House Of Cards Season 3 Review

What Up Yo.

It's here...

House Of Cards Season 3

And,once again in keeping with the strategy they unrolled before anyone else did, Netflix has once again made every one of the 13 episodes available to its subscribers today.

No waiting week to week to find out what happens next.

They changed the model to fit and adapt to what people wanted, to what the audiences wanted, and it immediately proved successful. (Because nowadays...that's just how we all fucking roll.)

House Of Cards

I Love You Netflix.

Before I continue, a quick note to the readers and the Voices: FILM army:

Spoilers Below.

And I won't be spoon feeding the characters to you...

You'll have to do your own homework troops.

You've been warned.

After devouring season two last year, I was still hungry and couldn't wait a year for the next installment. I set about to watching the original series:

I blew through it, three series (Series is Season for the British), three to four 90 min episodes a piece, in three days.

It's masterful. Lighter than this version is someways, much darker and sinister in others.

House Of Cards Original

Taking place in the English parliament, it saw it's protagonist, Francis Urquhart played by Ian Richardson...and played to perfection, raise to the heights of becoming England's Prime Minister by the series three conclusion.

Now, over the course of the first two seasons of the American incarnation, we have watched Kevin Spacey's Francis Underwood and his wife, Robin Wright's Claire Underwood, become a power couple of the highest order who will stop at nothing to achieve their political goals.

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From the first episode of season one, we witnessed  the spark that set off the carnage when Frank was betrayed by being passed over for a promotion to Secretary of State which he was promised by the newly sworn in President Garrett Walker, a president Frank, the House Majority Whip, played a massive role in getting elected.

President Garrett may as well have spit in the face of Michael Corleone.

No tears are shed, Frank and Claire simply begin to plan their revenge.

By the end of season one, Frank (Francis) Underwood is being sworn in as the Vice President.

But he's just getting started.

House Of Cards |  Season II

House Of Cards | Season II

In the final scene of season two, President Walker has stepped down and Francis is being sworn in as The President Of the United States Of America, Claire as First Lady.

Their plans have come to fruition.

 

Those two 13 episode seasons detail the journey, the lies, the tactical and brilliant deceitfulness that propel them through the political ranks to the top...
To becoming the two most powerful people on the planet.

Groundbreaking, razor sharp class act visual storytelling from all involved.

Every episode is executed with the look and the precision of a David Fincher film, as he is still Executive Producing.

The cast and the production together create content so pristine that it is only helping blur the lines further between what the establishment considers "Film" and "TV".

These are now outdated terms that simply don't correctly classify content any longer, which is why I always refer to both forms of the medium, simply as Visual Storytelling.

A friend of mine is also watching and said the first episode was slow I'm going to disagree and say if you read between the lines...shits about to go down. if you look below you'll see a few videos, some of Franks best moments and a few Netflix promotional videos, which are hysterical.

So, I'll be updating as I go, but I implore you,

  • watch Banshee on Cinemax
  • Get over to Netflix to experience this series if you haven't already.

Talk soon. Rock.

UPDATE: SEASON THREE, EPISODES ONE -SIX

It has begun.
Now, if you read my review of the second season:

HOUSE OF CARDS SEASON TWO | VOICES REVIEW

One of my favorite aspects of season two was watching  the camaraderie between Frank and Claire bloom as they were at odds for a great portion of season one. 

Watching them align, join forces and dominate together....

Crushing all who stood in their way...

Beautiful. Warmed my heart to its core. True Love.

Individually, they are both cut from the same cloth and are powerful in their own rights.

But together...they are slick, lethal and un-fucking-stoppable.

It's a circle you would never want to enter because no matter what,

like getting between a strong family in a feud,

they are only loyal to each other and would chew you up and spit you out or push you in front of an oncoming subway.

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The reason I write this is because as soon as season three opens, we see that, Claire...who I consider the brains behind the duo...wants to establish herself as a potential candidate for the 2016 election in the event that Frank doesn't win as his approval ratings are horrible.

Francis isn't having a good first term.

