House of Cards: Season Four

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has said that the Netflix original series, House of Cards is a 99% realistic representation.  If you’re at all familiar with the goings on of this show, then this statement may have shocked you, like it did me. With a character as wicked and deceptive as Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), one may cringe to think that his actions could be accurate.

Recently, Netflix announced that season four of this political drama is back.  In honor of its premiere, I’ve been reflecting on the important changes in the storyline that occurred in season three and may arise again in the new season.  The plots throughout season three have clearly been shaped in order to boost the drama that is sure to come.

Early on in season three, Frank became a placeholder president who immediately directed his staff in the direction that he sees best—even if he is advised against a particular decision (which he usually is, but hey, he’s Frank Underwood and he does what he wants).  With their new status as President and First Lady, Frank and his wife, Claire (Robin Wright), shockingly became even more powerful than before.  But with this power also comes a great deal of scrutiny.

With the numerous scandals and wrongdoings the couple has committed—and carefully kept secret—it has become increasingly more difficult for the Underwoods to hide their true intentions under the media’s eye.  Claire took on an abundance of pressure when she became the primary focus of the media after Frank made the decision to be more than a presidential placeholder and choose to focus on getting reelected.

This last season seemed to especially test Frank and Claire in their loyalty to one another, in both their careers and in their marriage.  The power the two have gained builds them up while simultaneously putting a wedge between them.  Their bond is tested when they finally see what they have come and what they did to get there.  It will be interesting to see where the couple ends up in this new season and whether or not they can once again, make up and rule the White House.

Meanwhile, Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), Frank’s right-hand man, became even more involved with Rachel Posner.  Because she played a part in one of Frank’s deceptive schemes, she has to be watched very closely.  Doug seemingly had complete control over her, although his attitude towards her shifts mid-season between thinking of her romantically and feeling the need to frighten and dominate her in order for her protection.  In the end, his loyalty to Frank will influence the way he may treat Rachel, and soon Doug is faced with choosing between what is right ethically and what is best for Frank.

This particular season seemed to take a darker turn than the previous two, and I think this is because we are seeing the characters in a state of immense pressure and tension.  Whether these characters succumb to the darkness surrounding them, or if they choose to rise above the chaos, only time will tell.  And I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be binge watching the new season of House of Cards over Spring Break.

Image: “House of Cards Opening Sequence” by Matteo Bittanti

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