House of Cards (US) is a show that changes its focus with every season. The first season focused on Underwood and his struggles to gain position. The second season was a showdown between Underwood and Tusk.
The third season takes a different tack entirely, being mostly a character drama focusing on the tensions and pressure between Underwood and his close allies.
Stamper and Claire get the spotlight the most, with a lot of attention on their struggles in Underwood’s shadow. The season was impeccably acted on all parts and at times had me enthralled. It did mean, however, that the political machinations of the first two seasons were mostly a side note.
The season had a slow start, but once it got going in episode four or so, it really kept me binge watching until the season finale. That’s where things were a little muddled and disappointing for me. The trouble being, of course, that somethings have to get left out when you’re getting down to the last episode and there was just too much left to say.
With limited time, the show continued the focus on the characters and not the politics. With the election itself relegated to a few comments here and there. The character moments were great, but for me they weren’t enough.
The reason I watch political shows like this, the British version or The West Wing is for the political manoueuvring. The character moments for me should be the side story. So I was left feeling ever so slightly short-changed by the end.
The highlights of the season for me have to be everything involving Petrov. They captured Putin so perfectly that it was hypnotic to watch. Not least of which was Lars Mikkelsen’s performance in the role. He had the same cold-stare that Putin has, like he would kill you for breathing wrongly.
Overall, I give the third season of House of Cards five stars. Despite my problems with the show, it’s still in the top ten shows for me. I can’t fault it wanting to spend time with the characters. I’ll be waiting for the next season to see how things develop further.
I would, however, like the next season to be the final season. I noticed as I watched that the seams are straining a little in some places. Too many seasons and the show’s quality would drop quickly.
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