On Netflix's House Of Cards, Frank Underwood may be the President Of The United States, but let's be real: his wife Claire is the real star. As performed with steely resolve by Robin Wright, she's been the most consistently captivating character on the show. So what did Claire do in House Of Cards Season 4? Viewers may want to remind themselves what the fierce First Lady get up to last year before diving headfirst into Season 5.
You'll probably remember that Season 3 ended on a doozy of a cliffhanger, with Claire walking out of the White House — and her marriage to Frank — after her husband coldly put an end to her political ambitions, firing her as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in an effort to mollify an irate Russian President Petrov. Of course, Claire wasn't about to take that setback lying down; far from letting that turn of events end her career, she decides to set her sights even higher, gunning for a Congressional seat currently occupied by the elderly Doris Jones… despite the fact that the seat is pretty much promised to Doris' equally ambitious daughter, Celia.
Claire hires LeeAnn Harvey as her campaign manager, but their efforts are undermined when a spiteful Frank throws his support towards Celia during his State Of The Union speech, once again derailing Claire's plans. In response, the spurned First Lady leaked a damning photo of Frank's father with a member of the KKK, thus damaging his own campaign for a second term as President.
The Cold War of the Underwoods didn't come to an end until an attempt was made on Frank's life by would-be assassin Lucas Goodwin. While Frank is recovering and Vice President Donald Blythe becomes Acting President Donald Blythe, Claire steps in to help the inept politician with the precarious state of foreign affairs. By the time Frank wakes up, he's ready to put aside their rivalry and become a team again — although Claire warns him that things would have to be different this time.
What does different look like? How about her name on the presidential ballot? A joint Underwood/Underwood ticket is a stroke of Machiavellian genius… and it takes just as much Machiavellian maneuvering to make it a reality. At the Democratic National Convention, the couple faces unexpected dissension among the ranks of the party. Although the only question was supposed to be the selection of the Vice Presidential candidate, Frank soon finds his own candidacy at risk in the ensuing chaos, challenged by Secretary of State Cathy Durant, who threatens to continue sowing dissension unless he names her VP over his own wife. Fortunately, Frank is able to leverage the brewing rumors about his involvement in the deaths of Frank Russo and Zoe Barnes to threaten Durant into submission — and both he and Claire secure the vote.
In the final few episodes of the season, the newly-minted running mates found themselves embroiled in a hostage crisis involving terrorist group ICO (aka a thinly-veiled stand-in for ISIS). The organization has taken a family of Americans hostage, and demand that, in order to secure their release, the United States withdraw its troops and release their leader, Yusuf al Ahmadi, from Guantánamo Bay.
Ultimately, soldiers are able to rescue the wife and daughter, although the husband — James Miller — remains in ICO custody. Claire attempts to negotiate with al Ahmadi for his release, but the terrorist leader breaks their agreement. All of this comes to a head just as Tom Hammerschmidt publishes his article implicating Frank in the deaths of Peter and Zoe, so the Underwoods decide to use fear as a distraction from the truth. And so Season 4 ends with James Miller being executed on live TV while President Underwood declares full-out war against ICO… and he and Claire look directly into the camera together for the first time.
If there's anything more horrifying than Frank Underwood or Claire Underwood — it's definitely Frank and Claire Underwood, united in an unholy pact of terror and manipulation. Can anything stand in their way? Find out when House Of Cards Season 5 premieres on Netflix this Tuesday, May 30.