"There are only 2 kinds of people.....Doormats and Matadors."
President Francis J Underwood in "House Of Cards".
On November 2, Netflix premiered "House Of Cards" the final season. With this Netflix will conclude its first major TV Show which launched the company into a production powerhouse. Viewers across the globe will be bidding adieu to one of TV's most intriguing and fascinating characters i.e., President Frank Underwood played by Kevin Spacey. Scarred by a sexual harassment charge, Spacey was let go by Netflix and the 6th season was rewritten with some additions to the cast.
This post is aimed at posing a few issues on how the show will shape up in the absence of its protagonist.
What will the 'House Of Cards' world look like in the absence of Frank Underwood?
This is possibly the biggest task for show runners and producers of the show. Can Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) be as ruthless, be as charismatic, be as ridiculously power obsessive as Frank? Over the 5 seasons Frank mushroomed from a senator to the US President purely by tact, charisma, opportunism and ruthless adherence to greed. In the show, Claire too evolved from being a wife of a senator who ran a "strategic non-profit outfit" to the United Nations Ambassador to the Vice President and now to the top spot (as suggested in the trailers for Season 6). Something to note is that Claire like Frank will dictate the tonality of the series. Claire was largely seen as an extension to Frank but gave him the breathing space to do his own given how unethical, immoral he was since the beginning of the show. But over the seasons Claire perfected some signature tactics of Frank. She learnt double crossing, cheating, murder, opportunism, lying and so on. But will she bring her own ‘method’ to the madness. Will she slow down on the brutality? (given the fact she murdered her lover in the last season) Will she think for the nation and not her own needs? What will she do to the Frank ‘henchmen/henchwomen’ who were effective sidekicks to all his misdeeds? They are Doug Stamper (played by Michael Kelly) and Mark Usher (Campbell Scott); Usher will be very crucial as he cleaned the murder site of Tom Yates, Claire’s lover. The other important issue will be the inclusion of actors Greg Kinnear and Diane Lane in the show. I see them as key players and the torch bearers of the new world under Claire. All these characters literally used to run the world for Frank so that he can fulfil his ambitions. It will be interesting to see if Claire (in the absence of Frank) creates something engaging for the viewers.
How much will Evil progress under the new administration?
Since the first season, where Frank throws journalist Zoe Barnes in front of a train, the endorsement of evil has been like a gradual progression. The murders become more gruesome and planned. The backstabbing has become so natural that they did it even to President Garrett Walker.The empathy vanishes, the state looks in absolute ruins but even then something keeps the ship intact. Be it the senseless murder of Tom Yates, or the killing of Le Ann Harvey, the last minute murder of Cathy Durant (Frank’s long time confidante) are some of the examples of how a grim incident ends the life of all their inner circle.
Till date only Doug Stamper has survived the wrath of the Underwood clan and that’s also purely because he has relentlessly crossed the line to protect them.
The Rise and threat of Tom Hammerschmidt
Tom who was the Editor of the Washington Herald and was the first media personnel who confronted Frank on the Rachel Posner (the hooker who worked for Doug ) disappearance. In addition he finds the video footage of Zoe Barnes’ death clearly showing the presence of a bald headed man resembling Doug. Tom had been relentlessly pursuing the matter by collecting evidence from all involved in it. There is also the fact that Claire or Frank had never encountered a high profile media professional like Tom who has all the evidence ready with a back up plan.
Will Claire reform and undo the legacy of Frank Underwood?
There is also the possibility of Claire turning a new leaf. To the last count over a dozen Senators, Congressmen, henchmen, lobbyists, Secretaries of State, media people and writers have been brutally killed as it suited them to advance their political careers. There is also the fact that over 80% of Frank’s point men were already killed by Frank himself, so Claire will look for new talent and she might get influenced by some brilliant minds. In many ways, Claire had fought a long standing battle to find her space to be someone even under the shadow of her husband. Alas! She chose to double cross him by holding on to the provisional Presidency given by Frank. For example, she can reignite relationships with President Petrov of Russia (who has a striking resemblance to Vladimir Putin). She might also get public sympathy as she sits on the Presidency as the first woman ever. This is of course my own conspiracy theory given anything is possible with a Underwood at the helm.
Will Democracy survive in HOC as we know it?
If something has been portrayed in the show since its beginning it is the subversion of public institutions, the absolute mockery of democracy as we know it. The central point driven by the show is that Frank and Claire are able to exploit loopholes and just because they control investigating authorities in some cases, and every time they come close to a conviction they find a fall guy for their own deeds. The show doesn’t reinforce the fairness of democracy as Frank is able to subvert election machinery, manipulate and murder fellow government officials but also is able to hide evidence in which crime has been committed by him. In fact both Frank and Claire like to ‘clean the mess’ with their own hands.
Happy viewing of the last season of Netflix’s “House Of Cards”.