Kevin Spacey returns as Frank Underwood, the crazy and conniving politician who manipulated and even murdered his way into the White House. This third season sees him as interim President of the United States working to implement his plans and hold onto his power.
Robin Wright co-stars as Claire Underwood, the dutiful wife and Lady Macbeth whose limits are certainly tested this season. It may come to pass that she's not as dedicated to doing whatever it takes to maintain the presidency, or else there are other things the childless and ambitious woman values.
Just like with Season 2's first episode, Season 3's first episode entitled "Chapter 27" has an incident that happens that's a bit of a spoiler if told before seeing it. Instead of it being a shocking twist at the end of the episode, this year's spoiler is in fact the entire premise of the episode, which is why I don't feel bad printing it, but spoiler alert anyway!
The end of Season 2, we see Frank's right-hand man, Doug Stamper, played by Michael Kelly, lying in a wooded area, presumably dead. Surprisingly, it's learned that Doug didn't die. He's still alive. In fact, "Chapter 27" is told almost entirely from Doug's point-of-view. From the way that it's shot to Michael Kelly's performance, it's by far one of the best episodes out of the near 40 that have been done.
The entire series, which is sheer political intrigue, is easily the best written series I've ever seen. Head writer Beau Willimon and his team have crafted one of the densest, richly conceived, nuanced, highly-intelligent, quick-witted, scary yet most fun shows on television. Willimon is a genius as far as I'm concerned and his show is amazing.
What's even more amazing is the great characterizations he's given to women. The female cast in this show is fantastic. Not only is the talent top-notch but the material he gives them is absolutely stellar. The only true rival currently is the female cast of Orange is the New Black. There are five women who are outstanding here. Chief among them is obviously Robin Wright who is absolutely superb.
Molly Parker plays Jackie Sharp, the majority whip. Elizabeth Marvel plays Heather Dunbar, the solicitor general. Kim Dickens plays Kate Baldwin, the reporter for The Wall Street Telegraph and Rachel Brosnahan plays Rachel Posner, the prostitute-turned-waitress on the run. All of these actresses are phenomenal in their own ways, even Brosnahan who is only featured in one episode.
The male cast members aren't slouches either. Mahershala Ali plays Remy Danton, the White House Chief of Staff. Lars Mikkelsen plays Victor Petrov, the Russian President and Paul Sparks plays Thomas Yates, the Presidential biographer. All these guys are standout. Even Nathan Darrow who plays Secret Service Agent Ed Meechum and Kelly AuCoin who plays Gary Stamper, the brother of Doug, do a great job whether or not they're prominently featured.
The only criticism of the show is its inability to address current terrorism problems like ISIS and the recent attacks like the one in Paris. I do give the series kudos for tackling Russia's anti-gay law. It attacked head-on and that's very appreciable.
There are a lot of great moments in the third season. I've compiled a list of 15 of some of those great moments. Again, some of these might be spoilers.
14. Frank Underwood is grilled by Stephen Colbert in "Chapter 27".
13. Jackie Sharp shows Remy Danton her diamond-engagement ring in "Chapter 31". Remy says, "I've never seen you this girly." Jackie responds, "It's a f---ing diamond. I'm allowed to be a little girly."
12. Claire Underwood invites the Russian Ambassador into the women's bathroom for some crazy, toilet diplomacy in "Chapter 31".
11. Frank pisses on his father's grave in "Chapter 27".
10. Frank literally spits in Jesus' face in "Chapter 30".
9. Frank meets with a survivor of a drone strike in "Chapter 30" and Kaseem Mahmoud, played by Waleed Zuaiter, tells Frank, "There is a fine line between duty and murder."
8. Doug Stamper slips in the shower and gets a dislocated bone, while totally naked and wet he resets the bone himself and heads to work like nothing happened in "Chapter 27".
7. Pussy Riot, after guest starring therein, does a video for the end credits in "Chapter 29".
6. Claire tries to convince gay activist Michael Corrigan, played by Christian Carmargo, to go against his idealism and ideas of marriage in order to get out of his Russian prison but only ends up going against her own in "Chapter 32".
5. Frank and Thomas Yates hold hands in "Chapter 36".
4. Doug says, "I'm not Peter Russo" where the resonance is that he looks like he's on the same trajectory in "Chapter 35".
3. Jackie and Heather debate in Iowa in "Chapter 37".
2. Frank threatens Claire in the oval office in "Chapter 39".
1. Claire's final moment of Season 3 in "Chapter 39".
Five Stars out of Five. Rated TV-MA. Running Time: 13 eps. / about 1 hr. each. Available on Netflix.