Kevin Spacey Holds Kate Mara's Life in His Hands in 'House of Cards' Trailer (Video)

The pair use each other to inflict maximum damage in a winner-take-all political environment.

Kevin Spacey is the ultimate puppet master, and he pulls all the strings.

In the upcoming Netflix original drama House of Cards, the Oscar winner plays the cold-blooded House Majority Whip Francis Underwood, a congressional veteran who plays the game of politics with a blade up his sleeve, waiting to draw blood with each handshake. He's out to take down a new presidential administration he believes betrayed him, cutting down its legislation and leaking secrets through a young reporter (Kate Mara) he's helping bring to the top -- but trapping in an adulterous relationship, as well.

TV Review: 'House of Cards'

Meanwhile, Underwood's wife Claire (Robin Wright) relies on him for support for her nonprofit, an indebtedness he knows how to masterfully use. As The Hollywood Reporter's chief TV critic Tim Goodman said in his glowing review, Spacey is "gleefully manipulative, causing havoc and headaches in the first two episodes to establish he’s not to be messed with, while sublimely coming off in person -- and to the faces of those he’s sinking -- as if he’s on their side."

The show, which Goodman compares to HBO and Showtime's best offerings, debuts Feb 1.