Binge-worthy Netflix series 'House of Cards' returns with 13 episodes

Akron Beacon JournalFebruary 13, 2014 

Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright star as Francis and Claire Underwood, a scheming politician and his wife, in the Netflix series House of Cards.



    'House of Cards'

    13 episodes streaming on Netflix starting Feb. 14

Try this line on your loved one: "Be my valentine. Let's watch TV for 13 hours."

Don't be surprised to hear that Friday, when the second season of House of Cards arrives at Netflix.

Derived from a British dramatic trilogy, House of Cards stars Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood, a congressman from South Carolina who is manipulating his way up the political ladder. His scheming also has involved his wife, Claire (Robin Wright), and an ambitious reporter, Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) — but alliances shift among the political and moneyed classes in Washington.

So, even though Underwood was set to become vice president as the first season ended, it was clear that trouble loomed.

In the second season, Netflix says, that trouble includes Barnes inching closer to the truth about Underwood's crimes, Claire dealing with the brighter spotlight on her life and marriage, and billionaire Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney) wanting payback for help he gave Underwood.

Just those hints make me want to clear my schedule. House of Cards, after all, gave new impetus to binge-viewing when Netflix put all 13 episodes of the first season online at the same time last February, letting people stretch out their viewing or devour the whole thing. The subscription service will do the same thing with the second season, with all 13 new telecasts available Friday.

Thanks to DVRs and DVD/ Blu-ray sets, people have been able to binge-view for some time, and there have been series — 24 leaps to mind — that lent themselves to big gulps instead of waiting week to week for new developments. In most previous cases, bingeing involved saving recordings of a show as it aired, or waiting for the release on disc — and trying to avoid spoilers until you could watch.

House of Cards made the experience more intense by releasing an entire new series at once, and particularly by doing it with a serialized program designed to keep you leaping from episode to episode until you are done.

Whether you binged or not, the first season of House of Cards was a grim look at the evil men and women do in pursuit of power — a look that was helped not only by good performances but by the gloom-laden atmosphere generated by writer Eric Roth and producer-director David Fincher. Of course, it was wildly implausible in spots, and occasionally dragged. But there was always enough to keep viewers hooked.

Producers are keeping mum about what the second season holds, but show runner Beau Willimon told The Washington Post that it's going to be a big year for Wright's character.

Beyond that, we have to rely on the second season's trailer: It appears that Underwood has succeeded in becoming VP, persuading the former veep to step down and the president to name him as the replacement. "One heartbeat away from the presidency and not a single vote cast in my name," Underwood sneers at the camera in one of his breaking-the-fourth-wall monologues. "Democracy is so overrated."

However, things seem to go awry, as Zoe, who has ditched the newspaper for a Politico-type online venture called Slugline, appears to close in on the murderous truth behind the death of Rep. Peter Russo (Corey Stoll). Deadwood alum Molly Parker joins the cast as a rising politico. There are scenes of chaos at the White House, lots of threats ("Am I really the sort of enemy you want to make?"), tears and a chilling final thought from Underwood: "There is but one rule. Hunt or be hunted."

So maybe your sweetheart will want to watch, too.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

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