Post Mortems

House of Cards' Kate Mara on That Scene, Rooting For Frank and Her Fear of [Spoiler]

House of Cards Season 2 ZoeIf you have yet to make it past House of Cards‘ first Season 2 episode, run — don’t walk — in the opposite direction of this story. Everyone else, read on…

House of Cards majorly reshuffled its deck in its opening Season 2 episode, killing off Kate Mara‘s dogged reporter Zoe Barnes in shocking fashion — poor thing got pushed in front of a moving subway by Kevin Spacey’s power-hungry politico Frank Underwood.

Even by TV’s increasingly game-changy standards, it was a bold move for Cards to whack not only one of its biggest stars, but the greatest adversary Underwood has  — and perhaps ever will  face.

Below, Mara discusses the challenges of sitting on one of pop culture’s best-kept secrets, her new subway security protocol and the possibility of a Zoe resurrection.

RELATED | House of Cards Season 2: We Binge-Watched It — Five Things You Absolutely Must Know (Mild Spoilers)

TVLINE | Are you relieved the cat’s out of the bag and you can discuss the twist publicly?
I’m talking about it but I’m not really talking about it, because it’s hard to know if you’re spoiling it for other people.

TVLINE | What are your personal rules regarding spoilers? When will it be OK for you to tweet “R.I.P. Zoe”?
I really don’t know. Some people are just watching Season 1 right now, so it’s really hard to know what the right time is. It’s definitely too soon to say that right now. [Laughs]

TVLINE | What has been the most challenging part of keeping the secret for the past nine months?
Just purely forgetting about it. My friends and people I work with, as a polite conversation starter they will say, “How’s it going in Baltimore? How much longer do you have? Are you on a break right now?” I had to just lie about it and say, “Yeah, I’ve got a few days off” or “The season’s going really well… ” I tried not to say too much because I didn’t feel like making up an elaborate story about shooting the show when I hadn’t been on the set in six months.

TVLINE | Did you have to send out a mass email apologizing to everyone for your duplicity?
No. I think most people are in such shock [over Zoe’s death] that they forgot. [Laughs]

TVLINE | Did you do anything to actively throw people off?
I took bunch of random pictures on the set in the two weeks that it took me to shoot my final episode and then throughout the months when I wasn’t shooting we’d tweet a picture as if I was on set and I really wasn’t. [Laughs] Very Zoe Barnes.

TVLINE | How did you feel when you saw Zoe’s death scene?
Even though I knew it was coming, it was still very shocking to watch it.

TVLINE | How far into the season are you?
I’m on Episode 6 now. When I get home tomorrow I’m going to finish the rest of it.

TVLINE | I’m worried Zoe’s death may be forgotten, and that Frank won’t be made to pay. Do you have the same concern?
I’m really not concerned about it. I love the show and the questions of morals and who’s good and bad — none of that bothered me as a viewer. I just think it’s really great entertainment. I find myself rooting for Frank, as evil as he is.

TVLINE | For the record, I’m really unhappy they killed you off. Are you getting a similar reaction from fans?
Yeah. Luckily people haven’t contacted me and said, “I’m so glad that happened!” [Laughs] All of the people that have reached out — personally and on Twitter — they’ve all been so sweet about it, saying how depressed they are. And that’s the most flattering thing I could ever hear.

TVLINE | Any part of you think Zoe got what she deserved?
No. Definitely not. [Laughs] I don’t think her actions were bad enough to deserve that fate.

TVLINE | Do you think twice before crossing the yellow line on a subway platform?
I have always thought twice about that, because that has always freaked me out. I always stand far away from it, and now I will continue to do so. But I will definitely be thinking of House of Cards and Zoe when I’m in the subway.

TVLINE | Any chance we’ll see Zoe in Season 3? Maybe she’ll turn up in one of Frank’s nightmares? Or as a ghost?
[Laughs] They have not called me about it, so I doubt it’s going to happen. But I’d totally be open to it, why not? A little ghost moment? Sure.

TVLINE | Have I mentioned I’m really upset they killed you off? I’ve seen all 13 episodes and I’m still pissed. 
Honestly, that really does mean a lot. It’s very nice to hear. [Laughs]

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jax says:

    I loved her on House of Cards but honestly, I could see no other fate for her character. The way this show is and the way Frank is…there was no other ending.

    • Rook says:

      I knew that Zoe was gonna be in danger if she kept pushing to find out what happened to Russo, but holy crap, first episode right out of the gate wasn’t expecting that.

      • Danielle H. says:

        Definitely agree that this had to happen, but it was a shocker for sure! He just snaps and just kills her.. definitely crazy. But you could see him doing it so it didn’t stick with me for as long as I thought it would.

        • Tyler says:

          He told his wife he was going to take care of the problem and then made sure to stay out iof view of the platform camera the entire time he was on that platform. And then he lured her to follow him with the brilliant turn of conversation and his abrupt departure. That ish was premeditated as hell. Frank don’t snap.

      • Anna says:

        Except that he didn’t snap. There was no loss of control. He showed up to find out if Zoe was going to be too much of a threat. The moment she said she suspected that Russo was murdered, he set her up to throw her in front of the train. Underwood plans everything – that’s who he is. Everything is a game of chess.

      • Kevin Johnson says:

        Well keeping in mind that is is based on a BBC series (spoilers for that one ahead) in which the British version of Frank Underwood pushes the British version of Zoe off a tall building at the end of season one, I myself wasn’t expecting Zoe to survive season one. That was what was do brilliantly devilish about it–making you think they were going to change it up and have Zoe survive in this version sure did make it a shocker even if you had seen the first BBC version.

