After last year’s conclusion to a great run we ultimately saw President Walker get replaced by Frank Underwood. Welcome to the Netflix Original House of Cards Season 3. Here, I take a look at what happens in the first 6 episodes of this season. The other 7 will be in part two.
Frank (Kevin Spacey) & Claire (Robin Wright) have done everything possible to get to this point in their political careers. We have seen lies, conspiracies and even murder… multiple times, just to get to Pennsylvania Avenue. The Oval Office is a mighty big prize for the Underwoods and they have no intention of giving it up now that they have it.
The season begins with a perfect opener for the show as we see Frank visit the grave of his father in Gaffney, South Carolina. He has some sentiments he wants to convey privately, including pissing on his grave. Oh Frank is back for sure. He never seems to miss a chance to create a photo op to help his image and still find a way to stick it in someone’s face or in this case, piss on their grave. The respect that most have has never been present in Frank. Well, unless you have something he wants. Then you can bet that he will try and find a way to screw you out of it.
Franks is embattled on all sides since he has taken over the White House from the disgraced President Walker. This is, of course, all thanks to Frank’s constant interfering and pressure to get him in a position to fail publicly. Frank tries to find a way to get a win for himself by pushing for first a peace deal to help alleviate the ongoing strife in the Jordan Valley. At the same time, he’s also working on Am-Works, the America Works legislation to create 10 million jobs for the unemployed American workforce. These seem like no-brainer deals to help him and the Democrats. However, things are not coming up roses for the Underwoods politically or on the home front.
Both of Frank’s ideas for helping improve his stature in both public and political eyes are failing in colossal ways. He is having difficulty getting everyone on board for the Jordan Valley plan, including Russia. They feel that this is just a cover to move a major American military force into a region that is only a mere few hundred miles from the Russian border. Frank is working to save the deal and ensure peace in the region, thus making him the first US President to do such a feat while securing his future nomination in the upcoming 2016 election.
Not to be outdone for a “when it rains, it pours” comparison, he is also losing on the America Works bill. His plan is to gut all entitlements such as Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and Unemployment and use those funds to create his dream legacy of 10 million jobs. Another noble cause except that he wants this only so he can continue being President after 2016. This time, it’s not a hostile Russian President stopping the deal. It’s his own party. The Democratic Leadership is not only blocking the bill but they also don’t want him to run in the next election. While Frank predicted this would happen, he was wrong on the timing. They came at him 6 months earlier than he thought. Frank needs to mount some offense, so he begins to formulate his retaliation to this latest political attack.
Claire, on the other hand, has her own battles as she vies to become the US Ambassador to the United Nations. As she moves through the nomination process, she is voted down after losing her cool in the confirmation hearing. She doesn’t let that sit as she asks Frank to push her into the role anyway. She found a loophole to allow it and he uses it for her. Now that she is both Ambassador and First Lady, she is having her own issues with the Secretary of State, other Ambassadors, and even the Russian President. It’s not a smooth ride.
I haven’t even mentioned Doug Stamper. Last we saw Doug, he had been beaten by Rachel and left for dead in the woods. We see that Doug was in fact saved and taken to the hospital to let him recover from his wounds. This will take quite a long time. He has to go through physical therapy to help him walk again. With each passing day (and episode), it becomes clear to Doug that Frank has left him out in the cold. His years of loyalty to the Underwoods is being repaid with empty promises and small gifts, leading to the most interesting story in these first 6 episodes.
Michael Kelly, who plays Doug Stamper, has been a bedrock performer in this series. He is always helping to anchor a winning lineup with Spacey and Wright. His performance throughout has been a wonderful character study of a man who shows ultimately loyalty above all else. He’s never wavered in that support until now. That is the true brilliance of his arc in this season so far. Kelly’s moving performance as this character who was the number two to Frank and has now been relegated to the sidelines is painful to watch. Based on his earlier work, it’s hard for me to not be excited to see how this plays out.
Stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright continue to shine as the Underwoods. They have what until this season has been nothing short of a masterwork in character. They have run the gamut of emotions and actions against each other and for each other, it’s impossible to not see that love. However, this year it’s even better as the pressure of the Presidency is forcing cracks in a once solid relationship. Watching how they make that work is truly fun to watch.
When looking at this season. with the Presidency now the basis of your storytelling, you have to up the game on issues the Underwoods must face and the repercussions when they fail. In Congress and the as the Vice President, Frank didn’t have to worry about the fate of the world and other nations. But now he’s running it all. What I find the most interesting on this front was the first time a political issue seemed to be pushed as part of an agenda. With the Russian angle playing out for control in the Jordan Valley, the writers used it as a way to comment on the problem of the Russian law a banning the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”. This a major sub-plot for these first 6 episodes. It really becomes apparent in episode 3 of the season. This pushes House of Cards beyond just the typical political hot potatoes of rape, abortion or cronyism that takes place in Washington. Here, they are making a bold statement about international issues that are effecting many across the globe.
It’s here that I had to take a moment to reflect on what I was seeing. Sure, most people that share my views will agree many of the things discussed on this show are important to most people to some degree or another. Knowing that House of Cards will not be around forever is disappointing. Like the recent departure of Stephen Colbert and soon to be gone Jon Stewart from The Daily Show, we are going to be without actual solid political discussions at a “lay person” level. Beyond just the acting, one of the best things about House of Cards is the great ideas and truths about politics being shown. It’s not hard to imagine a man like Frank Underwood getting to the highest seat of power by any means necessary in the truest sense of the words. It’s a sober reminder of the need for the ever watchful eyes of a motivated populace who is politically active and not complacent.
House of Cards continues into it’s third season with an incredibly strong showing in the these episodes. It just makes my mouth water to enjoy the remaining 7. I just hope the pace keeps up at the rate they have started with here. I will discuss them in part 2 of my look at House of Cards, next week.
House of Cards Season 3 is now available Netflix. If you haven’t watched it before, do yourself a favour and get on it this weekend. you will not regret the binge watch of this great show.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!