Frank Underwood laughs in the face of democracy. Whilst being sworn in as the new Vice President, his cheeky aside to the audience summed up the extent to which the system can be manipulated – “One heartbeat away from the Presidency and not a single vote cast in my name”. Here is a man who can, and will, wring the system for all it is worth.
It was with a certain sense of satisfaction that we watched Frank take the oath, his loyal wife, Claire, at his side. His delightfully biting asides are brilliant at drawing us in and making us complicit in his schemes, and this moment was a long time coming – the culmination of the entire first season. But for a man whose methods include murder, will there come a point where we stop rooting for him? As an audience, we are no stranger to anti-heroes, but like Walter White before him, will Frank ever tip over into outright villain?
It’s an interesting point to consider, especially as Frank now concentrates on taking that final step to the Presidency. It was no surprise then that this episode slowed things down, getting in a lot of set-up as he began to put everything into place for him to make his final move. But whatever followed last week’s shocker of an opening episode was always going to feel slow in comparison.
First on the agenda is manoeuvring Jackie Sharp into position as the new House Majority Whip and already Sharp is establishing herself as a key player. Cunning and smart, she is certainly someone to keep an eye on; she may be working with Frank for now but, by the ruthless way she secured support for her bid, it is clear that she doesn’t let her sense of morality get in the way of her ambition. House Of Cards is all about the endless pursuit of power and it will be very interesting to see how the dynamic between her and Frank changes over the rest of the season as she comes into her own.
Just as Frank is continuing to plan his ascent, there are those also working on his downfall, and with Zoe now gone, it falls to her grieving editor, Lucas, to take her place. The episode ended with Lucas delving into the seedy underbelly of the internet in order to get help hacking into Frank’s phone records, a plan which is sure to backfire. It’s hard to see Lucas as a serious threat to Frank at the moment, but with almost a whole season to go, perhaps this storyline will take an unexpected turn. It would certainly be a surprise to see Frank taken down by someone we have dismissed so completely.
Though this episode was more of a slow-burn affair, it very much set the stage for the season to come. Though it’s hard to see where some of the storylines are going, such as Claire’s run-in with the man who raped her in college, if season one taught us anything, it is to have faith in the writers to know what they are doing. House Of Cards is a show which oozes with confidence, so we can be assured that the pay off will be worth it. In Frank we trust.