The following is a review of the entire third season of House of Cards. Obviously there will be spoilers.
Unless you’ve been under a rock since Thursday, you should be aware of the fact that season three of House of Cards is out on Netflix – go watch it if you haven’t. Now. Since its release I’ve been working hard to review every single episode of the season, and I am thankful that I finished it in the opening weekend. They function both as recaps and reviews – so if you forgot something then feel free to make good use of it.
Today I decided to release a full post on season three of House of Cards. Now if you’ve been following my episode reviews, then you already know that I mentioned some overall thoughts at the end of Chapter 39, but I thought I had more to say today.
So, first things first – did I like the season? Yes, I really did. I think a lot of the people that are disappointed expected the second coming of Heisenberg this season. But in many ways this season was always going to be about the illusion of the Presidency – the illusion of power. And what it means to be Commander in Chief. Some critics have called the season tedious, fans have said it was boring – but I really do think they forgot what show they were watching. This might be a Shakespearian take on the world of politics – but it is still about politics. It excited me to see how they had to wiggle themselves out of political trouble at home and abroad.
Anyone who knew anything about the American system knew that it wouldn’t be easy for President Underwood to implement change – especially not as a placeholder – and, honestly, that was one thing that excited me about this season. I loved the first season of show, but I felt that the second season rushed things. Out of the blue, in one season, he went from being the Vice-President to being the Commander in Chief. They made it too easy for Frank, they made him too powerful. Seeing someone stand up to him, and I mean really stand in his way, was nice for a change this season.
There are a couple of people we need to praise this season. Before I get to the obvious ones, let’s praise Michael Kelly, Agnieszka Holland, and Lars Mikkelsen. I loved seeing Michael Kelly again, and his performance was great. Seeing him learn to live without Frank, and later without politics, was nice for a change – to have him pulled right back into the madness was sad to see, but great for the show.
Not a lot of people knew about Lars Mikkelsen prior to his appearance on Sherlock in 2013. He played a Scandinavian antagonist to Sherlock Holmes. He was perfectly creepy. On House of Cards his character is completely different. He’s cocky and arrogant – but also smart and ruthless. I’m a huge fan of his brother, and this season made me a fan of his. Also, I tend to naturally dislike people cast to play Russians or Germans who are not from either of those two countries – but I thought Lars was absolutely believable.
I also enjoyed Agnieszka Holland’s episodes. She directed Chapter 36 and Chapter 37, and I thought she did masterfully. Speaking of masterfully, the best episode ever on this show was directed by James Foley and written by Melissa James Gibson. Chapter 32 was predictable at times, but thrilling – and features one of my very favorite scenes on any Netflix show.
Kevin Spacey, of course, had a strong season. He’s been magnificent ever since he appeared on the show. This season Frank was unhinged, and obsessed with becoming more than he was – and Spacey portrayed Frank perfectly. There’s still one or two things I want to see from Spacey’s character, but I’ll get to that later. Now, let’s talk about Robin Wright.
I am already seeing people criticize Claire Underwood as a character – and that really upsets me. The strongest acting performance this season came from Robin Wright – and it was always her season. Claire had agreed to marry Frank because he had promised her that life would never be boring – and it hadn’t been. But while she’s fought for them time and time again – it’s not unlike her to go against Frank. Remember season one, how she specifically went against him out of spite.
This is her character. She is as cunning as Frank is. She might not be as strong, but she is far braver than him. Learning that, after everything, she still cannot get anything done on her own – learning that, after everything, she still has to use him to be appointed Ambassador… It’s frustrating for her, someone who’s believed that they were equal. It was always about Frank though, and if there is another season I want her to toy with him – I want her to be the boss of him. She certainly has the ability to.
So I really liked this season. Last season the Walkers showed us how marriages can crumble in the White House, and this season we saw that even the strongest agreements can be destroyed when power is made intangible. As I wrote in my Chapter 39 review, this isn’t the worst season. For me the very first season is still the best one, whereas the second is the weakest as they rushed everything to make him President prematurely. This year nothing was easy. And I cannot wait to get to the fourth season – they must make one.
So what do I want in a fourth season? Well, it can go one of two ways. Either, Scenario A, Frank wins the nomination and the Presidency, or, Scenario B, he loses either the nomination or the Presidency in 2016.
If Netflix goes for Scenario A, then here’s what I want: Claire has bossed Frank around, kept him on a tight leash – and showed him just what it is like to be in need of someone’s faith. Frank is pleased with himself, and spends every waking hour trying to strengthen his legacy. If he gets his second term, then I ultimately want Frank to end up being assassinated – and end the show by soliloquizing about how assassinated Presidents are always loved, citing Kennedy as an example.
If, however, Netflix goes for Scenario B, then here’s what I want: I want to see how Kevin Spacey portrays a broken man, someone who went all-in for the Presidency – but is remembered only for being a caretaker. Having lost Claire, he’s broken – and I’d like to see just how a legacy-obsessed politician lives with himself after being shown the door by the voters.
So Netflix – give it at least one more season.
I’m Jeffrey Rex