Nobody was more excited than I was about Season 5. When Netflix announced the May 30 release date, I put it on my Google calendar. I studied up and stocked up to prepare for the House of Cards drinking game. I counted down the days, the hours, the minutes until I could re-enter the deliciously callous world of FU and CU (who’s errantly missing the N and the T, according to Donald Blythe, in one of the more unseemly and therefore better scenes of this season). Then I started watching. That it actually took me nearly four weeks to get through the whole season doesn’t bode well for my review. But here goes:
Top Five Reasons Why House of Cards, Season 5, (SPOILER ALERT!) Disappoints
5. Catherine Durant dies. Okay, well, at least she might. Either way, I’m not happy with Frank shoving my girl down the stairs. I like British actor Jayne Atkinson’s choice to give Cathy a honeyed-and-moneyed Southern accent. To those who argue that it rings false, I say, “If you’d grown up in a small Eastern NC town like me, you’d know that there’s a certain kind of Southerner who wakes up every day and works at sounding that particular brand of false: like they’re livin’ and shittin’ in high cotton, just like Cathy. I don’t need another reason to root for her.
On the other hand, please don’t get me started on Frank’s pseudo-South Carolina drawl. To borrow from the quintessential Southern (and steel) magnolia, Truvy — I’d rather walk on my lips than criticize you, Kevin, but, well… bless your heart.
4. Tom Yates doesn’t die until Episode 12, and that’s way longer than I was willing to wait. I could never understand what Claire saw in this guy. He was a mumbling, navel-gazing Hemingway wannabe who always looked as if he could use a few good pec workouts and a shower. Blech. I’m surprised Claire didn’t need a shot of that gelsemium herself just to get through having to bump uglies with Tom one last time in order to bump him off. I’ll admit that I do love how Tom’s existence (and dalliance with a WH tour guide) gives rise to one of Frank’s classic lines: “Don’t cheat on my wife.” And, hey, too long in coming or not (tee hee), Tom’s death does give me a reason to use the wonderful but woefully underused term in flagrante delicto. Which sounds like some great pasta that I’d probably enjoy way more than Season 5.
3. Doug Stamper doesn’t die at all. Oh, sure, he’s (to use the technically correct psychological term) a fabulously scurrilous weirdo scumbag, he just isn’t a character that I want to watch hook up. With anybody. Ever. Ewww.
In Season 5, I had to close my eyes during his sessions with both LeAnn and the transplant widow (though not simultaneously — I feel I should clarify given that unforgettable “Threechum” scene from Season 2). Still, it’s too much. Doug might be a fan fave with some folks, but whenever there’s a sex scene with this guy, I can’t get two words out of my head: Creepy. Cro-Magnon. When Lauren tells Doug she’s been fucking him because she hates him, not because she likes him, viewers are supposed to be surprised. All I could think was “Duuuuuuuuuh.” (The extra u‘s are for “Ugh” and “upchuck.”)
2. Season 5 is unprecedentedly short on characters that are to die for. Take Eric Rawlings, for example. For God’s sake, if they were going to bring a personal trainer character into the show so he could do Frank under the stairs, couldn’t they at least make him a nicely muscled hot and sexy trainer? HOC missed an opportunity to provide the kind of eye candy we’ve all been missing since the exit of Remy Danton. I mean, I like Moonlight and all, but that film’s a little too much of a bummer to keep replaying just so I can get a Mahershala Ali-quality fix.
Worse yet, as much as it pains me to say it, my girl-crush Claire has lost some of her luster this season. Oh, sure, her wardrobe is still tailored to minimalistically powerful perfection (with the possible exception of how impractical those stilletos were when the Secret Service had to corral her down to the White House bunker in Episode 7. Kick off those kicks and pick up the pace, woman!) And, of course, Robin Wright’s still plenty beautiful enough to make me want to pull her hair out…
But… speaking of her hair, what’s up with the Season 5 Claire hair? She’s grown it out into some mommy-ish mid-length look that I’ve seen referred to as “cool curves,” but I simply call BORE to the ING. I read that they’re trying to make Claire look less like “arm candy” and more Presidential. To which I simply say this: The oh-so-blah bob didn’t work out too well for Hillary. In fact, if she’d gone for that much peppier pixie chop of hers before the election, we might not be waking up every day in GiantOrangeCottonCandyComboverville.
1. That Elysian Fields retreat scene. So a bunch of connected, self-important white males run around in robes with a blazing human effigy and a big statue of a crow nearby and do some glamping in the woods. While also participating in shameless power play pissing contests despite vowing to leave politics outside the mysterious Fascist Forest. Some people have trashed the episode for being downright silly. My problem with it, however, isn’t that I don’t believe it could happen. It’s that I do. And if I need a reminder that certain white men in power are misogynists who see governing as some kind of penis-swinging game, I’ll just check Donnie’s latest tweets.
Then again, I can’t really blame House of Cards for failing to live up to my expecations this go-around. They’re still trying to achieve the ultimate portrayal of corruption, mendacity, inhumanity and licentiousness. It’s not their fault that their competition this season is just too stiff.