(Spoiler alert: Season 2 predictions will include recaps of what happened in Season 1. If you haven't seen Season 1, get over to Netflix and watch it!)
Netflix's House of Cardswas nominated for four Golden Globes just hours before they launched their Season 2 trailer. They were also nominated for nine Emmys and took home three. Indeed, the part-political thriller, part-drama, part-social science experiment starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright was an incredible hit in its first season. Unfortunately, Season 2 will be the final season for House of Cards, citing the actors' and producers' preferences to do movies over a television series.
Here are 11 questions to be answered in House of Cards Season two:
1. Reporter and former Underwood mistress Zoe Barnes is onto Frank Underwood's (Spacey) murder of Representative Peter Russo, and she confronts Underwood by saying "I need to know I wasn't a part of someone's... murder." How close has Barnes come to the truth, and with whom has she shared this information? (The trailer suggests at least her fellow colleagues Janine Skorsky and Lucas Goodwin.)
2. Underwood suggests "the road to power is paved with hypocrisy... and casualties." Who will those casualties be in Season 2? In Season 1, casualties included union bosses and members, Congressional staffers, reporters, unions, business owners, Congressmen and women, Democratic Party officials, and even the life of a sitting Congressman. Some of those characters were "fired," killing them out of the series. But what about those who remain: reporters Zoe Barnes, Lucas Goodwin, and Janine Skorsky? Lobbyist and former Underwood employee Remy Danton? Personal friend of the President Raymond Tusk? Underwood's chief of staff Doug Stamper?
In the Season 2 trailer, we see Underwood tell Stamper "we need to invite a full frontal attack." Stamper tells Underwood "I don't think that's a good idea, sir." We see a white hood removed from a man's head, as if he had just been kidnapped. We also see a white powder come out of a manila envelope Skorsky opens in her office. What sort of response is Underwood hoping to accomplish?
3. Underwood feels he needs to prove "what the Vice President is capable of." Well, what is the Vice President capable of? The man whom Underwood is replacing, Jim Mathews, left the job as Vice President for a run at Governor of Pennsylvania because he complained being Vice President was only about shaking hands and signing autographs. He complained he had little value in advising the President on policies and courses of action. Now that Underwood is in the Vice President's chair, what does he want to prove? Will he use the seat to quickly punish those who disobeyed him as Majority Government Whip (e.g. Representatives Abrams and Vanderberg)?
4. How will the relationship between Barnes and Goodwin progress? In Season 1, once Barnes finally ends her affair/fling with Underwood she seems to come to her senses and begins to settle down in a relationship with Goodwin. The two are beginning to become a power couple-journalism team as they begin to learn about Underwood's house of cards with Skorsky. Yet, we also see Barnes passionately kissing another female in a bed. Is Barnes back to her old ways of sleeping around to get a story? Or is she still confused and full of father issues?
5. Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) continues to stand by her ruthless husband, saying "I know you'll do what you think is best." However, in Season 1 she was not against plainly sabotaging her husband's political plans when she felt her own politics were more important (for her non-profit water filtration organization). Will Claire be pushed to a breaking point, or will she continue to stand by her husband? Why does Underwood appear to be burying his wedding ring?
6. Who will take office in the upcoming elections? As we left Season 1, Vice President Mathews was leaving the office for what was thought to be an easy win to be re-elected as Governor of Pennsylvania. Paul Capra, the shipbuilders' union leader and childhood friend of Russo, was approached to run as the Democratic candidate to replace Russo after his death. Capra declined at the time, but will he change his mind?
7. Did Doug Stamper, Underwood's chief of staff, cause Underwood public humiliation and embarrassment over Stamper's use and bribe of Rachel the prostitute? In Season 1, Stamper bribed Rachel to say she was never in the car when Russo was arrested for driving while intoxicated. That bribe came back to haunt Stamper when Rachel blackmailed him, saying she knew who Stamper was and threatened to take down Stamper's boss (Underwood). This caused Stamper to put Rachel up in a new apartment and help her start a new life for herself.
Stamper's generosity came to help Underwood, when Stamper needed Rachel to get Russo drunk and do a radio interview on Russo's run for Governor while still drunk the following morning. In the Season 2 trailer, Underwood says to Stamper "I did my part, now put it to bed Doug. I won't submit myself to this sort of exposure again." How much of Stamper's actions are known, and did Stamper's actions hurt the Vice President, or was Underwood able to contain it? Will Stamper be fired?
8. How influential will Raymond Tusk be in Season 2? In Season 1, it was Raymond Tusk who was secretly vetting Underwood for his suitability as Vice President while Underwood thought he was vetting Tusk for his suitability as Vice President. To make Tusk reveal his hand and potentially feel more loyalty to Underwood, Underwood attempted to shake up a few of Tusk's nuclear energy investments by approaching some oil and gas companies to engage in insider trading. The plan didn't work, since Tusk was tipped off and sold his investments.
In the Season 2 trailer, we hear what sounds to be Tusk telling the President "you would be making a disastrous mistake." We also hear Tusk telling Underwood, "the tip of your ice berg is melting," suggesting Tusk may also be on to Underwood's house of cards. Finally, we see Tusk on the phone telling someone "yeah, hit him now." What sort of repayment will Tusk expect for supporting Underwood's nomination as Vice President, what sort of power does Tusk wield to retaliate against Underwood, and how will the President view the Tusk vs. Underwood conflict?
9. Who will replace Underwood as Majority Government Whip? Underwood, being promoted into the Vice President's chair, will have an enormous influence over who is chosen as his replacement. Will he choose a lapdog, a loyal and friendly Representative? That seems unlikely, since there were few Representatives with whom Underwood was friendly in Season 1. What seems more likely is that Underwood will nominate someone he doesn't like, either so he can later cash in on favours or so that person can be humiliated and eventually thrown aside when a better replacement can be found.
10. In a news interview, we see the title "dirty laundry" on a television as a reporter asks a female "so this goes all the way to the White House?" She responds "it might." But the voice does not sound like Barnes' or Skorsky's -- who is this new person? Further, is this the same dirty laundry from Season 1 (Russo's death, Barnes' affair), or is this new dirty laundry?
11. How much will the President stand for? Remember, Underwood's house of cards started because Underwood felt he was passed over by the President for a Secretary of State spot. One could think now that Underwood has the Vice President's chair he would rekindle any hard feelings he has, but that would be wrong.
In Season 1 Underwood admitted he wanted the Vice President's spot so he could run for President in 2016. That means he will be a very active and visible Vice President, as he seeks every opportunity to put his face on the positive government accomplishments and hide from the negative. That's why the trailer shows Underwood in front of the cameras or being interviewed by reporters several times, whereas in the first season very rarely did he make media appearances. We see the President tell Underwood "I told you to stop back-channeling," to which Underwood replies "I can turn this around, sir." The President responds with "you are out of line, Frank!"
And finally, with season two being the final season, how will it end? Will it be 2016 with Underwood having announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for President? Will it end in present-day with Underwood remaining as Vice President? Will Underwood have resigned?
These are just a few questions that will surely be answered throughout Season 2. Season 2 is to be released on February 14, 2014 on Netflix, with all episodes being immediately available.
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