Like a hurricane that’s just about to hit land, Frank Underwood ended the second season of “House of Cards” with two thundering knocks on one certain desk. After leaving its audience in a state of awe and excitement for the better part of the year, Netflix’s hit series returns to the table with a hand that could win them yet another turn.
A few months after the events of season two, where he took down President Walker, got rid of Raymond Tusk and became president, Frank (Kevin Spacey, who recently picked up a Golden Globe for this role) finds himself struggling in his new post. His actions as acting President of the United States have earned him little love from the American people and even less from Congress.
And because of the latter’s unhappiness with Frank, his plan to win the hearts of the American people, aka AmWorks, do not unfold the way he’d hoped. On the other hand, Claire (Robin Wright), now the First Lady, has her eyes fixed on the UN Ambassador position but struggles to get there due to her lack of experience.
Unlike great television shows that gradually fell from grace as the seasons went by (“Dexter,” anyone?), “House of Cards” does not make the mistake of repeating what people loved in its previous seasons. Now that Frank is president, the whole approach of the series is different, as it should be.
The snake of a character’s rise to power has reached the peak, and now, instead of cheating his way to get there, he must cheat his way to remain. That said, for the first time in “House of Cards,” the audience get to witness Frank genuinely receiving punches instead of throwing them. In addition, a new, somewhat gentler side of the character is revealed as works his way throughout the episodes.
Another thing about season three is its surprisingly subtle nature. Frank may have promised us a hurricane in the last few seconds of season two, but that he does not deliver. Some people may not appreciate the lack of spectacular events happening in the season, but frankly, that’s exactly what the show needed the most.
The silent approach it adopts allows the audience to get to know the aforementioned new side of Frank, the relationship he shares with the newcomers, and the one he shares with Claire.
In fact, two brilliant additions to the series in the form of a Russian president and a critically-acclaimed novelist prove Netflix has even more cards to play.
Viktor Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen), the show’s allegory of Vladimir Putin, is a character the fans will fall for, and face the same love/hate relationship they share with Frank. The latter not only finds himself face to face with his Russian counterpart, but with his equal. The interactions and the relationship the two characters share will unfold to be as ruthless and charming as their nature. In that, Petrov is one of the show’s newest and most powerful assets.
The second character, novelist Thomas Yates (Paul Sparks), is a little more peculiar than Petrov. Supposedly, Yates was only hired by Frank to write a book about AmWorks, but the character turns out to be the show’s open invitation into Frank and Claire’s past and current relationship.
And what a relationship that is. Though Netflix may still have a few hands to play, its strongest is already on the table. Due to the subtle nature of season three and the arrival of Thomas, the audience gets a deeper insight into the relationship the two, equally interesting characters share. Faced with the attacks thrown towards them and Claire’s candidacy for UN Ambassador, the relationship between the two is both shaken and stronger than ever, and the different states it goes through are simply fantastic to watch.
“House of Cards’” third season hits its audience as a pleasant surprise. It’s almost nothing like the two that precede it and offers new characters that might just become fan-favorites. If the first season was the hearts and the second was the clubs, then the third is the diamond, and I for one, can’t wait for the spades.