Did you happen to watch any of House of Cards, season three, while it was available for a little while? Netflix leaked ten of the season's episodes the afternoon of Wednesday, February 11, more than two weeks before their planned debut Friday, February 27. There will be 13 episodes in the season as a whole.
We'll keep this spoiler-free, but the first episode (which we've seen) introduces some interesting new conflicts for Frank, features some people you might not have expected to see, and continues to prove that Claire is the show's best character.
The biggest complaint leveled against the show has always been that Frank too easily wins every battle he enters, and this season sets up some struggles that hopefully will tax him a bit more strenuously, as the entire United States finally has its eye on what he's doing.
Also, Frank, newly president, goes on The Colbert Report, which still exists in the House of Cards universe. Series showrunner Beau Willimon told me last summer how much he enjoyed Colbert's performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner and how he and his writers look to it every season.
What Stephen Colbert did in turning to a sitting president of the United States and challenging him with hard-hitting comedy was not only deeply funny but also deeply uncomfortable and extraordinarily brave. It is always an incredibly powerful and electric thing to take a president to task for real. On Between Two Ferns [when Obama appeared on Zack Galifianakis's faux talk show], everyone’s in on the joke, but in that situation, the president wasn’t. So it was as much a form of protest and rebellion as it was entertainment. At the beginning of each season, one of the first things we do in the writers’ room is watch that bit to get us in game mode and "Eye Of The Tiger" mode, because it’s that sort of full-on assault and dedication to honesty, which we want to emulate in every line that we write.
We were also able to grab the plot summaries for the first 10 episodes of season three. They don't give away much — except for this season's focus on foreign policy and Russia — but if you want to avoid all spoilers, you should probably stop reading.
All episode summaries are verbatim from Netflix's descriptions.
Episode one: A rocky start for the Underwood presidency. Frank wants to introduce an ambitious jobs program, while Claire sets her sights on the United Nations.
Episode two: Claire’ s UN bid runs into trouble. Frank fights off mutiny with a bold address to the country.
Episode three: The Russian President’s state visit becomes a Cold War of wills and some punks heat things up.
Episode four: Claire bypasses Russia at the UN. Frank tries to outmaneuver a potential challenger and ends up face to face with a higher power.
Episode five: Frank declares war on Congress to jumpstart his jobs program. Claire spars with the Russian ambassador.
Episode six: Frank and Claire travel to Moscow to negotiate the return of an imprisoned US citizen. Claire takes a stand that jeopardizes their plans.
Episode seven: The damage is done, and the Underwoods must repair it, but deep wounds don’t heal fast and sometimes not at all.
Episode eight: A hurricane endangers more than just the entire East Coast, and Frank must make a difficult choice.
Episode nine: The Jordan Valley erupts in chaos just as Frank’s campaign is picking up steam. Claire gets disturbing intel and counsels him.
Episode 10: Frank needs to deal with Petrov one on one, while Claire tries to preserve the peacekeeping mission. Sacrifices must be made.
Our guess: the Underwoods' marriage is put through the wringer, right as Frank is tangling with his most powerful foe in Russian president Petrov. And also there's a hurricane, which should make for a good episode where everybody's stuck in the White House.