Home Politics Opinion: Season 3 of ‘House of Cards’ lacked manipulation, strengthened characters

Opinion: Season 3 of ‘House of Cards’ lacked manipulation, strengthened characters

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After waiting more than a year, 57 weeks, 378 DAYS for the political drama that draws more than just political junkies to Netflix, finally, an obsessive audience had the third season that they had waited for so long.

House of Cards was back.

Protagonist Frank Underwood left everyone in a state of awe and anticipation at the conclusion of season two as he sat down in the Oval Office and rapped his knuckles on the desk to mark his accomplishment a lifetime in waiting.

As one might expect for the office of the presidency, things get off to a rocky start in the third season for Underwood. He has been thrown into the dumpster fire of a president he succeeded after Underwood played his political game and caused the then president (Walker) to resign, all the while not knowing just how much Underwood’s hand had caused his downfall.

So in season three, he has reached the top of the mountain. Underwood and Claire have grabbed the presidency, what they had worked towards for since their humble days in South Carolina, when Underwood partnered with the woman he loved (and her father’s money) to build a political partnership that had led them to where they are now. And he wants to cement his legacy as someone who has really done something for America. Not for America, but for his own inflated ego. And so he goes out of his way to enlist someone to tell the story of “America Works.” What happens instead drives the narrative of the second half of the season. There is trouble in the Underwood household, which one might have guessed if they watched the season 3 trailer.

As far as the modern political game goes, there are plenty of similar elements to politics in D.C. currently that are worth pointing out:

The show broaches topics like the process of assigning ambassadors and the political fallout that can come from misspeaking just once.

You’ll get to know America Works, an attempt to combat the hole the country has dug itself with entitlement programs.

The show tackles foreign policy in the form of a former Cold War enemy and incorporates modern relatable issues. Politically, it makes sense, and a lot of politicians in D.C. and elsewhere toe party line and tickets and take leadership on issues that they’re really not that passionate about.

Season two ends with most people having reason to believe that Doug Stamper is dead. The season three narrative of Doug Stamper and the inner-workings of political aides on Capitol Hill is something that you’ll want to pay attention.

Overall, season three of House of Cards is slow at times. We don’t see Frank leave the White House nearly enough, and the scenes conducted outside Washington D.C. are often disappointing. A narrative about his running for office in 2016 is overplayed, and his issues with the Democratic leadership are inconsistent. The character development is MASSIVE for Claire and Frank this season, and that in itself is the most exciting part of chapters 27 through 39. Where once the two were the perfect D.C. power-couple, living in their own home just a few blocks from Capitol Hill, resentful feelings set in as they are supposed to be unified in their greatest shared accomplishment. And we get to see a drastic change in one character before they are ripped out of the show for good.

Again, how HOC develops its characters is what makes it a keeper and a mainstay in pop culture. Though season three continues the narrative of complex and intriguing characters, the plot isn’t anywhere nearly as strong as the first two seasons.

Viewers probably yearn for more manipulation, but the inspection into the frailties and anxieties of the main characters make the show far more great than the political game ever could.

Jeremy W. Peters, who is on the Arts Beat for the New York Times, provides an excellent and concise summary of each of the episodes of the season that’s worth checking out for reference.

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