REVIEW: House of Cards – “Chapter 27”

I'm Jeffrey Rex Episode Review - Netflix - House of Cards 27The following is a review of the first episode of season three. Expect spoilers in the large plot description.

And they’re back! After waiting for more than a year we’ll finally be able to see Underwood as the Commander in Chief, we’ll finally be able to find out if Doug Stamper truly is dead, and we’ll finally be able to enjoy Spacey’s soliloquys again. Let’s talk about the general plot of this episode:

Chapter 27’s opening was rather suspenseful – as I bet most viewers were anxious to see if Underwood was visiting Doug Stamper’s tombstone. He wasn’t though, he was visiting his father’s. This was interesting, ’cause listen how he actually says he didn’t want to be there. Underwood is becoming colder by the season. The President of the United States was pissing on his father’s grave – literally! And then… There he was. Doug is not dead. I really like Doug (he’s the Dick Grayson to Underwood’s Bruce Wayne), so this was a great surprise – and I am happy that they took their time to explain what had happened to him. Though I thought it was a bad move to go from the President disrespecting his father, to 20 or 25 minutes on the former Boy Wonder – Doug Stamper. Their characters are too dissimilar, as are the actors.

Along with Stamper we find out just how terrible a situation Frank is in, which is fitting seeing as we’ve seen as little as Doug has. When The First Lady comes to visit – the search for Rachel becomes clear, a huge subplot this season, we imagine. There’s something fishy about how they interact with Doug now – he desperately wants to hear from Frank – but all he gets is the cold shoulder from the First Lady and Seth Grayson.

Back at the White House President Petrov is namedropped, I guess that’s Lars Mikkelsen’s character. We learn more about Underwood’s plans. He wants to toy with entitlements, and provide jobs by doing so. Underwood is extremely aggressive in the meeting – he’s unhinged. It is incredibly scary to see him act as Commander in Chief – an aggressive one at that. This is also when we see just how in control Remy Danton is. At a Presidential meeting with a member of the Supreme Court, we find out that Reed Birney’s Donald Blythe has been given the VP position, with Underwood explaining that “even the Republicans can’t refuse a man who’s just buried his wife.”

When Doug finally meets with Underwood he is given a Memento Mori-message from POTUS, and is thereafter likened to Frank’s father. Having seen the entire episode you know how that’s not a compliment. At Underwood’s next meeting we learn that they’re tracking someone named ‘Abdullah’, and they’re trying to sort out if they can take him down and still have a good meeting about foreign relations soon. Underwood has a lot on his plate, that’s what these scenes are there to establish. Claire’s busy as well, trying to become UN Ambassador – and seeking out help from the Republicans, saying that it’s a win-win for a 2016 GOP candidate. Meanwhile, Doug is being prescribed pills – more than he should – but he accepts it. I fear that we might see him becoming an addict again – it’s all confirmed as he goes out to buy alcohol and then finds a prostitute… Oh no Doug.

When we return to see Frank and Claire together, it is revealed that the state-department don’t really want Claire to be nominated as the Ambassador – and Claire suspects that Frank is the one asking her to step down. “Set a date, hold a press conference and let’s do it” – Claire wants to be nominated, and she wants it now. “How am I supposed to run for office at some point, if I don’t have a legitimate track record?” – now this is interesting, they’ve been dodging the question about Frank in 2016 – what if they’re positioning Claire for 2020? Anyway, they’re interrupted. Frank brings Claire to the meeting wherein they’re to take down ‘Abdullah’. Despite the fact that he might harm children, Frank authorizes the attack. One imagines that he wanted to exercise power in front of the obstructing First Lady.

Welcome to Season Three.

This is really Doug Stamper’s episode, and as such it is Michael Kelly’s. As I mentioned earlier, I really like that character, so it was nice to see him again – all things considered. I am interested in finding out more about the Stamper-family, the brotherly interaction was weird, to say the least.

It was interesting how cold The First Lady, played by Robin Wright, was by Doug’s bedside. I guess time calls for frankness. Speaking of Frank, it was chilling to see him unhinged in the AmWorks meeting – his character is under pressure. I really liked Reed Birney in this episode – was nice to see him both work for Frank, and then see him flip on a coin against him after the meeting on the Supreme Court.

I mentioned how uneven this episode was, right? You can’t go from the President pissing on a grave to a, for some, tedious rehabilitation program for twenty minutes. A lot of things were happening in the episode, perhaps too much – and while that was a problem at times in the episode, it was also there to establish just how tough it is for Frank, Claire, and their staff.

B

I’m Jeffrey Rex

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