*Spoilers for House of Cards season one, two, and three below.*
I watched House of Cards season three over the course of 26 hours and felt exhausted pretty consistently. It’s not even about the aggressive timetable I took to watch the show. As a religious binge watcher, I thought this would be a pleasant experience. It wasn’t exactly great but I did learn some things:
1. People are always around the President and murdering is hard.
One of the great things about House of Cards is the murders. Francis Underwood is introduced in season one killing a dog off screen. He goes on to leave a US House Representative and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate to die in his garage. Season two opens with Frank tossing a journalist onto the DC subway tracks to get liquefied. Unfortunately, Frank can’t murder anyone in season three because the president is never alone. Part of what I was looking forward to was how we were going to get a murder because this murder business seems preposterous and season three decides to just throw up its hands and agree.
2. Monument Valley is a video game that everyone should play.
The president likes video games. He has pretty decent taste too. In season one he notices the hidden gem of a game system the PS Vita. In season three his enthusiasm for games leads him to hire a writer based on his beautiful prose review of Monument Valley, a beautiful mobile game that our murderer-in-chief would not normally consider outside his strict Call of Duty diet. The inclusion of Monument Valley was probably the most pleasant and surprising thing about this season.
3. I should probably read a book about Russia.
I know that horrible things happen in Russia but I’m not familiar with the political and historical context for any of the things I have huge problems with. House of Cards didn’t really help much in any educational way. Where Frank is created with many experiences pulled from various other Presidents and Vice Presidents, Season Three’s Petrov is clearly just Putin, but with some gnarly chest scars.
4. Binge watching is risky.
House of Cards is a great example of how binge watching can be great. With no breaks and the exception of the bottle episodes, season one is a tense march that pays off in a huge way. It’s a nugget, a golden solid compressed piece of entertainment. Contrarily, season three lacks a consistent story line, and it really stands out among other seasons. In part because of the show’s decision to let Francis pretty much lose over and over again this season. It really compounds on you as a viewer, and there was absolutely nothing to root for or look forward to. At Least when you binge watch something bad it’s over fast.
5. House of Cards is on the decline
Season one was a strong political thriller with a dark heart. Season two was a little bit of a cartoon fantasy. Both were enjoyable in their own ways but season three is a departure, dragging and unfocused. Without any conceivable end game, Frank is already president after all, stuff just sort of happens. Fake Putin looks like he’s going to be big and bad but then he gets shelved for the Underwoods’ marriage problems. The look of the show suffers too. The incredibly high bar that David Fincher set in the first two episodes of the first season still haven’t been topped by any episodes since. It seems the further we get from those episodes, the further we get from the distinctly Fincher intention of how things are shot. Things just sort of look sparse but not in that good way where Fincher exactingly puts thing just so.
Cover photo credit: youtube