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House of Cards: An ill-fated finale

House of Cards was one of Netflix’ earliest shows which helped put the streaming giant on the map. The story centres on the underbelly of American politics, putting us in the headspace of Frank Underwood as he pursues his Shakespearean ascent to power. Over the course of its run, it consistently drew on a steady number of loyal viewers and an overwhelmingly positive reception from the critics.

Yet, like a house of cards, all of this came to a quick and utter collapse when its lead actor Kevin Spacey became embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal, coming off the coattails of the #metoo movement that took Hollywood by storm. Sadly, his departure had an inevitable and ultimately fatal effect on the show itself.

Needless to say, the entire season suffers from this, though we can hardly blame them as the writing team had to work with the tools they had. Spacey’s departure forced the writers to come up with a way reason to write him off the show. They did it by killing off his character offscreen. Though necessary, given the circumstances, it ultimately killed the momentum that the entire show was building towards.

Let it be made clear, the performances remained strong with the final season. The standout performance was, of course, that of Robin Wright in her role as President Claire Hale-Underwood. This season, she inevitably took the spotlight as she tumbled down the rabbit hole of her own, dealing with the fallout of the previous seasons and the legacy of Frank Underwood on her life. However, poor writing and uneven pacing inevitably bog down an otherwise great performance.

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