In the political thriller's first 39 episodes, President Underwood has had more enemies than Cersei Lannister, more monologues than Shakespeare's first folio, and more dastardly manipulations than Machiavelli himself. You'll be forgiven if you have a hard time keeping them all straight in your head — especially over a year since the February 2015 debut of Season 3. But now that Season 4 of Netflix's House Of Cards is set to premiere this coming Friday, it's time to play 52 card pick-up and get everything back in mental order before diving in to the new season headfirst. So let's recap House Of Cards Season 3, shall we?
When Season 2 of the Kevin Spacey-starring drama left off, Francis "Frank" Underwood had finally achieved his life's ambition of becoming President of the United States, after secretly working behind the scenes to oust his predecessor, President Walker. At the same time, his wife Claire was dealing with the emotional repercussions of having broken a promise to a sexual assault survivor and having manipulated Walker's wife in order to aid her husband's ambition. And Frank's chief of staff Doug Stamper was left for dead in the middle of the woods after Rachel Posner bashed his head in when she feared for her own life.
And on that happy note… Here's what happened to all of our beloved, hated, and love-to-hate-'em characters in Cards' third season:
Once Frank earned the hard-won title of Most Powerful Person In The World, he wasn't exactly to rest on his laurels. (There is no rest for the wicked, after all.) Instead, he found himself beset on all fronts as enemies both foreign and domestic trained their sights on the unelected Commander in Chief. His main adversary abroad was Russian President Viktor Petrov (who was totally not Putin, you guys); the two butted heads over a treaty that was designed to bring peace to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Underwood and Petrov each tried to get on up on each other in order to gain the most and lose the least in the peace talks — but ultimately it was Frank's wife who had to make the biggest sacrifice in the name of peace.
Stateside, Frank's main opponent was Heather Dunbar, who launched her own campaign for President against his bid for reelection. Frank recruited Jackie Sharp to run as well, in order to muddy the waters even further and draw support away from a sole female candidate, promising that she could be his Vice President if he won. The ensuing alliances between the three candidates were constantly shifting and, after a particularly brutal debate, Jackie dropped out and publicly endorsed Heather instead. Somehow Frank managed to scrape a victory in the all-important Iowa caucus, keeping him in the game going into Season 4.
But there was trouble at home, too…
Tired of always playing second fiddle to her husband, the First Lady decided to pursue her own political ambitions last season, lobbying for an appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Although her confirmation was denied by Congress (who cited Claire's hotheadedness as ill-befitting of an Ambassador), Frank gave her a recess appointment anyway. On a trip to Russia to rescue political prisoner and LGBT activist Michael Corrigan, Claire refused to leave the man's cell until he could, too. But then she woke up to find his body hanging from the ceiling, with Corrigan preferring suicide to renouncing his political views, one of Petrov's conditions of release.
Obviously shaken by this experience, Claire sabotaged the ensuing press conference, condemning President Petrov on his own soil and essentially ending any peaceful negotiations between the two countries. And so, Petrov's condition for peace in the Jordan Valley became Ambassador Underwood's resignation — a condition Frank was more than happy to accept on his wife's behalf.
Still chafing from the end of her political aspirations, a Claire woozy from donating blood admitted to Frank's biographer Thomas Yates that she resents the loss of freedom her marriage necessitates and that she reevaluates her relationship with her husband every seven years. That evaluation came due and, rather than joining her husband at the Iowa caucus, Claire packed her bags and left the White House.
Frank's loyal chief of staff had a long hard road to recovery ahead of him after his skull met that rock several times in the Season 2 finale. After he struggled his way back to health — minus his sobriety — Doug was shocked that he wasn't immediately welcomed back to the President's staff with open arms. (Remy Danton had taken over his old job in the meantime.) So he jumped ship to the Dunbar campaign, promising to find Frank's opponent plenty of dirt on the shady Underwoods; dirt which included the secret truth about Claire's abortion.
Of course, it turned out Frank's loyal lapdog was simply playing Heather the whole time. He burned the journal containing details of Claire's abortion and took his insider of Dunbar's campaign back to the Oval Office. But before Frank would give him his job back, he needed to know that every loose end surrounding the fate of poor sad-sack Peter Russo was tied up… and that meant eliminating Rachel Posner. So, with the help of Gavin Orsay, Doug tracked the young woman down, murdered her, and buried her in the desert. And so the total moral collapse of Doug Stamper was complete.
Outside of her political tanglings with Underwood and Dunbar, the former House Majority Whip also had plenty of complications in her personal life. Feeling pressure from her presidential campaign to present a family-friendly image, she married her boyfriend, cardiovascular surgeon Alan Cooke, and became stepmother to his two young children. After she dropped out of the race and endorsed Dunbar, she admitted to Remy that she still had feelings for him and the two resumed their steamy affair.
Now that you've hit all the big bullet points of Season 3, you should be prepped and ready to go for House Of Cards Season 4, all 13 episodes of which will be dropping on Netflix this Friday morning.
Images: David Giesbrecht/Netflix; Giphy.com (4)