When a power couple like the Underwoods breaks apart, it feels like the end of an era. Yet, after Claire walked out on Frank in Season 3 of House of Cards, the Netflix series explored what a world where Frank and Claire Underwood aren't united looks like. For better or for worse (better for fans of the series, but perhaps worse for their fictional world), the pair was back together and more united than ever by the end of Season 4 of House of Cards. With Season 5 premiering on May 30, you'll want to refresh your memory about the Underwoods' journey last season and how Frank finally began to view Claire as his equal. And this House of Cards Season 4 recap will get you into fighting shape for when the Underwoods attempt to win the White House.
House of Cards Season 4 premiered in March 2016 — during a time when a Donald Trump presidency seemed unlikely to most. Four months into Trump's tenure, Season 5 of the Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright series will premiere to give viewers a break from reality. With this longer gap between seasons and the current political climate (sigh, remember a time when Barack Obama was president?), House of Cards Season 4 feels like a lifetime ago. So there's no shame in needing a recap to remember every Underwood power play.
Before you embark on Season 5 of the series, get caught up with this Season 4 review. It'll refresh your memory, and it just might make you feel comparatively better about the U.S.'s current state of affairs.
LeAnn Harvey Joined Claire's Team
Neve Campbell became a series regular in Season 4 as political consultant LeAnn Harvey. When Claire decided she would try her own power grab — without Francis — she hired LeAnn. Campbell's character not only brought in data scientist Aidan Macallan to help the Underwoods with the tech aspects of their campaign, she proved to be a loyal asset to Claire.
Frank Undermined Claire's Bid For Congress
To pursue her own political power, Claire targeted a congressional seat in her hometown of Dallas, Texas, which was held by Doris Jones. Doris was retiring and wanted to campaign for her daughter Celia to take over her position. To stop Claire, Frank announced his support for Celia — effectively destroying Claire's campaign. In retaliation, LeAnn used a photo of Frank's father with a KKK member on a billboard and then Seth provided a photo with Frank posing with a Confederate re-enactor. Both photos led to Frank losing the South Carolina primary.
Lucas Was Freed From Prison
The Washington Herald journalist spent Season 3 in jail, but was released under witness protection in Season 4 for recording a confession by his cellmate. Yet, his mental state was a mess as he tried to avenge Zoe Barnes and reveal the truth about Frank Underwood. And it led to one of the most dramatic moments of Season 4.
Lucas Shot Frank & Killed Meechum
At a campaign rally at Hammond College, Frank spoke with an angry mob and Lucas took advantage of the chaos by shooting Frank. He killed the Underwoods' favorite bodyguard (RIP Meechum!) and Lucas also died from Meechum's bullets.
Frank Received A Liver Transplant
Frank didn't die as Lucas hoped he would, but he was severely injured. As he waited in the hospital for a liver transplant, he experienced hallucinations of Zoe Barnes and Peter Russo (hey there, Kate Mara and Corey Stoll!). A distraught Doug Stamper offered his own liver to Frank (classic Doug), but he ended up manipulating the Secretary of Health to get Frank to be the number one person to receive a transplant, ensuring the president survived.
Claire Visited Russia
Vice President Donald Blythe was acting president while Frank was in the hospital and he relied and trusted on Claire for international relations — much to the chagrin of Secretary of State Cathy Durant. Claire went to Germany to meet with Russian President Viktor Petrov, who was introduced in Season 3, to strike her oil deal between Russia and China. Claire succeeded in her negotiations and strategically set herself up for political power. And let's not overlook how House of Cards played with the U.S.'s real-life relations with Russia.
Heather Dunbar Lost The Race
Lucas Goodwin had met with presidential candidate Heather Dunbar before he attempted to assassinate Frank. And while he was trying to destroy Frank, he ended up hurting Heather because after Frank was shot, the Attorney General questioned Heather about the meeting. She admitted to meeting with Lucas and used the opportunity to criticize the hospitalized president, which ended her chances of beating him in the polls.
Frank & Claire Reconciled
It took Frank nearly getting assassinated, but Frank and Claire finally made amends after his transplant. This had to do with the fact that Frank asked Claire to stay with him and guaranteed that things would be different — aka that her political ambitions would matter just as much as his own.
The Underwoods Found New Nemeses
With Heather Dunbar not in the running anymore, Frank's biggest competition became the Republican presidential candidate — the Governor of New York State, Will Conway. Will and his wife Hannah acted as foils to Frank and Claire, as this young couple with two children used social media to promote their private life. Frank's team brought them down a notch by exposing Will's use of the search engine Pollyhop to gain an advantage in the campaign, but the Conways will most certainly be a threat in Season 5.
Tom Yates Returned To Serve The Underwoods
With Meechum dead, the Underwoods needed their other plaything — writer Tom Yates. Although he was fired from writing Frank's biography in Season 3, he was brought back as a speechwriter in Season 4 and given full access to the Underwoods — after the Conways tried to manipulate him. He had shared sexual tension with Frank before, but in Season 4, Claire slept with him with Frank's approval.
Claire Assisted In Her Mother's Suicide
Claire's mom was introduced in Season 4 and was portrayed by Ellen Burstyn. Although she was initially hiding her cancer from her daughter, once it was exposed, Claire actually assisted in killing her mother at her request. She told Claire it would help her with winning sympathy from voters — which it did — and Tom was there for the assisted suicide.
Claire Became The Nominee For Vice President
Because of the open convention, it was up to the voters at the Democratic National Convention to choose the presidential nominees, and the people chose Claire as the vice president after she gave a heartfelt speech about her mother's death. Underwood-Underwood 2016!
Doug Made A New Friend
Frank wasn't the first person on the liver donor list and so Doug began to feel guilty for manipulating the situation — especially since the first person on the donor list died. Doug became fascinated by his widow, Laura Moretti, and ended up dating her. Pretty sure that's one of the least healthy ways to start a relationship ever.
Tom Hammerschmidt Reported On Frank
Lucas left a note outlining all of Frank's crimes before he tried to kill the president, and although the Washington Herald editor had been dismissive before, Tom Hammerschmidt started to realize that Lucas may have been right. Even though he got beat up by Freddy, Tom was able to report that the president may be a criminal through a prominent article.
Jackie & Remy Got Out Of Town
Jackie and Remy were always a couple worth 'shipping and Season 4 proved that, by having Jackie leave her husband to be with the man she loves. Both Remy and Jackie talked to Tom about Frank and once he published his article, they decided to skip town rather than deal with the fallout. Although fans will miss them in Season 5, here's hoping these two have found happiness outside of Washington, D.C.
Frank Declared War On Terrorism
The Islamic Caliphate Organization (ICO) — House of Card's terrorist group, comparable to ISIS — held an American family hostage. Frank decided that in order to bury Tom's story about him, he had to make a bold move. He saved the mother and daughter, but proclaimed war against the terrorist organization, knowing he'd be sentencing the father to death by doing so. That means you should expect the U.S. to be at war in Season 5.
Claire Broke The Fourth Wall
Season 4 was all about Claire becoming as important as Frank, and that was solidified by the final moment of the season. While Frank often speaks directly to the audience and breaks the fourth wall, Claire never has. Yet, she did so in the final moments of Season 4, indicating a huge shift in dynamics for Season 5.
With Claire being regarded as Frank's equal, Season 5 has a lot in store and will surely be a welcome distraction from what's happening in real-world politics.