‘House of Cards’ returns, more thrilling than ever

Those with the gold, make the rules. But what if strategic planning and willing to get hands dirty trumps those with the gold? Simple: they are the ones who ultimately rule.

Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is back for the second season of “House of Cards” on Netflix, only this time it’s as vice president of the United States of America. Underwood is the only politician you hate to root for, because of his southern charm and dangerous cunningness while breaking the fourth wall from time to time and talking directly to the audience.

Viewers were glued to their television and computer screens back in February 2013 when the first season debuted exclusively on Netflix, watching then South Carolina Rep. and House Majority Whip Underwood strong-arming/influencing both his party and the opposition to vote how he tells them to by using every trick in the book.

Now that he’s vice president in season two, his sights are set on the ultimate prize: the presidency. One can’t move up in the ranks without literally burying a few bodies, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for Underwood.

The second season starts immediately where the first season finale left off, with Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) and her reporter friends slowly putting the pieces of Rep. Peter Russo’s “suicide” together, with the evidence pointing at Underwood with motive.

Throughout the new season, Underwood is constantly trying to cover his tracks from the press as they look for the damming evidence that would make their conspiracy theory a reality. Much like a wounded animal, one does not want to back Underwood into a corner, for he does lash out wildly with every slash being fatal.

As if that wasn’t stressful enough, Underwood is simultaneously competing against President Garrett Walker’s (Michael Gill) friend and oldest confidant Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney) for the president’s easily manipulated ear. Tusk is used to persuading the president for his own personal gain as a business man, but now that Underwood wants to be the president’s new puppet master, Tusk has got to go.

Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) continues to support her husband, at the same time enjoying the newfound powers gifted to her as Second Lady of the United States. While she’s still loyal to her husband’s political ambitions and scheming, she has a secret agenda of her own. 

While not taking place on our timeline, this universe parallels some similar events and figures: endless corruption in Washington, tough negotiations with China and political sex scandals are present in both worlds, but “House of Cards” makes it less depressing and more entertaining, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Viewers can relate to the themes and topics in the show, despite not wanting to in real life.

The second season debuted all 13 episodes at once on Netflix on Feb. 14, just in time for a three-day weekend. A majority of fans praise Netflix’s decision to release the entire season at once, for it makes for easier viewing without having to wait for weeks on end.

Other fans aren’t too thrilled about the move, claiming the risks of spoiling the finale rise due to people who marathon through the entire season in a weekend, soon after posting their thoughts on social media.

Either way, once viewers are done watching all 13 episodes, it’s back to the waiting game for season three. With the first and second seasons debuting in February, chances are that’s when season three will debut next year.

“House of Cards” won three Emmys last July for Outstanding Directing and Outstanding Casting in a Drama Series as well as Outstanding Cinematography, but it wasn’t until Wright’s win for Best Actress – Television Series Drama Golden Globe that gave the Netflix show some major credibility as an original programming creator, competing with the big television networks.