A Wednesday teaser for the upcoming sixth and final season of Netflix’s political thriller shows the series’ new president, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), standing at her husband’s grave. The clip seemingly answers the question over exactly how the series would handle the departure of its former star.
“I’ll tell you this though, Francis. When they bury me, it won’t be in my backyard. And when they pay their respects, they’ll have to wait in line,” says Claire of Spacey’s character. She breaks the fourth wall to look directly at the camera for the delivery of the final line.
The camera then pans to a headstone for Francis J. Underwood, which places his death in 2017. The scene shows that Frank — disgraced and his legacy tarnished — has been buried in his family plot next to his father. (Watch the teaser, above.)
House of Cards returns for its final season on Nov. 2 without Spacey. As Frank and Claire Underwood, Spacey and Wright have played a husband-and-wife duo of political masterminds in the Washington-set thriller since the show launched in 2013. Spacey, who is also an executive producer, was accused of sexual harassment and assault and subsequently fired from the series late last year.
When Netflix severed ties with Spacey in early November, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the season was almost entirely written. The Baltimore-based show halted production until early 2018 in order to write out Spacey’s character and rework the season to revolve around Wright’s Claire. The actress was elevated, both on- and off-screen, to the starring role; she is also returning to the director’s chair for the finale. The final season was intended to run for 13 episodes, but will now feature eight.
Eliminating Spacey’s character, however, wasn’t a complete stretch. In the Michael Dobbs book that inspired the series, Frank dies. The fifth season had already set up Wright’s character as the new President Underwood, effectively promoting her to be the show’s star months before news broke of the allegations against Spacey. The fifth season ended with Claire uttering the ground-breaking words, “My turn,” after she takes over as president and pushes Frank out of the White House.
House of Cards played a pivotal role in putting Netflix on the map when it debuted, and the streaming giant was said to be mulling potential spinoffs, one of which could center on loyal sidekick Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly). The final season, with returning showrunners Melissa James Gibson and Frank Pugliese, has added star power to the cast with Oscar nominees Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear. The cast also includes newcomer Cody Fern and returning stars Kelly, Jayne Atkinson, Patricia Clarkson, Constance Zimmer, Derek Cecil, Campbell Scott and Boris McGiver. (Neve Campbell is not returning.)
Spacey, who has all but disappeared from public eye, is currently facing multiple police investigations in Massachusetts and London; on Tuesday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced that it was declining to prosecute sex crime cases against the star.
In her first interview since the allegations broke over the summer, Wright said the cast and crew were “surprised, of course, and ultimately saddened” about Spacey. In a new interview on Tuesday, the actress was asked if she thinks Spacey deserves a shot at redemption. “I don’t know how to comment on that, I really don’t,” she told Net-a-Porter’s magazine Porter. “I believe every human being has the ability to reform. In that sense, second chances, or whatever you are going to call it — absolutely, I believe in that. It’s called growth.”
In the feature story, Wright elaborated on how close the show came to shutting down completely, instead of halting production and reworking the season. “People were [saying], ‘We have to shut everything down or otherwise it will look like we are glorifying and honoring this thing that’s dirty,'” she recalled of the news breaking at the height of the #MeToo movement. But Wright fought in high-level meetings with Netflix to keep the show going and to keep what she says would have been thousands of people in their jobs: “I believed we should finish. I believed we should honor our commitment. To the people that loved the show, also. Why quit? … They printed that it was ‘only’ 600 people out of work, but if you include security, cops, shooting on location in Baltimore, everything, 2,500 people would have been out of a job. And that’s not fair — to take that security away from those people — they didn’t do anything .”
Wright also had this to say about how the series ends: “It’s pretty wild. I mean, we’re doing an opera. And we went operatic! I don’t know how much more we could have topped ourselves. You’ll be surprised.”
The Hollywood Reporter‘s parent company also owns MRC, the studio that produces House of Cards.