House of Cards Season Five Finale Recap & Review

So…Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) planned it all. From the beginning. Orchestrating his own downfall so that he can control it. A controlled burn.


If it seems ludicrous and farfetched, that’s because it is. It doesn’t hold up to scrutiny and makes the show look like an absurd caricature of corrupt government (I mean, more so than it always has been).

But screw it. Things are changing in this fictional White House, and that is more than can be said about it during the rest of the season. Some are asked to resign—Press Secretary Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) and Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly). Others, like Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) shift upward. For the time being.

This changing of the guard is bittersweet, but it doesn’t feel final by any means. In or out of the Oval, the show cannot rightfully continue without the likes of Doug Stamper. That absence would cause holes much bigger than the holes this season has suffered from with the notable absences of Remy Danton (Mahershala Ali) and Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker).

In terms of the omelet-eggs analogy, however, the casualties aren’t particularly high. The season five finale largely plays quiet, which isn’t a bad thing. Of course, there is the unfortunate collateral damage of Leann Harvey and the one-time presidential personal trainer. And there’s the clear lack of a pardon from new President Claire Underwood (Robin Wright).

Otherwise, the season finale is rather lacking in overt tension. It sets the stage for a new chapter in the series, but it does so after a season that was lax on the salacious narratives. The two episodes leading up to this finale built up momentum, setting the stage for a powerful shift that ended up being less powerful than one might have hoped.

Was the season five finale all that it was cracked up to be? Not quite. Does it adequately set the stage for a season six? Absolutely. Could season five have been a kick-ass final season of the show? Well, obviously.

Instead, you know, it was kind of good.


As always, thanks for reading!

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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)


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