TV Review: House of Cards - Season 3 Episode 1 "Chapter 27"

This recap/review of HOUSE OF CARDS is written with the expectation that everyone who reads this and comments below will have seen the episode already. Thus, if you've yet to see the episode in question, DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER. Check out our Binge Watchin' review of the first 2 seasons HERE!

EPISODE: Season 3, Episode 1: "Chapter 27"

PLOT: A rocky start for the Underwood Presidency. Frank wants to introduce an ambitious jobs program, while Claire sets her sights on the United Nations.

REVIEW: As the old saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Well, after two seasons of HOUSE OF CARDS, it is hard to imagine that Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) could get any more of a corrupted soul.  Season three, set to debut this Friday, opens with an episode that starts with one of the most disrespectful acts imaginable and that tells us we are in for more of what we saw in the first two seasons of the series.

Up to this point, HOUSE OF CARDS has been all about Francis Underwood's climb to power and everyone he steps on to get there.  Season 3 is set to show us how he and his wife cling to that power, but the premiere episode spends more time continuing a storyline left ambigious at the end of last season.  It is an interesting decision to shift the focus away from The Underwoods, six months after the end of last season, but we are still able to learn where things stand through news broadcasts and what the current President needs to do in order to get re-elected in 2016.

Claire Underwood makes her debut fairly early in the episode and we see her do her Lady Macbeth thing.  Within the span of five minutes, Robin Wright shows us that there is no certain way to believe whether Claire actually cares about who she is talking to or is playing with them like pawns on a chessboard.  She and Frank are perfect for each other in that way and the sense of foreboding we've seen in all of the season three teasers thus far are present in the premiere episode.

In examining this significant character from prior seasons of HOUSE OF CARDS, we are given visual and auditory cues to help us understand his downward spiral which may impact later episodes this season.  In what way this could happen is a mystery, but I would wager that it will definitely cause a shift in the Underwood re-election campaign.  There is a desperation we see in this character, who will remain nameless until the episode premieres, that shows both a dedication to the President and the same drive that got Underwood to The White House.  He also has his own demons to fight and seems to be on the losing side.

When we do finally get back to President Underwood in the flesh, about halfway through the episode, it feels like the episode is now just starting.  Kevin Spacey is fully invested in playing Underwood but he is no different as a President versus the Vice President or Whip in previous seasons.  The difference now is that President Underwood doesn't need to hide his true self anywhere but on camera.  Behind closed doors, he is a wolf in wolf's clothing, ready to shred anyone who doesn't share his same vision for America.  The expected moments when Frank Underwood breaks the fourth wall and speaks right to use feel underused here but still set the show apart.

The episode also sets up a couple of global political issues that seem to be the focal point of the third season, one diplomatic and the other terrorist related.  We also find Claire making moves for her own political future which may or may not impact her husband's future.  The relationship between the Underwoods has always been complicated and once again it is tough to tell if their marriage can handle the stress of The White House, especially with more fire coming from Claire, which seems to threaten Frank.  But, the decision made by the President at the end of the episode could redefine everything.

Many of the characters we have come to know in the last season make appearances here, mostly brief, but they are all in position for what looks to be another memorable series of episodes.  Positioning is key as this premiere is vastly different from the prior years in that the game was all set in motion by Frank Underwood and this year seems set against him.  Everyone has a place and those places are very ambigious after the first hour.  While I do not feel this was as strong as the first or second season premiere, HOUSE OF CARDS feels very different going into this run.  It is tough to tell where things are going but I definitely cannot wait to find out.

While HOUSE OF CARDS will make the entire third season available on February 27th, we are going to bring you just one episode review a week (although we'll have reviews for episodes 1 & 2 THIS week).  So join us every Friday as we witness the Underwood Presidency.


NEXT TIME ON HOUSE OF CARDS: "Chapter 28" - Claire's U.N. bid runs into trouble. Frank fights off mutiny with a bold address to the country.

Source: JoBlo.com



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