What are you looking at?

I have just finished the first five episode of House of Cards series 3 and how I prevented myself from staying up throughput the night to watch the entire series is beyond me. I was a great fan of the first two series although I did think that the pace of the second lacked the fizz and raw excitement of the first. The third series delivers tension and thrills in spades. The writing is sublime with the dialogue crisp but natural too. The episode when the president visits Russia and his carefully laid plans to build a consensus for a peace plan in Jordan valley falls apart as a direct result of his wife’s actions was memorable. I could feel the tension as  their realtionship was taken to breaking point. And in the final scene he turns to the camera and demands angrily – what are you looking at? And then the following episode repairs the damage, certainly for now. But such is the mastery of the scriptwriters that I’m left with the certainty that things are going to unravel.

Kevin Spacey is masterful in playing the plotting calculating and utterly unprincipled Underwood and Robin Wright plays the conflicted first lady with conviction and growing propriety. But for me the actor who steals the show is Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper. The first few episodes where he recovers form his assault were a well-crafted display. He combines menace with vulnerability and with his shifting allegiances it is clear we are being set up for an explosive denouement. All the players contribute to a drama that must accurately portray the ambiguous nature of moral certainty in the world of politics and how it is really about compromise and getting things done. But at any price?

The cinematography is also wonderful adding to the sense of menace and danger by its simple uncluttered format. the use of slow moving shots towards Spacey is also every effective to build character and tension. What am I looking at? Wonderful drama.

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