Netflix

There was a time when fans were unsure if they’d get a conclusion to Netflix’s flagship original, House of Cards, after it was revealed that star, Kevin Spacey, had been accused of several crimes. But a reworked season 6 was finally announced, and the preliminary teaser gave viewers what they expected; Frank Underwood is dead, and Claire is in the highest office in the land without the person who had proved instrumental in orchestrating the plot to get them there without ending up behind bars.

Whereas there would usually be little trepidation from the fanbase when it came to a new season — based on the track record by the producers and writing staff for consistently delivering — the build-up to this denouement has been different. Thus, people were unsure what to expect.

With the November 2 premiere nearly upon us, critics are letting their feelings be heard on season 6. As expected, some of the reviews paint a picture of a perfect ending, while others think the final chapter doesn’t quite live up to expectations.

All hail President Claire Underwood

“Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood was Frank’s partner, but she also epitomized the show’s quieter brand of menace. Enigmatic and careful, she hungered for power just as much as he did, yet her pursuit of it never felt frantic. Thus, in the rare moments when she broke her facade—or knifed someone without even doing so—the results were a special kind of terrifying. Great credit should go to Wright, and the show’s writers, for locating complexity beneath the pat description “icy” that so often gets applied to powerful women.”

Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic

“Last year, Claire turned her cold-blooded gaze to the camera and declared, “My turn” — and indeed, the final season of House of Cards belongs to her, and more importantly, Wright herself. Sporting perfectly-tailored, military-style suits and dresses, her sleek blonde bob shielding her head like a helmet, Wright brings more humor to Claire than ever before as the President exploits sexist stereotypes about female hysteria”

Kristen Baldwin, Entertainment Weekly

“House of Cards has stumbled significantly in the last few years, but as the show builds towards its conclusion, a true sense of urgency has returned. We’re swept up in the drama again – fully engrossed in Claire’s journey, and the darkness it entails. After Spacey’s firing, House of Cards could’ve vanished from the television landscape in disgrace. Instead, it gets a chance to set things right, and end on a high note.”

Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

Good, not great

“In that sense, House of Cards is as good, and as polarizing, as it’s ever been, wrapping up a pioneering series with at least its singular voice still intact. Claire still talks to the viewer on the other side of the fourth wall; Claire still sneaks cigarettes; Claire still connives to take down her enemies while wearing that same stiff expression (and some pretty amazing D.C. power suits and sheaths). But it’s as slow as Congress, even with murder mysteries and backstabbing aplenty, which makes it fairly apparent that House of Cards’s instability after its early seasons was never really all Frank’s fault.”

Malcolm Venable, TV Guide

“House of Cards is off to a much better start this season, thanks in large part to the notable subtraction and subsequent elevation of its stars, but it is still very much House of Cards, different in good ways but still the same in the bad ones.”

Brian Grubb, Uproxx

“Claire may boast, “The reign of the middle-aged white man is over,” but House of Cards spends too long investing in the character arcs of middle-aged white men for this final season to be a full reboot — to the show’s detriment.”

Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter

Enough is enough

“What I’ve seen of the new season falls short, mostly proving that the show is ending at the right time. Paradoxically, it’s running out of narrative steam at a time when interest in shady, power-hungry politicians couldn’t be higher.”

Eric Deggans, NPR

“More than half the final season passes before “House of Cards” feels like Claire Underwood’s (Robin Wright) story instead of his epilogue, and even when she starts to see her vision borne out, the lingering questions are all about Frank. Despite the hype, Season 6 isn’t Claire’s show. It’s still Frank’s, which undercuts the season’s many attempts at women-first stories and keeps momentum stagnant.”

Ben Travers, IndieWire

“Claire is still struggling to break through. Even as Frank Underwood is gone — dead, with no small amount of ambiguity around how and where he died — he hangs over the story, with old plotlines (some reaching back across seasons and testing fans’ memory) and new ones referring endlessly to the late president.”

Daniel D'Addario, Variety

“As the first made-to-binge show is finally over, we turn to its less high-falutin’ spawn to release us from the choke holds of binge-era mediocrity.”

Carlos Valladares, The San Francisco Chronicle

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Words by Alec Banks
Features Editor

Alec Banks is a Los Angeles-based long-form writer with over a decade of experience covering fashion, music, sports, and culture.

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