The latest season of Netflix's House of Cards debuted on May 30th, which is late from its usual February time. The season can be summarized as: President Underwood is gone, all hail President Underwood!
Near the end of season 4 President Frank Underwood and his team used various machinations to secure the vice-presidential nomination for his wife Claire. They then began their joint campaign against the Republican, Governor Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman of Suicide Squad and the crappy Robocop reboot).
Season 5's first 9 episodes are about the conclusion of the 2016 election. When it's clear he's going to lose, Frank and Claire stage terrorist attacks that prevent Ohio and Tennessee from certifying their elections. The vote then goes to the House for president, but it's not just a straight vote. Instead, each state's representative's need a consensus and then the state blocs each vote, meaning that to win you need 26 states to vote for you. The Senate meanwhile votes for the vice-president, choosing Claire Underwood, who then becomes temporary president.
Meanwhile, Conway is cracking badly, throwing a tantrum in a airplane cockpit that's recorded. When the House kicks the election back to Ohio, Conway loses and finally Frank is reelected. But there's not much time for him to do anything because all the shit he's been up to since Season 1 is being investigated by Congress and impeachment hangs in the air--much like real life!
So the remaining 4 episodes are about the wolves closing in on Frank and Claire. To try to throw their pursuers off they undertake one extreme gambit after another. Frank pushes his Secretary of State down the stairs to prevent her from testifying. (Is she still alive? Maybe. They don't really go into that.) He then has his loyal aide Doug Stamper confess to murdering a reporter, a crime Frank actually committed. Meanwhile, Claire poisons a writer she was sleeping with because he was going to publish a book on the Underwoods. And they have a former campaign manager (Neve Campbell) murdered as well.
And at the end of it, Frank goes to Congress and says he's going to resign. So then Claire becomes president and after a gas attack in Syria sends troops in there. The question remains whether she will pardon her husband and Doug Stamper or not.
I was really interested in finding out who would win the election, but after that my interest in the season began to wane. I'm a little dismayed by what happened in the last episode. It might sound sexist but I'm really not happy about Claire taking over the show. It was supposed to be about Francis, not Claire. To sound like a whiny comic book fan, if you go to the source material, Francis's wife doesn't even have any lines in the British novel by Michael Dobbs. And when Claire does Frank's thing of breaking the fourth wall it really irritates me. It's stealing his gimmick. It'd be like if in Deadpool 2 all of the sudden his girlfriend Vanessa starts talking to the camera. That's his thing, not yours!
To sound like a conspiracy theorist, this is what the showrunners wanted to happen since Season 2. The first season they kept her busy with a bullshit foundation. In Season 2 they had to throw a rape and abortion scandal in to give her something to do. Once Frank became president they had to engineer for her to be UN ambassador to have her character be relevant. Because Robin Wright won an Emmy and probably got a big pay raise they've been trying to keep her character relevant in each season and what better way to do that than make her the star of the show? It just doesn't work for me. She's evil but she's more of a wishy-washy evil than Frank. It's just not the same.
Last season I wasn't really happy about Claire being the VP in the first place. It's something that would never happen in the real world. Not even Trump is stupid enough to nominate Ivanka for VP. So then having her not only become VP but then President just amps it all up a few notches.
If they were just going to blow the core concept of the show up, why didn't they just have Conway win? Honestly if they wanted to make the whole series about Claire and sideline Frank they could have just killed him in Season 4 when he was suffering from liver failure. Or he could have stepped down and Claire could have run for president and been elected. That at least would have made it a little more sensible.
Season 1 is still one of my favorite seasons of a series ever but the following seasons haven't been quite as good. And now with Frank sidelined and Claire in charge, I'm not sure how much longer this can really continue.