House of Cards Season 3 Chapters 36, 37 and 38 Review

Netflix released the third season of House of Cards in its entirety on February 27. Ed Carroll is offering his thoughts on the season as he watches Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright spin political intrigue in three-episode blocks.

Click here for his thoughts on Chapters 27, 28 and 29.
Click here for thoughts on Chapters 30, 31 and 32.
Click here for the review of Chapters 33, 34 and 35.

SPOILER WARNING! – Everything below assumes you have watched House of Cards through Chapter 38, or do not care about being spoiled.

So, Yates was completely lying about his friend being the one to be turning tricks in his youth, kind of undercutting his earlier revelation. Frank still held “the author of his first novel” over Tom’s head as he fired him, which kinda confused me a bit, but this is House of Cards we’re talking about.

Honestly, despite my annoyance with the lies, Yate’s actual revelation was far more interesting — that he turned tricks at first for money, but was addicted to the stories. And then Yates and Underwood couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Francis has already been firmly established as bisexual, so the fact that he was attracted to Yates wasn’t a shock, but c’mon, he’s not Bill Clinton and he’s in the Oval Freaking Office, they weren’t gonna have sex.

Speaking of lies, Gavin lying about Rachel’s death annoys me. Yeah, kinda makes sense for McPoyle to keep an ace up his sleeve versus Stamper, but ugh, this show is really embracing the lies. It’s one thing for characters to lie to other characters, that’s juicy and scandalous and we love that crap. It’s another thing entirely for the show to lie to its viewers, and this season of House of Cards is quickly evaporating any trust I had in what it was saying. Don’t expect a final review if this all turns out to be a dream in someone’s head, I’ll have gone nuclear.

While the Russians were always in the background during these episodes, the focus wisely turned to the campaign at home and Francis’s maneuvering toward the nomination. Claire’s stepping down as ambassador was a disappointment but if it keeps creepy Victor away, I’m OK with this.

Since we were at home, we got a lot more screen time with Jackie Sharp. I have a love-hate relationship with this character, but Chapter 37 showed why I absolutely love her sometimes. I don’t blame her for going to Dunbar for a better deal, and I don’t think Frank would either. Yeah, Frank pitted Dunbar and Sharp against each other with the sexism attack, but in a way I kind of respected how Jackie got tough and protected her own ass. Ruthless pragmatism indeed. And then Frank stabbed Jackie in the back. I shouldn’t be shocked he completely cut Jackie down and treated her like a misbehaving dog, and it was tough to watch.

Speaking of the debate, it was all of the political nonsense that made my head hurt when election season comes around. If it weren’t for the names and discussion of AmWorks, I’d think this were an actual presidential debate.

In the end of the Chapter 37, Sharp had endorsed Dunbar and Danton had resigned, upset with how Underwood was treating him and the rest of the staff. We’ve seen examples of the mistreatment this season, but it was pretty sporadic, and, while they didn’t need to hammer us over the head with examples of mistreatment, they needed to convey how much it was bothering some of the characters more than they did. For all we knew, Danton was still heartsick over Jackie getting married, maybe it wasn’t the mistreatment. Just seems like a sloppy way to have both Jackie and Remy betray Francis, but could be effective.

The Jackie and Remy romance subplot, however, has been really tiresome, because until the debate and save a few scenes for Danton, the subplot has been the majority of their screen time. And it still ended with Remy returning to the private sector and Jackie coming back to sleep with him. Which was pretty much where they were in season two. OK.

The Supreme Court seat once again came back into the plot, and once again, Dunbar turned it down. For the show to work, she probably needed to turn it down, but I still don’t think anyone in their right mind, particularly someone as morally righteous as Dunbar, would turn it down.

Dunbar’s candidacy has become a major thorn in Frank’s side, and Frank’s pissing off people left and right,  but it looks like Doug Stamper isn’t pissed at the Underwoods. Stamper burned the journal in front of Underwood (why doesn’t The White House have smoke alarms?), has been sober for nearly 90 days and tried to strong arm Francis into a job. And Frank naturally recoiled at the idea of needing Stamper, despite Stamper setting $2 million on fire, but finally saw reason and took Stamper back. Pretty badass of Doug to already have a short list of nominees for the Supreme Court seat.

Claire being pissed about her role as Doug’s pawn was just as understandable and Francis’s hiring of Stamper. Is the show preparing to start a war between the Underwoods — with only the finale remaining? I suppose I can get behind a showdown between the two most powerful forces in House of Cards. I can only hope the frustration in getting to this finale has been worth it.

Quick thoughts before I head back to Iowa with the Underwoods…

– “In my opinion it was a tie.” Oh stupid analysis of the ‘winner’ of a stupid subjective debate. I felt like I accidentally flipped to a TV news show.

– “Y’all should put this on Pay-Per-View!” Oh meta-jokes. And Freddy’s moment with Remy might have been one of Danton’s best moments on the show, with Freddy trying to tell Remy how you need to approach Frank, and then admitting he needs to get away from Underwood’s yapping sometimes. Love it.

– Robin Wright directed Chapter 38, pretty sure she only directed one episode in season two.

– Glad the “sibling rivalry” between Seth and Doug is over, Frank needs them both.

– So Doug is going to try to snuff out Gavin McPoyle because, revenge? I suppose Stamper is hell-bent on finding Rachel, and asking for character growth is too much to ask.

– Forgot to mention this in my review of Chapter 33, but if you’re interested in the weird first-person “office game” Francis was playing with Yates, it’s a PC game called The Stanley Parable and while it’s a short experience, it’s certainly worth looking up on Google.

Season three of House of Cards has seemed rockier than the previous three, but there’s still 57 minutes left to tie up a lot of loose ends and threads. Not sure if the show can pull it off, but it will probably be entertaining watching Spacey and Wright try.

Check back later on for Ed Carroll’s thoughts on the House of Cards season three finale and the season as a whole.

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