‘House of Cards’ lets viewers inside

Tribune News Service

Kaley Patterson
A&E Editor
@KaleyKayPatt

The United States presidency became occupied by Francis J. Underwood in the second season of “House of Cards” – an office attained without a single ballot casted in his name. Welcome to Washington. But in the third season, the presidency is not as obliging as Frank envisioned for it to be.

The Netflix original series took over computer screens, television sets, smart phones and tablets two years ago putting all thirteen chapters right at binge-watchers’ fingertips. The looming question of “still watching?” and the 15 second count down to the next episode were meaningless to those under the captivating trance of the Underwoods and their Machiavellian way of attaining their principality, even though it was ways the great philosopher saw as a means to destruction and despair.

Proceed with caution; spoilers lie ahead.

The title should give it away: “House of Cards.” Everyone knows it’s impossible to build a sustainable home with no firm foundation and weak bearings. But seasons one and two made Claire and Frank Underwood seem indestructible. They took a couple of blows here and there but their composure held strong as if nothing could break them – individually or as a unit. They were always one step ahead of everyone else and of each other. For every move spared against them, they had a counter move taking most of their opponents to their grave. Audiences couldn’t help but to fall under the spell of their wrath.

Although, season three showed the cracks in Claire and Frank’s stone exterior. Audiences saw a portion of the complex couple they had never seen before – their flaws. Claire is strong-postured and composed; she never broke until season three. She cried. She was scared. She even spilt wine on her perfectly white, wrinkleless and polished dress. Pieces of Claire’s shell began to break apart and her yolk appeared.

Frank’s hair throughout the season began to salt and pepper – similar to an actual president. When he was Majority Whip and Vice President, Frank seemed to hold all of the power.

Everyone, even those higher in rank than him, was his puppet and he was their master – he had control. His wife was his sidekick, not his assistant. But as the president, he lost his grip and those inferior took hold of the strings, including Claire. The show Frank had created was slipping from his hands, but he wouldn’t have it.

Season three was a continuous arm wrestle with Frank and the President of Russia – a mirror of President Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Instead of dealing with Ukraine, Frank was concerned with the Jordan Valley. Frank also lost confidence from Congress and the American people during his presidency. His resolve to regain their trust failed countless times, but the storm he created in the oval office turned for the better.

Claire wanted to play a more significant role instead of just FLOTUS. She sought nomination from Congress for the position of Ambassador of United States to the United Nations. The governing body didn’t vote in Claire’s favor due to her temperamental outburst in her hearing – a weakness displayed many times in the new season. Frank appointed her as Ambassador anyways then later on asked for her resignation.

As tensions with Russia, Congress and the American people intensified, the war raging between Frank and Claire became more catastrophic. It wasn’t the White House that was crumbling down; it was the household Claire and Frank had consummated. They celebrated thirty years of marriage by renewing their vows in the church they got married in. Claire even dyed her back to the color it was when her and Frank first met. They tried to remake the mutual devotion they once had before.

Claire rallied and waved her pompoms for Francis on the campaign trail for the 2016 presidential nomination after her departure from the UN. Citizens shook her hand, she kissed their babies and over and over again Frank told her they loved her more than he did. One woman said she would vote for Claire but not her husband. Claire realized the presidency wasn’t a unit, and that was not her and Frank’s deal when he got down on one knee.

Season three was anticipated by viewers to be Frank’s downfall – the White House up in smoke. He did have a few mishaps and he made many enemies, but that’s what everyone expects of Francis J. Underwood. But the season swung a sledgehammer at the facade of the Underwood unit and let viewers take a deep look into the cracks.

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