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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Underwood in the White House


    Media Rights Capital

    It’s the end of the week, there’s no episode of “Scandal” and frankly, you just don’t know what to do with your life. Not to worry, though — Netflix has you covered with another season of “House of Cards.”

    A Netflix original, “House of Cards” has won adulation unheard of for a show that doesn’t air on TV, and season three just released on Netflix on Friday. The online-only show has won multiple Golden Globe and Emmy awards over its last two seasons — not surprising for a show filled with drama, tension and political savvy unparalleled in the real world. 

    For the binge-watchers out there who prefer to watch a whole season in one sitting, though, it’s been a while since season two hit the Internet last February, and remembering what happened over 13 episodes can be quite hard after a whole year. It’s probably even harder for those who have never watched the show to remember the intricate details of Francis “Frank” Underwood’s scheme to elevate himself to the presidency, so here’s a quick catch-up of the last two seasons, which is probably better read in Kevin Spacey’s Southern accent.

    Season one starts with Underwood (Spacey), a Democrat from South Carolina — proof the show is rather unrealistic — being passed over for the position of secretary of state. Frank is furious, especially since the new president, Garrett Walker (Michel Gill), wouldn’t be president if not for Frank’s help. Frank plays it cool, however, instead helping the new administration as House majority whip — or so it seems.

    Instead, Frank sets in motion a dangerous game. He manipulates intrepid Washington reporter Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) and alcoholic Rep. Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) into undermining his rivals and convincing the vice president to resign. The season ends with Frank killing Russo and accepting the vice presidency.

    Meanwhile, Frank’s wife, Claire (Robin Wright), runs the Clean Water Initiative, a NGO dedicated to providing clean water to poverty-ridden areas around the world. Claire’s arc in season one is limited, meaning to establish her as being as ruthless as her conniving husband. She convinces her manager to fire half the CWI staff, only to fire the manager as well. 

    In season two, Claire moves into a position of power as the second lady, getting close to the first lady and spearheading a bill on sexual assault in the military after seeing that her own rapist has become a general in the U.S. Army.

    Frank starts season two by killing off Barnes and spends most of the rest of the season dealing with a subplot involving the Chinese and a friend of the president, business magnate Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney). Barnes’ friend and ex, Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus), attempts to investigate her death with the help of hacker Gavin Orsay (Jimmi Simpson), only to find himself imprisoned. Meanwhile, Frank’s chief of staff, Douglas “Doug” Stamper (Michael Kelly), becomes practically obsessed with a young prostitute, Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan) who used to know Russo. Posner ends up potentially killing Stamper at the end of the season.

    Season two closes with Frank and Claire’s schemes coming to fruition, as they engineer a scandal surrounding Walker. The president ends up mistrusting the Underwoods, as he should, but Claire convinces Frank to offer to fall on his sword for Walker. Walker, foolishly, has a change of heart, deciding to trust Frank and resigning the presidency. The end of season two sees Frank and Claire — who drops her sexual assault bill to help her husband’s political career — take over as the head of the nation.

    Looking forward to season three, there’s probably going to be more intrigue and political drama and a bit less scheming now that Frank is finally at the top. The season leaked early on Netflix a few weeks ago, and the plot synopses indicate that the show will revolve around the U.N., Russia and foreign policy concerns.

    That probably doesn’t mean boredom, however, since “House of Cards’” politics tend to be far more dramatic and interesting than watching C-SPAN. There are also some loose ends to tie up from the past — it’s still unclear if Stamper is alive and what Orsay plans to do about the new president, on whom he now possesses some rather incriminating information. Meanwhile, expect a subplot about Claire as well, who definitely won’t be content to abandon her own projects for her husband.

    Hopefully, “House of Cards” will manage to keep the drama that made it a hit show despite the fact that the main premise has seemingly been wrapped up. Claire especially deserves to be more of a major player in the game, as her plots tend to be sidelined a bit in favor of Frank. Also, it’s not too unreasonable to expect the show to have at least one episode partially centered around Frank’s bisexuality, since both of the prior seasons have had one. After all, it’s part of what made the show so groundbreaking — the main character being non-heterosexual without his sexuality being the focal point of his character.

    So order your Chipotle to go and cancel all those pesky plans with real people — the Underwoods are back in town and at the top of the food chain. In the words of Frank Underwood, “and the butchery begins.”


    Ashwin Mehra is a physiology major. Follow him on Twitter.

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