House of Cards returns to Netflix next week and the first reviews are pouring in praising the fifth season as one of the best yet.
Season five marks the first season without showrunner Beau Willimon whose departure paved the way for executive producers Melissa James Gibson and Frank Pugliese to step in.
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright return as the scheming Underwoods, with Michael Kelly, Neve Campbell and newcomer Patricia Clarkson all appearing in the political drama's first season since Donald Trump was elected President.
The Independent's very own Christopher Hooton praised the new episodes as "smart, barbed and menacing as ever."
You can read a selection of the verdicts below.
Despite the departure of creator Beau Willimon this season, the show is as smart, barbed and menacing as ever. I only hope it can up the stakes when it comes to its protagonist, as the last two seasons I felt confused as to Frank's motives. We know he's not interested in changing the world so, now he's achieved the position he wanted, what drives him? Where is he heading as president? With the end of the show starting to loom on the horizon, hopefully this season we'll get a sense of how his presidency is going to wrap up.
Sure there are cries of “Not my President” and a ban that may seem familiar to some in America 2017, but House of Cards Season 5 has let its own crazy flow a bit freer and brought back the swagger that so characterized the first couple of seasons of the show before perpetually scheming South Carolina Congressman Underwood became POTUS, and equally if not more Machiavellian Claire stepped into the White House.
By this stage, it's no surprise to hear Wright is a phenomenon in the role [of Claire]
. Her on-screen presence practically extinguishing candles in your living room. It's Claire's trajectory which takes hold in a season where supporting characters are somewhat disappointingly thrown to the wayside.
Having laid to rest the long-standing charge that House of Cards was too absurd to be taken seriously as “prestige television”, the Netflix caper has rediscovered its cocksure strut. A behind-the-scenes shake up has seen wunderkind showrunner Beau Willimon make way for the duo of Melissa James Gibson and Frank Pugliese. The newcomers have reconnected with the clean-burning efficiency of seasons one and two, trimming away many of the distracting subplots in which the show had latterly become entangled.
Unlike the first scene of the entire show, there's still life in the old House of Cards dog yet. But whether the Underwoods can keep playing a trump card on that guy in the White House remains to be seen.
House of Cards returns to Netflix on 30 May
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