“House of Cards” (Final Season)–A Different Shuffle

House of Cards Season 6

In the earlier five seasons of House of Cards, Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) represented the Machiavellian Chief Whip then Vice President, and then President. As he manipulated his fellow party colleagues, foreign prime ministers (principally Russia), we witnessed the dark truths of American politics by a despotic megalomaniac.

Now, in Season 6, Frank Underwood is dead, but we don’t know how.  His widow, Claire Underwood (the phenomenal Robin Wright) is President and has inherited her dead husband’s enemies.

Dealing with the aftermath of her husband’s death, and declaring that “the reign of the middle-aged white man is over”, Claire clashes with corporate moguls, the Russian prime minister, and her own vice president.

Trying to forge her own path as President, Claire takes no prisoners and feels no regret. But Claire’s late husband still casts a long shadow. “Frank’s legacy” is the cornerstone of the series finale.

House of Cards Season 6

The powerful ending of this season of House of Cards is dramatically sharpened and has an even darker theme: gender issues and patriarchy infused with a stench of misogyny. Claire’s dark secrets venomously boil over, ratcheting towards an ignominious confrontation with Doug Stamper, Frank Underwood’s obsessively devoted acolyte who cannot forgive Claire for what he imagines she is doing to Frank’s legacy.

Overlaid with the backlash of the first female President, we see Claire have to disassociate from her husband’s despicable acts. Nevertheless, her political enemies delight in accusing her of being guilty of Frank’s sins.

Frank’s reach is beyond the grave. As Claire’s enemies come close to impeaching her, Claire does what she and Frank did the last time they got close to defeat: she manufactures a crisis. Claiming that terrorists are attempting to acquire a nuclear bomb, she creates a military standoff between U.S. and Russian troops in Syria.

It’s the thunderous theme of House of Cards: Power is fragile– and we watch as the powerful can be brought tumbling down by the smallest misstep. Claire’s own reign is ultimately doomed to fail, playing a near-impossible game, but as we watch we don’t know how or when.

House of Cards in its final season ends on a dramatically different, more ambiguous and amoral note, than any of its previous seasons or its BBC predecessor. What Frank and Claire did may not really be out of the ordinary. House of Cards is more about the undetected, malignant form of insatiable power: more difficult to expose and defeat.

Totally unexpected, this season of House of Cards is a different and more frightening look at unhinged power. Robin Wright is a marvel to behold!

 

Note:  I have reviewed Seasons 1-4 previously.

 

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3 Replies to “ “House of Cards” (Final Season)–A Different Shuffle”

  1. I stopped watching House of Cards in its 3rd season. I just couldn’t watch President Underwood do what he continued to do with such contempt for others. The other part that I couldn’t understand was the relationship between the President and his wife – was she really as ambitious as he?
    When Kevin Spacey was ousted from the show, I decided to, at least, watch this last season. Claire Underwood as president was just as complicated, complex and controlling as her late husband who loomed darkly over every move she made.
    All in all, I found the last season very satisfying, even with the creepy ending (I thought it was a little creepy, anyway.)
    P.S. Diane Lane was a character I haven’t seen her be before – excellent acting.
    And I loved the theme of women in power.

    1. I too loved to see the dynamics of powerful women in this series, even though their characters prove most sinister. Another series which follows a similar tack is Ozark. Dark, dark, dark, but full of intelligent intrigue and strange adherence to certain values (such as loyalty to family and not getting too greedy or full of oneself) that keep us rooting for otherwise amoral, unsavory characters. Fascinating storytelling!

  2. I just finished watching the final season last night, and I have to say, the show never moves toward the predictable (well, other than Claire manages to cease the upper hand in any situation). That being said, the final scene stunned me.

    Robin Wright plays Claire brilliantly, and what a host of stellar supporting actors! Unfortunately, it seems some of the themes hit frighteningly close to home in our increasingly digital and divided society.