The following article includes spoilers from the fourth season of “House of Cards” available on Netflix.
The newest season of “House of Cards” teaches that even a fictional Whitehouse administration must occasionally reconcile with its worst adversaries to evade disaster. After binging through the entirety of newly-uploaded season four of “House of Cards” on Netflix, it becomes clear that even when our Presidents of the United States and protagonist Frank Underwood is on top of the world with diplomacy and marital appearances, no thread is too small to end up unraveling everything he’s worked ruthlessly for.
Since the great thing about a hit Netflix series is the sudden dump of each season’s episodes all at once, fans can feel justified in catching up on seasons 1-3 before spending another weekend plastered to the couch. Of course, starting with the current season won’t exactly throw one into a stupor of confusion over what’s unfolding plot-wise. Rather, the depth of familiarity with character backgrounds (like Claire’s or Lucas Goodwin’s) is what’s needed to understand Frank and Claire’s jaded, growing lust for power.
At the end of season 3, Claire intends to separate from Frank after a series of prolonged marital tensions and Frank’s removal of her position as a United Nations ambassador. Season 3’s preoccupation with an estranged marriage looming over power-hungry political careers spills into this season in more ways than one. Now, instead of balancing a cold marriage with their ruthless political plans, we notice their personal lives boil over into the press. Now, it’s a matter of deciding whether to keep up the marital bliss facade or break the news that they intend to divorce.
However, somewhere midseason it becomes obvious Claire has more nefarious aspirations up her sleeve than Frank does, and we see it in her willingness to send damning photos of him to a political rival. It’s a calculating, pragmatic attempt to force his hand at appointing her to a prestigious cabinet position. Fans will want to tune in to figure out how this bodes terribly during primary elections for Frank. We might forgive her for it, knowing it was in return for Frank essentially ruining her chances at brokering a run for a certain congressional office.
For more details, be on the lookout for sitting incumbent congresswoman Doris Jones and her daughter Celia. That’s where things start to get vicious between the two and shake up the very communities Frank is trying desperately to retain trust with. He can’t get Doris onto his side in running for office again, and she can’t get him on her side in seeking a strategic seat in congress for Texas.
Things tend to slow down at this point and may become slightly boring as Claire hashes out money problems with her (now very sick) mother, while Washington Herald editor Lucas Goodwin uses his new-found freedom from prison to continue his hell-bent mission to expose Frank’s biggest scandals. Even with the lull in development, if viewers simply stick through it and by the 10th episode or so, they might be glad they did. The stage is only being set.
Frank’s decisions cause him to lose close friends, to blackmail, to split crucial voting blocks because of racial tension. An assassination attempt unfolds. Not to mention a certain Russian president named Petrov returns, who no longer trusts Frank, and attempts to calm a military dispute. We see how an untimely incident and Claire’s meddling with foreign relations miraculously work to forge a resolution with Russia.
Lastly, a terrorist hostage crisis develops toward the end of the season. We’ll just say it involves a convicted cyber-terrorist and computer science major from Tennessee Tech by the name of Joshua Masterson. Well that and above all else, avid viewers of this show will definitely want to see how a domestic terrorist hostage situation can go from bad, to worse, to a disaster as Claire, Frank and political rival Conway watch in horror. The season wraps up with an eerie, almost jaded collaboration as both Frank and Claire look into the camera, and Frank declares “That’s right. We don’t submit to terror. We make the terror.” Frank then makes a televised statement to the American people after a tragedy. He declares war on the Islamic Caliphate Organization, the terrorist cell network they are attempting to avoid negotiating with. It’s clear he is no longer willing to win hearts.