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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

House of Cards Season 6: Best series with worst finale

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In the wake of the sexual assault allegations that came to light about Kevin Spacey late last year, Netflix had no choice but to fire the actor with haste. But with that decision, Netflix had to decide whether or not to renew the series at all or cancel it altogether. And while it chose to do the latter, after viewing the final eight episodes of the series, I really wish that it had left House of Cards alone.

To its credit, the series doesn’t suffer from the absence of Spacey, while his performances in the show have remained magnetic, the past seasons’ sloppy writing had long ago killed the charm of his character and the series. Instead of giving Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) the spotlight works wonderfully for the series, at least initially.

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Her character has remained bone chillingly sharp throughout the past seasons and even when Francis cracked, Claire remained strong. With Season 5 firmly establishing that Claire could break through the fourth wall, she had already assumed a bigger role even before the MeToo movement affected House of Cards’ sixth run.

Now we finally got to see that in full effect and Wright playing the lead felt particularly seamless. She has more than enough appeal to carry on the show and with the previous seasons laying out the groundwork of Claire as a cold and calculating individual, all House of Cards had to do was get inside the mind of the character.

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Unfortunately for the show, and fans of Claire, the series ultimately disregards giving her a proper story in favor of having her deal with the mess that Francis’s death left her and what his legacy is. Both of these would have been great arcs for a final season about Francis’s “secret weapon” Claire but because the series chooses to make itself entirely about Francis, its finale becomes one of the worst endings of any popular show in recent years.

In its final season, it’s fitting that the series chose to ponder on what would be the legacy of its characters. From Claire and Francis to her adversaries, the Shepards, House of Cards season 6 was all about the future but in doing so the series chose to forego the actual plot of the show: Will the world at large ever discover who the Underwoods truly are? It’s difficult to discuss the series without delving into spoilers but let’s just say that it’s extremely unfortunate that the show shifts from a somewhat engaging battle of the wits between Claire and the Shepards to a pathetic storyline about her and Doug.

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Season 6’s biggest mistake is introducing new antagonists this season, The Shepards, who seem far too powerful to have never been mentioned before once. The fact that these new characters have been present all this time in the lives of Francis and Claire comes across as really bad writing and what’s worse is that the show chooses to use them to threaten Claire instead of an established threat like journalists Tom and Janine who have been building a case against the Underwoods for years. The show’s careless disregard for the pivotal characters in the show and the overall story of the series itself makes for a disappointing culmination to an uneven series.