Amid all the drama of CNN's Republican presidential debate, the world of American pop culture got some exciting news as well. As revealed in an ad that aired Tuesday night, Netflix's House of Cards will return for its fourth season on March 4, 2016. That's sure to be welcome news for fans of taut political drama, sensationalist scenes of corruption and lust for power, and of course, anyone who likes a good southern drawl and a rack of ribs. So what'll be next for Frank Underwood and the gang? Here are six theories about House of Cards Season 4.
What'll actually be going down when we finally check back in with Frank Underwood and the gang is still a complete unknown. But a little rampant speculation here and there never hurts — at least, not when it's limited to the realm of your favorite TV shows. So why not mull it over? Consider yourself warned: There will be crucial plot points from House of Cards Seasons 1 through 3 spoiled here, so if you that bothers you, then stop reading now!
Simply put, there's just no way to avoid major spoilers in something like this. And when I say major, I mean "pushing Zoe Barnes onto the tracks" major. Wait, what did I just say? Here are six theories for where series creator Beau Willimon could take things next.
1. Claire Spills Her Secrets
When we last saw Claire, she'd finally told Frank that their marriage was over, departing unceremoniously from the White House with only a few words of explanation. It was the natural conclusion to a simmering season of tension between the power couple, highlighted by Frank's routine prioritization of his own goals over Claire's.
Which means that there's ostensibly nothing to keep Claire from exposing some of Frank's most damaging secrets, if not his darkest ones. There's no real reason to think she'd reveal any of the truly heinous things she's aware he's done, like personally murdering journalist Zoe Barnes — her contempt for him still seems well below that. But there are plenty of politically compromising truths she could pull back the curtain on, like Frank's apparent bisexuality.
2. The Murder Of Zoe Barnes Heats Up
When Frank pushed Zoe in front of a moving train, the scene seemed to beg for some kind of complication to arise. Could a freshly-minted, crudely disguised vice president really personally kill somebody in a crowded train station and escape with no consequence? It certainty seemed that way after Zoe's hapless lover Lucas Goodwin was thrown in jail following an inept attempt to implicate Frank in her death.
But that could always change. Being a president and a repeated murderer is, at the very least, a constantly perilous situation. And there are still at least a few characters in the series who theoretically have the pieces to put the whole thing together: Barnes' former colleague Janine Skorsky, Goodwin himself, and hacker Gavin Orsay, who helped the government set Goodwin up.
3. Frank Has Tom Yates Killed
At the end of Season 3, Frank is incensed that former video game reviewer and novelist Tom Yates, whom he hired to author a sort of propagandist biography for him, produces a work far more personal and pointed than expected. Frank fires Yates, and after this, Yates has the conversation with Claire that seems to nudge her over the line, and she leaves Frank in the middle of his reelection campaign.
As if this weren't enough reason for the notoriously venomous president to want to get even, he was also plainly sexually attracted to Yates, which gives the writer yet another piece of politically sensitive information that he might want snuffed.
4. Frank Starts A War For Political Purposes
There are plenty of things to love about House of Cards, but it can't be accused of subtlety — from the moment Kevin Spacey first turns to the camera and starts musing about butchery and revenge, the show's id is sitting very much on the surface.
And as far as unsubtle commentaries about American politics go, the idea of Frank starting a war for his own political benefit would seem right in line with his current dismal moral trajectory. We've already seen him murder people with his own hands to achieve his personal ambitions, so seeing him authorize a bombing to bolster his own electoral prospects is in no way a stretch.
5. Doug Stamper Imperils Frank's Presidency
When kill a couple of people on the way to becoming president, you're starting your new administration from a vulnerable spot. But it isn't just Frank who has blood on their hands by the end of Season 3. His loyal lieutenant Doug Stamper also turns to murder, albeit in a moment of derangement and passion, not cold calculation.
After months of tireless scheming and searching, Doug finally tracks down Rachel Posner, the longtime subject of his emotional and sexual obsessions, and murders her, burying her body in the middle of a desert. Needless to say, this could cause trouble for the Underwood administration if the information ever got out.
6. Frank Steals The Election
This is perhaps the most obvious possible endgame for Season 4. To this point, a core thrust of the series has been that Frank's power is stolen, not earned. He gloats about becoming president without having a single vote cast in his name, and that's absolutely crucial to his characterization. Even though he's a masterful manipulator, the Frank Underwood of Season 3 doesn't feel like he's pulling the wool over anyone's eyes anymore.
Simply put, for Frank to get legitimately reelected president after his predecessor's disastrous first-term resignation and a rocky tenure in his own right would be quite a feat. It seems more likely that Frank would use all the tools at his nefarious disposal to corrupt and pervert the electoral process, whether by stealing votes, changing votes, or what have. The choices are limited only by the character's villainy, and as House of Cards fans know, that'll get you a long way with Frank Underwood.
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