Sunday, February 23, 2014

HOUSE OF CARDS - Season Two - Chapter Twenty Six

PLOT SUMMARY: Former White House Chief of Staff, Linda Vasquez (Sakina Jaffrey) testifies in front of a judiciary committee on behalf of President Walker (Michael Gill) and speaks openly about her disagreement with Vice President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey).  He continues to support the President publicly while Majority Whip Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker) organises the campaign against Walker.  Vasquez and Walker spin against Frank, but he offers Vasquez her job back if she'll ask Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney) to destroy Tusk on the stand.  But Frank and Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) pre-empt Walker's play and arrange a secret meeting with Tusk trying to persuade him not to take Walker's offer of a pardon.

Megan has attempted suicide and refuses Claire Underwood's consolation.Meanwhile, the hacker Gavin Orsay (Jimmi Simpson) tells Stamper he has his phone records and knows about Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan).  Stamper drives Rachel out to some woods, believing she has betrayed him: he chases her through the woods, but she attacks him with a rock and kills him

Frank writes a deeply manipulative letter to President Walker, offering to resign  and take the fall, resulting in Walker asking him to whip the votes to prevent the impeachment.  Frank does so, but in such a way as to garner tacit support from politicians who would gain in his presidency.  Meanwhile, Jackie asks Remy to voluntarily testify against Tusk, with the vague promise of a White House job. Cornered, he agrees, but is pre-empted by Tusk who finally stops pleading the fifth when he realises his offer of a pardon if worthless, and says that he did funnel money, but that he didn't believe it to be illegal. This is the nail in the coffin for Walker, who faces impeachment and low approval ratings. He resigns, hands back Underwood his incriminating letter, and Frank is sworn in at Camp David. He solves the China trade dispute by handing Xander Feng (Terry Chen) back to the Chinese, revoking the asylum papers that hadn't actually been processed yet. Finally, we see President Underwood as the 46th President, wearing a newly forged class ring, in the Oval Office. 

COMMENTS: This is a superb end to the season, in sharp contrast to season one which utterly left us hanging.  In a sense, Netflix should call the show to an end here, neat, elegant, final, but of course they won't. It's their equivalent of Mad Men - a high prestige water-cooler series.  Things that didn't sit well with me - would any man wily enough to become POTUS not suspect Frank's false humility?  And please god, tell me Walker was smart enough to keep a copy of the letter!  Still, looking forward to the new season. More on Grayson, Gavin Orsay, Rachel and other ghosts in the past - and to see how much havoc Frank can unleash as President. It was also a pleasant surprise to see a girl get the better of a political operator, although I'll miss the conflicting Stamper, superbly acted by Michael Kelly. 

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