Warning: This post discusses in detail the first episode of House of Cards Season 3. Read with caution.
Welcome back, House of Cards. It’s been a while.
Luckily, it seems, nothing has changed about you during the year between Seasons 2 and 3.
You still look expensive, carry yourself with dignity, and embrace the leisurely pace your digital existence affords you. And we’d ask for nothing else, as there’s comfort to be found in anticipating the return of a show that’s been off the air for a year and being greeted with the familiar.
In the case of House of Cards as a whole, “the familiar” is defined as Frank doing something horrible and not getting caught.
In the opening minutes of the premiere, Frank pees on his father’s grave, feet away from the press.
But grave watering aside, the first episode of House of Cards Season 3 doesn’t rush to wow you again; it knows you’ll stick around long enough to get that feeling again, which is part of what makes it great television.
That’s not to say the first episode was lacking in big moment — quite the contrary, in fact, as demonstrated by the GIF below:
Yes, Doug is alive.
He survived the three blows to the head with a rock that he received in the finale, and when the episode opens, is just waking up from a coma.
We learn during the premiere, though, that surviving is one thing and living is another.
Doug is not doing well day-to-day. His physical recovery has made some stride — he still walks with a cane — and his mental recovery is far from progressing well. His ears are ringing from anxiety, he’s taking Percocet (despite rejecting pain killers earlier in the episode), and by the end of the episode, a hooker is squirting bourbon into his mouth with a syringe.
So, like, things aren’t looking great.
Frank sees right through Doug’s facade of control when Doug pays him a visit at the White House and asks to come back to work. Frank appears concerned for his friend, but you can see his doubts very clearly.
He asks Doug to focus on getting better, but we know things will certainly only get worse.
Speaking of Frank, he’s six months into his presidency when the episode picks up steam, and things are not going well. In the words of guest star Stephen Colbert, whose show is alive and well in the House of Cards universe: Unemployment is up, the trade deficit with China has increased and vetos have “sky rocketed.”
His approval ratings are also lower than the former president’s were at the time of his resignation. Ouch.
Frank’s failure is not lost on him, but he’s trying his hardest not to lose sight of his goal.
Dead set on creating a “legacy,” Frank has a plan to cut entitlements and put that money toward creating jobs. He calls the measure “AmericaWorks,” to which Colbert quips “so it’s a fantasy novel.” Zing.
Frank’s having trouble finding support, though, and, surprise, he’s not making any friends as he tries to drum up support.
Doug had wanted to come on board for this very purpose — to work his magic with key players — but Frank isn’t that desperate yet.
Something tells me he will be soon, though, especially with Donald Blythe as his VP. (I didn’t see that appointment coming.)
Meanwhile, Claire is waging a war of her own: She wants to be appointed as ambassador to the U.N. She’s sick of sitting on the sidelines and wants to gain concrete experience while she can. She tells Frank she needs to be “prepared” in case he loses the election in 2016.
As far as Frank is concerned, that’s not even an option. In fact, he looks annoyed by Claire even entertaining it as an option.
He’s very hesitant to give Claire his public backing in such a sensitive political time for him, but he ultimately decides to do so.
This issue promises to be an ongoing point of contention for the couple, though.
The last scene shows the First Couple sauntering arm-in-arm through their home, which was a pretty clear way of saying that the season ahead will challenge the strength of that connection in more ways than one.
I — like many reading — am among those planning to gluttonously consume all 13 episode of Season 3 in a single weekend, but with a premiere like this, I wish that wasn’t my plan.
As usual, Frank and Claire are playing a long game and it feels a bit unnatural to not approach the consumption of this story in a similar manner. But I suppose, much like Doug, the binging among us lack a little self control.
And that can be fun, too.
Share your thoughts on the premiere below and stay tuned to Mashable all weekend for coverage as we binge watch with you.