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.