Valentine’s Day kind of loses its appeal when you know that House of Cards Season 2 premieres on the same night. Netflix’s original series returns this week for more politics, power and intrigue. We know you loved the first season, and we know you can’t wait for the second. But with a show with as many twists and turns as House of Cards, it’s easy to forget a few things. If you don’t have the time to buckle down and marathon through the first season before moving onto season 2 this week, here’s a recap and a refresher that should bring you up to speed.
The show follows Democratic Congressman and Majority Whip Frank Underwood, a ruthless and power-driven politician. When we meet him in the first episode, he’s just helped Garrett Walker seal the Presidency of the United States, and in return, expects to be made Secretary of State. Very quickly however, he learns from Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez that the President is going back on their agreement and will appoint someone else for the job, Senator Michael Kern. This spurs Frank and his wife, Claire, to seek revenge.
He begins collecting a group of pawns to help bring down Kern, including Peter Russo, a Representative with a drug and drinking problem, and Zoe Barnes, a budding, ambitious young journalist/blogger looking to make a name for herself. Underwood agrees to slip Barnes sensitive information that will damage his rivals’ reputations. He begins by tying Kern to an anti-Israeli op-ed piece that ran in a college newspaper which was edited by Kern. He also begins rewriting an education bill put forth by Representative Donald Blythe.
In the third episode, Frank Underwood returns home to Gaffney, South Carolina, for damage control, as a county administrator who is after Frank tries to bring him down using a local tragedy for ammunition. Though we know by now already in the series just how clever Frank is, it is in this episode we see just how sharp his political acumen really is. One could argue that the show’s second protagonist is Zoe Barnes. Her story has several unexpected twists and turns of its own. Her story is a smaller version of a rise to power, and this episode sees her rise at the Washington Herald…but not without budding heads with the editor, which then leads to her leaving the paper. A late night phone call then leads to Frank and Zoe’s affair.
Later, Underwood uses Russo as a puppet in the special election for Governor of Pennsylvania. Underwood first helps Russo get clean off drugs and drink and do well in the campaign, but when Russo threatens to go to the press with proof of all of Underwood’s misdeeds throughout the series, Underwood murders Russo. At that point, Underwood convinces the current Vice President to step down and run for Governor himself, which leaves the spot for Vice President open, as Underwood had wanted all along.
By the last episode, things begin to unravel for Frank Underwood. Zoe Barnes is closing in on proof that will connect Frank to corruption. The President, at first, has someone else in mind for the Vice Presidency, a billionaire named Raymond Tusk who is an old friend of the President’s. But as it turns out, Tusk doesn’t want the position. Instead, Tusk wants Frank to take the job provided that Frank will later do him an unspecified favor. Automatically, Frank doesn’t like being under someone else’s shoe.
Eventually, Frank is offered the position of Vice President, and he accepts. Meanwhile, Zoe and her partners from Slugline come closer to tying Frank to the death of Russo. And that is where season one ends.
How was House of Cards for you? How excited are you for season two?
[Photo via Jesse Grant/Getty]