House of Cards ends with a finale fittingly directed by Robin Wright, who has helmed the directorial wheel more than once throughout the series. However, one must remark on the fact that Claire assumes the position traditionally held by men in the episode, whilst Ms. Wright does the same in her directorial role
Catherine the Great was and is known as the longest and most influential female ruler of Russia. Not born of nobility, Catherine was able to assume the throne after a coup d’etat saw her husband six feet under. There is some speculation about whether or not she had anything to do with her husband’s demise — directly speaking, that is.
Where Does The Power Lies
Claire is fucking pissed Frank would just up and quit his job without telling her. And you know what? It’s been a long time now since Frank’s been calling all the shots without taking her into consideration. Then he starts going on talking like some stoned first year Philosophy major going on about how it’s not about who lives in the White House but who owns it. Like, you know man, it’s all about like, the grand scheme of things, man. Claire is now President and Frank makes sure that she knows it’s all because of him. Not just the confusion and chaos he’s created, but the fact it was him who orchestrated all the leaks.
“Am I supposed to say thank you?” — Claire “Not This Time Frank” Underwood
Hubris, as we know, has been a force that does not discriminate in its destruction of heroes and villains alike. Frank’s always been the one to take us on the tour of nefarious politics, but one cannot help but see behind the veil. He tosses around Gore Vidal quotes about the love of power like it only applies to him.
“I killed Tom. I killed Tom Yates. He’s dead.” — Claire “Read Between The Lines Frank” Underwood
He ostensibly orders Claire to pardon him of all of his past crimes now that’s he’s put her in the POTUS position (and Doug, after a time). Speaking of Doug, he’s ready to take the fall for killing Zoe Barnes, WITHOUT the knowledge he’d be someday pardoned, although he knows he’ll be protected — by Frank that is.
The Ties That Bond
Doug’s fascination with Miss Manette is a sorry tale of unrequited loyalty. He’s never been able to really find the same dog-like affection from any woman or man. Even Leann lays it out that she cares for him, but she’ll only be able to offer him so much protection.
Leann’s been taken back into the fold after Jane gives her back the possibly incriminating gun. Jane’s a funny creature, as I’ve pointed out before, and her true loyalty is anyone’s guess. She so casually mentions to Claire how impressed and shocked she was to the extent Frank and she were able to manipulate the election and then basically tells her that she could just kill Frank with an overdose of gelsimeum; this suggestion serving as a stone to two birds, the possible murder of Francis, and an allusion Jane knows what Claire did in Mark’s house.
“Stop talking about what I’ve done to you.”— Frank “Women, amirite?” Underwood
Mark’s understandably pissed Claire fuck/murdered Tom Yates in his house, and now he wants to get into Claire’s House when he nominates himself as a possible candidate for VP. You know, Catherine the Great was notorious for working closely with her lovers, and those turtle neck/suit jacket combos are doing this silver fox a couple favours.
Romero does Frank a favour and steps aside after Frank threatens to release the news that he gang raped a woman named Rochelle in college. Nice to know that sexual assault is a bargaining chip in the political arena — thank GAWD it’s only in fictional stories. Womanhood and the way one is used and misused due to her sex is a major theme this season. Claire’s presidency is not just about someone coming to power, but about a woman coming to power.
That power needs to be preserved. With ICO terrorist Al Ahmadi finally found and killed (once again Claire, does not flinch at the sight of violence in the situation room), it’s time for Claire to show strength as a leader. An image of a woman holding her dead infant in Syria after the nation’s leader gassed his own people is the igniting force they need to justify a war in the area. Modern warfare, or even the wars wherein the United States come out as victors of morality, were hardly entered into under the pretense of morality or justice. This is about power and the ever-looming threat of Russia. Like Frank at the beginning of the season, Claire declares war as a strategy to her campaign.
Pardon Me While I Burst
Frank’s been told to keep at a distance in order for Claire to have more agency. He tidily wraps up his grand plans by having Leann killed via vehicular homicide. We only get a glimpse of her being blinded by the high beams of the hit man SUV, and Frank concludes there no point in watching it any further. However, we are given a shot of Leann’s wrecked car and it’s the only note I’d give to the writer/director crew — if Frank has told us about the blood offstage, why show us the deed?
“If she doesn’t pardon me I’ll kill her.” — Frank “Uh-Oh” Underwood
Frank watches her address from the distance of his hotel room. Claire promised she’d pardon him only really under the duress that he said he would rescind his resignation. But when you think about it, with Jane and Mark at her side and Frank all the way out of the White House, what real recourse does Frank have? There is the situation that it wouldn’t do to have Claire married to a convicted felon, but then she would also look weak if she just up and forgave Frank for everything in a public sphere.
As Claire examines the damage Frank did to one of the stars on the flag, she ignores his calls. She takes a breath before turning to us, “My turn.” Her words are not cool or measured, but imbued with release of the restraint she’s shown in the face of living in someone else’s shadow.
Looks like power might still be the one who lives in the White House.
Now we’ll have to wait until next season to see which Underwood comes out on top. Thanks for reading the recaps, and until next time:
Outside the Oval
Is This Real Life? — Of course there’s no way the writers would have known this at the time, but there is a very real parallel to be made about the leaks that Frank makes to the press, and his statement about getting ahead of the controversy and the whole Trump Jr. business.
Do Not Have Sex With An Underwood — Zoe Barnes, Meechum, Tom Yates, and now Eric, who is shot when he scales the fence at the White House. All dead after rubbing uglies with one Underwood or another, or both at the same time. The Underwoods are veritable black widows.