He took the presidency from Garrett Walker Midway through his first term by orchestrating a scandal that crushed him.

Now Francis needs to establish himself as a competent and effective president somehow, And he has 18 months to do it in...before the next election.

When his delegation informs him that they will not nominate him to run as their candidate in 2016, you can smell the blood immediately.

Claire and Frank or Francis as she calls him, have planned for this.

Leaving no stone unturned while tactically deciding how to best rule the world over the course of the first two seasons

sitting at their windowsill smoking for many nights on end,

he and Claire decide the best course action to be that she also establish herself in a political role during the 18 months they have.

They decide her role should be that of the United States ambassador in the United Nations.

 

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This way,

one way or another,

the Underhills will continue to rule the world...

With Frank behind the desk, or Claire eventually.

At first Frank pulls back from their agreement,  but then pushes forward and backs her.

Claire has a lot to prove and takes many shots at first but tactically decides to cozy up to the current ambassador, invokes Franks power when she needs it and sets out to strong arm Russia into forging peace in the Middle East.

The Russia. Prime minister is invited to the White House in episode 3 and from his arrival to departure he is a cold and disrespectful prick.

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But he needs to be viewed as strong by his country.

They throw a dinner, and for some reason,  members of the Russian hardcore revolutionary girl group "Pussy Riot" are also in attendance at the White House.

These are the real members of the group yo.

They sit with an American man, Michael Corrigan, a gay american revolutionary for their cause. 

In the middle of the very posh "Downton Abbey" type dinner (watch the wait staff remove the plates from in front of the guests...all in sync. Nice yo.) Corrigan stands and begins making a speech in protest on their behalf.

Corrigan will pay for this ultimately when he is arrested weeks later in Russia during a demonstration.

The relationship with Russia is a big focal point so far (I've reached episode 6 of 13)

Now, a big development and something I was quite happy about...

Doug Lives

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In a great sequence starting with us seeing Doug waiting to meet with the new president, his former boss, we can see a shaken and insecure Doug.

We are then brought through his being discovered in the woods after being beaten viciously with a brick by Rachel...who escaped thinking Doug was attempting to kill her, and has now vanished.

His recuperation is long, six months long, he has to go through massive rehabilitation.

All he wants is to get back to work with Frank and to find Rachel because he is in love with her but also because she needs to be silenced.

But Doug is a loose cannon, he was unraveling at the end of season two and Frank can see he is worse now.

Frank assures Doug his job is safe, and to relax and recuperate.

But Doug knows Frank, better than frank knows himself, and he knows he has just been shown the door.

You don't want to show somebody like Doug the door, Francis...

You want him on your side,  you have too many secrets that you trusted him with

Now, from where I am so far in season three, that mistake is becoming increasingly obvious.

Doug can hurt him...

"Your best friend is your worst enemy"

type thing,  so because they have taken on a new PR rep, Seth, and because he made bad decisions and got a little sloppy on the job towards the end of season two , Frank is hesitant to have him back on his team along with Meechum, Jackie and Remy, who is now officially in Frank's corner.

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Bottom line, Seth is no Doug.

Seth is good. Damn good.

But Doug is Luca Brasi. 

Little things are falling to the cracks. Meanwhile Doug is ruthlessly searching for Rachel still with help of hacker turned FBI informant Gavin Orsay in what I am finding  to be some of the most exciting story lines of this epic, polished, smart and exacting show.

Agreeing to continue working on Doug's behalf when Doug promises to get his passport back to him and get him out of the country as a reward, as he thinks Doug is still actively working in the Underhill camp, Gavin sets about using the FBI's resources to search the country for Rachel.

Does Doug want to silence her?

Does he want to offer her to Frank to get back in his good graces?

Or is Doug in love with Rachel?

Gavin cannot locate her without setting excessive bandwidth usage alarms within the FBI because he is searching the entire planet for one face.

They must somehow narrow down the search figure out one area to look for her.

Doug does not have personal information on her that will help Gavin.

Determined to be free from the FBI, Gavin decides to befriend Rachel's ex-girlfriend in a support group under an assumed identity to try to get a line on where she may be.

