The Cheekies

Friday, April 3, 2015

House of Cards Season 3 Recap and Review (Spoilers) Part 2

Hello again! It's been a while, but after about 6 days of solid rest, I'm back. This is part 2 of my recap and review of House of Cards Season 3, the latest in an awesome Netflix Originals series. Now that it has been a solid couple of weeks since I finished the series, I can safely say I have stopped fangirling over its AWESOMENESS and now I can somewhat critically review it. Season 3 of House of Cards represents a shift in the direction of the show, and a new challenge for the series, as it begins to mature and fall in place. Where as with the last 2 seasons, we the audience saw Frank in near total control with machiavellian-esque prowess. He had it all planned out, and when he didn't, he quickly found a way to incorporate any new developments into his previous plan and just run with it. There were few times when the situation threatened to get out of his control, as with Zoe, and when they appeared to spiraling one way or another he found a way to come out on top. The show propelled him to stratospheric heights making him seem much more like a master puppeteer rather than the underdog on face value he was. That all changes this time, with the show suddenly becoming a lot more about drama than it had previously been, and also seeing Frank lose his total control for the first time, ironically at the highest point in his power. We witness Frank beaten, torn down, and caught off guard many times through the season, whether being blindsided by the Democratic Party, Heather's sudden bid for office, or even Jackie Sharp's decision to leave. We get to see a whole new side of Frank's personality, as he starts to doubt his mission for the first time, even letting a bit of morality seep through his coldness when he decides not to ruin Justice Robert Jacobs to push Heather into his seat in the Supreme Court. But while there is more depth added to Frank through the humbling of his powers Season 3 is, even though I generally enjoyed the new angle, some things didn't quite seem right to me. We had just seen Frank being built up to skyscraper proportions the last 2 seasons, always with a plan and several backup plans, but that seems to have disappeared in this latest installment. 

Now, despite having a solid 18 months still in office, and the opportunity for reelection, at the beginning of the season, it looks as if Frank had no plans at all, other than just getting reelected for president. This is a tremendous departure from the previous Frank Underwood that we knew and loved (and despised at points). He is totally blindsided when he isn't given top spot for reelection, has little to no control over the Congress when previously he was heralded as the whip, and has trouble even raising funds. That's not classic Frank. There is no clear explanation for this departure in the season, and I kept waiting for one of Frank's old gotcha stunts, but it never came. Without that backup, it suddenly took away from the previous seasons and the current one for me, as it was such a break from character that it broke the magic of the old Frank and made me question the true underdog role of the new one. The next thing that got to me about this season was Claire. Claire has a dramatic change this season, as she goes through troubles on her relationship with Frank. My problem was not so much as with the story itself, which I understood and liked, but some plot decisions. Around midseason, as the differences between Frank and Claire begin to mount, their is seemingly a climax in the conflict, and an entire episode devoted mainly to how they work through the differences. It's good, well done, and I thought it nicely laid the story to rest, though there might be a few skeletons in the closet after that. But, to my shock, the plotline did NOT end, and Claire ended up leaving Frank at the end of the season! I felt as if this not only totally ruined the magic of that mid season episode for me, but it also kind of ruined the impetus for me as to why Claire had issues with Frank in the first place. Previously, I could understand the conflict between who was in power, who had the plan, and whose vision they were going to follow, but after Frank tries so hard to change all of that, spending time with her bonding, trying to restore her position and give her more power, and even shielding her from the abortion files, she comes off as whiny when she continues to have a problem with him. If they had given more of another slow build to it, or even a sudden change that would warrant such a move for Claire, I feel it would have worked better, but right now it just seems as if the ending was forced in and came out of nowhere. Frank certainly has flaws, but he loves Claire fiercely and shows that throughout the series. Having Claire leave him despite her previous willingness to put up with him, bide her time, and not risk herself, just makes her seem less genuine. Some final quips I had about it was the lack of progression in the Zoe storyline, with the murders just left there, and also Tom Yate's contribution as a whole. He may have helped move Claire's story along and helped with Frank's story too, but overall his purpose itself seemed inconclusive. The novel hyped for so long ended up sounding bad, and he was released neither taking anything away or giving anything.
So, in conclusion, while Season 3 of House of Cards was still very enjoyable and continued adding to the series, there were issues with Frank's lack of control and Claire's story line. If I had to rate it out of 100, I would rate it an 86/100.