Did you watch all of the second season of Netflix’s House of Cards this weekend? Good. So did I. Let’s talk. Spoilers ahead.
Here’s a confession: I pretty much bought House of Cards’ initial portrayal of Washington. When I began binge-watching the first season last February, I had just moved from Florida to New York, didn’t have that much money, and was still coming down from the jarring transition in weather and temperament. House of Cards quickly cured this gloomy spell: Whereas New York was cold and impersonal and ruled chiefly by money, David Fincher’s capital seemed irreparably sinister, a lunar landscape masking a steep political hierarchy hidden from public view. At least I wasn’t there.
The Washington of the series’ second season, which debuted on Friday, felt both more sinister and less believable. In the first season, House Whip Francis J. Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, carefully kills off an alcoholic Congressman by making his death look like a suicide.
In the second season’s first chapter, by contrast, Underwood shoves Zoe Barnes, an inquisitive reporter played by Kate Mara, in front of a train as it enters a well-lit Metro station. She was asking too many questions! Underwood exits the scene as if nothing happened. This more or less establishes the season’s expectations.
(For example: When a cop lets one of Barnes’s colleagues inspect security camera footage of her death—in which Underwood stands just out of view—the colleague doesn’t bother to see what Barnes was doing before she ended up on the tracks.)
It’s difficult, of course, to assess the believability of a show like House of Cards. If a president solicited an intern in the Oval Office, how far-fetched is a threesome between the Vice President, his wife, and a Secret Service agent (pictured above)?
How would anyone know?
If you’ve finished the second season, jump in below. If not, beware spoilers (and come back when you’re actually done).