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Editor-in-chief, Richard Clark is joined by Staff Writers Nick Rynerson and Kara Bettis to discuss the second season of House of Cards. They talk power, evil, the binge-format, and even some religious sparks in the show. Spoilers ensue.

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  1. Good job guys. I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to join in. Had it worked out, I would have loved to discuss how season 2 really focuses on the strange dynamics of the Underwoods’ marriage. There’s a strange sense here in which evil can have a successful functionality. There’s also cracks beginning to show throughout.

  2. I enjoyed this discussion! I do think it’s helpful to view the show as following in the footsteps of the tragedy genre (as Amy Lepine Peterson alluded to in an article last year, “The King Is Dead”). The framework of tragedy helps me watch the show in a way that doesn’t frustrate me — so it doesn’t bother me that Frank doesn’t yet have a worthy opponent, because in the trajectory of the story, he and Claire are on the rise through seasons 1-2. They need to reach the pinnacle of power, and now at the end of season 2, they have done so. I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers let them stay there for much of season 3 before the downfall begins. So maybe a worthy opponent is yet to be revealed. I’m curious to see if Frank will have a true downfall (in classic tragedy tradition, thereby affirming justice in the world), or if the show will forego a downfall (and affirm the meaninglessness of life). But for now, the genre of tragedy makes this show satisfying to watch.

    On the topic of sympathetic, good characters, I do think (in addition to the church portrayal in the Rachel storyline) that the President and his wife emerged by the end of season 2 as more admirable. It seemed that their marriage did experience some genuine healing, and the President’s decision to resign seem motivated by goodwill. Of course, that whole storyline plays second fiddle to Frank’s rise, but I thought it was an intriguing development in a wasteland of admirable characters.

    And on the topic of Claire not getting a fair shake in her marriage (serving Frank’s interests above all), I agree with the person on the podcast who said this is Frank’s story. But I also think Claire has more power in the marriage than we might give her credit for. Yes, her pursuits are often sacrificed in service to Frank, but I found it fascinating that it was Claire’s insistence that Frank do something at the end of season 2 that propelled Frank into being able to seize the power of the presidency. Claire reminds me a lot of Lady Macbeth, and that scene was definitely a “don’t back out now, you have to kill the king” scene. And Claire’s crying scene on the stair may be a hint at the torment that often awaits these tragic characters as they start feel the consequences of their actions.

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