REVIEW: House of Cards – “Chapter 29”

I'm Jeffrey Rex Episode Review - Netflix - House of Cards 29The following is a review of the third episode of season three. Expect spoilers in the plot description.

Happy Bingewatching! Welcome to the third episode review of the third season of everyone’s favorite political binge-drama. In this episode we are finally introduced to the Russian President. So without further ado, let’s get to the plot description:

The episode opens with a demonstration – people are angry at Viktor Petrov for his actions and opinions that, quite frankly, resemble some of the criticisms of the real Russian President. Just before Petrov arrives, Bob Birch has some questions for Frank – but Bob leaves rather swiftly – prompting Frank to say: “What is the face of a coward? The back of his face as he runs from the battle.” Enter President Viktor Petrov. That is Lars Mikkelsen, brother of Mads Mikkelsen – Danish actor known internationally for being an antagonist on Sherlock. Petrov’s first action? Saying no to Frank Underwood. This won’t end well. We then go to a meeting Cathy and Claire are having about Palestine and Israel. After the meeting, Claire is referred to as Ambassador Underwood – looks like she got what she wanted. Meanwhile, we find out that Doug is having a job-interview with a congressman. He’s getting back in the political game. Though he suspects that Frank or Seth is behind the offer.

After a public meeting of the two Presidents, Underwood gifts a surfboard to Petrov. Petrov proceeds by inviting him to Sochi. Saying Frank can bring Claire, and there are plenty of artists for her to be with… Petrov doesn’t want things to change – saying Russia has nothing to gain from peace in the middle-east or cooperation with America. This is a really entertaining verbal fight.

Over at the FBI Gavin Orsay is being questioned about his past, but he refuses to give up any names now that the charges have been dropped – later in the episode he agrees to go look for Rachel for Doug. Back at a dinner event, members of Pussy Riot interrupt the Russian President by attacking his actions in Russia – an agitated Petrov tells them to sit down. “You’ve made your point.”

Frank’s plan to butter up Petrov through Claire isn’t really working. He sees right through it, piercing that opportunity and teasing the First Lady. Petrov has a gift with him – a Russian Vodka, and during an almost ceremonial drinking of vodka shots, Claire teases him right back.

Later while having some fun, the two Presidents sing – I’m not kidding. During Petrov’s song, Petrov starts to dance with the First Lady, and then – out of nowhere – kisses her. Underwood brushes it off, and walks Petrov out. They start smoking imported Cuban cigars, and Underwood tells us that he would throw him down the stairs if it wouldn’t start the third world war. Their debate becomes heated with political powerplay in the hands of Petrov. Meanwhile, Cathy Durant and Claire agree that they should bypass Russia, and go through the UN – putting a lot of pressure on Claire.

Petrov and Underwood part ways – following a last negotiation, one that wasn’t fruitful, Frank holds a press conference announcing his support of Pussy Riot, and saying he, America, needs to stand up to Petrov. They will achieve peace without him – using the plan that Durant and Claire envisioned.

I really like what Lars Mikkelsen did in this episode – and though I usually dislike people not from Russia playing Russians, I thought he did a good job. I much preferred what he did in this episode to what he did in Sherlock in Series 3. Jayne Atkinson did just fine as Cathy Durant, who, thankfully, had a huge part to play in this episode.

It pleases me that the show is finally dealing with foreign policy and foreign relations. Seeing Lars Mikkelsen as the first worthy political foe of President Underwood is exciting, I can’t wait to see what they do with his character for the rest of the season.

Bypassing Russia can be dangerous, but that direction is interesting – for it gives Claire Underwood, Robin Wright in length, more to do this season. This pleases me.

B+

I’m Jeffrey Rex

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