House of Cards Season 3: The Dawn of Claire

I love well-done political dramas, probably because I follow political drama IRL. It’s not because I love to pick a fight with loud, misinformed students (but I do love shutting people down with information), but because it’s really important to be informed. But, to tide me over during slow news days, HoC is there to fill the void. Season 3 brought the show back to the fast-paced, complex narrative I saw in the first season, but less so in the second, and the reason is Claire Underwood.

Robin Wright directed two of the best episodes this season, Chapter 35 and Chapter 38 . Each of these episodes are important to the character of Claire, and Wright’s directing helps illuminate the psychology of First Lady Buttercup. In chapter 35 we see the begin of the deterioration of the middle east, but my favorite scene was between Doug and Gavin in the diner. Doug is told that Rachel is dead, and the camera pans back to the bar as he ejaculates “I just wanted to see her again.” This was sleek yet powerful. Chapter 38 was one of the most involved episodes of the entire show’s run, I have difficulty picking a favorite scene or aspect. Claire is confronted with the possibility with her lies about the abortion coming forward, which would thwart all of her popularity and activism. She asks Frank to fuck her, and he doesn’t even realize that he neglects her and her obviously growing discomfort in their arrangement.

hoc_ps3_003_h.0Her relationship with Frank is tumultuous, but what keeps the couple from slipping into the cliché roles of domineering man and unhappy wife, is Frank’s obvious love for Claire. Frank tells the author that he doesn’t deserve Claire, and he admits that she resonates with voters (perhaps even more than he does). Despite this, he uses her many good qualities to further his own career; he treats her as a tool, an advisor, but forgets that she is also an ambitious human being.

The author character speaks for the audience when he tells Frank that his relationship with claire is of the utmost importance. Despite the other subplots scattered across this season (Russian aggression, the Middle East, America Works) the one thing that cements them is the relationship between the Underwoods. Claire has always been a strong character, as evidenced by her nonprofit and push for military form, but this season she was a driving force.

I can’t wait to see what happens next season. I’d like to see her run for president, herself, but the Iowa caucus has already happened, so I doubt that’s possible. Maybe as VP under Dunbar? As long as she’s still a major player, I’ll be happy. I sort of hope she gets back with Frank, because the two of them work well as a team, when the scales are balanced, which they weren’t this season.

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