Netflix Recap: House of Cards, Season 3, Episode 3-5

Written by Dylan Brandsema

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House of Cards, Season 3: Episodes 3-6 Review

EPISODE 303: “CHAPTER 29”

‘Chapter 29’ is a bit of a different episode for House of Cards. While the first two episodes of this season seemed to set up the plot(s) for the rest of the season, this one was a bit of a deceleration, slowing things down just a tad. It was a different episode then we usually get, but deservedly so.

While Frank (Kevin Spacey) struggles to successfully get AmWorks off the ground, Claire (Robin Wright) and Catherine Durant tend to problems with the middle east. Meanwhile, Doug receives a job offer for a Special Advisor position from junior Congressman Brad Petite (Clarke Thorell). Beginning to put together the pieces, he’s convinced the offer was set up by Seth (Derek Cecil) or Frank, and he begins to grow suspicious, just as the audience has the previous two episodes.

Photo credit: David Giesbrecht for Netflix
Photo credit: David Giesbrecht for Netflix

One thing that stands out about this episode is the amount of screen time given to the character of Secretary of State Catherine Durant (played gracefully by Jayne Atkinson). After her and Claire juggle around the conflicts in the Middle East, we get to them just kind of…hang out. They drink beer and talk about life – this may not do much to advance the plot, but it’s pleasant to see a character, who, up until this point, has been sort of underdeveloped and more of a background fixture, get put to some good use (especially when you consider Atkinson’s acting talent).

However, the highlight of the episode, and likely the highlight of the season so far, was the introduction of Russian President Viktor Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen). He’s a nice guy on the surface and in public, and a ruthless tyrant underneath. President Petrov is likely the best villain House of Cards has had so far, and a perfect antagonist for our esteemed President Underwood. Why? Because they’re the same. In an intense basement scene towards the end , a battle of wits ensues between Viktor and Frank and one thing the audience comes to realize is that they are, essentially, the same kind of eponymous leader. They both want power of one another, and they don’t care who or what stands in there way, and they’re both forced to change their images for the sake of public opinion, yet become virtually different figures behind closed doors. Actor Lars Mikkelsen plays Petrov with a chilling, unearthly enigma, and every second he’s on screen gives off an aura of eeriness and worry. after just one episode, we understand the kind of person he is, and we fear him, just as Frank does.

Photo credit: David Giesbrecht for Netflix
Photo credit: David Giesbrecht for Netflix

As comes Petrov, of course, comes his opposers. In a cameo that probably no one expected, feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot make a brief appearance as themselves, showing up at a White House dinner party and exposing President Petrov for the fascist he really is. Between this, and the end credits rolling over a song they apparently wrote for the series entitled “Don’t Cry Genocide”, an interesting comparison springs mind. If you anything about Pussy Riot, you’ll know they’ve been adamantly against derailing current real-life Russian President Vladimir Putin. Is House of Cards depicting Putin through Petrov? Is Willimon trying make a statement of his own about Putin? If so, is the show comparing Frank to current President Barack Obama?

Whatever it is, it’s brilliant.

Overall rating: 8/10

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