Netflix dropped the third season of House Of Cards on Friday, February 27th, and thus began the mission to finish it before anything got spoiled. Trying to remain spoiler-free is a growing issue in today’s age of PVRs and other ways of watching TV, but Netflix has taken it to the next level with House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black as they release it all at once, so you and your people could all be at different points in the series. So I watched it over three days (shoutout to working nights on the weekend) and had it done by Sunday, managing to stay off social media for the most part because as I always say, the internet doesn’t stop talking about stuff because you haven’t watched it yet.
Anyway, we have the latest edition in the story of Frank and Claire Underwood, who have risen to power by stepping on the necks of whoever they need to step on. I figured the easiest way to do this was to split it in two. That’s really all I have so far. Let’s go……..
-Of course, we gotta start at the first scene of season 3 where Frank visits his father’s grave and, um, waters the flowers, let’s just say. There was the dog in season 1, then Zoe in season 2….House Of Cards does not waste any time tryna get your attention. Frank Underwood is not here for your feelings, folks. And he’s even testier right now as his approval ratings are terrible just six months into his Presidency, and he is tryna push through his America Works program to try and turns things around. But the first episode largely centered on Doug Stamper, his right-hand man who was left for dead by Rachel, this prostitute he was hiding away who knows way more about Frank than she should. Doug is rehabbing his body, but his mind is losing the plot because remember, he is a former alcoholic and drug addict. Frank needs Doug back and on top of the game; Doug is a soldier that does what he is told, and Frank is getting a lot of pushback for America Works because the money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere seems to be entitlement packages such as Social Security. You’re tryna tell the American public they don’t get Social Security? Lemme know how that works out.
-Shoutout to The Colbert Report spot, where Stephen Colbert grills Frank and there is no way Colbert would ever be outwardly aggressive with a guest, much less the President of the United States. You know Colbert was partyin’ a little, getting a chance to go at the President like this.
-And then there is the lovely Claire Underwood, whose beauty is trumped only by her ambition and she is amped to be the ambassador of the United Nations, but a number of people aren’t having it for various reasons (nepotism, her lack of experience, etc.). But Claire isn’t here for your reasons and is all but forcing Frank to make this happen and he’s like, man, listen, I’m just tryna keep us from getting kicked out of the White House right now, chill out. First, Frank brings her into a room where he gives the order to kill an official in Yemen, then she gets grilled by the Senate, led by Hector Mendoza, who is going to be running for the Republican leadership. Yes, Mendoza was grandstanding and showing off and goading her, but Claire didn’t handle it well at all and she is starting to see that if she wants to get into these sorts of positions, she has to toughen up.
-Can we talk for a minute about Doug renting a prostitute to shoot syringes of whisky into his mouth? First off, he hasn’t had good luck with prostitutes in the past, but I figure this makes him feel a little less guilty about getting back on the booze. Then I thought he was going to drug her, then I thought he was going to get her to inject it into his veins. This is a roundabout way to get it in ya, but whatever works. Doug is a fuckin’ hot mess, b.
-The scene where Claire has sex with Frank to reinvigorate him after he comes up short, calling people to give him money for his campaign? Yeah, I wasn’t buying it. I think she has done it before, but it just kinda came outta nowhere and seems pretty creepy. And I don’t know about you, I’ve never gone from tears to an erection that quick in my life.
-So now Frank has some pep in his step and is hellbent on getting America Works through, even though the Democrats don’t want him to run in 2016 (he kinda agrees, but you know Frank ain’t going down without a fight). Meanwhile, Russian President Viktor Petrov is coming to Washington to discuss a peace plan, which Petrov isn’t really fuckin’ with. Petrov wants Frank to pull out American troops in locations where Russia can run shit, which won’t be good for Frank’s approval rating, but really at this point, does it even matter? Meanwhile, Claire somewhere along the line did indeed become the UN Ambassador, and everyone is skeptical.
-Then we have Gavin, a hacker that works for the FBI and is being tasked by Doug to track down Rachel; if he gets that done, Doug will get his travel lock lifted and he can leave the country. This was the “I don’t care” storyline of this season for me. I just wanted him to get caught and be done with it.
-At the summit for which Petrov is here for, Petrov is either hitting on Claire or being mean to her, or more likely, both. Petrov might be more of an asshole than Frank, which is why Frank seems to be having such a problem with it as he is used to just rolling over whoever is in his way. After drinking boatloads of vodka and Frank sings a blues song, Petrov sings something to the tune of the Tetris theme song (it’s actually a Russian folk song called “Korobeiniki”, and Tetris is Russian, both things I never knew). He ends up dancing with and kissing Claire and Frank is like, alright, enough of this and takes Petrov somewhere to talk. Claire spends her time with Catherine Durant, the Secretary of State with whom Claire is working with. Catherine has been kinda standoffish with Claire, who suggests playing beer pong and it turns out that Catherine is pretty damn good at the game. Claire tells her she’s not feelin’ Petrov, but the UN needs Russia for this peace plan, but Catherine knows a loophole. Claire is going everything she can to smooth things over with Catherine, who has way more experience, but Claire is Frank’s wife and is going to have his ear regardless.
