Premiering Tuesday, the fifth season of House of Cards returns to its deliciously sinister glory after two average seasons.
The new season picks up with about two weeks left in the election. Superfans of the show will read this and feel a sense of fatigue as most of the last season was dominated by the election. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his vice presidential nominee, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) are hoping to seize the moment created by a trumped up (pardon the pun) terror campaign to help distract from Frank’s various scandals. Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman) is starting to snap due to the stress of the campaign and not even Republican Fixer (Campbell Scott) can calm him down. Hard as they try, they have to contend with the twisted Doug Stamper (Micheal Kelly) and the cold hearted LeAnn Harvey (Neve Campbell) as they sprint to the finish line of this highly contested election.
(Please note: That we’ve been asked by the Underwood Administration-aka Netflix, to be very careful about getting too deep into the narrative)
In the previous four seasons, audiences have been treated to glimpses of the brand of evil Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) could bring upon Washington. In the 5th season, we finally see Claire in all her evil glory.
Seeing Frank not necessarily in the driver seat of the storyline was a nice change. All the sins of Frank’s past, finally, are beginning to have ramifications.
Stamper and Harvey are reluctantly forced to work together on multiple occasions but the end result is dynamic chemistry.
Spacey and Wright have some of the juiciest monologues in this season that would make any actor jealous.
Based on the performances of this season alone, it would be easy to see Spacey, Wright, Kelly, and Campbell all be nominated for Emmy Awards for their respective performances.
Melissa James Gibson and Frank Pugliese take over for showrunner Beau Willimon. In the first two episodes of the new season, they manage to correct the half a season of boredom that was Season 4 with a scene that will no doubt be on Spacey’s Emmy reel.
What Doesn’t Work
(Once again, I will have to very careful in this category because as anyone who has watched the show realizes, The Underwoods are always watching.)
About half-way through the season, Patricia Clarkson is introduced as a character and I’m still not exactly sure what she adds to the show.
After sitting through 1/2 of last season and the first seven episodes of Season 5, I found myself wanting the election to end sooner rather than later.
While the end of the season was a tad bit absurd, it does set the next season up rather nicely.
As someone who has watched the series from its inception, the fifth season of House of Cards is the best show has been in quite some time. Spacey and Wright are just so much fun to watch. Some might make the argument that these days, art is imitating life. While there certainly are protests where “Not my President” is shouted in mass and perhaps Russia has a slight role in this season, overall that’s a bit of stretch. All I know is that people will be unanimously casting their vote to binge watch this season. The Underwoods wouldn’t have it any other way.