Doug's motivation isn't clear to us, especially when next he offers to work for the woman the Democrats have chosen as their party's  candidate for t 2016  election...

The woman who prosecuted president Garrett Walker and had him impeached in season two...

Heather Dunbar.

She possesses a threat to Frank. Smart, rich, connected to powerful people in the government.

She could and is determined to win.

That is when Doug, who is staying plugged in and watching everything like a hawk from the sidelines, approaches her and offers to work for her team.

"I want to get back in the game, I know you're putting your team together and I want to get in on the ground floor" 

She doesn't trust him. But she's intrigued. 

After showing Dunbar proof that the First Lady lied about being raped and having an abortion in the past, she is horrified.

He explains she needs a person on her team willing to do the things know one else will do.

She hires him on the spot.  

Frank, seeing the danger she possesses to the Big Picture and seeking to Amur his public approval ratings, announces an aggressive new economic plan he intends to put in place called "America Works" where he will employ every person in the county who wants a job.

To fund the program, he will take money from Social Security and Welfare and other various federal programs,  virtually ending them.

The program will cost $50 billion to execute.

Once Congress gets wind of this they tell Frank they will never to pass the bill. 

Not to be deterred, Francis decides America needs to see the plan in action. 

To do this he will need $5 billion. 

Fuck it. Take it from the FEMA funds. 

Bang. Frank has the $5 billion and begins to roll a small sample of the plan out in Washington DC to show it In action to the public. 

Congress is outraged.

Frank Underhill is president.

That's that.

He unveils the plan publicly while addressing the nation on TV, then announces that he understands it's a controversial move but states that he is not seeking anything from the public because he will not run for office in 2016.

It's a bombshell to the nation, but to us the audience and people Frank addresses privately, we know it's all tactics.

Unroll the plan, show that he can get thousands of Americans working again, there by raising his public approval.

The party will then beg him to run because it will be what the public wants once they have seen that he means business and isn't all talk. 

 

After the tense meeting with the Russian Prime Minister Petrov in the White House, The Underhills travel to Russia to pursue there agenda's on his home turf:

The series handles politics in a way that makes the complex relatable for those, like myself, who don't fully grasp all it's intricate language , which you have to give it credit for.

Its the personalities behind the actions that drive this machine, the dynamic, powerhouse performances on display here are captured in an oh so Fincher-Esque way.

The eye's of a character, his or her body language...nuances that speak volumes throughout...just beautiful.

It's a gorgeous show, stunning and polished...framed wonderfully...detailed, smart, always with a forward momentum that dares you not to to chain watch episode after episode after episode.

Netflix hit the nail on the head here...

Thoughtful, pristine and top notch.

 

Back In Russia,  Claire needs Francis to assist her in negotiating with Petrov to gain his consent to put UN troops in Russia to begin peacekeeping in the middle east for a UN bill to pass she has been working on and desperately wants to pass.

This bill will legitimize her in the UN and in her role there.

Francis and Petrov discuss their political goals, and we see a much more amicable Petrov than the man who came to the white house months earlier. All seems to be going well between them, but the one wild card is the jailed American Revolutionary, Michael Corrigan.

Claire, visits him in jail to tell him the good news, he will be coming home with them.

He isn't happy about this as he will be required to read a speech to the press denouncing homosexuality and his actions of protest .

Clair doesn't understand why he can't say the words and disown them as soon as he is back on American soil, and Michael explains...he is a revolutionary. He and the others he is jailed with all stand together. To say these words is to turn his back on his cause, and he would die before he does that.

Claire vows not to leave Russia, not to leave his jail cell until he agrees. They talk and become friends, while Francis and Petrov reach common ground and, unbeknownst to Claire, Frank gets Petrov to agree for Frank to give the speech instead provided he say every word that Petrov has written down. frank agrees to this, he has saved Michael from having to turn on his beliefs...but having not relayed this to claire who has fallen asleep for a few hours in the cell, Michael feeling cornered hangs himself with her scarf...

Death before dishonor.

