House of Cards Season 5 – Review and Insights [Spoilers Within!]

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: the House of Cards theme by Jeff Beal… duh)

TL;DR – If you are wavering on watching this season, watch it. It’s worth it.

Okay, so I have to write some minimum amount of sentences so that when this shows up on Facebook it won’t be spoiling anything. I apparently already accidentally spoiled some stuff for a roommate of mine by sending a snapchat, so I don’t want to be that person again.

So, how’s everyone’s day? We having a good time? If you’re having a shitty time, tell me so in the comments. I’d like to commiserate. Although, if I’m being honest with myself, my mood and quality of day shifts rapidly depending on how the people in my life are generally doing.

I think that should be enough, so let’s go on to the review.

HOLY SHIT.

House of Cards has always been a polarizing show for me because of a variety of factors. On the pros side, it’s extremely well written and acted, usually pretty gripping, and it gives me a lot of good insights into how the U.S. government works. On the cons side, the people in it are evil – I mean seriously evil, like Breaking Bad evil, and that hurts my soul to watch – and the episodes are super long, which makes it hard for me to get all the way through them, even though they waste no time.

And my other issue with House of Cards mostly occurred in Season 3 – in fact, after Season 3 I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch anymore. Season 3 was kind of a setup season for me – a lot of things happen I don’t remember, and all I came out of it thinking was, Are Claire and Francis going to go to war with each other?

After the rapid onset of Seasons 1 and 2 and the eventual crowning of Frank as the President, I hoped for a lot more than some stupid Russia scandal in Season 3. And, while Season 4 was pretty damn good and ratcheted up the tension a lot, it wasn’t really until the final episodes that I felt something was happening in a less-than-glacial sense. Plus, it seemed like Claire reeled back from her ideas of splitting up with Frank, and that made me sad – because, let’s be honest, folks, an Underwood war is what we really want.

Well, we’re gonna get it now.

Season 5 was possibly my favorite season of the show, or at least it tied with Season 2. We feel the pressure coming in on Frank early as the paper trail finally starts getting followed all the way through, and nothing is more satisfying than watching his misdeeds unravelling in front of him. And, let’s be honest – he does a good job of keeping himself from getting impeached for a long while.

But dude, the sheer amount of Trump analogies has taught me that we’re all super lucky Trump is an idiot. (Oops, I said it – apologies for the negative covfefe.) The way Francis bullies his way into silencing most of the people who would speak out against him – it really had me convinced that he wanted to keep the presidency.

AND THEN HE DIDN’T?!???!?!??!?!?!?111111

Single best reveal in the entire show, hands down. It now makes so much sense – how he prodded in just the wrong way to get Walker to testify against him, how he goaded Romero into continuing his blind assault against the presidency. And how he never told Claire anything, leading up to her choosing to shove him out by not pardoning him. Wow.

And now, of course, it means that there will in fact be an Underwood war – or, at least that’s what it seems to be. Who knows if there’ll be another random cooldown like there was after Season 3.

High point of the season for me was definitely Mark Usher and Angela Davis. Those two were like the ruthless parents of a ruthless couple, continually working both with them and against them, always playing the field with expertise. In fact, Usher might be my favorite character on the show besides Doug “Loose Cannon” Stamper, whom I’m very excited about in the sixth season – but more on that below.

All in all, if you were fading out of the show and teetering on whether or not you want to watch Season 5, I’d highly suggest you do so. A lot of the things I was waiting to pay off for four seasons, absolutely paid off here. And what about that moment where Claire finally addresses the audience?! Seriously, how is the writing so good in this show?

Anyway, that’s it for the review. Now for my insights for next season:

First off, I’m so stoked that Doug Stamper has been pushed out. He’s been teetering on the brink of collapse this entire time, and now that he can’t really work for Frank anymore (or at least not in the same way), I think he’s going to get up to some crazy shit. When all you have is loyalty to a man or a regime, and that regime comes crumbling down, you will absolutely go ape shit – I’m getting some hella Cersei Lannister vibes from this guy, and I want to see what happens to him.

Now, let’s talk about Cathy Durant. This poor lady. I’m not quite sure why Frank pushed her down the stairs – perhaps he needed her testimony to be pushed off a week or so until he could successfully resign himself – but I’m positive she’ll be coming back with a vengeance in Season 6. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she helped certain disgraced characters take down the Underwoods as a pair and bring them both to prison (well, if they don’t kill each other first).

And Claire. What do I even begin to say about Claire? You know, honestly, my feelings for her have always teetered back and forth – sometimes I find myself pitying her, because she’s shown over and over again that she has some semblance of a conscience, whereas her husband does not. But then she goes and kills her lover in the most intense goddamn way possible, and I’m saying to myself, what the fuck is going on in this woman’s head?

I think the end of this season has shown that Claire is finally receding down from the penultimate level of evil – just a moral step above Frank – to the final, darkest level. And, of course, that will now make them the perfect opponents for one another.

If I were to guess, I would say that Frank and Doug work to try to put Claire out of office, racing against the inevitable case mounting against them, and just when they’ve been put away, Cathy Durant and all the other characters who’ve not been killed yet (RIP LeAnn) come together to impeach and take down Claire. But hey, I couldn’t guess the end of most of my favorite series, so I guess we’ll see, right?

Either way, Orange is the New Black comes out in a week, so this will be a pretty good month for TV.

(Side note, can you call it TV if it’s now pretty much only on your laptop? Hmmmm…….)

Yours, hoping – and not believing – that real politics aren’t this evil,

-R.R. Buck

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