House of Cards Season Four Review – Dark Drama Returns to the Netflix Bellweather

house of cards season four

Our rating: 8.1/10

Netflix needs ‘House of Cards’ to succeed.

The service’s first major foray into original television content won the service millions of fans and surprised everyone with their ability to concoct their own television series. Traditional networks be damned, it was time for the standalone streaming service to start changing the entertainment industry again.

And they certainly have. Over the course of the past few years the service has launched dozens of original shows and movies with plans to virtually double output this year alone.

But competition is starting to get stiff. Amazon and Hulu are now both producing quality originals, and the traditional networks, seeing the writing on the wall, are pulling way back on what they’re willing to let Netflix stream.

So when critics and fans alike started to critique the third season of ‘House of Cards’ as somewhat aimless, we’re certain the streaming service knew they had to right the ship as soon as possible to keep fans happy.

[Some spoilers below for those who have not caught up through at least the third season]

The fourth season of ‘House of Cards’ is a far superior effort with clear direction set relatively early in the first episodes. The complaints about the third season’s attempt to invent new controversy actually ends up leading well into the fourth season, with Russian tensions still high and Claire and Frank’s marriage still on the rocks.

There are plenty of great twists for those who are after some high drama with one particular ‘out of nowhere’ scene that dropped our jaws but fed into the story quite well throughout the rest of the fourth season. In other words, it didn’t feel cheap with the only intention of shocking the audience.

The are a few cringe-worthy parts, but honestly when watching ‘House of Cards’ it might be time to just expect these over-the-top plot developments to just be part of the story moving forward. Looking back at the first two seasons, there are actually plenty of these moments, but the remainder of story is wound together so strong that they’re forgivable. The third season lost this magic a bit, but season four seems to have enough muscle to make these ridiculous ideas perhaps just a bit more believable.

The standout performance once again comes from Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), who delivers time and time again a near perfect portrayal of a First Lady who doesn’t want to be strictly beholden to the shadow of her husband. Claire Underwood is one of the most powerful television characters of the past decade, and season four continues to develop one of our favorite characters.

Now what about the sins from the past? Without saying too much, it’s clear that Netflix is well aware of Frank’s previous transgressions, but as for resolution? Viewers might not get the closure they’re looking for. But what fun would that be, right?

Netflix has renewed ‘House of Cards’ for a fifth season already, and we’re sure the streaming service wants to carry over some of the stories they’re currently working on developing this season. In other words, while the ‘House of Cards’ story progresses nicely, the fourth season doesn’t offer a lot of answers.