-The situation with Jackie Sharp and Heather Dunbar starts to bubble around the fourth episode as Frank has been using Jackie to keep him afloat with the Democratic leadership, while Heather has her eye on running in 2016. Jackie will help Frank, but she wants to run on his ticket with him, while Frank is tryna figure out what to do with Heather, the Solicitor General and a sharp legal mind. What better place for her than on the Supreme Court, where Robert Jacobs is planning to retire as an Associate Justice as he has Alzheimer’s. Frank asked him to stay on the bench until he finds a replacement, but Robert decides he wants to stay permanently now and Frank is like, oh for fuck sakes. What he also doesn’t now is that Heather, a close friend of Robert’s, knows he has Alzheimer’s and Frank is using that to try and leverage Robert out of his spot, so Heather says fuck it and decides to run for the Democratic leadership. We’ve never seen Frank this weak before; people are seeing through his lies and pushing him around, from Heather to Petrov.
-Claire and Catherine are tryna put together their plans to get UN troops into the Jordan Valley in the Middle East, which Russia will veto and her Russian UN counterpart, Alexi Moryakov, is like, Petrov is about to be PISSED. Claire is slowly realizing that she can’t strongarm her way into everything….or can she?
-Meanwhile, Doug is getting antsy as he has met Frank, who wants Doug to ease himself back into the political game. Doug isn’t having it and meets with Heather to ask if he can get on her team and I wanted to punch my laptop, but then I realized that this is Doug. He gets all the benefits of the doubt (benefit of the doubts?), even with the whole whisky-syringe thing, but it ain’t lookin’ good for the homie.
-Also, the church scene to end Ep. 4, where Frank spits on the statue of Jesus and says he isn’t buying the love shit he is selling? I’m not really religious like that, but it seemed like that was just for shock, along the lineage of the dog scene from the first episode and Frank pissing on his dad’s grave, but those had a point. I’m not sure what the point of this was. Someone wants to explain it to me, go ahead.
-Frank moves forward with America Works, which involves him declaring the unemployment rate an emergency, which means he can take FEMA money to make the program work. This seems outlandish and only slightly illegal, but I mean, come on, this isn’t out of the realm of possibility, I would think. That is the beauty of House Of Cards: all the stuff that you think a politician really can’t do in real life, dammit, Frank Underwood would make it happen. He puts on a show with the help of the mayor of D.C. to get people out to apply for jobs, which should boost the approval rate just a little. Meanwhile, Heather is out with the husband of Michael Corrigan, a gay-rights activist that is being held in Russia (shoutout to Pussy Riot making an appearance in the episode where Petrov arrived in Washington), trying to get votes and she is adamant to prove she can be an honest politician. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Good times. Next thing you know, she is meeting with Doug again, and he tells Heather he has access to the journal that chronicles Claire’s abortion if she wants to get dirty.
-In the background, Frank’s Chief of Staff (and former lover of Jackie), Remy, is tryna get at Thomas Yates, an author who might have to write a book for Frank. There is Kate, who writes for a newspaper and is all about the truth and we see how that worked out for Zoe. Claire is still working on getting her UN troops in, and has a very nice discussion in the bathroom with Alexi to tell him that Russia is getting bypassed and Israel is about to get involved, and this shit will get messy. Shit is starting to ramp up now.
-FREDDY DOGG IS BACK! Tryna get this job through America Works, but Frank can’t get a brotha makin’ ribs in the White House? Come on now. Priorities, Frank. The hell with the UN and the Middle East: the streets need these ribs.
-Frank meets with Thomas to give him stories for this book, which is meant to make people like Frank more, but Thomas looks like he has other ideas. This is happening as Frank is flying to Russia to meet with Petrov to hash out shit for the UN peace plan, which involves Petrov releasing Michael Corrigan. Petrov wants Corrigan to apologize for breaking Russia’s anti-gay laws, and Frank is hesitant on this. Petrov is pushing Frank like we’ve never seen Frank pushed before, and it’s kinda cool to see Frank on the back foot like this. So Claire gets involved, going into the cell to try and get Corrigan to read this statement, but it goes into a conversation about relationships and gets Claire thinking about herself and Frank, and everything they’ve done to get to where they are. As soon as she went to sleep in the cell, I knew he was killing himself. This sends Claire into a tailspin and she tells Frank that they’re murderers, then during a speech with Frank and Petrov, she berates Petrov for his stance, which all but kills any hope of a peace treaty.
-We finally start to see real cracks in the Underwoods’ relationship, which is the true theme of season 3, even though we see them renewing their vows in the South Carolina church in which they got married. Meanwhile, Frank is telling more stories to Thomas, who admits to Frank that the book that made him popular, Scorpio, was written by a dead friend. This is to get Frank to open up more as Thomas is getting the clean version of who Frank is, but Thomas knows there is more to it than Frank is letting on.
-Claire is still trying to get this troop shit passed, but more players are getting involved and it’s becoming more difficult, while Doug is still on Gavin to find Rachel and I still don’t care. There better be a payoff to this. The big thing in episode 7 is when Thomas asks Frank why he and Claire don’t sleep in the same room, which I didn’t know what was a big deal. I’ve known plenty of couples that don’t share a bed; sometimes, you just need your own space, I guess. But given everything that is going on with Claire and Frank, it’s a fair question to ask. By the end of the episode, they’re in the same bed and seemingly back on track, but I mean, come on….this won’t last long.
The first half of season 3 of House Of Cards was all about watching the Underwood team trying to stay together in their rockiest time yet. Claire is slowly realizing that she might not be about that life, while Frank realizes that they’re in it way too far to stop now. How will the rest of the season go? Stay tuned.