This review contains no spoilers.
Season Four of House of Cards is a return to form for the Emmy-winning Netflix original series. Whereas Season Three mainly had the Underwoods reeling from unexpected events and was more focused on their relationship, Season Four has them back in their scheming element. Now, their marriage of love and convenience is just a marriage of convenience as the two plot against each other, all the while struggling with their emotions—mostly anger—that is directed against their partner. There is now more focus on Claire, who may just be the more talented schemer, with Frank behaving more as a foil. At the start of the season he is off balance as Claire hatches a bold and reckless plan to achieve her own designs for power. In doing so Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood truly proves that she is a worthy Lady Macbeth to Kevin Spacey’s Richard III. Spacey is again on Emmy-winning form, but attention should also be paid to Ms. Wright, not just for her acting but also for her direction of a few episodes.
In terms of plot, this season branches out and better portrays the complexity of presidential affairs, both foreign and domestic, with plotlines that involve characters from the entirety of the series’ past. All of them are relevant and important and have their time to shine. And they are joined by Neve Campbell as a political consultant and by Colm Feore as a political rival.
The interconnected plots mirror reality as there are issues with the KKK, Russian aggression, an ISIS-like entity active in Kurdistan, gun control and NSA surveillance. This is a season that begins to speak to bigger issues and that continues to show how truly corrupt the Underwoods are. But what you will remember above all else is a showstopper— and I mean showstopper— in the fourth episode that shatters the narrative and reverberates throughout the series.
As the season comes to a close enemies circle in on the Underwoods as all their barbs, double-crosses, crimes and schemes come back to haunt them, to nip at their heels and to bite them. And the proposed resolution brings new heights of corruption and new depths of ruthlessness.
Season Four of House of Cards had me fall in love the series again, with all the schemes and intrigues that the Underwoods can muster. While this season demands a somewhat thorough knowledge of the series as many characters and plot lines resurface, it may just be the best season yet.
House of Cards Season Four is now available on Netflix.