Season 3 of House of Cards fails to live up to expectations

Haley Beyma

The first two seasons of Netflix’s “House of Cards” were nothing short of fantastic–in both the ludicrous political maneuvers and the writing of the show. Claire and Frank Underwood’s scheming had finally brought them to the top–the Presidency. The third season started out with the expected spirit when Frank literally urinated on his father’s grave minutes into the season premiere, reminding us that he is still the soulless anti-hero viewers have come to know and love. 

However, this initial act of rebellion was misleading. After burning through the third season, I found that my entire reason for watching the show disappeared. There were no political battles or victories, aside from the Iowa caucus, and the show shifted from exciting political bloodfest to a ploddingly slow relationship drama. 

The glaringly obvious difference between the first two seasons and the third season is that Claire and Frank have apparently grown a consciences. 

Frank is approached by an American citizen injured in a drone strike approved by the President– Frank’s decision-making is actually affected by his apparent guilt over the incident. Gone are the delightful days when Frank pushed young reporters in front of trains to further his political career without a thought to the morality of his actions. I miss that Frank because his character is what made the show so addictive. 

The Underwoods were unique because of their brand of Machiavellian ruthlessness. Now that Frank and Claire have gone soft, the show is boring and slow. “HOC”  was addicting in its earlier seasons because viewers loved watching Frank and Claire win. They demolished their opponents without concern and now their newly grown consciousness have the main characters off their game. It’s boring and disappointing.  

There have always been several story arcs in “HOC” but in the previous seasons they were all wrapped together in the latter episodes when all of Frank’s plans would come to light. The entire plot of season three seemed disjointed. Doug, the novelist, America Works, Freddy working as a groundskeeper, Dunbar, Jackie, Frank and Claire’s crumbling relationship, the 2016 election and international relations with Russia were all explored during season three. The issue was that the writers tried to develop all of these plot points equally, resulting in a mixed mess of story lines that remain convoluted throughout the entire season and the disappointing finale. 

I had high hopes for this season of “HOC” but unfortunately I was let down on nearly all fronts. The lack of resolution in any of the story arcs ruined the quick paced feel the show is famous for. In previous seasons, “HOC” took place in a stylized dream world version of Washington D.C. with implausible political maneuvers and high stakes political drama. However, in the third season the show takes itself more seriously and as a result, is much less interesting to watch. Hopefully season four will be a little less “West Wing” and will return to its totally superficial roots we know and love.