Brief review of the new series of House of Cards, released on Netflix on Friday.
Read no further if you've been in a cave over the weekend and haven't watched it yet.
Episode 1 immediately reestablishes that Doug Stamper, faithful Chief of Staff to Frank Underwood (now President Underwood), is indeed alive - having had his head bashed in by a former escort with a brick and left for dead in the woods. Stamper is probably the series' most interesting character, even more interesting than FU himself, so it was pleasing that they didn't go down the obvious route and kill Stamper off at the end of series 2, like his counterpart in the British version was. (Tim Stamper, FU's previously loyal Chief Whip, is assassinated by FU in an IRA-style car-bomb at the end of To Play the King).
We see President Underwood struggling to get his flagship "America Works" welfare reform / full employment programme underway, with a hostile Congress (when is it not?) and the Democratic Party leaders deselecting him as 2016 presidential candidate.
Then there's wife Claire, who ends up as the US's ambassador to the United Nations, despite no foreign policy experience. The true Lady Macbeth, she goes on a journey of her own through the series, as the relationship between Claire and FU becomes more and more fractured - culminating with the bombshell of her asking for a divorce in the closing seconds of the final episode.
The third series started really slowly - I almost had to call it a night by the time I got to episode three, but I persevered and was rewarded. Stick with it, folks - it gets a lot better after about episode four or so. Even if That Baddie From Sherlock is literally a stand-in for Vladimir Putin (right down to the initials, VP). Spacey's performance, including the trademark FU asides to camera, the gorgeous direction and cinematography, the pace - it all makes for a very enjoyable watch.
If you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for? I know there's an election on and everything...