So, how about that House of Cards Season 5 finale, eh? Because of its ambiguous ending, fans were left as distraught as Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), alone at home, pondering life after he was basically forced out of the White House. Who forced him out once Claire (Robin Wright) took the presidency? Her right-hand woman LeAnn (Neve Campbell). And who was later run off the road (seemingly killed) while Frank (Kevin Spacey) calmly watched from the comfort of his home? Also LeAnn.
Now, fans are left wondering: Was LeAnn killed in the finale? And was Doug behind it all? I try to get to the bottom of it through a phone call with Michael Kelly himself — who isn't totally convinced his character is innocent.
It would be suspect for Doug to want to kill LeAnn for a handful of reasons. One, he was innocently (or so he seemed) on the phone with LeAnn, while she was eagerly driving to go see him. He even left a voicemail on her phone asking where she was when the accident went down. Second, he was left devastated when Frank told him they couldn't see each other for a while, leaving Doug in an existential crisis at home. Would he be this depressed if he was still doing Frank's dirty work?
But, considering they did have sex, Doug could've killed her to rid himself of any evidence. Kelly sees both sides. "I could see why he would and wouldn’t be behind it. I’m not saying he is either way," he tells me. On one hand, Doug did have a special bond with LeAnn. "He has a great level of respect for her. She’s like him," he tells me. "Within two weeks I was calling her Lady Stamper on set. She really is the female equivalent of Doug Stamper."
Although the two became intimate, the relationship was always complicated. "Doug loved Rachel. He loved her, in whatever weird way, shape, or form, he actually loved her. I don’t know that he loves LeAnn in that same way," Kelly says. The struggle of power always acted as a driving wedge between them. "They had their moment that had been building and that struggle for power became a very sexual struggle at times," he says. "No, I would never see him doing it and yes, I could totally see him doing it. It’s Doug."
With that said, where is Doug headed should there be a Season 6?
Kelly doesn't foresee his character being out of Frank's dirty work for much longer. "He’s gotta be in the mix. He’s gotta be doing what he does. That’s what makes him go," he says. "My advice for him would be to just do what you gotta do and keep plugging away because that’s where he belongs. His life expectancy probably isn’t all that long, but he enjoys every minute of it, as pained and anguished as he is," Kelly says. As a fan, I was even distraught over Doug's situation and lack of purpose in the finale.
"He’s like a cockroach, he’s just gonna survive," the actor says. And Kelly enjoys being the creepy, tormented Doug as much as fans love watching him. "When Doug is doing those Machiavellian deeds, in the shadows for Francis, to get us to a better place, that’s when I’m happiest as an actor," he says. If and when Doug rises to the occasion, Kelly advises his character to seek revenge on a certain character, and it's not LeAnn (if she survives).
"Keep a close eye on Claire is probably the best advice I could give to him," he says. "Dealing with Claire is really tough for him... that triangle of power between Frank and Claire and Stamper. She comes between the two of them a lot." Oh snap. But would Stamper go as far as taking out Claire as president to get his vengeance? Eh, maybe not.
"Can you imagine Doug on the campaign trail?" he says with a laugh. "He’s not that enigmatic. ‘Tell me what I can do for you. Or who I can kill.’ Can’t say that, Doug." Or maybe, just maybe, he'll do the unthinkable and double cross Frank.
"Everyone's always like, ‘Are you gonna turn on [Frank]? What are you gonna do? How’s it gonna end for him?’" Kelly says. "I don’t know. That’s one of the greatest things about being on a show like House of Cards."
All I know is Doug better pull himself out of this slump and get back to his mischievous ways, because it's way too much fun to watch.