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“House of Cards” is a political drama which is devolving into an overindulgent soap-opera. The first half of this season revolved around Frank (Kevin Spacey) and Claire (Robin Wright) as their marriage turned into a power struggle. The rest of it was more entertaining but equally as melodramatic, as events centred on Frank’s attempts to one-up his opposition for President, the enigmatic Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman).

Almost nothing of visual interest occurs on this show, as the presentation lacks any sort of vibrancy or life (as does the plot), with a colour palette of black and white contrasting the morally grey nature of the characters. This means that for the majority of the time you can sit with your eyes shut and get the same out of an episode. With better writing this could be seen as something to praise, as you could say that the dialogue alone makes “House of Cards” worth watching, but sadly the moral neutrality of the show has become extremely predictable.

Another issue that “House of Cards” has faced for a long time now is the inconsistency of its characters. Frank fluctuates from sympathetic anti-hero to evil genius, with the writer’s attempting to portray the former as a performance within Kevin Spacey’s performance, but failing to make it plausible. Perhaps this aspect was believable when the series began, but as time has passed Frank has become more and more emotionally invested in his politics, and has therefore lost his detached and calculated persona.

Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker), Remy Danton (Mahershala Ali), Seth (Derek Cecil), and even Stamper (Michael Kelly), are equally erratic in character, and I think it’s fair to say that they have nothing concrete which defines them. They just do whatever the writers think would be most interesting, meaning that I can never take them seriously.

This season did build a little bit of momentum prior to the finale, from the point at which Frank and Claire stopped squabbling to the moment when Conway agreed to negotiate with terrorists, but by the end it had completely fizzled out. Part of me thought that the whole hostage situation might’ve been organised by Frank as some sort of ploy to expose Conway, but unfortunately it was nothing more than a timely distraction.

The season then reached its conclusion with a focus on Tom Hammerschmidt’s (Boris McGiver) story about how Frank intentionally sabotaged President Walker (Michel Gill) to get into The White House, which is obviously a big deal for the characters on the show, but I doubt that many people watching it will give a damn. The idea of Frank being brought down by a character that most people won’t even remember the name of is very disappointing, especially because he will have achieved this by doing the same thing that other more interesting characters have failed to do.

Overall, this season of “House of Cards” has been poor. It started as the previous one had left off, with a story of marital discord that not even the most passionate fans could care about. When this plot point was resolved it did get better, especially when Conway was introduced – it was nice to see Frank battle someone with similar sensibilities – but it still didn’t reach the level of intrigue that we know it can.

“House of Cards” is a series on the decline; the majority of season four’s episodes were utterly forgettable, and if each season wasn’t released in its entirety on Netflix I think that this show would’ve lost a lot of its audience by now. There were a couple of good episodes in the mix, and I’m aware that for those episodes to have their desired effect the show must slowly build its conflicts and create multiple obstacles, but my issue isn’t a slow-pacing, it’s that the pay-off isn’t worth the wait. When the show isn’t centred on Frank, I lose interest, and far too often the other actors (and the writers) let Kevin Spacey down.

5.5/10

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