo some of this. Specifically that you ABSOLUTELY MUST watch the BBC series, along with its follow-ups, To Play the King, and The Final Cut. What this will give you is the perspective of what these current showrunners are doing that is "ballsy" or "brave", and what is simply following in the script of the original. If you had seen the UK version, you'd have known that the deaths of Peter and Zoe were foreordained.
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It's worth pointing out that there are only 12 episodes that cover the 3 books, so not a huge time investment. Also, there's humour!
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Damn, I missed House of Cards.
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