90%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
89%

One would think Frank Underwood would have little to no problems once he ascended to the presidency of the United States.  Getting there was the hard part, right?  What could have been a slow and predictable third season from Netflix is in fact the best group of episodes yet.  While the first episode or two are in fact quite slow compared to the frenetic pace of the last two episodes from season two, House of Cards picks up steam around episode three and doesn’t look back, establishing itself as one of the top television programs in America at the moment.

Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright have mastered their characters and while the Underwoods and their actions seemed over-the-top in the previous two seasons, there is no denying the writers have decided to focus on plot this season.  It pays off.  Standing off against a Putin-esque president from Russia, running for election (keep in mind Frank Underwood received the same amount of votes for the presidency as I did), and balancing the public relations war domestically and abroad pump life into the show.

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However, despite the spotlight almost always on the Underwoods, it’s the supporting characters that shine this season.  Jackie Sharp, played by the always terrific Molly Parker, struggles with defining her own ambitions as well as falling in line with the Democratic party.  Doug Stamper’s quest to break back into the inner circle of the White House is heart breaking and it shows how well the writing is this season since he is one of the most despicable men in the series.  Perhaps the best of them all is Russian President, Viktor Petrov.  While so easily similar to the real life Russian leader, there are several wonderful scenes between him and Underwood as they tackle issues such as gay rights and conflict in the Middle East.  The standoff is an easy trope, but it is executed wonderfully here.

The exclusion of Zoey Barnes and her paranoid lover is a blessing this season.  The view of the press has shifted from TMZ tabloid writers with lust for fame instead of fact to respecting journalists and storytellers.  Being that half the season focuses on the election of 2016, the press is one of the most important institutions and the writers make a strong effort to show how important the war to win public perception is in politics.

While the plot is more interesting than ever before, there is a bit too much predictability in season 3.  Since many of the prominent characters are one-dimensional it’s easy to see their intentions.  Predictability has always been a downfall of House of Cards, but even if you see the chess moves a few episodes ahead of time, you will still revel in how delicious the road is to get to those moments.

 

About The Author

Nate Davis

Nate Davis is the managing editor for Filmtakeout. Along with overseeing the content that gets posted on the site, Nate contributes a weekly column and review. Nate graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Journalism and Cinema. He worked for the University of Iowa's Center for Media Production as an intern, production assistant and writer. Nate also writes for a website devoted to covering soccer, and has a blog that includes all his work.