During the final press conference, Claire speaks to he Russian and american press and lies saying she spoke briefly to Michael and that he was being treated well and that Petrov was good to him...but being shaken by Michaels death, and his purity, she begins to speak the truth for him. he wasn't happy, he was being forced to denounce his beliefs or remain in prison, that she was there when he did it, that he did it with her scarf...and finally she looks at Petrov, and tells him:

"Shame on you Mr. Petrov."

There will be no deal, Petrov has been humiliated in front of his people...and is furious at the American president,

On Air Force One on the way home, Francis can't even look at Claire he is so angry.

She tries to apologize and explain her reasoning, but Francis screams at her...

Words get tense, reach a fever pitch...then Francis blurts out angrily:

"I should never made you the UN ambassador"

Claire responds:

"I Should Have Never Made You President ."

This show is so rock and roll...
More soon.

UPADTE: EPISODES 8-13 (The End)

What Up Yo.
Ok, I have finished season three of "House Of Cards".

It took 7 day.

I have some thoughts

it's a different season

It's a different animal

Now...when we get to Episode 8, a Civil War has begun between The Underwoods, which began the moment they left Russia.

Now, having completed the season, I can tell you this war...never ends.

And looking back, knowing what you will by the end of this season...the war....the struggle for Claire's identity....has always been there.

Were they ever truly a team, or was it a Devils pact?

We The audience know that Claire is the brains behind Frank

She financed his ascension from the beginning she has been his voice of reason is Tom Hagan but now that they have reached the pinnacle

The bottom line;
Francis is power drunk. And as the need for him to be calm, reserved and more steadfast in his decision making increase, the more stubborn he becomes, the more resistant to advice he becomes...
The further he gets from the Francis that Claire helped get elected.

He begins to fall into that all to familiar trap that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

While Claire is and has always been the voice of reason, he isn't taking her advice anymore...nor is he taking her into consideration when making massive decisions.

This is the same for his cabinet, and specially Remy, Jackie and Seth.

She begins to recognize that she is not fulfilled. And that's fantastically dangerous for Frank.

After her actions in Russia...a crossroads forms a fork in there paths.

The public sees something in Claire they have never seen in either of the Underwoods before...

Pure honesty, sincere empathy & sympathy.

While we have seen Claire struggle with the arranged marriage of sorts before and with some of the colder decisions she had made...

It is nothing compared to the crisis of conscious we are seeing now.

For Michael Corrigan has cracked her wide open.

Over the course of the night she spends with him locked in his cell, listening to his reasoning, not being able to break his resolve to never surrender, to watching him make the ultimate sacrifice for his beliefs has awoken Claire. And it's beautiful to watch Wright transition from lady Macbeth to Sarah Connor.

Spacey also does great work here.

However his struggle is still the selfish struggle, to boost his approval ratings, to con everyone around him into believing they should drink the kool aid... almost literally...convincing them all that commuting professional suicide is in their best interest because he will save them at the last second, when really it's to ensure he will be the only one left standing when it's all done.

But as Claire's character arc continues, he loses her support, his allies, his teammate and partner in crime.

Its important to mention that Frank has commissioned a successful young author to write a book about Frank's vision for the America works program, who agrees but explains to Frank he will it write his way. No compromise.

Instantly Claire does not approve, as Tom begins to speand more and more time getting closer and closer to their inner circle.

When Tom is probed by Claire on how the book is coming along he plays m her vulnerable side and says that he has hit a wall in his writing...

That there is a massive element missing from the story...

"What?"

She asks him.

"You."

He responds.

Flattered but not foolish she never lets him in, never gets careless in front of him as Frank does, until one day when giving blood she gets lightheaded and begins to say how unhappy she is in the marriage and that she knew it was an arrangement, and then passes out.

Later when Tom shows the prologue to Francis he's horrified to learn the book is a blunt and honest expose on the power couple in the White House who sacrificed having children to focus solely on becoming powerful in the political realm.

Once Claire reads this, it's wakes her up fully.

I'll say nothing else.

Now, my favorite story line of the season is Doug's.

