After a long and controversial production period, House of Cards finally returns to Netflix with its sixth and final season - with a notable absence.
Robin Wright continues to portray Claire Underwood’s tragic, manipulative, Lady Macbeth-esque character to perfection. However, her consistent quality doesn’t make up for the elephant in the room: Kevin Spacey. Spacey was of course fired from the series after sexual assault allegations came to light last year, forcing the production team to cut him from the show and rewrite the entire script without the presence of the infamous Frank Underwood. Whilst Spacey’s character and his misdeeds are often referred to by other characters, he is never seen or heard. Even a magazine reporting on Frank Underwood’s death deliberately cuts his face out of the image.
However, despite Spacey’s actions in real life leading to his firing, the absence of Frank is hard to ignore. His manipulative and power hungry grab at American politics alongside his wife was what made the series intriguing and a thought-provoking look at the continued oligarchical nature of the US Government. His absence is felt in every scene, making the show feel like a shadow of its former self. I believe that this would be same if Robin Wright had left instead of Spacey. It’s their partnership that made it worth watching.
This isn’t to say the new series isn’t good. It still has incredibly clever writing, complex characters and Shakespearean monologues. However, even this isn’t enough to save the final season of House of Cards, especially after the underwhelming final episode which ends on a very frustrating cliff-hanger. This is not the way House of Cards was supposed to go. This is not the momentous downfall of the Underwoods we wanted to see from Netflix’s very first original series.