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by Alison Willmore
February 26, 2014 9:47 AM
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A 'House of Cards' In Memoriam: Ranking The Characters Who Were Taken Out (Sometimes Permanently) In Season Two

Kevin Spacey in 'House of Cards' Netflix

Season two of "House of Cards" was more gleeful, more over-the-top and far less serious than the Netflix political drama was in season one, with a literal and figurative body count that was also a lot higher. How many people went down in Frank (Kevin Spacey) and Claire Underwood's (Robin Wright) ruthless climb up the political ladder? Plenty, some of whom the pair took out themselves, while others were casualties of attacks from their enemies.  

Here's our look, ranked in order of impact from least to greatest, at the folks who were taken out thanks to the Underwoods machinations in this latest arc. Many spoilers, obviously, follow.

Gillian Cole (Sandrine Holt)

Fate: Had her health care yanked after she sued Claire, who also told the wife of Gillian's baby daddy that her husband has fathered a kid with someone else. Claire then placated her by dumping the nonprofit she no longer had time for into Gillian's hands, and we never heard from the idealistic but outclassed woman again.

Change of a comeback? The Clean Water Initiative is still around, but this narrative thread felt like cleanup -- here's hoping the duller nonprofit days are done.

Impact: A little quick, but nicely nasty. Frank had his stunner moment in the season premiere (to be discussed later in this list), and the Gillian storyline mainly existed to allow Claire to have her own when she said "I'm willing to let your child wither and die inside you," reminding us that she's just as formidable and terrifying as her husband.

Xander Feng (Terry Chen)

Fate: Asylum revoked, Xander was sent back to China to face charges of corruption that will likely lead to his execution.

Chance of a comeback? He's not dead yet, but "House of Cards" feels finished with its epic trade war with China storyline, meaning it's unlikely we're going to get another glimpse of Xander's efficiently kinky sexual practices and chilly international billionaire ways.

Impact: It felt inevitable. The Underwoods are the only ones allowed to get away with bisexual threeways on "House of Cards."

Linda Vasquez (Sakina Jaffrey)

Fate: Maneuvered into resigning as President Garrett Walker's Chief of Staff after Frank intentionally bypassed her in attempting to get approval for the Port Jefferson bridge, leaving her feeling left out of the loop and without agency with regard to her role as an advisor.

Chance of a comeback? She had a brief one toward the end of the season when the President called on her to reach out to Raymond Tusk and promise him a pardon, but then Frank talked his way back into Garrett's good graces and once again, any wisdom Linda could bring to the table was rendered useless.

Impact: Dignified. She was one of the targets in Frank's campaign to isolate the President, but when she went down, it was with enough grace that even Frank was impressed -- not that that's much of a blessing. Given her connections to a President who's been forced to resign, her White House career is unlikely to be resurrected.

Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus)

Fate: Sent to prison for cyberterrorism after being lured in by the FBI and hacker Gavin Orsay (Jimmi Simpson) at Frank's indirect behest.

Chance of a comeback? Slight possibility. Gavin's seized some power back from the FBI by the end of the season and feels bad about what happened to Lucas -- but he's also not exactly prone to altruism, and has been more concerned about saving his own skin and helping out his friend than assisting anyone he may have taken down, especially when they actually did the deeds of which they were accused. On the other hand, Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer), who made a strategic retreat to Ithaca, is in a better position to take up arms against Frank again, should she be motivated to get over her (wise) fear of what he's capable of.

Impact: Sad. Lucas is a nice guy who even got kicked around by his girlfriend ("This is safe, Zoe, I'm not him"), so he didn't seem capable of being anything other than at best a vague concern to Frank. Lucas was devastated by Zoe's death in a way that no one else in the series seemed to be, and his attempts to prove that Frank was involved in killing her seemed more like baiting a dangerous animal than posing him a threat. 

Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly)

Fate: Stoned to death by Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan), the former call girl he developed an obsessive crush on and hounded when he was just supposed to keep her hidden and quiet.

Change of a comeback? Highly unlikely, unless the series takes a sudden turn toward the supernatural.

Impact: Forward-reaching The Rachel/Doug storyline was allowed an awful lot of airtime this season, given how meandering (if creepy) it was for long stretches, so it wasn't hard to see this coming. That said, Doug has been Frank's most loyal and underappreciated soldier, and it's clear how difficult it is for the Underwoods to find anyone they can trust. Without him as chief of staff and fearless fixer, Frank's going to be at a major disadvantage -- Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) may be smart, but he's far from as trustworthy as Doug.

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3 Comments

  • elessar | February 26, 2014 11:08 PMReply

    I was really hoping Stamper was not dead, Francis and Claire are all by themselves!

  • Jon | February 26, 2014 4:23 PMReply

    I'm not convinced that Freddy Armstrong won't come back in the third season. Given his history, I could see him being Frank's ally in the seedy crime world.

  • Cekma | February 26, 2014 10:13 AMReply

    Great recap. I was still a bit underwhelmed by the season compared to the first. I thought Frank becoming President should have happened halfway through the 3rd season, just thought this pace was a bit rushed.