The Review: House of Cards Season 5

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House of Cards has hit its dark, moody persona with some extra grace in Season 5.

After being a long time fan of House of Cards, I was a little disappointed with Season 4. It felt a little disjointed. The potential break up of the two most powerful characters, Claire and Frank Underwood, was just forgotten about half way through the series, before the tension ramped up to the ICO execution at the end of the season.

Season 4 ended with Will Conway, the New York Governor, beginning to compete with Frank Underwood for the Presidency. This continued in House of Cards Season 5. By the end of Season 4 he was working with (or for, depending on how you look at it) Frank to negotiate/manage a hostage situation. This ended badly, with one of the hostages being beheaded. This was probably the most engaging couple of episodes of the series. As a result, despite the dark content, the series ended on a high in an otherwise dull season.

Beheading on House of Cards
Silence after the beheading in House of Cards Season 4. Source: Netflix

However, House of Cards season 5 is much better.

The very first scene is explosive, with Kevin Spacey taking centre stage and bellowing his power from the get go. The battle between Frank and Will Conway, played by Joel Kinnaman, bubbles throughout the season, and every episode has a few twists and turns to make this binge-watching heaven.

I’m not ashamed to say that I got through it all in a day. It’s gritty, manipulative, clever, shocking and powerful.

Kevin Spacey is magnificent in his role as President. He’s brutal, and when he addresses the camera you’re compelled/forced to listen. Robin Wright is equally powerful as Claire Underwood and (spoiler) even has a turn at the Presidency for a short time.

There are also some wonderful comparisons to be made between the two potential First Ladies. Hannah Conway (Dominique McElligott) plays the perfect girl next door. Claire Underwood plays the powerful and independent woman.

Hannah Conway and Claire Underwood
There is an interesting comparison with Claire Underwood and Hannah Conway. Source: Netflix

My one slight complaint about House of Cards and Season 5 especially, is that it’s all a little too moody.

While this is a series very focussed on power and isn’t designed to make you laugh, it could do with a touch of humour to break things up. Tom Yates (Paul Sparks) really sums this up as a character. He spends his time on screen as a sad, dull and lifeless ‘friends with benefits’ persona for Claire Underwood. He’s now boring and was probably the best opportunity to add a little more humour to the show.

The big problem is though, that no matter how dark it gets and how many relatable plot-lines they have to the current political landscape, it is never going to be as engaging as what’s available in real life. There was and still is more drama, more controversy and more conflict in Donald Trump’s presidency than there is in Frank Underwood’s.

But House of Cards season 5 is still a fantastic, gripping watch. It’s one of Netflix’s best and I would definitely recommend getting through the entire series.

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