I finished season two of NetFlix’s House of Cards. The last moments of the last episode gave me chills, the good kind. I loved the second season about as much as I loved the first.
The second season had a harder challenge, I think. Because we-the-viewers knew how the show works, from season one, how do you do that again, without making it either predictable or unbelievable? In my opinion, season two managed to deliver.
The question in my mind in every episode is how loyalty works. House of Cards is, fundamentally, a show in which almost all that happens is characters stand around and have conversations. They promise each other things, they threaten. They deliver on those promises or fall through. They give their word of honor and keep or break it. It’s a show about things that don’t exist, and yet is about that thing which pervades all the other things we do and build and destroy. It’s a show in which all the action comes from and is the trust and loyalty of human relationships.
I love these relationships. I love all of them. I root for people to be their best selves, I mourn when they are not. I cheer for the Underwood’s marriage, and wince when I think they are in conflict. I watch through my fingers in anxiety when the loyalty of trusted followers is tested, hoping that they remain true.
… It doesn’t even matter to me, that much, to whom they are loyal. I just want to see loyalty and trust and fidelity come through.
It does, sometimes, on House of Cards. Sometimes it does not.
In the same way that I recommended the first season of Scandal to people by saying “it’s what would happen if the team from Leverage were Neutral Evil instead of Chaotic Good,” House of Cards is the mirror-verse of The West Wing. It’s the Neutral Evil version of The West Wing‘s Lawful (or Neutral) Good.
I like this show a lot. I highly recommend it, if what you want is lots of dubiously ethical people having whispered conversations in halls of power.