Maya Dinerstein ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
House of Cards season 3 was released on Netflix at 3am EST, Friday, February 27th, and just as with last year, all 13 episodes were released at once.
Season 2 left us with Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) being sworn in to the Oval Office without ever receiving a single vote. This season begins slightly after the last one left off. Fair warning, this article will include vague spoilers and then more specific ones, but there will be a warning before the specific ones. If you have yet to watch the season, stop reading now.
Season 3 follows President Francis “Frank” Underwood in office for the final 18 months of his presidency, a presidency he came into when Garrett Walker (Michael Gill) resigned at the end of season 2. Not only is Frank’s presidency under duress, but his marriage to Claire (Robin Wright) as well. The First Lady seeks to gain more for herself within the political sphere, hinting that she may eventually want to run for the presidency. But first, she convinces Frank to appoint her as US Ambassador to the United Nations. Congress just barely disapproves her but while they are in recess, her husband manages to make the appointment anyways, much to congress’s disdain.
Frank’s major national political move this season is a project called “America Works” (or AmWorks), intending to potentially eliminate unemployment and costing the federal government $5 billion dollars. Where is Frank getting all this money? He intends to eliminate Social Security and other entitlements, his slogan being “You Are Entitled to Nothing.” Without the rest of the government’s approval, Frank goes to the mayor of DC (a man he personally promoted from Chief of Police), who declares a state of emergency and takes the rest of FEMA’s money to begin registering people for AmWorks and getting them jobs. All goes well until a potentially category 4 hurricane threatens the eastern coast, and the only way to get emergency funding back into FEMA is to sign a $10 million deal that denies anymore emergency money for AmWorks. Frank’s hand is forced, and the hurricane never even lands.
Internationally, Frank is dealing with Russian President Victor Petrov (Lars Mikkelson) on the subject of gay rights–Pussy Riot makes an appearance in a couple episodes– and later when dealing with the Jordan Valley (the equivalent of the Gaza Strip), Palestine and Israel and the United Nations. Petrov is manipulative to a tee, to the point of getting Frank to remove Claire from the UN. This only further irritates an already unstable marriage wherein Claire and Frank no longer share a bed.
Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) somehow survived the bump to the head given to him by Rachel Poesner (Rachel Brosnahan) at the end of the last season, but damages were done. Stamper works towards recovery, both physically and of his job, this season, while still maintaining a preoccupation with Rachel.
Finally, despite saying he won’t run in 2016, Frank (as we all knew he would) does, running against two women for the Democratic nomination. The first is Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel), who we meet as solicitor general and to whom Frank offers the position of Supreme Court Justice before she decides to run for president. Her primary focus is raising the minimum wage, and more clarity when it comes to the finances of big businesses. The other opponent is Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker), who runs because Frank tells her to steal the vote from Dunbar with the intention of dropping out to become Frank’s Vice President. Sharp vocalizes the need to erase the gendered wage gap and focuses her campaign on that.
Season 3 of House of Cards is spectacularly acted and directed, and gorgeously filmed. Though the beginning episodes start out really strong, the middle of the season wavers and doesn’t truly get exciting until episode 11, when the Democratic Presidential Debate is held between Sharp, Dunbar and Underwood. It is by far one of the most intense episodes of the series, and the intensity of the season only continues from there, leaving the audience with a cliffhanger in episode 13 that we’ll have to wait a year to know more about.