Claire was always the best part of "House of Cards," so the show might be better without Frank
On Monday, Netflix announced that it was going to bring House of Cards back for one final season after initially axing the show altogether in light of the sexual assault allegations against Kevin Spacey. The final season will do away with Frank Underwood altogether and center around Robin Wright’s character, Claire. This, if we’re being real, is exactly what they should have done with in the first place since Claire was the best part about House of Cards anyway. Fans will finally get to soak her up as unapologetically as the character would herself without having to pretend that anyone really gave a damn about what Frank Underwood would do while Claire was president. (Hella spoilers ahead, friends.)
Netflix didn’t announce any plot points, only that they’ll resume filming in early 2018 without Spacey attached to the show, so it’s likely that Season 6 will start with a emotionless funeral or news that Frank’s on the lam or something. To which we say: Who gives a crap? The Season 5 finale set the writers up for the focus on Claire anyway, with Frank engineering a way for Claire to become president and have her “turn” in the Oval after setting up Doug Stamper to take the fall for the murder of Zoe Barnes.
It was excruciating to watch Frank take credit for all of Claire’s work, as if she wasn’t going to land herself the president’s gig anyway. He protested while she scolded him for lining it up without talking to her first, saying that the real power wasn’t in the presidency anyway (even though he spent his entire life trying to get it, so whatever, dude), but Claire knows that that’s not entirely true. Even without having to fire Spacey, if Season 6 didn’t totally focus entirely on Claire anyway, it would have been a huge letdown.
Aside from the first season when Spacey’s poorly executed South Carolina accent was still bearable and we were all still fascinated with Frank’s ruthlessness, (RIP Peter Russo and Zoe Barnes), his gaming and rowing routines, and his crush on Edward Meechum, the rest of the seasons have all been leading us to a point where Robin Wright’s Claire was front and center.
Claire has always been the best thing about House of Cards.
We saw some people on Twitter lamenting the fact that Frank was the “anchor” of the show, but that’s not really true at all. Claire was not just the “strong woman” that backed up her man so he could rise to the top. Frank was only ever able to do everything he did because Claire allowed him to. She let him screw Zoe Barnes and mess their plans up, always cleaning up after him in her own way. She graced his photo ops and saved his career with her presence all the time, even after having hotm steamy sex in a New York City loft once (which was quite the sacrifice in our humble opinion).
She let him foil her political ambitions and swallowed the BS he fed her in Texas, knowing all the time it was what she had to put up with until she got what she wanted. Claire didn’t just nurse him back to health after “playing” the shadow president while he was laid up after getting shot — she could have easily pulled a plug while he was in the hospital or “accidentally” hurt him while helping him walk up and down the hallways, regaining his strength.
Claire knew what she was doing all the time and never let her emotions — and she does have a lot of them — get the best of her, the way Frank’s ego often did for him.
Everyone just assumed that Frank could hurt them, physically or politically, whenever he wanted to, but Claire’s been doing advanced level scheming this whole time. It’s one thing to blackmail and bargain with people to pass the legislation you want and push someone smaller than you are off a subway platform. Smarmy Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan do that every day in IRL (minus the murder, obviously, hopefully). It’s another thing entirely to bide your time, strategically burn and build bridges, and then crawl on top of a man and screw him to death to salvage your ambitions.
Seriously, even the fact that Frank had to bone Zoe Barnes in her dingy apartment and wait for his wife to facilitate his finally getting to sleep with Meechum is just so sad. Claire gifted him his career and his sex life. Then she placated Frank’s ego with Tom Yates, by giving him someone besides Meechum to listen to his sentimental meanderings in front of 19th century paintings, disguising it as a ploy to keep their enemies close.
Then she brought Tom into her big comfy bed in the East Wing of the White House her husband had fought so hard for; nay, KILLED for. And then made them awkwardly have breakfast together sometimes.
Talk about a role model. No wonder Frank had been losing his temper and his focus so often in the later seasons — Claire was breaking him down and emasculating him every time she smoothed her bangs. What a queen.
To be completely honest, we would watch eight episodes of Claire just jogging with that vague smile on her face and it would be more compelling than anything Spacey pulled off with Frank Underwood in the past two years.
And that’s the thing. Yes, Frank Underwood was an interesting character at first, but he eventually just started feeling flat AF. Playing a closeted semi-sociopath politician with daddy issues is something Spacey has always been good at and something we all see every day of our lives on CSPAN, but it can only go so far.
Claire, on the other hand, has real, complicated relationships with everyone around her and with herself. It was never a mystery as to what Frank wanted or what he was *really* doing. But WTF does Claire really want? What’s her damage? It’s easy to brush off her strategic moves and unwavering resolve as a way to make her more “masculine” or at the very least, the trope-y “cold” woman who really just wants to be in charge and makes it happen. But, hopefully, that’s not it.
Much like Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope on Scandal, there could be a lot more to Claire than just being intelligent, powerful, and capable of compartmentalizing huge, often illegal, decisions in great wool coats. (Though the fact that two of the best dramas set in fictional Washington D.C. will end with these types of female characters at the helm is something to be smug about.)
It’s going to be fun to watch the writers grapple with how it all ends up for Claire in this final season. It should have always ended this way for House of Cards, from the very beginning. Let’s not give Spacey’s alleged crimes all the credit for Robin Wright’s final bow in the spotlight, much like Claire would never let Frank *actually* win.