By Kellen Browning,
With summer just around the corner, it’s time to start looking for great TV shows. And what could be better than Netflix shows that you can binge-watch all at once or spread out for as long as you like?
If you’re going with the Netflix rout this summer, I suggest “House of Cards.” Admittedly, season three came out several months ago, but if you missed it amidst the hectic school schedule, it’s time to catch up.
Plus, “House of Cards” is timely, as many 2016 presidential campaigns are kicking off this summer. What a perfect opportunity to watch an unrealistic version of Washington, D.C. politics, and enjoy yourself while doing it!
Without spoiling too much of the plot, I will say that the third installment of the popular political drama is just as exciting as ever. There’s not quite as much action as season one, but there ARE still some deaths, and the story is more fast-paced and engrossing than season two, which dragged on a bit at times.
Season three opens with the revelation that Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), Frank’s charismatic chief-of-staff, is alive and kicking. Though his story is at first fascinating, his fanatical quest for Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan) eventually wound up grinding on my nerves. The producers include some random sex scenes with Doug in an attempt to liven things up a bit in the middle of the season, but that’s really not a substitute for plot.
I can guarantee, though, that Doug’s story arc reaches an exciting, satisfying conclusion at the end of the season.
If Raymond Tusk was the “big bad” of season 2, then Russian president Viktor Petrov (Lars Mikkelson) takes that role this season, and the change could not be more significant. Tusk was simply an annoyance who dabbled in political schemes; Petrov is a complete character. He’s humorous and sarcastic, but also dark and “evil” at times. Frank has truly met his match.
Speaking of President Underwood (Kevin Spacey), there’s a new political upstart ready to upstage him–Heather Dunbar–who is also able to match his cunning and strategy far better than Tusk, President Walker or any of Frank’s previous foes have. Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel) and Petrov fight Frank’s every move, and the season benefits greatly from the conflict.
Perhaps the most significant character in the season, though (besides Frank), is Claire Underwood (Robin Wright). Now that Frank is president, Claire feels unsatisfied and disillusioned with her role as First Lady. A short stint at the U.N. fares poorly, and leads to further conflict in the Jordan Valley region of the Middle East between Frank and Petrov.
Claire’s relationship with Frank is explored in depth (especially by writer Tom Yates (Paul Sparks), a fascinating side-character), and although I want to like Claire, she annoys me a lot throughout the season. Again, I don’t want to give anything away. Suffice it to say that she feels powerless compared to her husband, and that creates a lot of tension between the two.
Overall, the interpersonal conflicts, world events, dramatic scenes and flawless acting sets the third season of “House of Cards” apart from other shows. As I mentioned, it’s not as action-packed as season one, but it will certainly take you on a thrilling summer ride through the politics of Washington, D.C.