House of Cards Season Five Episode Three Recap & Review

Ah, the campaign trail. Inherently compelling. Post-Halloween, the election is ramping up, and both Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman) are working on their winning strategies. Conway takes his campaign to the people, initiating a 24-hour virtual town hall with the American people. Frank, conversely, is wining and dining political officials and having big campaign rallies.


The contrasts between these two candidates could not be more clear. Young vs. old. Public servant vs. political figurehead. Relatively genuine vs. overtly corrupt.

Oh, and Frank has a bit of a cough. Riveting stuff!

With Frank acting like he’s 30 years his junior, and thus wearing down, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) takes up more responsibility on the trail. A sign of things to come, no doubt.

What is becoming notable in this fifth season of House of Cards is just how on the sidelines Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is. We see him in this third episode finally doing something, but it is mostly grunt work. Of course, this is his role. He is a grunt, but he used to be Frank Underwood’s head grunt.

Compared to the hectic nature of the previous episode, episode three comes off light. The focus of the episode is central. With the election coming up, the episode remains squarely focused on numbers and gamesmanship.

Once voting begins, the show takes an interestingly quiet turn, sequestering the two leads in a private viewing room. Watching a movie, they do their best to ignore the polling data that is beginning to suggest Underwood’s defeat.

As non-climactic as this ending to the episode is, it seems fitting for a slower episode, and it makes for a satisfying conclusion. Even though it means the next episode is likely to be much more compelling.


As always, thanks for reading!

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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)


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