House of Cards draws its curtains for the final time in dramatic fashion, giving us an ending to ponder over.
This review of House of Cards Season 6, Episode 8, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words. You can also check out our spoiler-free review of the first five episodes by clicking these.
Here we are. After 73 chapters, we finally have our conclusion to the House of Cards series, and despite some sniffy reviews that have suggested that the story ran dry after season 2, there is no denying that this was nearly an all-time great TV show. The House of Cards Season 6 finale embodied Frank Underwood’s spirit, the evolution of Claire Hale (Robin Wright) and, last but not least, the blindly loyal Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly).
Doug looks at the camera in the finale, much to my annoyance that the House of Cards team decided to move that exclusivity to three characters in the end. I have to admit, when the credits rolled, I felt sorry for Doug – his loyalty was born from misplaced trust, manipulated and moulded by Frank Underwood that made him believe there was a more significant cause for defending his legacy. House of Cards Season 6, Episode 8 reeks of desperation, especially from Claire Hale, who feels Annette Shepherd’s (Diane Lane) final plan coming to fruition.
Robin Wright puts in an impactful performance, and probably one of her career best to finish the White House story. She drives Claire Hale to the peak of power hungry with strong rhetoric to her White House staff, conjuring exaggerated claims that ICO (basically their version of ISIS) are developing a nuclear warhead. After a strange, intimate conversation with the Russian President, she decides she must put in the motion to launch a nuclear attack, which you could argue is Frank-esque, but ultimately it proves how much she is losing control and the confidence of her team.
Doug Stamper spends most of the time in the finale colluding with the Shepherd family and releasing excerpts of Frank Underwood’s diary; strangely, House of Cards continued to be about the former president. His remnants are still alive, attacking Claire’s position for the leader of the free world. Claire Hale is forceful with her actions in the last ever episode, determined to rid the lasting evidence that would dismantle her presidency.
After the failed attempts by Mark Usher, the Shepherd family, and everyone else who has involved themselves in removing the president, ironically, the only person capable of doing so is Doug. And the Shepherd family have this wild, unprecedented plan to get Doug to assassinate her. House of Cards well and truly peaked.
The final twenty minutes of House of Cards was unbelievably tense, as Claire gets wind that there will be an attack on her life; saddled with paranoia she accuses all of her colleagues of having been paid off, and even blackmails her team of staff that she will launch her nuclear plans unless somebody comes forward. Eventually, Doug Stamper reaches the Oval Office.
There was no feasible way of predicting how this confrontation would work out, but in a moment of shock, Doug confesses to murdering Francis Underwood, because he risked destroying what they had built. All this time, Doug was battling with his guilt of killing the former president while trying to help maintain the progress made under his administration. In true Claire Hale fashion, she uses the memory of Frank to abuse Doug emotionally, and it becomes blatantly obvious who the winner was going to be.
To be fair to Doug, he does wound Claire slightly in the neck in a moment of anger, but in the end, Claire got the last laugh, ridding Frank’s legacy once and for all, and killed his former right-hand man. The House of Cards finale didn’t confirm if Claire Hale will manage to overcome this incident. A part of me felt they left it slightly open. However, you could argue that Claire may have dismantled herself, by allowing outside forces to get in her head, which resulted in her killing someone in the most famous office in the world.
And that’s it, House of Cards is over, and we while we can guess that Claire Hale was finally removed from office, we will never truly know. But I think that is the beauty of it. Make your own assumptions. House of Cards Season 6, Episode 8 ended a disjointed and confused instalment, but at least it served us drama that we deserve.