Seeing as the third season of NetFlix’s House of Cards has been available for a few weeks now, I’ll admit I’m late to the dance with this review, but I’ve been busy and unable to devote the time to actually watch it.
Well…until earlier this week anyway.
And so having started it a mere three days ago, I’ve now finished it.
That’s a good sign, right?
But it wasn’t without its faults.
For me, this season felt flat compared to the previous two, and that’s only natural considering what this show actually is. The original concept is about a malevolent politician lying, cheating and ruthlessly trampling over anyone who gets in his way in his path to the top of the political totem pole.
And so when Underwood achieved that at the end of Season 2, it restricted both where Underwood as a character and the overall show itself could go.
As President, Underwood couldn’t be as evil as he had been in the previous two seasons. There’s certain things – such as murder or outright blackmail – that are off-limits to a Presidential character but in terms od realism and the American ideal of what their Commander In Chief should be. And so what’s left is him trying to manipulate situations to do the right thing rather than the selfish thing.
It made me think “Am I supposed to think badly of Underwood for trying to eradicate unemployment or solve the crisis in the Middle East?”. It was a weird one.
And just as weird was the fact that his opponents in the season were mostly bad eggs who you hoped would falter.
His wife, for example, came across as an arse, even though I think we were supposed to be rooting for her. Or maybe we weren’t and I’ve just picked that up wrong.
Really, at times it felt like an episode of the West Wing with less likeable characters.
Mainly though, I think the fault with this third season is that it didn’t build up to a satisfactory conclusion. It ended limply with the sort of cliffhanger you wouldn’t even expect to see before a commercial break. Certainly this is a season that is half way through a story arc relating to Underwood’s inevitable reelection, but I don’t see why that couldn’t have just stretched another couple of episodes to reach a climax that would leave you wanting more?
Now I’m coming across as negative, I know that, so I feel I should reiterate that I mostly enjoyed it. But those are still problems.
What will the final conclusion to House of Cards be then? Unlike the UK version, Underwood can’t go to war with a monarchy and neither can he hold on to power indefinitely like Francis Urquhart did. A US President has a time-limit. He can only be there for two terms and once he’s over the hump of that reelection, it’s plain sailing from there.
Do NetFlix have the balls to make the US President into a proper villain? I’m not so sure. And I don’t even know how feasible it is?
Mind you, they seemed happy enough to put the boots into Wal-Mart.
Anyway, we’ll have to wait until 2016 to see how it goes, but if this show isn’t going to end on a whimper, I suspect some more inspired writing is definitely – pardon the pun – on the cards.
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