House of Cards’ fifth season has been on Netflix for about 36 hours, but a lot of hardcore fans have already binged the entire thing and have now reached the shocking finale. Here’s a recap of what went down in Chapter 65, the fifth season finale of House of Cards.
Chapter 65 opens with Frank and Claire discussing Frank’s surprise announcement that he will resign from office. Claire is upset that Frank didn’t clue her in to this, and he subsequently reveals that he orchestrated this entire thing. All of the leaks that have been coming out of the White House came from Frank, and he has had all of this planned ever since his trip to Elysium Fields a few episodes ago.
Why? Well, Frank has evidently realized that the real power in the United States is not in the Oval Office; it’s in the private sector, and he wants to be a person who pulls the strings from outside of the White House while still being intimately involved in his wife’s presidency. However, Frank makes clear that Claire will have to pardon him, otherwise he’s not going to resign.
Claire Underwood isn’t so sure she wants to do so, however. She doesn’t want her presidency to be tarnished by Frank’s crimes, and pardoning him would create a significant amount of backlash and potentially implicate her in everything that happened. Still, Claire promises Frank that she will pardon him so long as he leaves the White House so that it can appear that they are estranged. By the end of the episode, though, Claire has not announced a pardon, and when Frank calls Claire on her cell phone, she does not answer. “If she doesn’t pardon me, I’ll kill her,” Frank says. He might not get that chance, though, as during a conversation with Claire Underwood in this episode, Jane Davis actually suggests that Claire poison Frank, chalking this up to a liver failure. Given what happened to Tom Yates, it’s not unreasonable to think that Claire might consider doing so.
Meanwhile, LeAnne Harvey has some information that Aidan Macallan gave her before his death. She agrees to hand it over to Jane Davis in exchange for becoming White House chief of staff. The information that Macallan gave to Harvey can only be unlocked with answers to personal questions about Harvey, and so Harvey gives those answers over to Davis. Davis assures her that she will have a role in the Claire Underwood administration, but she was blatantly lying, as Harvey later learns that Underwood wants her to resign. Harvey freaks out about this, and she is soon driven off the road and presumably killed. We don’t actually see her body, though, leaving open the possibility that she will return next year alive and well.
Stamper himself is concerned about the fate of LeAnne Harvey by the end of the episode, and so when he learns next season that she has been killed, this may be what causes him to finally snap and turn against the Underwoods. Speaking of which, everyone in the Underwood Administration, including Stamper, is trying to propagate the idea that Stamper killed Zoe Barnes. But reporter Tom Hammerschmidt isn’t buying it; he seems to suspect that Frank Underwood, not Doug Stamper, killed Zoe, which is of course entirely accurate.
Quite a few characters are out of a job by the end of the episode, including Doug Stamper but also including White House Press Secretary Seth Grayson. He has been fired, and Deputy White House Press Secretary, Sean Jeffries, is serving in his place.
Mark Usher, the former campaign manager for Will Conway who joined up with the Underwoods earlier this season, suggests to Claire Underwood that he should be her vice president. He basically threatens her by suggesting that some of her secrets might come out if he isn’t picked; Usher, after all, knows that Claire Underwood murdered Tom Yates. But Usher is continuing to speak with Frank Underwood despite telling Claire to distance herself from him, and so Frank will likely be using Usher to keep up with the Claire Underwood administration next season.
Jane Davis presents Claire Underwood with some photos of a chemical attack in Syria, which Davis feels presents Claire with a perfect opportunity to put troops on the ground in the war against ICO. Davis, of course, has been advocating for this war the entire season, even before the chemical attack, and although Claire is wary, she decides to send in troops. President Claire Underwood delivers a speech towards the end of the episode officially announcing that the U.S. will be sending ground troops into Syria.
Going into Season 6, then, President Claire Underwood will be leading the United States to war, all the while her husband attempts to undermine her from within and reporter Tom Hammerschmidt inches closer and closer to bringing down the entire Underwood empire once and for all.