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TV Review: House of Cards - The Final Season

House of Cards TV Review, House of Cards, TV Review, Robin Wright, Kevin Spacey, Diane Lane, Greg Kinnear, Drama, Thriller, Netflix

SYNOPSIS:  After the death of her husband, President Claire Underwood must navigate threats from all sides including within her own administration. As the crimes of her husband come to a head, Underwood grasps her own legacy by the throat and shows the world who is in charge. The sixth and final season of House of Cards brings the saga of the Underwoods to a suspenseful and shocking close.

House of Cards TV Review, House of Cards, TV Review, Robin Wright, Kevin Spacey, Diane Lane, Greg Kinnear, Drama, Thriller, Netflix

REVIEW: After allegations were levied against Kevin Spacey led to his firing from House of Cards, it became very clear that the final season was going to have the near impossible task of finishing a story without it's main character. For the shortened, final season of House of Cards, Spacey's character looms over the story like a ghost and you can almost see exactly where the writers were headed had he remained a part of the cast. The resulting story, refocused on Robin Wright's Claire Underwood, is still just as enjoyable as previous seasons of the series but cannot escape the ominous aura of what could have been. With the tumultuous events of the last five seasons all coming to a head, House of Cards has a lot of loose ends to tie up but instead opts for a partial reboot of the story that introduces multiple new characters. In the end, there is a lot of good in the final run of House of Cards but it just isn't enough to stick the landing.

As you may have garnered from the trailers released thus far, former President Frank Underwood is dead. New showrunners Frank Pugliese and Melissa James Gibson don't shy away from the character even if the show strategically avoids showing anything that would visually remind the viewer of Kevin Spacey. Frank Underwood remains a supporting character this season even if his role has been supplanted by Annette and Bill Shepherd. Played by Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear, the Shepherds are a wealthy family who have a deep connection to the Underwoods, especially Claire. While we do get more background on Claire than ever before, Lane and Kinnear serve as surrogate roadblocks for what Spacey would have likely been had he remained in the cast. Both actors have resumes that preceed them and they are great here, but no one seems to be able to reach the heights of Spacey's performance.

Without giving away any of the twists and turns of this season's plot, I can say that there is a time jump between Season 5 and the final premiere episode which was just enough time to explain away the death of Frank Underwood. Much like the recent Roseanne spin-off, The Conners, the missing lead character is noticeable. At first, I thought they were going to completely wipe him from the narrative as the first episode has a very blatant "fuck you" moment directed at both Frank and Spacey himself. Had the series stuck with that mentality, it may have been easier to disassociate this season from what came before. Instead, the characters move forward and deal with the fallout of what the Underwoods have wrought. Claire Underwood is far from innocent herself and we see that she is just as capable of putting her own machinations together for her own survival. If this season accomplishes anything, it is that this show could have worked from the very beginning if Wright had been the star.

The cold and distant character of Claire Underwood has undergone many changes since the debut of House of Cards but having her take over the fourth wall-breaking narration gives us much more insight into her relationship with Frank. Unfortunately, it feels like everything we came to know about this couple is being undone in an effort to distance Claire from Frank and the series from Kevin Spacey. While the Underwoods tended to be at odds with each other through the series, there was a bond that kept them together no matter how bad things got. Now, with Frank gone, the writers have decided to make that bond seem as breakable as any of those this couple has stepped over to reach the Presidency. Again, I understand why they went in this direction, but it still feels forced and not authentic in the least.

House of Cards TV Review, House of Cards, TV Review, Robin Wright, Kevin Spacey, Diane Lane, Greg Kinnear, Drama, Thriller, Netflix

Luckily, the show still has the great Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper who may or may not be as dedicated to Claire Underwood as he was to her late husband. Kelly's cold and calculated presence has been explained over the last five seasons and yet he feels as vital to the story this season as ever. We also get the return of Derek Cecil, Campbell Scott, Patricia Clarkson, Lars Mikkelsen, and Boris McGiver who all act like chess pieces positioned strategically for Claire Underwood's master plan. The other new cast addition is Cody Fern (American Horror Story: Apocalypse) who is quickly proving to be one of the most talented young actors working today.

House of Cards comes into it's final season with a strong story and great cast, as always. The problem here remains that the series feels like it is trying to wrap things up after the point of no return. While there was no chance of Kevin Spacey returning, the writers have instead crafted a farewell to the characters that nobody cared about. We watched House of Cards to see Spacey's Frank Underwood destroy every obstacle in his path. Now that he is gone, why should we really care? It is a shame because Robin Wright is so damn good at playing this character that I really wish they had found a better way to showcase her talents. House of Cards was a great show that turned into a good one. This final season is good but could have been great.

The final season of House of Cards premieres November 2nd on Netflix.

Source: JoBlo.com

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