House of Cards S03E03 Recap/Review
The cold open of season three: episode three sets the stage for some topical commentary. Protesters on the Mall are chanting anti-Russian sentiment over the political mistreatment of the LGBT community. Apparently, Russian President Viktor Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen) is set to arrive at the White House to meet with Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey). When he does, there is an immediate divide between the two leaders.
We soon find out that Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is being vetted for a new job. He talks with a congressman about his re-election campaign, and argues that he should be paid less than what the congressman is offering. It is interesting to see Kelly’s character outside of Frank’s tutelage, considering his undying loyalty for the President.
Underwood and Petrov are in talks over a proposal that Frank claims could ultimately bring peace to the Middle East. Petrov assures him that Russia has nothing to gain from working with the Middle East or America. He toys with Frank, making it clear that the President has to offer something lucrative to get his way.
Meanwhile, hacker-turned-FBI-desk-jockey Gavin Orsay (Jimmi Simpson) is posed with a dilemma. His superior wants him to out his former cohorts or face the potential consequences of someone else outing him on charges that the FBI didn’t already drop. The longevity of Simpson’s character continues to amaze me. He played a somewhat crucial role in the show’s second season, but I don’t see his character going very far, which makes this scene feel unnecessary.
We are then transported to the dinner where Frank must “battle” against the Russian President. The pair stand as a long line of guests shake hands and exercise photo-ops. Among these guests is a strange cameo by real-life Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina. It appears to be a forced attempt by the show-runners to be topical. The dinner scene becomes more of a stunt where Pussy Riot can make a political statement. This overshadows the plot of the scene as it relates to the show and shifts the tone into left field.
Following this fumble, Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is visited again by Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil). Doug accuses Seth of setting up his job offer, which would account for the huge salary spike that the job would entail. He boldly tells Seth that he will not accept the job and that he can return to the White House at any time.
The dinner continues. We see a hilarious gaffe in progress as the Vice President can’t understand a woman’s Russian accent, Frank and Senator Mendosa talking a whole mess of politics, and Claire and Petrov discussing Frank’s “pimping out” of his wife. Then, in proper Russian style, the whole room drinks shot after shot of gold-bottled vodka. This scene is a great opportunity for Lars Mikkelsen to show off his acting chops. He is solid in this role and fun to watch.
Doug meets with Gavin to discuss Gavin’s desire to leave the country. Doug offers him a way out in exchange for Rachel Posner’s (Rachel Brosnahan) location. He later hacks into his employee’s computer to find her.
The best part about season 3: episode 3 is the chemistry between Lars Mikkelsen and both Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. He is truly sinister as the Russian President. The dinner sequence is worthwhile, and the continued development of Doug Stamper’s plot arc is intriguing. On the other side of the coin, the storyline involving Gavin and the FBI is flat, proving that his character only serves to move along other secondary plot points.
As always, thanks for reading!
–Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)