House of Cards' second season premiere ends with Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood telling viewers, using his trademark direct address to the audience in the most meta way possible, not to spend much time fretting over his most recent deplorable act. "For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy," Frank purrs. "There is but one rule: Hunt or be hunted. Welcome back."
For much of the episode, Frank is the one being hunted. Although Frank is on the brink of being confirmed for the vice presidency, he still has a major problem: His former paramour, reporter Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), is digging into Frank's shady dealings with Congressman Peter Russo (Corey Stoll). And although Frank tries during the episode to establish a "clean slate" with Zoe, when she begins to (rightly) assume that Frank killed Russo, Frank commits another murder — by throwing Zoe in front a subway train.
Welcome back, indeed.
Although Zoe's death will no doubt shock many viewers, it is in keeping with the plot of the original British miniseries that inspired the Netflix drama. As such, creator Beau Willimon always knew that Zoe would reach an untimely demise. "That was always in the cards," Willimon tells TVGuide.com. "I always knew what we wanted to do with Zoe's story, and so did Kate. The decisions of where we go with Zoe's story ultimately were made before we even began writing Season 1 in earnest."
Although Frank has never been the poster boy for morality, it's hard not to view his latest action as a step further into the muck. However, Willimon argues that Frank doesn't view the world as one of ethical blacks and whites. "You have to think about it as Francis would," Willimon says. "[The act] is one of expediency and one of decisiveness. You have to be decisive and ruthless in order to climb the highest summits of power. Francis' evolution is one of climbing higher and confronting the things that he has to do to take the next step."
But with Frank killing off one of his closest confidantes, the question must be asked: Is there anyone in this world that isn't disposable? The answer, Willimon says, is Frank's wife Claire (Robin Wright). "It's absolutely Claire," he says. "Her approval is really the only approval that he truly cares about. And we've seen the price of what happens to the Underwoods when they are not working together. ... Without each other, they are in free-fall. Ultimately the strength of their bond is the key to their mutual success, and that is definitely something we wanted to explore more in Season 2."
However, Frank's corrupt nature seems to be spreading to Claire as well. In the premiere, she made her own strides toward darkness when, in order to stop a lawsuit from former employee Gillian Cole (Sandrine Holt), Claire outed Gillian as an adulteress and cut off the insurance coverage Gillian needed as an expectant mother. "I'm willing to let your child wither and die inside you if that's what's required," an icy Claire says at one point.
Willimon says it was that decision that also leads Claire to abandon her plans to try to have a child of her own. "It's a point of no return," he says of Claire's actions. "How can you possibly pursue [having a baby] when you've said those words? She made the choice to say those words in order to continue her and Francis' mutual ascent, and if she didn't go that far, they were facing a major threat which they couldn't abide. ... Their path is one that incessantly requires very difficult choices. She made a choice, and that choice affects her in an emotional way that she can't deny."
full interview @ source
I finished the season around 3:30 AM. There's so much we need to discuss, especially that one scene in episode 11.