After five seasons, it’s high time the Underwoods’ crimes come home to roost.
This article contains potential spoilers for House of Cards, Seasons 1–5.
Netflix’s House of Cards is now in danger of overstaying its welcome. At five seasons, the story feels bloated, its characters stretched thin. Despite its largely depleted resources, however, there remain a few slender elements that could salvage the show. Though I rolled my eyes at the final episode’s open-ended conclusion, I’ll reluctantly concede that another season of House of Cards might restore some of the show’s bite.
With its muted color palette, finely crafted dialogue, and expert performances, House of Cards wears its prestige drama getup well, but that’s not enough. As the promising but lackluster Ozarkhas recently demonstrated, high production values don’t guarantee a story’s success, and House of Cards season 5 doesn’t quite convince us that what’s happening on its elaborate sets really matters.
The series has always struggled with one major challenge: How do you make a static character interesting? Francis (Frank) Underwood arrives onscreen as a fully-formed monster. From his callous killing of a wounded dog in the show’s opening scenes to his gleefully blasphemous antics in an empty sanctuary, we know immediately that Frank’s insatiable appetite for power is matched only by his ruthless ambition—that he’ll do anything to get what he wants. We may be horrified at the lengths to which he’ll go to secure his wishes, but we’re certainly not surprised.
Compare this to a show like Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad, where we witness a moral transformation that’s as plausible as it is horrifying. (Gilligan pursues a similar trajectory in the stunning …