If you watched season 3 of House of Cards, it should come as no surprise that Netflix has ordered a fourth serving of the cold political drama that we all secretly like to brag about watching because it’s smart (…no? Just me?). It should begin filming in and around Baltimore and DC this summer, and hopefully it’ll only be a full year before I get to see what happens after Claire gave Frank the illest gasface of all time. That’s the one problem with the Netflix “dump” method, they’re not filming more episodes while I’m watching the season, because I’m watching the entire season in two days. That’s hardly fair. I want everything quickly. GIMME GIMME.
You know, I’ve read a lot of nonplussed critics, swirling their Merlot in crystal goblets, bemoaning the fact that House of Cards, despite its grim, dead-serious tone, is kinda over the top and not very subtle at all. I’ve also read that it’s “cringe-worthy” and “not keeping in tone yadda yadda film school bleh.” And that’s true (the over-the-top part, I mean). When Frank Underwood accidentally shatters the statue of Jesus in the church (I thought it might go the Bad Lieutenant route and have Kevin Spacey weeping at the real Jesus’ feet, “You rat fuck,” that would have been fun, anyway) and he walks off with the ear of the fractured statue and says “I’ve got God’s ear now.”…That’s FUCKING COOL. It’s funny. Stop being such sticks-in-the-mud. But whatever, I don’t even care at all, clearly.
Plenty of nuttiness went down in season 3, starting off (literally, it’s the first scene of the season) with Frank pissing on his father’s tombstone. That was neat. He’s President now, and he’ll piss on anything he wants. He’ll piss everywhere! But the main crux — the real issue underneath everything — is the crumbling relationship between Frank and Claire, who, once, not too long ago, were a real inseparable duo. A Bonnie and Clyde, and Kurt and Goldie, a Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Tashi Doma. But if Gaspar Noe’s hilarious romp Irreversible taught us anything, it’s that time destroys everything.
The friction begins when Claire expresses her desire to be appointed to Ambassador to the UN. And while they call her “Cucumber Girl,” as in “Cool As A,” she is flustered when grilled by the potential Republican Presidential candidate Hector Mendoza. And wow, is that weird to see or what? A flustered Claire Underwood? I don’t think we’ve seen anything like that up until this point in the series. It’s like when you find out your Mom doesn’t know how to do everything absolutely perfectly. It’s confusing.
Anyway, through sheer persistence, a recess vote, and, you know, being married to the President of the United States, she lands the gig. And boy, does she make a fucking mess. I realize I’m skipping over a lot here, but A. either you haven’t seen the show and don’t care about any of this, or B. you have seen the show and already know all this stuff anyway. So let’s DISH, honey!
Claire and Frank, amid tense relations with the Russians, make a trip to Moscow to negotiate the release of an American gay human rights advocate who’s been imprisoned in Russia’s famously accommodating prisons. Russian President Viktor Petrov (played by Hannibal Lecter’s brother, Lars Mikkelsen) will concede and allow the protester to return to America, but he wants him to first make a cockamamie speech in front of the media, saying (in essence) how wrong he was to be gay and how awesome Viktor Petrov is. Understandably, he’s not too thrilled about making this speech. This is where House of Cards excels; neither Claire nor the protester is really in the wrong. Claire, ever the politician, tells him to stop being naïve. She says that if he’ll suck it up and say these hollow words, he can be a free man and continue to fight for gay rights. He can’t bring himself to even speak the words because they’re awful lies, and he refuses to lie about who he is. Understandable. So after going nowhere for hours, Claire makes the decision to sleep in his cell with him, to show that she knows what suffering is. She doesn’t back down, this sparkplug. Upon waking in the morning, she sees Matthew, dead and hanging from the barred windows, hanged with her own scarf. Yeesh. Worst. Ambassador. To the UN. EVER.
Then we have the torrid affair between Jackie and Remy. Hey, how cool an actor is Mahershala Ali (Remy)? I loved him in The Place Beyond the Pines (hell, I just love that movie). He’s cool as ice. He’s like an American Idris Elba — At least, I think he is. I also thought Idris Elba was American for like the first three seasons of The Wire. Anyhow, I was really hoping for Marvel to cast Mahershala Ali as Black Panther. That would have been awesome. I don’t really know anything about the Black Panther comic books, so feel free to tell me how wrong he is for the part, but he fits what I’m looking for in a black superhero. Although he might want to shorten that name to something a little more Hollywood. MATT Ali, perhaps? “Mahershala?” Come on. It won’t play in the Midwest.</sarcasm>
(My esteemed colleague Travis let me know that Mahershala is actually short already for Mahershalalhashbaz. Now I’m thinking he should have just kept that. That’s fucking incredible.)
Meanwhile, Doug Stamper… Ohhh, Dougie. Doug is now on a merciless hunt for Rachel after she brained him with a rock in the finale of season 2, leaving his corpse to be picked at by worms and raccoons. But Doug is a psychopath, and psychopaths — as we all know — are incredibly resilient and have sturdy, sloping brows, perfectly suited to withstand blunt force trauma. After several months of physical therapy, he enlists the help of the computer hacker Gavin (that guy who to me will always be the Zodiac victim at the end of… Zodiac), and by enlists the help I mean he blackmails him. Gavin proceeds to construct a false identity to convince Rachel’s ex-girlfriend that he has HIV so they can have a sad girls’ night together, all to gather details on Rachel. Holy fuck, that can’t be good for the soul. He eventually learns Rachel’s whereabouts via a CCTV intersection camera he “computer hacks” into and sends the “link” to Doug, so that Doug can hopefully see that she’s settled into this place somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and not just passing through (Transylvania 6-5000).
Later, Gavin tells Doug that Rachel is dead, and that he has photos to prove it. I think she was burned or something. Anyway, Doug falls of the wagon something fierce and spills water on his laptop. He also gets thrown out of a bar in the nerdiest way possible. But wait! Rachels’s not dead! Gavin Zodiac Victim just wanted the block taken off his passport so he could flee the country. Now that he’s living the good life eating cachitos de jamon and ogling chocha in Venezuela, he calls Doug and tells him JK, Rachel’s not dead and that he was just messin.’ He wants his chubby GamerGate computer hacker friend freed from prison also, so if Doug will just go ahead and do that, he’ll tell him where Rachel is. So Doug Stamper, being a pillar of sensibility, works diligently to help his friend. Just kidding! He travels to Caracas and beats the shit out of Gavin with his cane. He finds out where Rachel is, buys a bunch of serial killer murder tools, abducts her with an ether-soaked rag, has a change of heart, frees her right before he’s about to murder her, has another change of heart, murders her, and buries her in a shallow grave. Done and done. Help me Rhonda.
Oh yeah, and this whole time, Heather Dunbar — who WAS the Solicitor General — is now running for President of the Democratic party. All this after Frank, knowing full well she posed a serious threat to his reneged bid for the presidency in 18 months, had offered her a seat in the Senate. This was to brush her off to the side, so that he could easily win the Democratic nomination, but now she’s Frank’s biggest opponent. So there’s THAT going on.
And then Claire leaves Frank at the end. Cut to black. Roll credits on season 3. Holy moly Netflix, hurry up.
For more news, you can follow me on Twitter @ justinboldaji