Spoilers ahead for House of Cards Episode 3. Once Netflix announced that they would not cast Kevin Spacey in the last season of House of Cards due to sexual assault allegations against the actor, as reported by CNN, it became clear that the writers would have to come up with an ending for his character. Claire might be president now, but how Frank died in House of Cards remains the mystery for most of Season 6.
A teaser trailer released in the months leading up to the final season revealed Frank’s grave, confirming that he was dead. But in a show with so many twists and turns, you couldn’t take that at face value — there had to be more to the story. Claire is reluctant, in her chilling fourth-wall-breaking moments, to say exactly what happened to Frank, and in reality, she may not even know.
There are comments thrown left and right within the public and the media that he died beside Claire in bed, but it soon becomes clear that things were a little more complicated than that. Claire tells viewers that the last time she spoke to Frank was when she kept denying his calls back in the Season 5 finale, and she claims that the Shepherd siblings may have had something to do with his demise.
Tom Hammerschmidt, the reporter from the Washington Herald who’s constantly moments away from burning it all down, is completely unconvinced that Claire’s hands are clean. “Something happened that night. Their marriage was broken, he went over there. I’m not saying they’re connected. But the next day he winds up dead?” he tells a coworker. “She knew an indictment was coming. Do you understand what that means?”
Doug is told that an autopsy reveals Frank died from an accidental overdose of his liver medication, which spawned a heart attack. He’s also told that witnesses say Frank was acting disoriented prior to his death, and that Claire suspects the Shepherd siblings could be behind his death. But according to an FBI investigator, the Shepherds were not with Frank the night he died. Annette Shepherd’s son, Duncan, appears to offer Tom evidence of what truly happened to Frank, though his intentions are unclear.
It would be very House of Cards-y to drag this mystery out for as long as it could, but given that this is the final season, an answer will come. Just don't expect it to come easy. Though Frank isn’t in the newest episodes, and though Claire is a foreboding presence all her own, his absence is certainly notable, and his death is a major plot point.
Even from beyond the grave, he can’t let Claire have all the attention or take up too much of the story, which is just typical Frank. In fact, he seems to be haunting her both in the White House and in everyone's furtive glances at the first female president — his influence is everywhere. At this point, everybody suspects everybody, and if House of Cards has taught us anything over the years, it’s that we’ll stay in the dark until the exact moment it decides to reveal all its secrets.