Netflix’s political drama, House of Cards, is coming to an end with its upcoming sixth and final season. The series took a long hiatus due to the sexual assault allegations and subsequent firing of lead actor Kevin Spacey, so fans may have forgotten what went down last season. So, if you need a House of Cards Season 5 recap before you start on Season 6, I have a few key points to help refresh your memory.
The Underwoods have been orchestrating political schemes and murders since Season 1, but their relationship dynamic changed drastically in Season 5. Throughout the series' run, Claire (Robin Wright) and Frank (Kevin Spacey) faced plenty of difficult situations, and they always did it as a team. But during Season 5 — whether it was from her brief taste of power, her mother’s death, or just sheer exhaustion from Frank’s ploys — Claire’s loyalty to her husband faded. “My turn,” she said as she closed out Season 5, breaking the fourth wall, and giving fans the badass female POTUS they’ve been waiting for.
In one teaser for the new season, fans can see Claire standing over Frank’s grave, repeating a monologue he gave in Season 3. When Frank spoke the words, they were meant to belittle his father (as he urinated on his grave), mocking the fact that he was buried in his own backyard. But the teaser pans out to show that Frank is buried right next to his father. "I'll tell you this, though, Francis: When I die, they won't bury me in my backyard,” she says ironically. “And when they come to pay their respects, they'll have to wait in line.”
Going into Season 6, Claire seems to be doing just fine without Frank in the picture. How he died is yet to be seen, but here are a few things to remember before you dive into the final season.
Frank Resigned Willingly, Claire Is POTUS
President Frank Underwood manipulated his way into the White House the first time around, and when he was up for reelection against Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman), he used backhanded tactics to win the election. However, because his approval ratings were so low, Frank new he couldn’t win, so he orchestrated a scandal, leaking information about Zoe Barnes and Peter Russo’s murders to the journalist, Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) via birthday cards. His plan was to throw Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) under the bus for the murders, resign, and let Claire (who was his Vice President) take his seat. He used Claire as his pawn, and boasted that he “made” her President, which is possibly why she didn’t pardon him when she first took office.
Claire Killed Tom Yates
Tom Yates (Paul Sparks) was the writer who spent time in the White House to write a biography about Frank, eventually becoming Claire's lover. In a moment of vulnerability earlier in Season 5, Claire told Tom that Frank killed Zoe Barnes (he pushed her in front of a train in Season 2), but expected him to keep it a secret. When she found out that he planned to expose the murder in his book, Claire poisoned him, and asked her adviser, Mark Usher, to get rid of the body. Tom was also sleeping with journalist Kate Baldwin (Kim Dickens) at the time, so she may question his whereabouts in the upcoming season.
LeAnn And Aiden Are Dead
The Underwoods leave a trail of casualties everywhere they go, and in Season 5, two of those unfortunate souls were Claire’s Chief of Staff LeAnn Harvey (Neve Campbell) and NSA contractor Aidan Macallan (Damian Young). LeAnn and Aidan were old friends (he dated her mom), so she asked him to rig the election to help Frank win. When the election ended, the Underwoods staged his suicide to cover their tracks.
LeAnn who was overseeing the whole operation with Aidan, was fired by Claire, and her car was then suspiciously driven off the road, leaving her presumably dead.
Doug Was Thrown Under The Bus
Doug’s loyalty to Frank was tested in Season 5 when the Underwoods asked him to take the fall for Zoe Barnes' murder. Doug has killed before, but he didn’t kill Zoe, and seemed hesitant when asked to take the blame. Just before Claire took office, Doug handed resignation papers to Frank. He is last seen in his apartment wearing an ankle monitor, listening to self-help tapes, contemplating his choices.
Frank Pushed Cathy Durant Down A Stairwell
Frank and Claire’s managed to clear the field of any opponents, but there is still one key player left. In Season 5, after learning that Secretary of State Cathy Durant (Jayne Atkinson) was going to testify against him (she knew a lot of his secrets), Frank pushed her down a stairwell. Apparently, she survived the fall, and is in the hospital in serious condition. If she is well enough, she might create trouble for Claire’s administration in the upcoming season.
Season 5 ended with Frank and Claire at odds with each other, but with his character’s death, the show’s dynamic will rest solely on Claire’s presidency. It will be exciting to see how she leads the country, and whether or not she utilizes his manipulative tactics.
Season 6 of House of Cards premieres on Friday, Nov. 2 on Netflix.