As Super Tuesday sees big victories for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump today, the real treat for political junkies is coming on Friday with the full Season 4 debut of House of Cards on Netflix. As I say in my video review above, the Kevin Spacey-led series has gotten more outrageous, more ruthless, more high stakes, more Clintonesque and more compellingly timely than ever. No longer the new kid of the block, streaming or otherwise, the heavily virally promoted — #FU2016 — 13-episode fourth season is, as I also say in my video review above, well worth your vote, binged or otherwise.
With last year’s Season 3 of now-departed showrunner Beau Willimon’s series planting strategic seeds and showing Spacey’s now-President Frank Underwood no longer so easily dispensing or out-maneuvering his foes, Season 4 finds the vulnerable incumbent running for re-election and at risk of losing it all. As the strain and pressure intensifies domestically and internationally, HoC S4 veers toward the soap, but, with fine-tuned brinkmanship, pulls itself back to a steely spine of solid drama.
As good as Spacey is — and the man is so good in a role he inhabits in the show and pop culture like a second skin — the again-magnificent Robin Wright is the metal in the marriage as the ambitious, estranged and equally calculating Claire Underwood. Together, even more so this year than any season since the David Fincher-EP’d HoC started in 2013, Spacey and Wright leave many fictional and real-life political power couples looking so milk-warm in comparison.
However, with new faces joining the show and old ones returning, two other powerhouses this season are Michael Kelly and Molly Parker. As the Underwoods’ sometimes protégé, sometimes proxy and sometimes foe Congresswoman Jackie Sharp, the never-to-be-underestimated Parker is, as her character’s name says, sharp as a jailhouse shiv this year. The return of Kelly’s ever-loyal aide Doug Stamper to Underwood’s side after last season saw him in exile from the White House and on a mission of vengeance to clean up some old messes adds a much-needed sense of menace to the intrigue House of Cards thrives on. This season, the solid Kelly put on a performance, as I say in my video review, that makes you want to cross to the other side of the street when he comes your way for fear you wouldn’t even see his blade fatally slip between your ribs as he takes you out for the Underwoods.
It’s a presidential election year in America, and this House of Cards — which is much closer to reality than many in Hollywood and D.C. will admit — is standing stronger than ever. So, watch my review of House of Cards Season 4 above and tell us if you’ll be casting a binge ballot this weekend.
This review was originally posted on March 1.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.