Posted May 29, 2017 by Chris Droney in Film Reviews

House of Cards Season 5 Review

This spoiler free review is based on all 13 episodes of season five of House of Cards

Netflix’s flagship political series is back, and the Underwoods return to the fold with the task of competing with real life. The question was always going to be if the new season of House of Cards could compete with the megalomaniac currently residing in the same office in this reality, who too is being hit by crisis after crisis to his administration.

There seems to be no end to the scandals erupting from the Oval Office, so why would there be a need to watch fictionalised version of it? There are mirrored story arcs here; stories leaking to the press, many questions about the election result, addressing problems in Syria, and a man willing to do anything to win.

The difference, though, is that House of Cards provides entertainment without the worry of what might happen to you. The new block of episodes take place 2 weeks ahead of the upcoming 2016 election, where Democrat and sitting president Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is up for election, with his wife Claire (Robin Wright) on the card as VP.

They are up against the Republican war hero Will Conway (Joel Kinsman), a young spritely and charismatic man, who is slowly bowing to the pressure of the campaign. The election prep was drawn out in season 4, and it plays heavily throughout season 5. That said it doesn’t quite go as you’d expect; new show runners Melissa James Gibson and Frank Pugliese clearly reading their history books to see just how messed up and overdrawn an election can be.

Some new characters are brought into the fold, seemingly out of no where and given maximum clearance. But it’s seemingly pointless to speak about these characters, as they are just as superficial as all others that don’t have the surname Underwood. This is Spacey and Wright’s vehicle, they are the VIPs.

Thankfully, they put in such a performance that it is fitting for them to pull focus. In previous seasons, it seemed Spacey was phoning it in somewhat, but here he is bad to his dark, enigmatic best. He’s back to breaking to fourth wall, something missing in season 4, and it only helps us understand the mind of the ill fitting president.

They say that behind every great man, there’s a great woman, and such is the case here. For everything Spacey does well here, he is only out shone by Wright, who shows that she is holding it all together. She’s the MVP, and is clearly being given more to do by the screen writers as a result of this.

Wright flourishes with this, runs with it, and it wouldn’t be amiss to see her get top billing. House of Cards would not be what it is without Wright, just like Frank would no be where he is were it not for Claire, so it’s nice to finally see her get a deeper role.

Ultimately, as the season draws to a close, the storyline gets meatier and interest peaks. The only thing I can suggest is to do the opposite of what is now the norm when a new season drops; do not binge on this. The 13 episodes deserve your full attention, and bashing out 4, 5, 6 episodes at a time only does you and House of Cards a disservice.

Give each episode time to sink in, take your time to understand the ramifications of what has just happened, and feel free to keep your eyes off your phone. You can’t always rely on Frank Underwood to turn to the camera and divulge his inner most thoughts. And be thankful that at least this world is fiction.

Season five of House of Cards is released on Netflix worldwide on Tuesday, 30th of May

Chris Droney