What happens when an Emmy winning show loses their main character before their final season? After Netflix cut ties with Kevin Spacey, questions were asked about the streaming company’s ability to continue one of their flagship programs, but House of Cards remains a show well worth watching
House of Cards’ sixth and final season handles the departure of its main protagonist with admirable delicacy and poise, with Robin Wright as Claire Underwood thriving on screen finally as the woman-in-charge. The writing is beautiful, especially considering the creative hurdles that would have had to be battled after the news of Spacey’s dismissal from the production – and the actors perform brilliantly in his absensce.
Altogether, this is a radically new season, with Claire promising us that our interactions with her are going to be different, that she will give us the “truth.” Nothing is (ostensibly) swept under the rug: each character is given time and space to negotiate their personal grief, even the viewer. In her first Independence Day speech, Claire breaks the fourth wall to ask us directly: “Are you still there? Do you miss Francis?”, before advising both us and her in-show audience to “sever the relationship,” and instead advocating for a life “free from an oppressive king.” Nevertheless, Frank is almost still as much a character as before, his ghostly presence continuing to affect Claire and the events unfolding around her.
This new producti on could almost be read entirely as an extended metaphor for the revolutionary processes going on in Hollywood and US politics since #MeToo, if it weren’t for the fact that it is just too convincing a piece of art in its own right. The soundtrack is incredible – especially in the tenser dialogical scenes, where an almost unhinged, chromatic melody somehow sculpts itself into a fluid narrative, a perfect analogy for the events of the show itself. House of Cards has been at the centre of many historic moments in television over the past six years, and these last eight episodes are a deserving and compelling ending to this epic.