Read em’ and Weep: House of Cards Loses Big in Season 3
Before we get into this, some highlights ladies and gentlemen:
Things Frank said:
“You can’t turn a no into a yes without a maybe in between”
“I can’t fault you for being shortsighted, I hope you won’t fault me for having a long memory ”
“It’s humiliating to have to beg from some kid who was on Facebook before his testicles descended”
This convo happened:
DeShawn (Freddy’s nephew): I want to be President one day
Freddy: That ain’t never gonna happen
DeShawn: But he said I could be
Freddy: Listen up, boy. He lied to you. The truth is you ain’t never gonna be president. It’s just like them basketball players you got posters of. They say you can do anything, be a superstar too. But they were born to be seven feet tall and if they wasn’t tall me what would they have? Nothing. Half of them can’t even read a damn book. Nah, boy this place aint for you and me. It’s good to have dreams, just so long as they’re not fantasies.
1. Frank is now a power trippin’ Democratic President – makes me wonder what Republicans are like.
2. Heather Dunbar and Jackie Sharpe both run as democratic candidates. Women power!
3. Gavin, the cyber hacker, is back and fake cries to Lisa – Rachel’s ex-girlfriend, to human-hack her. So that’s a thing now #humanhacker.
4. Russians are bad and badass.
5. Claire momentarily dyes her hair, but remembers that blondes have more fun.
Now let’s get into it kiddies:
Weekend plans were cancelled and plenty of food was stocked for a full on marathon to complete the entire series of the latest release of House of Cards, now in it’s third season on Netflix. After a year of waiting it’s back – with the newly appointed President Francis (Frank) Underwood we get to be dragged through the gritty trenches of the political landscape. As a fan, I was excited to catch up with America’s favorite love/hate couple, the Underwoods, but after watching all of season 3, which seems to have shifted in it’s overall tone, I was left a bit underwhelmed.
Season 3 in Review: *Spoilers*
The season starts off with Frank Underwood having achieved his single minded goal to be president, but makes us suffer through his transparent attempts at salvaging his reputation with the most disingenuous performance of diplomacy. For what seems like every episode, Frank is either trying to lay on the fake southern charm, when it’s convenient, or bludgeons everyone, including viewers, with the fact that he holds the weight as president and will do what he wants. I could end all commentary at this point because that’s basically what the season is about in a general way. Watching the Underwoods in desperation this season has removed the haze of admiration for Frank and Claire’s ruthless/pragmatic approach to navigating the political scene at the White House. All the posturing and power play to add a level of shock that frankly, no pun intended, seems like an ill attempt to replicate previous seasons success. Aside from a handful of moments of Frank pissing on his father’s grave and spitting in the face of Jesus, the Frank Underwood we knew in seasons 1 & 2 is no more.
What we do see this season is the return of champs like Remy and Freddy, representing diversity in the White House. Seeing these two black characters gave me a sense of such pride for representin’ and pity for the typically Hollywood token of “the black man” in white world. Sure, there were a few other folks like Hector Mendoza peppered into some episodes, but these two iconic characters represented such a common juxtaposition of the black man – one successful, but also faces racism in the workplace and world despite a high standing in society, and another who is “saved” by the white man who put him in a place to be saved. Despite the big voice for gay rights and women’s equality that had a decent presence this season, I would have been nice to see a win for “the others.” Season 4 may get us there #mendoza2016.
In addition to familiar faces such as Dunbar and Sharpe, we get the return Doug Stamper, who – you guessed it, is alive. It was a great deviation from the constant circulation of the White House drama to see Doug’s personal life and struggles. He goes through various stages from recovering friend, turned enemy of Frank, turned addict (again), turned recovered addict (again), turned ally, turned asset. Doug Stamper is a phoenix, who by the end of the series rises from the ashes with the cold dead eyes of a murder.
After watching the broken record that is President Underwood, we take a turn for the better: enter Middle East conflicts and the big bad Russians. The witty and cold President Petrov, does an amazing job at playing a hardball politician, being so bold as to kiss Claire in the midst of a party and outright tells her that her husband ,the President, pimps her out. Petrov is Putin personified, and it makes for great content. Top with the usual scheming and plotting, we watch as the Underwoods attempt to delicately manipulate their foreign relations and gain public favors whilst maintaining a hold on the oval office.
Trapped somewhere between First Lady and U.S. Ambassador, we also see an unraveling of Claire. Aside from the many faces of Doug Stamper, Claire is a great character who in her confusion works to find out who she is and begins to let her moral compass guide her actions. In one of the most tense scenes this season, while publicly announcing the death of a detained U.S. citizen arrested for gay rights protest in Russia, she shames President Petrov for his country’s gay rights laws, which left both presidents looking flabbergasted. It’s great to see this departure after following in Frank’s shadow as his “equal”. I enjoyed how she emerges from each scenario with a self critical look at her decisions and consequences that follow. Towards the end of the series that critical eye works to look at her and Frank as the power couple they once were, to who they are now. Once working towards a common goal, she now understand that as a woman, she doesn’t get the respect she deserves and will always stand in Frank’s shadow if she doesn’t make independent moves and strive for equality on her own (::Patrica Arquette stands and applauds from her mansion somewhere::). From blonde to brunette to blonde, we watch the struggle of a powerful woman attempt to humble herself, struggle with every choice she makes, and come to the realization that in order to achieve her goal she must stand out.
Overall, not as compelling as previous seasons, there is more consistency with plot and character development. Despite leaking a few details, I will leave the ending to the fans, but if you’re watching you’ll see it coming, as the cards come crumbling down.