And, we’re back! At midnight pacific standard time, the highly anticipated third season of House of Cards magically appeared in Netflix queues across the country. The season two finale was a doozy, with President Walker resigning after being implicated in a laundering scheme. This leaves the door open for Frank Underwood to finally assume the role of President. But where do we go from here!?
The series wastes no time picking right back up where we left off in the season premiere. In the opening scene, a motorcade carrying the President brings him to the grave site of Calvin Underwood. Last year, it took 45 minutes to wait for Frank to break the fourth wall and indulge in his now famous monologues. In the first two minutes this season, the President turns to address us, reflecting on the often tumultuous relationship with his family. No one attended his father’s funeral, not even Frank’s own mother. Yikes, daddy issues much? You can sense the bitterness and resentment in the air, it’s palpable. It leads up to our first “holy smokes” moment of the new season. Frank urinates on his own father’s grave, subtlety be damned. We know who’s the boss around here now.
The rest of the episode remains just as dark and bleak. But wait, who we find sitting in a chair outside the Oval Office? Doug Stamper, alive and (moderately) well. It seems the writers aren’t ready to do away with him for good just yet. We spend a painstaking amount of time in this episode watching Stamper’s road to recovery. His pain and rehabilitation are excruciating. Constant ringing in the ears. Mood swings. Things are rough. I almost feel sorry for him, but then I remember oh hey, he was so super creepy and awful with Rachel. He’s not a good person. Curse you, House of Cards writers! Always making me feel for the villains.
Speaking of, wouldn’t you know it, Lady Macbeth herself, Claire Underwood pays Stamper a visit in the hospital. Doug’s replacement for the time being Remy Danton had come to visit but Frank and Claire had only sent flowers. It doesn’t take long before Claire gets right down to business on the reason for her visit. She’s there to coach Stamper on what to say to the police about the incident. “Any idea where she is, because it’s important that we find her.” Rachel is still out on the loose and has the potential to do some serious damage. Claire and Doug whip up a lie about him being carjacked by some unknown assailant for when the police start questioning him.
One major overarching theme this season seems to be clear: every action has repercussions, good and bad. This episode spends an awful lot of time showing us the road to Stamper’s recovery. Payback for his sins, perhaps? After months of therapy, he’s released by doctors and allowed to go home. Shaking off efforts from his brother to help him out, Stamper emphasizes how badly he wants to get back to work. His devotion to the Underwood’s is so extreme that he refuses to go to the ER after breaking his arm while attempting to get into the shower, just so he doesn’t miss an appointment with Frank in the Oval Office. Doug hobbles in, his broken left arm being held into place underneath his suit by a wooden spoon and lots of duct tape. It’s throughout the course of this episode that we realize Doug has become just another soul added to the long list of those wounded in the Underwood’s path. He slips so low as to hire a prostitute to squirt a syringe full of whiskey into this mouth. Oof, there goes that sobriety.
So much of Doug’s storyline takes up this episode (nearly half), not much time remains to get into political wheeling and dealing. The Underwood’s have finally reached the promised land, the White House. But, there’s trouble brewing. Frank’s approval rating is low and slipping further. Congress is playing hard to get and won’t cooperate with his agenda. The President is promoting a new ‘America Works’ jobs package and even goes on The Colbert Report to promote the bill. (Yay, more cameos!) He asks a Supreme Court judge to hold off on his retirement for a year, fearing any chance of getting a nominee confirmed.
Meanwhile, Claire is adamant on getting nominated as an ambassador to the United Nations. Frank has some trepidation of doing so in the midst of his own battles, telling his wife “I will not be a placeholder President.” Claire corrects him, “You mean we will.” We learn of her desire to run for office. Of course she does, there’s no way Claire Underwood would be resigned to normal First Lady duties. No one is going to sit her on the bench. Both crave power and prominence. Frank goes so far as to drag Claire with him into the Situation Room to watch as he orders an air strike on a terrorism suspect. It’s a move meant to scare Claire, to show who holds all the importance, but she remains resilient and undeterred. The end game is clear for the two, both want a lasting legacy and immortality. Let’s see if they can stick around long enough to attain it.
What did you think of the episode? Does Frank have any chance of reelection? Will Stamper rise above his addictions? How can we be as cool and dynamic as Claire? Let us know your thoughts below and stay tuned for more recaps all week!