    • Bob Smith says:

      I would agree with you, but what about the other loose end? The prostitute is roaming around like a stray dog, but Zoe did a retake of Throw Momma From the Train? Zoe embodied how the press can be exploited by quid pro quo in Season 1. I can’t see how that dynamic extends to Season 2. It was refreshing to see the press as part of hypocrisy of politics. Zoe’s death may eliminate this exposure. A word to Zoe: Gmail and Google Voice is a good way to store phone text to your email and protect yourself. lol

  2. Alex says:

    Is Gavin gay? I want him to take Frank down by seducing Meechum.
    (Post-Binging Stress Disorder talking)

  3. CGMMJ says:

    I wanna see you near a train… Then cautiously tell you “I’m thinking of pushing you” hahahah im kidding i love zoe but its time for you to rest… in peace :)

  4. tried watching this show but didn’t do anything for me
    but frank has now killed two people right?

    is this turning into the love child of Dexter & the West Wing??

    • Michael Lee Kirk sucks says:

      tired watching and yet you are here?
      troll on!

      • dude says:

        I don’t think you can call someone a troll for simply saying they didn’t personally enjoy it. He probably viewed it to find out about the twist. Sometimes I read articles for shows I don’t watch to read about major game changers and such. No need to be defensive.

    • Ava says:

      What about this show gives you a Dexter vibe except for killing people which is quite common on TV?

    • i read alot of articles on various shows i don’t watch.
      on a side note you copied my name & sucks to it to comment but i’m a troll??

      & Ava the main character is one body away form being a serial killer
      dexter is the only show i know of about a killer as the main character except for Hannibal
      plus dexter is the first one that came to mind

  5. TL says:

    This show is just YUMMY from top to bottom.

  6. GeoDiva says:

    Zoe had to die (maybe not so soon) but the show had to put Frank up against a better matched enemy like Raymond instead of a couple of reporters running around town.

  7. E says:

    The first episode killing of Zoe was shocking. It was a great way to start the season But Zoe will be missed. I think the only other TV show that comes close to being as shocking was 24 when Nina killed Terri – Jack Bauer’s wife.

  8. IG says:

    I cant believe they killed her off, and in the opening episode! She probably asked the writers to do it because she’s a big star now. Fantastic four reboot and all…

    • Nick says:

      Her character was killed off the same way in the original UK series so I didn’t find it that shocking

    • Tanana murohy says:

      Her character was always going to die. The only question was when. Anyone who saw the original BBC version knew to expect her death.

  9. Nero theTVFiddler says:

    Just wanted to put in a little ‘shout out’ and ‘way to go’ to Kate Mara :) – she’s amazing.

    Her resume is stunning – she has worked on some of the most innovative, cutting-edge and entertaining television on broadcast, cable and now ‘OTT/on-demand’ of anyone I can think of – House of Cards, American Horror Story, Entourage, 24, Nip/Tuck, Everwood, Ed, L&O. All water-cooler fueled shows during their hey-day.

    Great acting genes in that family – sister Rooney is a great talent as well, but Kate is the one I keep an eye on – she’s the one that keeps surprising me every time she turns up on another television series.

    I will miss Zoe, and will miss not seeing Kate on HOC. But part of me realizes this is another opportunity for Kate to surprise us again, to do another guess arc on the next cutting-edge, water cooler television show. I’m look forward to seeing her in that next show.

  10. Philndeb says:

    All of you guys can rationalize it all you want. This was a dumb idea! You need a worthy adversary, an antagonist more formidable than the dumb politicians in the chamber. One of my main reasons for watching was the edge-of-my-seat feeling whenever she was on screen. I was impressed by the writers’ ability to come up with ever new clever ways to interject cat-and-mouse situations between Frank and Zoe. This was lazy writing.

  11. Jeff says:

    Hardly a surprise. The parallel character in the original British “House of Cards” met a similar fate. Want to know who’s next?

  12. Forwardad says:

    I just binge watched S1 & 2. I love it and don’t want to be spoiler but it’s like a roller coaster ride. Bring on Season 3

  13. seriously, if you thought someone was capable of horrible stuff would you meet the on a subway platform?

  14. dioxinblues says:

    I didn’t realize how important Zoe — and Jeanine — were to the narrative until both were removed. I felt the story was tipped out of balance in Season 2 without the crusading threat to Frank and Claire’s plotting, and Luke wasn’t nearly enough. As a result, I wasn’t nearly as interested in the bulk of Season Two as I was in the first season, regardless of the fine performances throughout.

  15. Jules says:

    Lol I just finished season 1 tonight…and said…jeez I hope they kill off Zoe…and her band of reporter cohorts. I guess I’m the only one who hated her apparently. Lol

  16. Diggy Bollocks says:

    I cheered when she died, couldn’t stand her character, can’t stand the actor. I actually rewound the scene three times. G g g g goodbye!

  17. Chris says:

    Glad she’s gone. Her character wasn’t worthy of being an adversary to Frank Underwood.

  18. Jerry says:

    Loved the Zoe Barne character…. Truth is there are many journalist like that today and they dont get pushed into the path of a moving train.

  19. To be honest her death was a very honest show for how Underwood’s character is able to take away his opponents from the “table”. It is even more relevant seeing as how Zoe Barnes was played by a major actor and how easily she was “removed” from the show.

  20. webly3 says:

    Zoe Barnes will forever be my favorite character on House of Cards and I am distraught by her death. However, the execution of it was perfect. Too bad she didn’t see it coming like everyone else D:

  21. Tanana murohy says:

    She was a mouse. She played right into his hands by showing her cards. Why would she not cover herself by not telling anyone she was meeting him. And telling him everything she knows about his involvement. Not be suspicious he was hiding with a coat and jacket. And not backing up their correspondence. Stupid. She was a mouse reporter pretending to be a tiger.