*Warning there will be some minor spoilers
If you read my last review on Netflix’s giant “House of Cards” third season, you will know I was not overtly fond of where it was going.this season, however, I am happy to say exceeded my expectations and brought back the quality the show needed.
Picking up within a few weeks of where the show last left off, the new season begins with Frank Underwood up against his most formidable opponent- his own wife, Claire, who shockingly announced to frank that she was leaving him at the end of the last season. Despite this rivalry, they start to mend their relationship in order for Frank to win the presidency in the 2016 election against a media savvy republican candidate (played with a surprisingly thoroughly likeable charm from Joel Kinnaman) as well as a number of other challenges to their power.
The show takes place during the present day, with acknowledgement to an actual 2016 election in America. The difference is, however, is that on the surface the candidates presidented to their voters are much more electable than our actual candidates- and that is saying something. The Republican candidate in the show is young, a loving family man, humorous, likeable, and we even find he has some liberal views- which is in vast comparison to the likes of Trump and Cruz, who alienate members of their own party and even more so the Democrats. And Underwood seems as solid a candidate as others (ignoring his murderous tendencies for now). In the real world election, he could be even potentially been seen as the best choice for the Democrats when compared to Clinton and Sanders. Which begs the question as to just how far American Politics may have fallen if a show about the fictional backstabbing and murderous politicians seem better than our actual ones?
Acting wise, the Underwoods continue to hit their stride This season gives them both wonderful moments that show why Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are some of the best actors and actresses out there. The show’s recurring characters remain strong like Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper, Nathan Darrow as Edward Meechum, Lars Mikkelsen as President Petrov, Paul Sparks as Thomas Yates,, Molly Parker as Jackie Sharp and more (as well as surprising returns) all hit their mark and do their job excellently. Some new faces include Neve Campbell as Claire’s aide, and a particularly memorable performance Ellen Burstyn as Claire’s mother.
While the season has a few plot points that make you question the “reality” of the show–like Claire’s path to power seems a little far fetched and illogical at times it’s still able to sell it convincingly enough to allow an audience to have its “suspension of disbelief” for the season. In my review of the last season I had mentioned that I expected it to be able to run for another 2 seasons, and after this season it definitely seems like they have one more, and possibly only one more. While I won’t give spoilers, the season ended on a note that seemed to be preluding to a finale for the next season- while this is not definite it would seem likely.
The season I found improved vastly from the slow burn of the previous season with its ability to take different twists and turns that were both surprising and editing. Additionally, the cinematography and direction was top notch. Like during a dream sequence Underwood was chasing a woman in a low lighted hallway and imagined blood dripping from a faucet were very well captured and that’s only a little bit of the whole season. Some of the best episodes of the season (including the one that had the shots I described) were directed by Claire Underwood herself- Robin Wright- who further goes to show that she is one of the most talented people in the business.
If you were not a fan of the last season as I was, this season remains a treat nevertheless and well worth a watch for any House of Cards fan. I look forward to what might be the final season when it comes back next year.