The final season of House of Cards is in the books. There were murders and plotting and scheming and, uh, more murders. Too many murders, some would say. (Like me. I would say that.) Everything happens on this show so much and so, rather than try to break it all down piece by piece, which would be insane and a terrible use of everyone’s time, let’s declare some winners and losers. Yes, let’s do that.
LOSER — Claire Underwood
Claire rose to the presidency and was promptly buried under a pile of Frank’s bullcrap which is, I suppose, not ideal. She also survived two assassination attempts and one attempt on her unborn daughter’s life because, sure, House of Cards will murder a baby if they have to. Or even if they don’t have to. Oh, don’t for one second think this show won’t murder a baby. They didn’t. Not this time. But they definitely would have.
So there was some adversity. Fine. And I will admit that it was periodically thrilling to see her turn the tables on the Shepherds. But Claire is a miserable person, not much better than Frank in the long run, who kills off her enemies in Godfather-style “settle all family business” binges and, as the series closed, was standing over the lifeless body of Doug Stamper in the Oval Office while a preemptive nuclear strike she wanted to order to distract from Stamper-related subterfuge hung in the balance. That’s not great.
Part of me wants to see how she’ll spin all that (I’m guessing self-defense), but please do imagine the breaking news chaos that would erupt in real life if the pregnant president killed her ex-husband’s former chief of staff with a golden letter opener in the Oval Office on the eve of potential nuclear war.
Presidency could be going smoother. That’s my point.
LOSER — Doug Stamper
The only good thing Doug Stamper ever did in his miserable smile-free life was grow that gray crazy person beard when he went to go find the body of the marvelous Mrs. Maisel. But then, just as I was coming around, just as I was almost ready to give him a chance, right as I started hoping someone would fly out to the desert and recruit him for some crazy mission and tell him he had to do it because he was “the best,” he cut the beard off with scissors and just melted all the way down.
Also, just to be clear: Doug Stamper killed Frank to prevent Frank from killing Claire — to protect Frank’s legacy, not protect Claire — and then he ended up getting killed by Claire while she was in the process of destroying Frank’s legacy. Not a great handful of months there.
LOSER — Bill Shepherd
Bill Shepherd, titan of industry, political kingmaker, mover and shaker in a room full of movers and shakers, was relegated to babbling about art and drinking unsweetened ice tea at a country estate where he can be ignored by everyone other than the staff who is paid to care for him and, apparently, Terry Gross, who appeared in a brief voice cameo that made me involuntarily shout “WAIT A SECOND, IS THAT TERRY GROSS?” Screw Bill, though.
LOSER — Annette Shepherd
Annette Shepherd tried to assassinate a fetus and when that didn’t work she tried to assassinate Claire and the fetus. She did this after about half a season of appearing to be “the reasonable one” compared to Bill. Diane Lane is great and should be allowed to play menacing billionaires as often as she wants — especially if they shout things like “Contain him! That’s your job!” while marching up ornate staircases — but all of her plans failed and her family was torn apart and no amount of stunning designer pantsuits can offset that.
LOSER — Mark Usher
Dude went from Vice President to disgraced errand boy and by the end of the season was daydreaming about how his whole life went so wrong. And he may or may not be hanging onto the rapidly decomposing corpse of a writer for blackmail purposes. If this show had one more season left, Mark would have been living in a cabin by a lake, just sighing on a bench for hours a day. Still be wearing a suit, though. Decorum and all.
LOSER — Claire’s baby
This baby is doomed. Its parents are Frank and Claire Underwood, two of the most devious and awful people you’ll ever see. It will have deceit and trickery coursing through its veins. It might be a literal demon, with red skin and horns and an appetite for, like, whole goats. Imagine this kid in pre-school. Imagine high school. Imagine being the principal at her school and living in fear of her at all times. She’ll be an absolute terror. And it won’t be her fault, either. Nature or nurture, kid doesn’t stand a chance.
LOSER — Duncan Shepherd
Speaking of doomed children, hey there Duncan. The one-time Shepherd prince and burgeoning conservative media mogul and straight-up ridiculous person found out his real parents were a maid and some unnamed guy, fled, said some wild stuff, then got arrested for treason. We’ve all been there.
Also: I’m not the only one who thought the reveal was going to be that Bill was his father and Annette was his mother, right? Maybe this show has polluted my brain. Maybe it’s too much Game of Thrones and its incestuous Lannisters. Maybe it’s the thing where they kept staring into each other’s eyes and like caressing each other’s hair, that was weird, I know you saw it, too. I don’t know. I was sure of it, though. So chin up, Duncan. At least it wasn’t that! Tough break on the treason charge, though.
LOSER — Tom Hammerschmidt
Killed in front of his dog.
LOSER — Cathy Durant
Faked her death, did nothing of note with her extended chance at life, then got killed for real. She got killed off twice in one season. That’s… that’s almost impressive.
LOSER — Jane Davis
Went from living in the White House as Claire’s consigliere to being a hostage in the Middle East to dying in a damn space bed of some kind.
LOSER — Brett Cole
Weasel. Too handsome. Not okay.
LOSER — Russian President Petrov
Says a lot about this show that there’s a Putin-esque Russian strongman who seriously considers drinking someone else’s priceless bottle of wine in their house during the reception for their own funeral and he manages to come off as the reasonable one over half the time. Wine thing was not cool, though.
LOSER — Justice Abruzzo
Got a seat on the Supreme Court and then had to immediately recuse himself from a Constitution-defining case about the separation of powers because he once basically sold a ruling in exchange for a lake house. The funny thing about this — “funny” — is that House of Cards is consistently loony but this is almost a quaint Supreme Court scandal after what we’ve been through in real life. Like, a lake house. God, what I wouldn’t give for a simple lake house scandal at this point.
LOSER — Me
I can’t believe I watched this entire series. I watched all 73 episodes, for something like 73 hours. That’s three full days of my life, poof, gone. I could have used the time for so many other things. I could have taken a long weekend at the beach. I could have volunteered at a hospital. I could have rewatched all of Parks and Recreation and still had a full day to sit in a park or go to an art museum or call all of my friends and family to check in and catch up. Instead, I kept watching House of Cards and complaining about it and all I got out of it was Claire killing Doug. I’m mad about it all but mostly I’m just mad at myself.
WINNER — Tom Hammerschmidt’s dog
Tom Hammerschmidt’s dog was at home during a robbery and then was rescued/kidnapped by Doug and then watched his owner get his head blown off. It wasn’t all smooth sailing. And now the dog is in possession of Janine Skorsky, which is a lateral move at best, considering she’s neck-deep in the same stuff Tom was working on that got him killed. Ideally, he would have been adopted by a nice family and taken to live somewhere far away from Washington, with plenty of grass to run in and little critters to chase around.
But still. He’s a good boy.