Warning: contains spoilers
House of Cards’ season 2 ended with a bang, with Frank Underwood winning the presidency without a single vote being cast. The season finale dramatically closed with Underwood entering the Oval Office and looking at the camera with a triumphant look on his face.
Season 3 starts with the president facing issues right away. His newly-launched America Works program, which aims to create jobs by cutting spending on benefits, is facing opposition from all sides. Even the Democratic leadership in Congress is hesitant, and they don’t want him to run for president the following year. He tries to take control of the situation by hiring bestselling novelist David Yates to write a “propaganda” book on AmWorks.
As Underwood fights for America Works’ success, he campaigns for president, running against US Solicitor General Heather Dunbar. He tries to nip her nomination in the bud by offering her a place on the Supreme Court, but she declines. Underwood orders House Deputy Minority Whip Jackie Sharp to run, so that she can defuse Dunbar’s pressure against him about issues with Russia. The campaign becomes heated, which culminates in a tense and exciting debate with Sharp embarrassing Dunbar as instructed by Underwood. Unsurprisingly, Underwood attacks Sharp so he can emerge as victor.
As a result, Sharp drops out of the race, openly supports Dunbar, and Remy Danton, who has feelings for Sharp, resigns as the White House Chief of Staff.
One of the third season’s story arcs is Claire Underwood being appointed as the US Ambassador to the United Nations. She tries to maneuver a peacekeeping deal in the Jordan Valley, which becomes disastrous following a series of misadventures with Russian president Viktor Petrov. It’s a story arc that I enjoyed because it portrays Claire as powerless. While she has endured other catastrophes in the past seasons, she was always strong-willed and cunning. She bit off more than she could chew with the ambassadorship and it made her look more human.
While all of this is happening, Doug Stamper survives Rachel Posner’s attack. He is in recovery, and he finds Underwood growing distant, so he offers his services to Dunbar. His obsession with Posner has not wavered, and he goes to great lengths to find her with the help of hacker Gavin Orsay. When he does find Rachel, he is torn between his love for her and his mission to silence her, as she is the loose thread linking Underwood to the death of representative Peter Russo in the first season.
My favorite story arc in the third season of House of Cards is the strain on the Underwoods’ marriage, with Frank demanding subservience from Claire. This doesn’t sit well with her, which we see when she accidentally reveals to Yates that their marriage is a rolling contract to be reviewed after every seven years. At a portrait session of the First Couple, Claire recoils when Frank puts a hand on her shoulder.
The cracks in the Underwoods’ marriage begin to deepen, which makes me suspect that Frank is gay, and not just bisexual. In an early episode in season three, the Underwoods make awkward love, one that does not involve any touching or even eye contact. It seemed so… obligatory. The same thing happens in the season three finale. There was also a moment of seduction between Frank and Yates, but Frank puts it off. And of course, there’s that threeway with US Secret Service agent Edward Meechum in season two and the implied romance between Underwood and his college buddy Tim Corbet in season one.
A huge argument erupts between Frank and Claire, with Claire complaining that they are no longer equals. Frank says that without him, she is nothing. The following day, she says she is not joining a trip to New Hampshire on Air Force One, and that she is leaving him. Again, House of Cards ends its season with a major cliffhanger. Now I desperately want to see the fourth season.
All of House of Cards’ episodes are available for streaming at Netflix. Enjoy Netflix on Globe Broadband by subscribing to Plan 1299, which will give you six months free access to award-winning Netflix originals, high-definition quality TV shows and movies, and your favorite flicks on your TV, computer at speeds of up to 10 mbps. Find out more here.