The third season premiere of “House of Cards” opens with President Frank Underwood making a trip to his father’s grave. However, because he is a horrible person, he immediately delivers a monologue to his deceased dad about how he’s only there so the media can record him making the trip. It’s all just a publicity stunt, and he wants to make sure his father is aware of this from beyond the grave. This whole sequence is complete with Frank making direct looks into the camera, so it appears that he sees the audience (and perhaps the world at large?) as a version of the father he despises. When seeing Frank in that light, it is easier to understand how he is able to always view the world through a cruel lens.
The cameras and reporters are all far enough away during this distasteful scene that there is no chance of the media hearing him make this speech. He has made it clear to the press that he wants privacy, so he can “honor” his father in peace. However, there is another reason, besides his desire to privately tell off dear old dad, to keep the press away. He also wants to piss on the grave. Because he is a psychopath, he does actually act on this wish and pisses on his father’s grave. Thus begins a new season of “House of Cards,” a show that proves Kevin Spacey is always at his best when he is playing a complete jerk.
Frank is difficult to take. He’s supposed to be a foul, Machiavellian character, but it starts to feel like too much when he is behaving like that in every scene he is in. After he desecrates his father’s grave, he spends the rest of the episode behaving like the Antichrist has taken office.
For instance, he tries to convince a supreme court justice with early Alzheimer’s, Justice Jacobs, to stay in office, despite the justice’s desire to be home with his wife during his last remaining years. Frank is convinced he needs the justice’s support in order to make cutbacks on entitlement programs he considers to be draining the national budget. The programs Frank wants to cut back on are social security, Medicare, Medicaid, you know…all the stuff we don’t really need in this society. Frank has Vice President Donald Blythe explain to the justice that work will probably be the best distraction for him, and he will just be unhappy spending so much time at home. Donald’s own wife chose to stay at home when she was diagnosed with the same disease, and he recounted how it made her very unhappy to give up the job that she loved during her final, lucid years. In exchange for Donald’s manipulation of the justice, Frank has promised Donald funding for Alzheimer’s research.
Doug Stamper’s storyline is also explored, and it is equally dark and depressing. He has woken in the hospital after being attacked by Rachel, and he is dealing with the effects of a concussion. When he is finally able to be discharged, the doctor can’t give him pain killers because of his history of substance abuse. That’s okay because Doug has his very own bottle of propofol at home (?!). He shoots up with the propofol while watching an episode of “The Colbert Report,” and he’s as good as new.
Because he is not able to go back to work just yet (Frank insists Doug take time off to recover), Frank actually goes into the decline that Donald described to Justice Jacobs. Perhaps Donald’s advice was not completely self-serving? Frank is bored out of his mind, and he becomes increasingly unhappy without work filling up the hours in his days. By the end of the episode, he has hired a hooker to show up at his home and shoot bourbon into his mouth with a syringe. He also has some percocet lying around for later, because he suffered a broken arm earlier and decided not to tell the ER doctor that he isn’t supposed to take pain killers.
The episode comes to an end when Frank makes the call to take out a high profile terrorist. There are three cars and the terrorist, Abdullah, is in one of them. Frank sees the surveillance footage of the proposed target and asks if those are children he sees on the screen. He is informed that there could be children in the area, but the military can’t really tell. Frank orders the hit, the target is destroyed, and he walks out of the room with his wife. Children may or may not have been killed. His wife remarks that she still wants to be U.N ambassador and he say’s “okay”. It’s just another day in President Frank Underwood’s government.