He begins to drink again after his recovery...in moderation...but Gavin is getting increasingly desperate to leave the country as he was promised a passport and a half at out from under the FBI's thumb.

When Gavin shows up one night to meet Doug and with a picture of Rachel's corpse, Doug is crushed.

He goes on a bender then shows up at the White House hammered to confess to Frank he has been working with Dunbar.

Doug is Franks weak spot.

He sends him home, sends for Dougs brother to come help him recover and all to confront Dunbar.

Doug is recovering.
You put him in the field, if you come close to him again I will destroy you.

It's when Doug's brother arrives that we begin to see a new side of Doug emerge.
He is now free of Rachel. Free of politics.

Free.

He begins to find peace with his brother and his brothers family. He meets his brothers wife and children for the first time. We start to see a softness developing in him.

Actor Michael Kelley has a quality to him I can't quite nail down, but it's unsettling.
Maybe it's because of his performance of the father in the fantastic 2012 film "Chronicle" as the abusive alcoholic father of the films young teenage protagonist, maybe it stuck in my head. A scene where he violently and suddenly strikes his son while we see it on camera was so fucking real and...

It just triggered things within me that never leave you. And it was brave and on point. Maybe that's why I took such pleasure in watching his journey from Doug, the quintessential "enforcer", the man behind every powerful and corrupt film character who does the dirty work. To watch him go from that guy to watching him smile at being woken up by his brothers children, free from Francis, and the booze, and sadistically controlling Rachel's life and every move. It's a solid and moving performance by him, especially when it all comes to a screeching halt when Gavin calls him from an undisclosed location and informs Doug he lied...

Rachel is alive, well, and somewhere in New Mexico.

At this point Doug is sober, and on a mission.

Meanwhile, Claire's UN main peacekeeping agenda to put troops virtually right in Russia's backyard in the Jordan valley to begin to establish peace in that region goes wrong when the president learns that 9 Russian troops have just been killed there.
No one knows who killed them, Israel, Pakistan...but it is now a foreign relations nightmare as Russia will not allow anyone into the area and Isreal has declared the area above a no fly zone.

The president cannot get troops there to investigate the cause, he cannot get Petrov to answer his calls to accept the US's help.

The Russian UN ambassador leaks info to Claire that Petrov had his own men killed to start the turmoil...that it was all staged. She informs the president and his cabinet and on her word, Francis has a secret team deployed to do recon work to learning it emits true.

As soon as they parachute in 12 hours later, one is executed immediately.

Petrov knows we have tried to sneak in and can release the news at anytime.

Against Claire's and his cabinets wishes and advice, after Francis learns that Petrov himself will be in the valley, he decides to go there himself to speak with Petrov face to face.

Petrov admits it was staged. He also admits he has the ambassador lie to Claire to make a point;
That the president is blind when it comes to her.

Petrov demands that Francis fires her from the UN and he will allow troops back in and peace will reign, but Francis must turn on his wife.

It's a brilliant play, and when Francis arrives back in the US, without saying the words Claire resigns and the wedge between them is firmly in place.

Now, there's more kids. But this is where I'll leave this review.

In the end, my inner monologue had a southern accent for a week after watching the series.

The season wasn't as strong as the previous seasons in that we weren't given a resolution at the end.

Frank will be running for president in 2016, but against who?

That we don't know.

What we do know, is that Doug comes back harder than ever, proving his loyalty to the president and becomes Chief of Staff.

And from the final scene, one thing is certain, the both Francis and Claire are about to enter new territory in season 4, territory that was previously unimaginable.

Especially if you have seen the original British series...

Netflix and company just made this "House Of Cards" their own.

Robin Wright man.
Bravo.
Michael Kelley,
Rock solid high-octane performance this season.

And Mr Kevin Spacey...you never saw Francis growl like this before.

We literally saw the blood dripping off his teeth when he got finished tearing people apart..and this season, he tears people to fucking shreds.

He wielded his power this season.

But we are yet to see Claire wield hers...and that's next.

That's House Of Cards Season 4.

Rock.

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House Of Cards

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