'House of Cards' season 6 preview: Claire Underwood is taking center stage as the Commander-in-Chief

The popular drama returns for its sixth and final season on November 2 with Robin Wright as its leading star.

                            'House of Cards' season 6 preview: Claire Underwood is taking center stage as the Commander-in-Chief

After a hiatus of 1.5 years — for reasons beyond the showrunners or the producers' control — 'House of Cards' will be returning for its sixth and final season on November 2nd and will have Robin Wright's Claire Underwood as its new commander-in-chief, in every sense of the word. Season 5 was arguably the series' most tumultuous one yet, filled with enough scheming, twists, turns, and betrayals to keep you guessing every step of the way.

Of course, the biggest betrayal would, in the end, come from none other than the man trusted to carry the show: Kevin Spacey. Spacey's ruthless, Machiavelian, and opportunistic Frank Underwood had proven to be quite the capable antagonist (or anti-hero if you will), leaving you often questioning whether it was his character's complete lack of a moral compass that made 'House of Cards' so intriguing and entertaining or whether it was maybe because of his flawless execution. One way or the other, we'll come to know because Spacey is no longer a part of the show.

Wright will be the new lead in 'House of Cards' (Source: IMDb)
Wright will be the new lead in 'House of Cards' (Source: IMDb)

Unless you've been living under the rock for the past year, you'll know that Spacey was one of many actors to have been outed as a sexual predator in the light of the #MeToo movement. The 59-year-old was one of the first major celebrities to be accused of sexual harassment, as the allegations piled up, Netflix saw little option but to cut all ties with the Academy Award winner. The sixth season, which was already under production at the time, was suddenly in jeopardy.

It took the advocacy and campaigning of Wright on behalf of the 2,500 people working on the show for the network's executives to give it the go-ahead once again, and in late January, production was greenlit once again. Showrunners Frank Pugliese and Melissa Gibson reworked the scripts to eliminate Frank from the storyline and gave the series the ending it deserved within the short span of just eight more episodes and ensured that there were no scheduling conflicts with the cast and crew who had other contractual obligations. It was an understandably tall order, and it remains to be seen how this final season will turn out, though from what we can glean from the teasers and trailers, Wright's Claire is very much taking center stage.

If the season does turn out to be successful, the 52-year-old actress will deservedly walk away with a significant portion of the plaudits. Not only did she get the show back in production, but she also took control of its creative direction. In what was an enormous show of faith, as well as an endorsement of how highly regarded she is, Wright helmed the series finale of 'House of Cards.' She previously also directed the final episode of season 5, as well as 14 other episodes, so she is by no means a rookie. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how she has decided to wrap up the popular drama and if viewers get a similar fourth-wall breaking ending like that of previous seasons.

Season 5 closed with Claire pondering on whether she should go ahead with a presidential pardon for Frank, before then ignoring his repeated calls on the same and breaking the fourth wall and saying, "My turn." Little did she know at the time that circumstances would indeed force the presidency upon her, though if the showrunners are to be believed, it was always their intention to see Claire permanently instated as Commander-in-Chief.

Promotions for this upcoming season that followed have all indicated Claire will be a Frank Underwood-lite. The first teaser premiered at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony and showed Claire in the Oval Office as President Claire Underwood. As the camera closes in, she swivels in her chair before declaring, "We're just getting started," followed by an intertitle reading 'Hail to the Chief,' the official presidential anthem of the country. 

On July 4 earlier this year, Netflix released another promotion of Claire wishing all the citizens a happy independence day but with a twist. Sporting that signature smirk, she declares, "Happy Independence Day...to me." The message was accompanied by a hashtag of #MyTurn. A first poster for the season then saw Wright striking the Lincoln Memorial pose, just as Kevin Spacey had done before her. But it wasn't until the release of the first teaser-trailer proper on September 5 that the series alluded to Frank's death.

The teasers and trailers gave audiences a hint of what to expect (Source: YouTube)
The teasers and trailers gave audiences a hint of what to expect (Source: YouTube)

It is shown that Frank died in 2017 and has been buried, against his long-standing wish, next to his father's grave in South Carolina. Claire pays her deceased husband a visit and coldly states, "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," mirroring a speech that Frank gave when he visited his father's grave in season 3.

The next teaser-trailer released on September 27 presented several familiar faces, as well as some new ones. The most noteworthy, of course, would be Diane Lane's and Greg Kinnear's Annette and Bill Shepherd, a brother-sister pair who are the inheritors of an industrial conglomerate and who happen to carry significant influence in shaping American politics. 

It also shows Claire addressing a group of departing soldiers, speaking about how her first 100 days as president have been difficult, as well as going out of her way to ensure that Frank's decisions and promises mean little to her. A fake mourning scene aside, she pulls off one of Frank's characteristic fourth-wall breaks with the same intensity and practiced ease and says, "Here's the thing. Whatever Francis told you over the last five years, don't believe a word of it. It's going to be different for you and me." The other intriguing revelation was that of Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), who seems to have gotten out of his psychiatric institution and is hell-bent on making life hard for the new President.

The official trailer that aired on October 8 gave audiences a proper idea of what this sixth and final season would entail. Claire, insistent on surrounding herself with a cabinet she can trust and whom she knows will support her, alienates some powerful people who she terms as 'American Oligarchs.' Chief amongst these is Anne and Bill Shepherd, who quickly realize that they no longer have an ally in the White House and scheme to see her stripped of her power. Curiously enough, Viktor Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen), the Russian president who had all this time been a thorn in Frank's side, might just prove to be an invaluable ally.

It was also hinted that Doug would turn on Claire. His dislike for the now-president has always been evident, and Frank's death leaves him suspecting that she was involved in some capacity. He turns to Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) to possibly divulge sensitive information, though when that seemingly fails, he does not hesitate to take more drastic measures. 

The showrunners seem determined to portray Claire as a hard woman, best exemplified when Petrov asks Doug who he fears most. "Her," he replies as the camera zooms in on a resolute Claire standing over her Oval Office desk. It's forced at best and cringey at worst, though one can hope that this final season finally lets the Lady Macbeth of the series take flight.

Watch the official trailer for season 6 of 'House of Cards' here: