Preview: 'House of Cards' offers violence, betrayal and politics

Video by Netflix

One of the standout Netflix originals of the past few years, “House of Cards” will return this Friday, just in time for everyone to binge-watch the next chapter in the life of corrupt congressman-turned-President of the United States Frank Underwood. 

Kevin Spacey has always been the standout as Frank Underwood whose charisma and mystery is matched only by his ruthlessness and lack of morals. The most interesting parts of the first three seasons were those that depicted Frank’s rise to power as he climbed the political ladder by knocking down those whom he felt had somehow wronged him. 

Joining Underwood on his quest for ultimate power is his wife, Claire, played by Robin Wright. Initially someone who was just along for the ride, Claire has grown into her own character. By the end of the second season, she was basically an equal to Frank, working the private sector the same way that he manipulated his fellow politicians. 

Time will tell whether the writers of “House of Cards” will be able to redeem a blisteringly stupid plot focusing on Claire betraying Frank for absolutely no good reason in the last season. Outside of that one plotline, however, Wright has been fantastic as Claire Underwood. Based on the conclusion of the third season, it seems that the two will have to work together more closely, although the trailers for the new season haven’t offered much hope for their marriage.

“House of Cards” has always been a compelling drama, but the materials released for the new season thus far seem to indicate that the show is drawing inspiration from a few more horror elements. One such trailer, titled, “Frank Underwood-The Leader We Deserve” alternates shots of Underwood sitting at his desk in the White House and flashes of the various murders and betrayals he’s committed, or will commit, in his rise to the top. 

At the conclusion of the trailer, Spacey says, “I think America deserves Frank Underwood, and in your heart, you know I’m right.”

The new season premieres at an appropriate time in the American electoral cycle, as Americans, and particularly the young, Netflix-watching crowd, are more disillusioned in the upcoming election than ever. As a drama, “House of Cards” is among the best in the business, but it might be even more powerful if one views the depiction of American politics as a grimy, corrupt cesspool as a warning to voters and politicians today.

Whether the horror themes will actually play out in the upcoming season is unclear, as trailers for previous seasons of “House of Cards” have gone to extreme lengths in order to obfuscate plot points. The trailer for season two, for example, gave one actor a credit right alongside Spacey and Wright, only for the character that actor plays to die in the first episode.

The grim political drama that is “House of Cards” returns this Friday, March 4, on Netflix.


Edward Pankowski is life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at edward.pankowski@uconn.edu.