9:00am PT by Brian Porreca
'House of Cards' Season 5 Predictions: Where the Netflix Drama Can Go From Here
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from House of Cards' fourth season.]
In the opening scene of House of Cards' fourth season, Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus) made a surprise return to the series — the first of many shocks the soapy political drama revealed during its latest 13 chapters.
Next up was the attempted assassination of antihero Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) by the hands of Goodwin. The failed attempt resulted in the death of Goodwin and one of the show's most popular characters, Meechum (Nathan Darrow). (Looks like there won't be another threesome starring the tight-lipped Secret Service agent.)
While the assassination attempt didn't kill Underwood — you didn't think it would, did you? — two characters from the vicious, fictitious president's past were brought back onscreen: Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) and Peter Russo (Corey Stoll). No they aren't alive, but both returns brought a twist the show has not used before.
Halfway through the season fans were introduced to Frank's new political rival Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman), but the young lad was not the biggest threat to Francis. Another surprise return was that of Zoe's former boss at the Washington Herald, Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver), who exposed Underwood's corrupt path to the presidency.
Other twists and turns that hit Washington, D.C., during season four included first lady Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) taking the seat as vice president, Leann Harvey's (Neve Campbell) arrival as "Lady Stamper," and Claire's new romance with Yates (Paul Sparks) that even got the stamp of approval from her very own husband.
With all of these returns and revelations the question next for the series is: Where to go from here? Here The Hollywood Reporter breaks down what the already ordered season five might look like when it premieres next spring.
The affair ends here.
Frank gave his blessing for Claire and Yates' romance, but how long can that relationship really last? The only action Frank got in season four was in a delusion with two people he killed, Barnes and Russo. There was little love for Underwood, so to live a life alone while his wife is traveling around the country jumping into bed with the author might stir up some major conflict. The scenario can turn out two ways. The first: Frank finds his own "companion" and is undistracted by the fact that his first lady, wife and vice president is sleeping with another man. The second: The president marks Yates as his next victim and eliminates him completely from the picture. It could very well be the latter, especially if Yates causes problems for the Underwoods. Frank might not be the one to pull the trigger though. It very well could be an already concerned Harvey who sends the writer packing.
The face-off of the century.
Season four built up the tension between Frank's right-hand man Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) and Claire's No. 1 ally, Leann, so what's next for these two? First there may be romance, and then there may be bloodshed. It won't be long before the two rivals connect romantically, and after that Stamper will grow attached, leaving Harvey with the upper hand. So when Frank and Claire duel next time, Stamper may be so distracted by his new obsession that Claire could win her next battle against her husband. If that scenario doesn't happen, the two might realize they are the oil that keeps the Underwood machine running and abandon their loyalty to the first couple in order to take their own seats of power. They will be rivals, potential lovers and could even unite in season five.
The beginning of the end.
If this season is the last of the series, then Frank Underwood's days are numbered. His wife, Claire, has secured her seat as vice president and is now "one heartbeat away from the presidency." It won't be long before the two will go toe-to-toe again, and this time Claire will seal both of their fates. By eliminating her husband, she will have learned from the best and will be the next president. And if she fails, it looks like Frank will have to eliminate her instead, leaving him alone with Stamper and a box of tissues.
New characters, casting predictions.
So by now it's obvious that the show's fourth season utilized the power of new characters to twist up the political game. When the Underwoods thought they were winning, they began to lose. When they thought they were going to lose it all, they became desperate. At the end of season four they are more vulnerable than ever, leaving the opportunity for new players to turn their lives upside down. The first, a new whistle-blower, Zoe Barnes-type journalist that Frank will use in his constant scheming. She's edgy, and when Frank thinks she's on his side she may have the tricks up her sleeve to take him down. She can also fill the void left behind by Claire and become Frank's new love interest. Who could play her? Rose McGowan. One reason this could come to fruition is the fact that former showrunner Beau Willimon follows the actress/director on Twitter, leaving it fair to assume that her name was tossed around in the writers room throughout the series. Next up: the head of the Secret Service. This guy brings new challenges for Stamper as he becomes Frank's closest ally. While he poses as a wrench in the life of Doug he also mixes up Stamper's female counterpart's life as well. How? He's her father. But neither he nor Leann knows it. Who does? Stamper of course, and he'll use it to his advantage when it comes to facing off against Harvey. Who could be cast as the new addition to the White House? Billy Bob Thornton. Last but not least: Conway's new running mate. His new vice presidential pick has to be able to match up against Claire, and if Sigourney Weaver is cast in the role she will. She's the former governor of Texas, and with that knows all too much about the Underwoods. Enough to finally take the pair down once and for all.
Photo credit: Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Turner; Barry King/Getty Images; Taylor Hill/FilmMagic/Getty Images
What do you think will happen to the Underwoods when the series returns next year? Will next season be its last? What do you think about the possible new characters joining the political thriller? Sound off in the comments below and read The Live Feed to stay up to speed on all things House of Cards.