NOTE: It should be obvious, but just in case it's not, this will contain MASSIVE spoilers for the Seasons of House of Cards, mostly Season 2. If you haven't seen any of House of Cards, or you haven't finished Season 2, consider coming back to this post later.
Last year when I watched House of Cards, it took me awhile to get into it. Not because it was bad or slow or anything like that (it wasn't), but more I have ADD and I tend to get distracted easily, and then I just kept going off to other things.
This year, there was still some of that, but I began watching immediately, seeing the 1st episode soon after they appeared on Netflix, and then I saw the rest over the course of Friday & Saturday, finishing up last night around 10pm. There were little sections where I paused it and was doing some stuff online, as I use my monitor/TV for both computer use and my PS3/PS4 which I was using for Netflix.
Overall I liked the season very much. It was so. full. of. treachery. that it was almost a chore to get through some of the episodes. I mean there were backstabbings, manipulations, double and triple agents, and it just got to the point where I was like "please, just a little happiness!" here folks. That's all I ask.
But this isn't something that ends with everyone happy, singing and dancing through the closing credits.
Overall, this was another fantastic season, although there were some cracks in the surface that highlighted some flaws this season, writing wise. Last season there didn't seem anything, to me, that stood out as "oh come on, what is this crap?" type stuff. Everything was solid, everything was necessary, no filler I mean.
This year, there just seemed to be moments that really left me scratching my head as to why they went in that direction, particularly with a specific character (more on that later).
They wrapped up the Peter Russo subplot fairly quickly. Was kinda surprised how quickly they took care of that, and one thing I thought was interesting was subplots come and go, and they are forgotten. Aside from maybe five mentions (almost all in the 1st episode) of Peter Russo, it was like he was never even there. I suppose that could be good or bad, depending on your viewpoint. I mean you don't want them to dwell on things that are no longer of importance (to the storyline), as there are constantly new threats appearing, but at the same time, it is weird to see massive things happen and then on to the next one, so to speak.
There were some truly WTF moments, but not necessarily in bad ways. Although one specific WTF to the Nth degree comes in involving one of the Underwoods security men. It's near the end of one of the later episodes, and you know it when you see it. I have no words. But true to form, it's never mentioned again.
Easily the biggest WTF moment was near the end of Episode 1 when Frank throws Zoe in front of a moving subway train. I literally yelled out "FUCK!" at around 1:30am in my church run apartment building. That wasn't my highlight, let me say.
MORE AFTER THE BREAK
That came out of nowhere, although looking back it appears he had planned that. He had her wipe all records of him from the phone (although that shit's backed up somewhere you would imagine...the cloud? Data centers?) and he was just waiting for her to cross a line and he dealt with her. Very shocking.
And when he said "You were just a customer" you know he didn't mean it, but oh so painful to watch. And considering that Freddy obviously viewed Frank as a friend, and I genuinely think Frank did as well, it made it worse.
You could hear in Frank's voice as he spoke to the camera leaving, that he considered himself a sonofabitch for doing that. But Frank has always been a self preservationist, and a survivor at all costs type of guy. So while he insisted that he would not leave Freddy "bleeding on the battlefield", you kind of knew that he would. And it was so damn sad to watch. Which was only compounded when Freddy sold his bar and walked away from his dream to help his son who made a stupid mistake.
All in all, very well done, and I'll be interested to see what happens in Season 3. I imagine I know what a major plot will be (more on that in a bit, as well) based on something Frank said in the final.
Now, my major issue with the season is that they totally turned Doug Stamper from a trusted and loyal guy who had Frank's back and did all the dirty work, into a complete and utter pathetic sad bastard pining over some ex prostitute who didn't even like him. He should have dealt with her like he was told, but no, he can't stop acting whipped, and he not only put himself in danger, but he put Frank, the guy he's supposed to be loyal to no end to, in INCREDIBLE danger, by allowing Rachel, the one person left on earth that can put Frank in prison, to stay alive.
When Frank gave him a third chance, saying I've never given anyone a third chance before, Doug says that there's nothing he values higher than this job. Well, that clearly isn't true, as he values his pie in the sky "relationship" with Rachel way more, because he can't let her go.
That entire subplot, especially the turn in the finale, just felt so similar to the out of left field, "oh come on, what is this shit?!?!?!" that 24 was so adept at doing. "Well, we don't know what to do with Kim Bauer, so we'll just have her get kidnapped every other episode, and get trapped by a cougar in the mountains."
As soon as she bolted from the car I just slapped my forehead and was like "no, no, no, no, no."
He deserved better than to be killed by some stupid girl. I always felt he'd end up taking the fall for Spacey, proving his undying loyalty in the process. And it seemed to be going that way with the whole caught on tape in the casino thing, but in the end he ends up being bashed in the head with a brick repeatedly by a scared beyond her wits Rachel. And the way the character went all season, that serves him right. She'd more than earned the right to brain his ass, after what he put her through.
And throw in the fact that he's not even doing the "honorable" thing in just putting Rachel out of her misery, he's torturing this poor girl and driving her insane. Dictating who she can talk to, getting jealous and forcing her to kick out her girlfriend who seemed to finally give her some semblance of happiness, making her read to him, as she said, like a child, I actually thought she was going to kill herself, if he didn't kill him, and sure enough, she killed him at the end.
Doug Stamper was my favorite character in the show, as I've always been a big fan of Michael Kelly. I've seen him in numerous movies and TV shows, and I'm always happy to see him show up, whether it's on Chronicle, or Person of Interest, he always really brings his A game. And he did a great job acting in this, so my beef is not with Kelly's portrayal of the role, it's with the writers and them sending him down that path of just completely losing all dignity.
I understand the addictions he faced, and I think Rachel represented another addiction for him. Addictive personalities are hard to shake and often make you do ridiculous things. Trust me, I know only too much. That said, it was still sad to see my favorite character go out like that.
Now, as for my thoughts on where the show goes from here now that Frank has manipulated himself into the Vice Presidency and then the Presidency without having a single person vote for him, I think when Frank asked about Doug, and Seth said they put an APB on his car, that clicked for me that Rachel's gonna get caught with Doug's car (she stole it after killing him) and that's going to open up the can of worms, and I think that's going to be the big threat against Frank next year. Someone who's his enemy is going to use Rachel to go after and take Frank down, and Frank's gonna have to find someone or someway to kill her so she can't testify against him.
Maybe next season is the last, and Rachel proves to be his undoing. I can't imagine they keep her alive into next season, just to make Frank a Teflon Don again at the end and she gets killed. They can't keep this show going with him always coming out on top. The show has to end at some point, as it will just become repetitive and stale. I also can't imagine Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright wanting to be tied into a TV series (Even a massively successful one like this) long term, as they are fond of doing movies, and Spacey enjoys theater as well.
So I predict next season Rachel will bring down the President, which will make TWO Presidents in two seasons who will not finish office. Huzzah!
Or maybe someone will take a shot at Spacey and we'll have a President die in office, and someone else who has been Frank's understudy or something will be elevated from whoever he picked as his Vice President. We have a long wait ahead of us. Let the speculation begin.