Major spoilers ahead for the series finale of Netflix’s “House of Cards.”
The series finale of “House of Cards” ends in a fitting way: murder in the White House. Co-showrunner Frank Pugliese told The Hollywood Reporter that the showdown on the series finale was “inevitable.”
The television series ends rather abruptly, but in a way that makes sense for the show. Starting in 2013, Kevin Spacey played the show’s conniving protagonist, Frank Underwood. But last year, Netflix fired Spacey from the show after multiple men accused him of sexual misconduct. On the final season, Robin Wright takes the lead as Claire Underwood, who’s trying to figure out who murdered her husband, Frank, who died in his sleep.
Throughout the season, Claire and Frank’s right-hand man, Doug Stamper, work against each other. Doug, who says that Claire is more terrifying than Frank, is trying to stop her from damaging Frank’s reputation and legacy. “I couldn’t let you destroy him,” Doug says.
And Claire, who spends the majority of the season trying to separate herself from her late husband, attempts to distance herself from Doug.
In a showdown toward the end of the eighth episode and series finale, Doug comes to the Oval Office to see Claire. In this scene, Doug admits that he’s the one who killed Frank. He says that he had to, because Frank was about to kill Claire for refusing to pardon him.
“I didn’t have a plan,” Doug tells Claire. “I couldn’t let him destroy everything we’d built. I had to protect the legacy from the man.”
When Claire says, “You’re happy he’s dead, too,” Doug takes a letter opener off the desk and pushes it against Claire’s neck. Doug wants Claire to admit that Frank “made” her. After Doug lets her go and apologizes moments later, Claire stabs him in in the gut with the opener. Then she puts her hand over his mouth until he’s dead.
“There, no more pain,” Claire says, and the screen fades to black. Claire’s words here mean a lot. Frank’s legacy and control, even after his death, has died with Doug. And in Claire’s eyes, Doug, an addict whose life was made miserable as a result of his close relationship with the Underwoods, is relieved of his pain in death. Claire is also relieved, because now everyone who knew damaging secrets about her is dead.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, showrunner Melissa James Gibson said that in that moment, “Claire reveals herself to be every much of an antihero as Francis ever was. She’s allowed to be as complicated and surprising and dark and everything he ever was.”
Co-showrunner Frank Pugliese told THR that Claire is “ultimately free and released and yet, there’s an enormous amount of price she paid to get there.”
The “House of Cards” series finale is abrupt and shocking and will make you want to see more. But it’s a fitting ending for a political drama with almost as many deaths as there are on “Game of Thrones.”