Tuesday, 22 May 2018

House of Cards, Season 5 (2017)

The House of Cards finally comes crashing down in its fifth season.

It would certainly be fair to say that the show has had structural wobbles before this, but up until now they've managed to shuffle the deck fast enough to more or less make up for it.  Unfortunately, even the quickest hands will fumble eventually, and they certainly do so here.

The basic plot arcs they season covers sound reasonable in and of themselves: the resolution of an increasingly acrimonious presidential election, and then the challenge Frank Underwood faces as it becomes increasingly clear that he cannot cover up his many nefarious activities forever. 

Instead, the problem is the pacing.  The election arc goes on way beyond the point that I just wanted it to be over (also true of real US elections, and I don't even live there!), while the latter plotline is abbreviated by its late start and therefore gallops along at breakneck speed, crashing through several major interpersonal relationship changes in the process.  It all ultimately makes for an unsatisfying watching experience, even while the on-screen performances continue to be good.

Netflix have announced one more season of the show to wrap it up.  Season six will be shorter, at only eight episodes; and entirely it eliminates Frank, to focus on his wife Claire (Robin Wright).  Honestly, these changes are the only reason I am at all interested in checking out the final season: the previous structure of the show seems pretty much exhausted at this point, and I doubt I would bother checking out another season of Frank's antics.

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