Reviews / TV

House of Cards Season 4 Brings Formula Viewers Grew to Love

My own eyes meet with the Underwoods’ as they utter the words, “We create the terror.”

They proceed to stay glued to the rolling credits as I try to put together what this means for the future of “House of Cards.”

And the future seems bright with the best work since season one.


 

Season three treated viewers to … not a lot of substance. It was filler with little plot advancement. Not to say it was unwatchable, but the season felt like a let-down when standing next to the first two.

The latest hand dealt for Frank Underwood is a tough one: having to stand up to Heather Dunbar’s run at the democratic nomination, realizing republican-hopeful Will Conway may have the numbers to win and issues at home.

The season opens with Claire striving to have a voice, making it on her own without her husband’s help. Both are still separated, but, of course, the power couple couldn’t stay apart forever.

The events leading to their eventual reunion were fun. Frank was facing a life-or-death situation, Claire undermined the Secretary of State and Doug Stamper — the list goes on.

The president realized he needed his wife just as badly as viewers needed them together.

It was refreshing to see Frank Underwood competing during an election year, something last season lacked.

The Democratic National Convention seemed so electric that it might’ve convinced some republicans to think twice about their party affiliation. Rey Danton and Raymond Tusk — the uncanny duo — made an appearance. Stamper threatened to make people resign, and threw it all on the line to save his friend and the POTUS. The Conway family took selfies!

But it was what went on outside of primary elections and speeches that made this season whole.

The pacing was significantly better, thanks in large part to the direction of Robin Wright. Her directed episodes were the highlights of the show. Whether it be the diminishing relationship between Claire and her mother, or the fresh, take-me-back-to-my-youth relationship with Thomas Yates (played by Paul Sparks), Wright’s direction helped play to our heartstrings.

Of course, no show goes without a few issues.

I was a bit disappointed that the first Frank monologue came seven episodes into the season. On the other hand, though, it wasn’t until he began breaking the fourth wall that I realized, “Oh, he does these from time to time!”

Actor Joel Kinnaman’s portrayal of the young republican Will Conway was …

… eh.

It felt incredibly wooden at first, then became just “wooden.” It was nice to see a new face opposing Frank, but Kinnaman never convinced me.

He had his moments, like his meetings with Frank in the White House. His attempt at being swift and cunning didn’t resonate with me, though. The show told me to be surprised at his moves against the Underwoods, rather than me genuinely feeling surprised and in awe.

The conflict between Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) and press-herder Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) was intriguing, but then felt weightless after the third awkward staring contest.

Although, the season held its own in the intense Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) subplot, where the once nonbeliever of Lucas Goodwin’s story begins to connect the dots.

Hammerschmidt put the pieces together and got corroboration for his story that surely pinned the Underwoods and the few cabinet members at the height of corruption … right?

Wrong. Well, for now.

The season culminates with Frank and Claire joining in on a monologue as they watch an American get beheaded by two ICO terrorists, uttering the words “We create the terror.”

Frank declares war with the intention to bury Hammerschmidt’s story and save his run for a second term.

Now, that’s peak Frank Underwood.

8/10

 

 

 

 

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