Before Watching House of Cards, Brush Up on How Season 4 Ends
In the midst of a real-world political climate that's often stranger than fiction (to say the least), can we even really be surprised by what happens on a show like House of Cards anymore? Well, probably yes. The show's fifth season drops on Netflix on May 30, and just in case you forgot how insane the end of the fourth season is, here are a few reminders. Just in case this isn't stressful enough, there's always the season five trailer to watch again!
Frank's Dark Past Isn't a Secret Anymore
After years of cover-ups, President Frank Underwood's dirty deeds are finally exposed by the media. Veteran reporter Tom Hammerschmidt had been on a mission since the death of poor Lucas Goodwin to nail Frank for the shady dealings that have gotten him into the Oval Office. By the finale he amasses an impressive amount of information and gets some killer sources to go on the record, including Jackie Sharp and former President Walker.
Tom confronts Frank about the Washington Herald's plan to run the story, but the president doesn't blink. He dismisses Hammerschmidt's claims as ridiculous and sounds pretty convincing. But Hammerschmidt doesn't back down, and the story publishes anyway . . .
Frank and Claire Provoke a War With Terrorists
. . . and Frank responds in kind. Well, not really in kind. He and Claire knew the article's fallout would be devastating so close to the election. Rather than focus on defending themselves, they decide to "attack the hearts" of the public with more fear over the growing ICO terrorist threat and conveniently distract the country from the Herald's story. Frank gives a speech to the nation about never backing down from ICO, no matter the consequences, and says the country is at total war.
As a result of the speech, James Miller is executed on live television by his captors while the whole country watches in horror. With one speech, Frank moves the public's focus away from his problem and back to an international one. He challenges the ICO terrorists into an act of violence that he can now use an excuse for retaliation and comes off looking like a strong leader to the country.
Frank and Claire Are a United Front
The Underwoods start out season four in a bad place relationship-wise, with Claire walking out on Frank in the middle of his re-election campaign. But as the election draws closer (and after the assassination attempt on Frank) they both make the logical choice to put aside their personal issues and work as a team once again. And boy, does it work. They even maneuver Claire into getting the vice presidential nomination.
Their decision in the season's final episode to provoke a war in order to protect themselves is reminiscent of their scenes together in the show's first season: Sitting on the windowsill of their home, smoking, and making terrifying plans to manipulate everyone around them to their will.
Frank's last narration to the audience after James Miller's execution is further proof. Claire turns to Frank as he talks directly to the camera, suggesting that she's now in on the "private" conversations. Yikes.
However, neither of them are above scheming without (or on) the other, so who knows what could happen in season five. But for now, it looks like they're a solid team again.
Frank's Opponent Is in Over His Head
Republican presidential candidate Will Conway has a lot of things going for him that Frank doesn't: He's young and personable, he has a cute family he likes to show off, and has an impressive military record. He doesn't shy away from being tough on terrorism either and even helps in the negotiations with the ICO terrorists who kidnap the Miller family. Overall, he's no joke as a political opponent for Frank. But in the end, Conway simply can't compete with Frank's relentless dedication to holding onto his power.
Conway thinks the presidency is all but his in the finale, when Tom Hammerschmidt's article about Frank is published just weeks before Election Day. But after Frank's speech and the live execution of James Miller, the public's fear might make them stand behind their current president and his promise, rather than buy into the Herald's story and switch their votes. Sorry, pretty boy.
Jackie and Remy Are Leaving It All Behind
Remy Danton and Jackie Sharp have ups and downs during season four, but by the finale Jackie decides to leave her husband to be with Remy. This, coupled with the fact that both of them go on the record for the Herald's article about Frank, mean their lives in Washington are about to get very . . . complicated. So, they choose to leave everything behind.
The finale shows Remy and Jackie in a car, and when Remy asks Jackie where she wants to go she simply says "Surprise me." Who knows if season five will show where they end up, but they'll likely have to go pretty far to escape the reach of Washington.
Doug Might Actually Be Feeling Things
It's not news to anyone who watches House of Cards that Doug Stamper has some major issues. Alcoholism, violent tendencies, and a ruthless drive to do whatever he thinks will help Frank no matter the consequences. After Doug gets a candidate for a liver transplant bumped from the donation list to make way for Frank, Doug finds himself feeling guilty about the widow, Laura. He makes a huge donation to her husband's memorial fund and starts spending a lot of time with her near the end of the season.
It's not easy to forget what happened last time Doug had to deal with a woman with whom he had a distracting emotional connection (RIP Rachel Posner). It appears that history is about to repeat itself in the finale when Frank tells Doug to go "do what you have to do," just before we see Doug meeting up with Laura again. But he doesn't hurt her — they just sit and talk.
It seems almost impossible that this woman knows about all the less-than-savory things in Doug's past, especially his role in her husband's death, because she genuinely likes him. She worries about his well-being with no ulterior motive, and it looks like Doug is enjoying it more than he knows he should.