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‘House of Cards’ provides exciting return to show’s best assets

Photo Courtesy of Tribune News Service – Stuck inside? Watch something on Netflix, including their new original series “House of Cards.”

“House of Cards” starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Mahershala Ali, Boris McGiver, and Neve Campbell

By Tyler Conrad ’17

Netflix’s original series “House of Cards” opens its fourth season with a deranged man having a mental breakdown in prison.

This man is Lucas Goodwin (played by Sebastian Arcellus), a familiar face to fans of the show, who was imprisoned after trying to prove President Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) guilty of murder.

The scene is dark, disturbing and engaging, grabbing the viewer by the throat and forcing them to buckle their seatbelt for the 13 episode roller coaster ride that is to follow.

Previously, season three of “House of Cards” left viewers with Claire Underwood (played by Robin Wright), the president’s wife and ultimate partner in crime, walking out on him to focus on her own career.

Season four jumps right back into this struggle, with Frank and Claire for the first time pitted against one another in their vengeful, manipulative, battle for power.

Now that Claire is completely separate, her growth as a fierce and cunning character mirrors the show’s growth, from the story of a powerful man and his devoted wife to a couple of powerful, manipulative people.

Both characters are so beautifully written and crafted that after every ruthless, spineless, jaw-dropping event, one still finds themselves rooting for them.

Furthermore, season four picks up on one of the show’s key elements that season three severely lacked: the stories of those that the Underwood’s stepped on in their path to power. The pleasant return of characters such as Goodwin, Remy Danton (Mahershala Ali) and Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) serves as an engaging subplot following a struggle against the Underwoods.

What has made “House of Cards” so great in the past is that it tells the full story of the Underwoods and their impact, and season four has realized and maximized this asset.

Like previous seasons, “House of Cards” also faces it’s characters with actual topical issues. Last season focused on sexual abuse and relations with Russia, while this season went even more controversial with gun control and terrorist groups (the show uses a fictional group known as ICO, an obvious and intended reference to ISIS).

The gravity of these issues in the real world gives the show a greater sense of reality in what can be a ludicrous political atmosphere.

The series’ two trademark actors never fail to amaze in their performances, but other actors such as Michael Kelly (who portrays the eerie extremist chief of staff to Mr. Underwood) and newcomer Neve Campbell lead an incredible set of ensemble performances.

Cinematography remains beautiful, dialogue is quick and sharp, and the plot is quickly paced to near perfection, allowing House of Cards to blossom into another masterpiece in its fourth season.