House of Cards has so far been a show that has provided quality entertainment while also coming with a slight sense of disappointment. The show was supposed to be Netflix’s grand entrance into prestige fair, and House of Cards is no defining member of the great shows of the Golden Age of Television. It also doesn’t help that the show is based off of a superior British version. Unfortunately, with season three we get much less quality and a lot more disappointment. What starts as a season full of political intrigue ends with a show that clearly is still having trouble defining what it is. With aspirations of being a dark and serious drama come just as many signs that this show wants to be a full on soap opera. What the viewer is left with is a gigantic mess.
Season three picks up with the aftermath of the attack on Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) and Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey being allowed to act in full force) enduring a rough start to his presidency just as his wife Claire (Robin Wright with much more screen time than the first two seasons) begins to create plans of her own.
The Doug Stamper attack storyline starts off with a bang and an incredible performance. The season premiere episode focuses mainly on this storyline and gives us a different point of view rather than the Underwoods. Unfortunately, this storyline continues on for far too long and writes itself into an unwanted and bleak ending that the show writes itself into thinking it is necessary.
The two much more prominent storylines of the season are the Underwood presidency and Claire’s quest to find some sense of satisfaction with her life. What made the original House of Cards and the first two seasons of this version so good was that it was about the odd nobility of a corrupt and treacherous politician, who knew and embraced exactly what he was, take out his brethren. Now that Frank has made it to the top, the show has a lot more trouble finding a way to make the audience invest in the show. One of the show’s answers was to introduce a Putin-esque Russian president (portrayed wonderfully by Lars Mikkelsen), and this works for a while until the show has trouble deciding to remain serious with this storyline or go into a possibly more exciting but more soapy version of the storyline. The second answer the show comes up with to this problem is to tinker with the idea of making Frank the villain of the show and make Claire the crusading antihero. While this provides Robin Wright with some great material, the show just fails to provide enough support to launch Claire into such a storyline.
Now that the Underwoods have made it to the top, House of Cards is having trouble remaining relevant.