I know this is a movie blog, but I thought I’d mix things up a bit by reviewing a TV show in this post instead. That show just happens to be ‘House of Cards’.
As many of you will know, Season 3 of the political drama screened on Netflix last Friday, and me and my better half decided to take a day out of work and binge-watch the whole thing! Seeing in the new season in style, we stocked the fridge with beer and dished up a few southern-fused recipes in honour of the show’s villainous protagonist, Frank Underwood.
A lot of my friends and blog regulars are also big fans of the show, so I’ve promised not to reveal any spoilers in this post. Instead, I will offer a general synopsis of what one can expect from the show’s recurring character, and some new ones to look out for!
The 3rd season picks up where the previous left off – with Frank in the presidency chair. Six months have passed since Underwood’s dramatic rise to the top, but already he is struggling to hold onto the power and contain his critics.
He’s back, and as ruthless as always, only this time he has the influence of the presidency title to elevate him. It hasn’t been an easy ride however. Frank is facing off opposition from both sides, as he battles to pass through a controversial back-to-work bill which he believes will cement his name in American history. In addition, he is also under pressure to bow down as president.
This series reveals glimpses of Frank’s weaknesses which many viewers will have thought did not exist! However, these are merely temporary lapses in his iron façade. He remains a tyrant, with every move carefully calculated and meticulously structured behind the scenes.
While he appears to show remorse over military deaths incurred under his leadership, he still feels no guilt for the murders he partook in to secure his rise to power. Russo, Barnes – they were necessary losses in Frank’s mind. Yet he finds no satisfaction in deaths bore out of duty. This is telling in one episode, where Claire exclaims ‘We’re murderers Francis’, to which Frank coolly replies ‘No we’re not. We’re survivors’.
There is one omniscient scene, where Frank seeks the advice of a priest as to how to satisfy the wants of the nation, whilst still making judgement calls which may put many of them in danger. The cleric tells him to go by the laws of the bible and love all other men as equals. Little does he know that this is Frank’s biggest problem – he doesn’t view other men as equals.
He draws a paradox between himself and Jesus – two men, the recipients of both love and hatred from their people, trying to make others view the world as they do. The difference being, Underwood lacks all of the compassion and good that Jesus personifies. He would rather let others be killed at any expense, than sacrifice himself. As if an act of the almighty himself, a statue of Jesus’ crucified figure falls to the church floor and shatters right at Frank’s feet. Could it be that he is beyond redemption?
Robin Wright reprises her role as Frank’s devoted and equally malevolent wife, Claire Underwood. In the first two seasons, viewers have watched Claire respectfully take a back seat whilst her husband battled his way relentlessly to the top. This time around though, Claire is determined to leave a legacy for herself. Discontent with her duties as the first lady, Mrs Underworld actively pursues a career in the same line of business as her husband and is appointed as an ambassador to the UN.
Claire’s hunger for power comes as no surprise – she is as bloodthirsty as Frank. She really comes into her own in season 3 however. Whilst she may have brains, it is Claire’s beauty which ultimately leads to her successes on the battlefield. She uses her sexual prowess to get what she wants within a male dominant environment (For example, when she arranges for a meeting with the Russian ambassador to be held in the girls bathroom. Genius).
Another time, after finding Frank sobbing in his study, she straddles him and initiates sex. We see here how her mind works; she is turned on by weakness in others, thus uses Frank when he is at his lowest to satisfy her own desires for power. Well, we knew their sex life was fucked up after the whole Meechum incident in Season 2!!
I couldn’t talk about Claire without talking about her style. She is impeccably dressed in structured suits and tasteful co-ords (as one would expect the First Lady to be), but it’s the fierce new dark hair which she reveals in episode 7 which highlights she is to be taken seriously this time around.
Mixing personal and politics causes friction between the Underwood’s. There is a lot less ‘us’ and a lot more ‘I’ from both sides, which is perhaps is an indication of what viewers can expect of the dastardly duo going forward into future seasons…
Fan’s of the Danish thriller ‘The Killing’, will recognise Lars Mikkelsen, who joins the cards cast as the Russian Prime Minister. Frank meets his match in Petrov, (a dead ringer for Vladimir Putin) who is as callous and direct as he is. What gives him the slight upper hand however, is that he doesn’t try to hide it from anyone!
Petrov is anti-America, but Frank is keen to secure him as an ally. His saving grace in smoothing out relations comes again in the form of Claire, whom it is clear early on that Petrov has the hots for (he makes a hilarious dig about Claire’s vested interest in artists which has to be crowned the ultimate BURN moment of the season!).
Sadly for him, the feeling isn’t mutual, and Mrs Underwood retaliates by offending him in front of the Russian media in shocking fashion. Relations are strained between the sides from here on out, with Frank on the receiving end, and this is where things start to become sticky for the Underwood themselves.
I don’t suspect this will be the last we’ll see of Petrov. He certainly made an impression in this season and the writers would be mad not to involve him in more storylines going forward. Who knows, maybe Claire is just playing hard to get and there is actually an affair on the Card’s.
He was killed last season, right? WRONG! Creepy Doug lives. Turn’s out it takes more than a brick to the head to put Frank’s most loyal assailant out of action. Sadly for Stamper, in the time it has taken for him to recover, Frank has moved on and replaced him with Remi (more on him later).
Still struggling with addiction, (look out for the weird routine he adopts with a syringe and a bottle of bourbon. Still trying to figure out what the purpose of that was!) Doug sinks into a deep depression. He has no friends, his family are estranged; he lives only for his work and the approval of Frank. Determined to regain his place in the inner circle, Stamper set’s out to track down Rachel (the prostitute turned lesbian-born again Christian who tried to off him) and show Frank that he still has what it takes.
It’s not all doom and gloom from old Doug though. He actually gets some action, when he pulls his hottie physio (who FYI, is waaaaaaaaaaaay out of his league). Try not to barf too much at his wiry chest hair in the morning-after shots
- This is the season of Independent Women! Claire is cracking her whip all over town; Jackie Sharp gets more involved in the presidential campaign, and Heather Dunbar is introduced as Frank’s leading opponent for the presidency. There is also a new story-hungry reporter stepping into Zoe Barnes train-track worn boots. Let’s hope she doesn’t meet the same fate as her predecessor…
- The white house is INSANE! I’m talking spiral suitcases, chandeliers, art deco design. It really is stunning. Bravo to the production team who put it together because it could pass easily as the real deal.
- There is a cameo from real-life Russian activist group ‘Pussy Riot’ in one of the Russian-veered episodes. Google their background if you don’t know it – quite an interesting read!
- Remi is still a total babe/smooth operator. Watch out for the scene in episode 7 where he stands up to Frank. It’s badass! As if that didn’t already make you fall in love with him, he is still pining after Jackie and the love story that should have been. There is some major sexual tension brewing between the two of them though, so I wouldn’t rule a reunion out!
- Finally, if there is only one feel-good moment of the whole season, it has got to be this: Freddy is back! I always felt really bad for Freddy after the way things turned out for him last season, and so did Frank. As a way of making up for it, he get’s Freddy a job as a groundskeeper at the White House. He must have been craving dem ribs baaaaad!
If you haven’t watched House of Cards yet – what the hell is wrong with you??!! Season 1&2 are on Netflix just waiting for you to binge watch. To my fellow veteran fans – enjoy Season 3! Let me know what you think, I would love to hear other’s reviews. And don’t forget to sneak a secret cigarette after you have watched all 13 episodes, and conspire with your friends/other halves on how you plan to take over the world!!!