November 01, 2018
It’s been a headline-grabbing year and a half since the last new episodes of “House of Cards” dropped, back in May 2017. Shortly after production began last fall on Season 6, sexual assault allegations surfaced against its Emmy-nominated male lead, Kevin Spacey, shutting down production and forcing the writers to reimagine the coming narrative. A year later, that next and final season is here, landing Friday on Netflix. And as the company made clear with the season’s first teaser trailer in September, Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood, is not returning — killed during the off-season, in a manner not yet disclosed.
House of Cards: Six Things to Remember Before the Start of Season 6
However the writers killed him, many familiar cast members are returning, including Robin Wright, Michael Kelly and Boris McGiver, alongside new characters played by Greg Kinnear and Diane Lane. And whatever got cooked up between seasons will somehow have to pick up from Season 5. Here’s a refresher on where we left off.

Claire Underwood is in control of the country
House of Cards: Six Things to Remember Before the Start of Season 6
More than at any other point in the show’s history, “House of Cards” was uniquely situated to handle the departure of Kevin Spacey. After all, the last two words of Season 5 were spoken directly into the camera by now-President Claire Underwood (Wright): “My turn.” After Frank resigned the presidency to join the kingmakers and power players behind the scenes, he needed only his wife to pardon him for his many misdeeds, which she promptly chose not to do, refusing even to return his phone calls. Season 6 was once conceived as a battle between Frank and Claire for power but now the Oval Office is all hers.

Mark Usher and Jane Davis are pulling strings
House of Cards: Six Things to Remember Before the Start of Season 6
Well, maybe not all hers. Two of the puppet masters that influenced the Underwood administration last year are most likely still on the scene. Mark Usher (Campbell Scott) went from being a behind-the-scenes manipulator to sitting in the vice president’s office. Meanwhile, Claire’s ally Jane Davis (Patricia Clarkson) knows a lot of Underwood secrets and could end up being to Claire what Doug Stamper (Kelly) was to Frank. Both Scott and Clarkson have been announced for the Season 6 cast.

LeAnn Harvey, Tom Yates, and Aidan Macallan are dead, but not Cathy Durant
House of Cards: Six Things to Remember Before the Start of Season 6
Season 5 ended with a slew of murders. Most important, Claire committed murder for the first time (that we know of), poisoning her lover, the writer Tom Yates (Paul Sparks), during sex. Neve Campbell’s LeAnn Harvey was run off the road, likely because she knew too much. It wasn’t too clear if she was dead, but Campbell does not appear to be returning for Season 6. Finally, the N.S.A. contractor Aidan Macallan (Damian Young) invaded the privacy of voters on a national level, but he suspiciously killed himself. And remember when Frank rather blatantly pushed his secretary of state, Cathy Durant, down the stairs? A news report near the end of the season revealed that Cathy was merely injured, and we know now that Jayne Atkinson, the actress who plays her, will be in Season 6.

The country is in a state of chaos
House of Cards: Six Things to Remember Before the Start of Season 6
Season 5 opened with the country in the grip of terrorism, some of it deeply exploited by Frank to swing an election he was about to lose to Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman). Season six might present a united, happy country under Underwood 2, but that seems unlikely. So it’s worth remembering that Underwood basically orchestrated a terrorist scare so the election couldn’t be ratified. When this happens, the House picks the president and the Senate picks the vice president. Claire was chosen as vice president relatively quickly, and Frank remained president. His attempts to keep hold of the office defined much of the season.

Doug Stamper took the fall for Zoe Barnes
House of Cards: Six Things to Remember Before the Start of Season 6
The devoted newspaperman Tom Hammerschmidt (McGiver) refused to give up on the murder of Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara). When it seemed as if Frank Underwood might finally face justice for one of his first crimes, Doug took the blame instead. Does this mean Frank’s loyal chief of staff isn’t in Season 6? Of course not. Michael Kelly is all over the trailers for the new season, but it is unclear how he will work his way back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and whether he’ll be an ally or enemy of Claire’s.

So many skeletons
House of Cards: Six Things to Remember Before the Start of Season 6
Given that Season 6 will be the final one for “House of Cards,” cardinal sins from all of the first five seasons could come back to haunt Claire. There are a great number of unsolved cases in the Underwood ledger, including the murders of Peter Russo, Rachel Posner, Gavin Orsay, Lucas Goodwin, and now Harvey and Yates. Could one of Frank’s crimes take Claire down? Or even her own? The two have used each other as political human shields for five seasons — what happens now that Frank is gone?
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