You gotta know when to fold ‘em

Season three of House of Cards is heart-pumping, but at times lacks flair

Get out of the way. Frank Underwood is angrier than ever before. The pressure builds in season three of “House of Cards” as Frank (Kevin Spacey) resists threats from all sides to protect his fragile presidency.

While the quality of the plot this season continues the strong tradition of past seasons, the dialogue does not. Frank’s over-the-top southern sayings have always been the most entertaining aspect of the show. Unfortunately, even the best quotes from season three fall flat in comparison to past gems, such as “Never slap a man while he’s chewing tobacco.” In fact, Frank rarely even speaks directly to the camera this season, a signature of the show. I’m disappointed to say my friends and I will not be incorporating any quotes from season three into our banter.

However, your worst fears are visualized in the new season in an all-to-real drama: the show’s depiction of an ineffective congress, a power hungry executive branch and a plan for social safety net reform strikes an eerie resemblance to current United States politics. Add in the Russian President (Lars Mikkelsen), heavily inspired by Vladimir Putin, and you get an unusually realistic setting for a political drama.

I had goosebumps watching a minor scene involving a black character being pulled over by a police officer, subtly reminded of Eric Garner. The success of the show’s ability to not only recreate, but almost predict current events should not be understated.

The fuel that propels this season is the relationship between Claire (Robin Wright) and Frank. We are finally able to glimpse behind their facades, lies and secrecy. The discoveries are both dark and intriguing. Beyond Claire, Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker) and Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel) receive much more screen time. In a show about a man in power, it is impressive to see not only one but three strong female characters.

The increased focus on character development is refreshing, but the return of bad habits is not. Heavy handed metaphors, as bad as the war reenactment episode from season two, persist. Irrelevant side plots fail to keep my interest—I don’t care about Gavin the hacker (Jimmi Simpson) or his guinea pig. And a new attractive White House correspondent does fill the hole left by Zoe Barnes.

It may have been the worst season to date, but that is because the bar was set so high. As always I am blown away by Kevin Spacey’s and Robin Wright’s ability to act both powerful and venerable. The show has been building up so far, and I can’t wait to watch it all fall apart in season four—queue house of cards metaphor. My only major request is that next year the premier is not at 3:00 a.m. again.

Rating: 6.5/10