Spoilers inbound for House of Cards seasons 1-4.
Airing later in the year than usual, Netflix’s political thriller House of Cards will return for a fifth season next month and speculation is everywhere for what the season holds for President Frank Underwood, First Lady Claire Underwood and their multitude of allies and opponents. Along with Orange is the New Black (you can read my thoughts about the upcoming fifth season here), House of Cards was Netflix’s first big original series and began its increasing domination of the television landscape. In recent years however the series has been pushed from the forefront despite keeping an exceptional level of quality to the point where the future of the show almost seems in jeopardy. So, what should happen in the upcoming fifth season and should it be the end of the show? Here are my thoughts:
Until the very final moment of the fourth season of the show I had never leaped off the sofa while making a primal – and fairly off-putting – gasp/grunt in shear excitement and surprise before. Claire looking directly at the camera is such a great moment and implies Claire will now break the fourth wall just like Frank and deliver some amazing Shakespearian monologues. It is the perfect time to introduce this element now that Claire is entering the political arena herself with her nomination of Vice President and she is becoming just as dastardly as Frank, or maybe even more so. Will Claire and Frank deliver shared monologues or will they be behind each other’s backs? I can’t wait to find out.
A good Doug storyline
I love Doug. He may be a murderer and just an all-round creep but I just can’t help but like the guy. Frank’s Chief of Staff/personal attack dog had an interesting fourth season with his dedication to Frank going to new limits with him offering his liver – which was rejected – and later his attraction to the widow of the man Doug essentially killed to bump the President up the organ waiting list. I liked these plot points but it didn’t feel like a cohesive overarching narrative like his previous storyline which focused around his relationship with Rachel Posner which culminated in those breath-taking scenes in the season 3 finale. I don’t want Doug to simply be a part of the Underwood’s narrative, I want him to be involved with them of course but he deserves his own compelling storyline too.
A big death
To be honest the main thing I want from season 5 is just good old political intrigue but that wouldn’t make for a very good sub-heading. While a simple turn of the head at the end of last season brought forth a big reaction so too did Zoe’s death at the hands of Frank (with a little help from a train) in the season 2 opener. I don’t want the show to forget about the thriller ideals from the first couple of seasons which the third season (and fourth to a lesser extent) distanced itself from.
End of the election storyline
Three seasons is more than long enough to stretch out the election storyline. I think most people, including myself, are fed up of hearing about US elections and Claire entering as a Vice Presidential nominee – which was one of my favourite things of season 4 – felt like the final piece being put into place before the endgame. Will the Underwood’s beat Conway? Probably, but it would be interesting to see Frank brought down to a lesser governmental position and have to work his way back up in future seasons. Well, that’s if there are future seasons…
The end? The house collapses?
While I’m not campaigning for the fifth season to also be the final season of the show I can see the benefits for such a decision. The series is expensive and it’s hardly the most talked about Netflix Original anymore. The actors are also big names in both TV and film from lead Kevin Spacey to a supporting actor like Mahershala Ali who just won the best supporting acting Academy Award for Moonlight. The actors might not want to film thirteen hours of content every single year while missing out on other opportunities and the creator of the show and showrunner left after the fourth season to tackle the real political scene. One, if not all, of these issues probably led to the delay of this fifth season and could affect the future of the show. I like shows that quit while they are ahead and don’t run and run until the quality declines dramatically; I like the conclusion of shows to be a creative decision not down to a studio who will run the series dry until it dies from lack of quality and viewership. I don’t know if I want to see a triumphant ending for the Underwood’s or an Ozymandias style ending with Frank’s legacy becoming nothing but dust. Maybe Frank could die and the show could continue focusing on Claire who would become President if they win the election prior to his death. Bear in mind this is just pure speculation and the show could run for another 10 years and continue to be amazing but all of my anxiety towards the future of the series comes from a good place. Whatever the outcome I can’t wait to dig into season 5 when it debuts May 30th.
What do you want to see in the fifth season of House of Cards? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV on Twitter @kylebrrtt.