Spoiler Warning: “House of Cards” Season 1-3
“House of Cards” was a smash hit when it first premiered. Originally airing on March 4 2013, the show starred Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood. “House of Cards” showed the underbelly of the US political system in a way that other shows haven’t done before. The show was dark, new and immensely interesting.
The first three seasons received rave reviews by critics and audiences alike for its intriguing characters and fantastic plot. So how do the first two episodes of season four hold up to the seasons before them?
Seasons one and two of “House of Cards” were great because of Frank’s character. Without a doubt, Frank is a dirty politician that will manipulate anyone to get his way, even Claire. The first two seasons showed Frank in his prime, skillfully maneuvering around sticky situations, manipulating everyone from his bodyguards to the President and even murdering to further his agenda. This is why Frank is such an interesting character: what he does is undoubtedly criminal and immoral, but he does it with such skill and determination that the audience has to root for him.
As some of you might remember, season three ended with Frank’s wife, Claire, leaving him. The fourth season picks up right where the third left off and continues Frank and Claire’s story. Frank must run for re-election while trying to reconcile with his wife. I’ll try and spoil as little of the first episodes as possible as there are many twists and surprises.
The third season changed this formula a bit. By the third season Frank has caused the resignation of the President and has taken his place. Now that the spotlight is on Frank, he can no longer manipulate people as directly. While Frank being out of his element seemed like an interesting idea, it didn’t work out that well. Season three showed a noticeable dip in quality compared to season two and Frank became a more flat, static character.
Fortunately, the first few episodes of season four show that Frank is back at his old tricks. Frank’s cold war with his wife turns hot as they both try and get what they want while appearing to be a happily married couple. The dynamic between the Frank and Claire was originally the ultimate “power couple,” with both feeding off of the other’s strengths. Now the dynamic is similar to two warring nations trying to destroy the other. Both spouses are immensely skilled at their craft of manipulation and seeing them use that skill on each other is a delight to watch.
“House of Cards” is fantastic because of it’s characters and great writing and season four seems to have retained that. While it may be too early to tell, the writers of season four seem to have learned from their past mistakes and continue to build on their strengths. If the first two episodes of season four are indicative of the rest of the season, “House of Cards” is still the great show that viewers fell in love with.