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February 13, 2014

Kevin Spacey dealing Season 2 of 'House of Cards'

“Did you think I’d forgotten you?” asks Francis Underwood, addressing us viewers near the end of the debut episode of the second-season of “House of Cards.” Then he roguishly adds, “Perhaps you hoped I had.”

As if!

Portrayed by series star Kevin Spacey, Underwood, the soon-to-be-sworn-in vice president, has a delicious way of conspiring with the audience in his Beltway depravity: a sly aside, a knowing roll of his eyes, a caustic pronouncement shared only with us.

Though many of the first-season batch of episodes are sparked with Underwood’s in-our-face declarations, he keeps his own counsel until late in this second-season kickoff.

“There is but one rule,” he reminds us in its final moments — “hunt or be hunted.”

Happily for us, another 12 new episodes keep Underwood on the hunt as Netflix releases the full second season on its website Friday.

Set in Washington in the current day, “House of Cards” is a loose reinvention of the 1990s British political thriller of the same name.

It premiered a year ago and instantly established Netflix as a bold new contender in the world of original video, stealing thunder from such august cable networks as HBO and AMC while landing the first major Emmy nominations for a streaming-video series.

In short, this “Cards” game was a game changer, forcing viewers (and the industry) to think outside the box: the box known as “TV.”

Now Underwood, formerly a ranking U.S. Congressman, has plotted his way into the vice presidency. But there’s no hint he’s satisfied with that lofty perch, if the first four hours made available for preview are any indication. Even as he faces growing threats that could lead to his downfall, he’s driven to climb higher, whatever it takes.

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