Crime| Political Drama| 6 Seasons| 43-59m
Created By: Beau Willimon
Directed By: Alik Sakharov
Starring: Robin Wright
After months of anticipation and practically no promotion from Netflix, House of Cards’ final season premiered to very little buzz. In fact, my Twitter followers who would once flood my timeline with House of Cards tweets from the moment a new season dropped, were as unaware and disinterested as parties who had never heard of the series. That confirms what many of us already suspected, this series is as dead as the lead it killed off. Regardless, everyone here is giving it their best efforts and I think we should take the time to applaud them for that. They were dealt a difficult hand and they played it to the best of their ability.
We are all well aware of Kevin Spacey’s fall from grace. The actor disappeared from the limelight after the world discovered some truly despicable behavior from his past, and Netflix felt it best to sever ties with their once beloved champion. Since this move would surely tank the series and cost thousands of people their jobs, Robin Wright and her cohorts devised a plan to keep the lights on: they would kill off Spacey’s once iconic Frank Underwood and leave his partner in political crime, Claire Underwood, to take over as the sole lead.
While this plan was definitely risky, its not like the idea of Claire leading the nation had not crossed our minds before. In fact, the writers had already gotten the ball rolling on that story line long before Spacey’s dismissal, because in all honesty, the idea of a sinister female president was just too juicy to ignore. However, with all her talent and amazing, blue presidential ensembles, Wright could not save this hack job of a season, but damn if she isn’t trying. She is a force to be reckoned with as she and the rest of the talented cast (which now consists of Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear) try to (semi-successfully) bumble their way through this heavy handed ad for feminism and death of the patriarchy.
Although I don’t care for the season as a whole, I felt that the first episode was strong, and encapsulates everything that this series could’ve been. There are so many elements to dissect and I’m resentful of the fact that Robin Wright wasn’t allowed to do more with her character sooner. One can’t help but be irritated that she had to make due with the mess that was inherited from her predecessor.
This episode does a great job of paralleling our reality. From the moment it begins, it does its best to ignore Spacey’s existence all together. It is revealed outright, although under vague circumstances, that Frank is dead (much like Spacey’s career) yet he is the constant topic of conversation. Claire is constantly receiving death threats because people don’t think she is worthy of ruling the the historically male-led nation, much like fans who didn’t think Wright was worthy of filling her predecessor’s shoes. Additionally, Claire is always breaking the fourth wall to ask the audience if we miss Francis (which is the most on the nose).
There are many standout moments, but my favorite part about this episode is definitely the final scene. Claire enters Frank’s bedroom and on the bed she finds the ring he was always wearing whenever he would bang his knuckles on the table after a victory. She places the ring on her middle finger, and proceeds to flip off the audience. Basically saying, I’m running the show now and F. U. (see what I did there?) if you don’t like it.
Scene after scene we were given winks and side-eyed glances of cleverness that sadly didn’t trickle throughout the entire season, but were presented in this episode in spades. Although they shut Spacey out of the series (and rightfully so), the elephant in the room is just too great to ignore. It looms over whatever thrown together story line they are trying to peddle us, which is ironic for two reasons: this is a show about scheming politicians and Frank Underwood was a democrat. As grandiose as some moments are, I just couldn’t put aside the fact that I no longer cared about this series. It had overstayed its welcome and although this is fiction, I just don’t think our current climate has a place for a show about evil politicians. Its just too close to reality for comfort.