Warning: spoilers from House of Cards, Season 5 ahead! Since the dawn of House of Cards, the fourth wall has been the clear domain of President Frank Underwood. Who hasn't loved his side eye, raised eyebrow, pointed shots at everyone else in the room? It's one of the reasons we stay riveted every time Netflix drops a new season. Well, that and Claire's amazing wardrobe. But it turns out, the fourth wall might have a new girl in town. After branching out in Season 4, Claire breaks the fourth wall on House of Cards Season 5 yet again — and on more than one occasion, mind you.
Claire broke the fourth wall (that dividing line that invites the audience in to the action, speaking directly to us rather than treating us as invisible spectators) at the end of Season 4. While she didn't actually speak, she made it clear that she knew we were there. After watching Jim Miller get beheaded on TV by domestic ICO sympathizers, Frank Underwood turned his head to us and said, "We don't submit to terror. We make the terror." And for the first time, Claire turned to look at us too. Without saying a word. It was unsettling.
During a Netflix roundtable event, House of Cards stars Mike Kelly (Doug Stamper) and Neve Campbell (LeAnn Harvey) explained the significance of the fourth wall. “I love that they did it with Claire," Kelly stated. "I thought that was incredibly interesting. It was like ‘OK... now I’m equal.’ I thought that was very clever of the writers to do that.”
When asked if anyone other than the Underwoods can expect to also cross that great "fourth wall" divide, Campbell thought of it as privilege that should just be reserved for the Underwoods because “the truth is, the energy of it is that this is their world that we all exist in." So adding others into the mix would take away from those special moments, and I have to agree.
Season 5 has been Claire's season, almost unequivocally. And she has given us a little "look" now and then to let us know she remembers we're here.
At the end of Episode 5, when we find out that Congress was unable to choose between Underwood and Conway, Claire walks purposefully towards the camera and takes a breath. She is now Madam President.
The big payoff, though, finally comes during Episode 11. Frank is facing possible impeachment, which would leave Claire as the president. She knows he's upset and started searching for him in the residence. It's then that we finally get Claire Underwood all to ourselves. In all her clear-eyed, powerful, frightening glory, she looks directly into the camera (and into our souls maybe?), stating:
Just to be clear, it's not that I haven't always known you were there. It's that I have mixed feelings about you. I question your intentions. And I'm ambivalent about attention. But don't take it personally. It's how I feel about most everybody.
Then, in the final few moments of Episode 13 — when Claire is now president and ignoring her husband's calls — she stares at the camera (more determined than ever) and says two simple but very meaningful words: "My turn."
House of Cards has finally reached a new era — The Era Of Claire Underwood. She has been coming into her own all season (heck, for the past five season); why not take the fourth wall down with her while she breaks that glass ceiling?