(Warning: mild spoilers for “House of Cards” season four ahead.)
With season four of “House of Cards” live on Netflix Friday, we have been thrust back into the shady politics of now-president Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), and more importantly, the drama between him and his wife, Claire (Robin Wright).
We left the two off at the end of season three at the height of their dysfunction. Claire, the once-unshakable supporter of Frank during his rise to the presidency, now loathes her husband following her time as UN Ambassador. In the position, she had to deal with LGBT activist Michael Corrigan killing himself in a Russian prison and reluctantly resigned as Ambassador to appease Russian president Petrov, and essentially help Frank.
As season three came to a close, Frank tried to play it tough with Claire, demanding that she come along with him and “do her job” as First Lady campaigning in New Hampshire for his re-election campaign.
Instead, Claire, in that cool and calm tone she uses so well, told Frank she’s not going with him. In fact, she’s leaving him.
Season four picks up with the two still at odds, barely talking, let alone in the same room together. Claire has found refuge back in her home state of Texas, staying with her mother (played by Ellen Burstyn) in Dallas, while Frank is on the campaign trail.
But if you’re a fan of the show, you know that Claire certainly isn’t sulking in the corner. In fact, she’s crafting a new way to make her mark in DC, and may just take down Frank in the process.
A big reason I still watch “House of Cards” is Wright’s performance as Claire. It’s thrilling, powerful, and just damn good acting. And for all fans who feel the same way, you’ll be happy to know that season four is when Claire Underwood becomes the true star of “House of Cards.”
The first few episodes of season four are split between Frank’s re-election and Claire forming a strategy for life post-FLOTUS. She hires Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell, in a great performance) to be her adviser, and let’s just say she’s as ruthless as Frank’s right-hand man, Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly).
The punch, counter-punch between Frank and Claire is great, but the standalone scenes of Claire keep you sucked in the episodes. Because she’s not only going through a spat with her husband — as they both need to keep on happy faces in public — but her mother’s hatred for Frank is something Claire also has to keep to just a simmer (until she can use it to her advantage).
Perhaps the most satisfying new reality of “House of Cards” is that Frank has finally met his match. He’s now up against the one person who knows where all of the bodies are buried (well, figuratively speaking, of course).
But none of this would be worthy if it weren’t for the talents of Wright. Her won’t-back-down fortitude and ice-queen exterior as Claire have turned her into a landmark character in the streaming-TV era.
In season four, we can finally appreciate her full greatness.
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