The wooden, zebra-striped arm—the mechanical limb attached to a squat torso—where cars stop and drivers lower their windows and strain to accept a paper wafer of a ticket before they circumnavigate the levels of this hellish parking garage, before they park their cars and check their teeth in the rear-view windows of their respective sports cars, before they enter the lobby of Netflix’s headquarters in Hollywood, California, to pitch their ideas for the sixth and final season of “House of Cards.”
Inside this glass building, with its stacked terraces of bushes and bougainvillea, in which the exterior is the result not of time and pressure but of technology and precision, where the outdoor decks rise and fall like six levels of polished rock—inside this extrusion of steel, which is as much an affront to nature as it is a monument to the arrogance of human nature, inside this tower both of Babylonian morals and the Babel of mathematics, idiocy reigns supreme.
I can only hypothesize about what happens inside, given the way “House of Cards” ends by featuring multiple homicides and a botched attempt at infanticide.
The backstory: In an effort to sidestep accusations of sexual harassment, Kevin Spacey reprises his Academy Award-winning role as Roger “Verbal” Kint, a small-time crook with a limp and a damaged arm, who is less agile than an encephalitic patient playing catch with Dr. Oliver Sacks, when in fact Kint is the criminal mastermind Keyser Söze; who, with the aid of a toupée and elocution lessons, assumes the identity of Frank Underwood, the 46th President of the United States, a (mostly) heterosexual South Carolinian who breaks the fourth wall.
Frank is the Democrats’ Nixon (this Nixon, not that Nixon) who introduces himself by killing his neighbor’s dog.
With the help of his wife, Claire (Robin Wright), Frank goes from House Majority Whip to the White House. He gets there, in part, by pressuring the incumbent vice president to resign so he can take his place—after Raymond Tusk, friend and advisor to President Garrett Walker, recommends him for the job.
Frank then dispatches Tusk; and gores Walker by having him resign, too, because of his collusion with Tusk. A simple plan, since Walker is as fearsome as a dad in mom jeans—on a White House tour—who walks into the Oval Office in search of a key to the ladies’ room. (That his wife in real life plays his fictional secretary of state, that she is a blonde of a certain age, who is as delightful as her real-life counterpart is deplorable, is a delight to behold.)
Along the way, the Underwoods kill more journalists than Craigslist and Vladimir Putin combined.
By the sixth season, Frank is dead—and Claire is pregnant with his daughter. She is also president of the United States.
The other stuff—including shots against the presidential motorcade and the thwarted poisoning of the First Fetus—is filler.
Before her (Republican) vice president can invoke the 25th Amendment and her cabinet can remove her from office, Claire strikes first.
In an estrogen-infused homage to the baptism sequence from “The Godfather” and a bloodless take on the bloodiest death in “The Godfather Part Two,” President Hale (née Underwood) nonetheless bloodies her hands by murdering the last man standing.
She stabs Doug Stamper, Frank’s former chief of staff.
So ends the beginning of the first term of America’s first female president.
Thus begins the beginning of the end of good storytelling in the age of #MeToo.