'House of Cards' Season 3 Premiere: Frank Faces Biggest Challenges Yet

President Underwood has 18 months to turn the country around.

To mark the debut of House of Cards season three, THR will be breaking down the biggest moments from each episode for the next 13 days.

[Warning: spoiler ahead for the House of Cards season-three premiere, "Chapter 27"]

The reign of President Underwood (Kevin Spacey) has begun, and it's off to a rocky start.

See more 'House of Cards': Frank Underwood's Most Ruthless Moments

The meat of House of Cards season three picks up six months after Frank maneuvered his way into office after orchestrating President Walker's (Michael Gill) resignation. He has 18 months to turn the country — and his approval rating around — before the election.

Frank's approval rating is abysmal, even worse than Walker's before resigning. And why wouldn't it be? He has inherited a White House rocked by scandal, without a single vote being cast for him.

In true House of Cards form, the series has already laid out some of the big obstacles Frank has on his plate:

The America Works program. Frank wants $500 billion to put 10 million people to work, and he plans on getting it by gutting entitlement programs like Medicaid. The program's goal is to reach full employment in two years. However, Frank's team is having some major problems figuring out how to do it, and President Underwood is not happy.

Claire's ambition to be a UN Ambassador. Claire isn't content to be in the passenger's seat any longer and wants to begin building a résumé that would allow her to seek higher office, especially if Frank loses in 2016 (which, let's face it, looks likely at this point).

The upcoming visit from the Russian president. Victor Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen), is coming to the U.S. to discuss Mideast peace with Frank. Petrov appears poised to be the season's big villain, as it's hinted that the movements of Russian troops are hampering peace talks.

Supreme Court trouble. Frank will face a Supreme Court confirmation battle at some point, but thanks to help from his frenemy (and new vp) Donald (Reed Birney), it may be delayed for a year.

Where's Rachel? Former call girl Rachel (Rachel Brosnahan) is missing after attacking a dog and could potentially connect Frank to Russo's (Cory Stoll) murder.

Speaking of which, the big surprise of the season wasn't a death, as in last season's premiere, but that Doug (Michael Kelly) is still alive. He's been out of commission for six months after the attack, and the audience is up to speed with Frank's first six months in office along with Doug.

Read more 'House of Cards' Creator on Season 3 Obstacles, Netflix Leak and Killing Characters

What's next? For starters, Frank has agreed to nominate Claire for the U.N. ambassadorship after showing her the type of decisions people in power must make. She watched as Frank ordered a strike on a terror leader, with the attack killing dozens of civilians (and likely children) — even after Claire said she still wanted the ambassadorship and Frank agreed. 

Email: Aaron.Couch@THR.com
Twitter: @AaronCouch