The final season of Netflix's 'House of Cards' will premiere on November 2, bringing down the curtains on a show that helped put the network on the map as a genuine competitor in original programming. The series is based on the novel of the same name by Michael Dobbs, who served as an aide to then-British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and then condensed his experiences from within Westminister Abbey's halls into a trilogy of politically-charged thrillers that would prove an instant success.
At the time, industry bigwigs such as Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright signing on to star was unprecedented, especially considering how 'House of Cards' would be a web-only series but, in the end, it would prove to be a well-calculated move. Beau Willimon managed to adapt Dobbs' novels into crisp 13-episode seasons packed with twists and turns to put the Nürburgring to shame, and the drama would gain immense popularity amongst critics as well as audiences, who raved about its slick, engrossing nature and its cynical take on power and corruption.
In the five seasons since its first premiered all the way back in February 2013, surprises have been aplenty and entertainment has rarely been lacking. Just think back to the time you saw Frank ruthlessly and without second thought decide to ruin the life of Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) and then kill him. Or when he decided Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) was no longer worth the trouble and pushed her in front of an oncoming train. Or the dozens of other times he's emphatically taken one of his peers down, only to then step on them as he relentlessly sought the presidency.
'House of Cards' wielded this darkened view of the American political landscape unabashedly through the characters of Frank and Claire Underwood, as well as the half-a-dozen or so other characters that would prove pivotal in its multitude of unfurling storylines. And it's exactly this smorgasbord of equally relevant characters that made each of its seasons so unpredictable, with every finale slapping you in the face with one or the other revelation that left you in stasis for an hour or so after you're done watching.
Wright was given the responsibility of helming the series finale, and she's promised audiences that it's going to "shock you beyond belief." You could have tried to predict any of the previous five finales, and the chances are that you would have failed. Miserably. Nevertheless, here are three ways how we believe 'House of Cards' will reach its conclusion:
Tom Hammerschmidt finally connects all the dots
As the no-nonsense, tough chief editor at The Washington Herald, Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) is one of the few ethically unambiguous characters on 'House of Cards.' His ability to resist outside pressure and narratives is matched only by his pursuit for the truth, and from the get-go, it's clear that no love is lost between him and the Underwoods. He opens his investigation into the death of Zoe Barnes and Peter Russo on request of former colleague Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus), who had been falsely jailed over cyberterrorism charges, and quickly realizes that there may indeed be some truth to the story.
Despite discouragement, Hammerschmidt sticks to his guns and continues his search for both Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan) and Roy Kapeniak, the proverbial silver bullets. Later, when Frank calls his story "ludicrous" and a "grand conspiracy theory" he manages to gather the support of former aides such as Remy Danton (Mahershala Ali) and Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker), as well as former president Garrett Walker (Michel Gill) to publish the bombshell article, though it would not have the desired effect.
From the trailer, it's apparent that Hammerschmidt has not given up on the story. The search for Rachel Posner continues, and if he manages to find that she lived under a different alias before her death and her connection to girlfriend Lisa Williams (Kate Lyn Shell), the Underwoods' carefully constructed web of lies will unravel, leaving Claire with no option but to resign or get impeached.
Doug Stamper changes his mind following Frank's death and testifies against Claire
While every other aspect of 'House of Cards' remains ambivalent, Doug's (Michael Kelly) loyalty to Frank remains steadfast. Introduced as Frank's closest aide, Doug is complicit in practically every one of the schemes Frank employs as he lies and cheats his way to the presidency. Doug is almost like an enforcer, or an attack dog if you will, who Frank sends to intimidate his targets or who gets the dirty work done with no fuss. There were no limits to how far he would go to prove his undying loyalty either, killing Rachel on orders from the president despite his own reservations and personal feelings.
Later, when the walls began closing in on the Underwoods and it becomes clear that Zoe Barnes' death will be traced back to them, Doug agrees to take the fall and "confesses" to the murder of the Washington Herald reporter. The deal was that when Claire is president, she would pardon both Doug and Frank, though as the ending of season five indicated, she had no such plans in mind.
Teasers for the sixth season show Doug admitted into a psychiatric facility and quite possibly holding a serious grudge against Claire. His distaste for the former First Lady and now-president was no secret in previous seasons and is only going to be exacerbated by her isolation of him from the administration. Chances are he'll turn sides and help Hammerschmidt locate the body of Rachel Posner, possibly taking down Claire in the process.
Claire is outsmarted by Bill and Annette Shepherd
The problem with both those previous predictions is that, to some extent, they are... predictable, and that just isn't 'House of Cards' style. Because Wright promised that the series finale would "shock you beyond belief," it seems unlikely that the conclusion could as straightforward as Doug or Hammerschmidt getting one over her. Instead, maybe it'll be Bill (Greg Kinnear) and Annette Shepherd (Diane Lane) who hammer in the final nail into Claire's coffin.
The two new faces for this final season, Bill and Annette, are the inheritors of an industrial conglomerate and members of a family with considerable influence over governance and politics. The trailers indicate that they are both on a collision course with Claire, and possibly the Raymond Tusks of this season. In every season prior, the Underwoods have managed to outsmart and outmaneuver their political allies via hook or crook (mostly crook). Their underhanded tactics and willingness to go above and beyond while shunning any semblance of morality or ethics has meant they have come out on top on each occasion, so wouldn't it be almost poetic to see Claire get taken down by those very same means?
The thought that the Underwoods could be bested has probably never crossed the audience's minds, and while Claire is just as cunning as her former partner, maybe his absence gives their rivals the opportunity to strike. When you think about, her downfall is the most "shock you beyond belief" moment the drama can produce. It is unlikely because, by doing so, they would be unwittingly admitting that Claire was inferior to Frank, but stranger things have happened on televison.