House of Cards (season 4)

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House of Cards (season 4)
House of Cards season 4.png
Blu-ray cover
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes13
Original networkNetflix
Original releaseMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)
Season chronology
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Season 3
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Season 5
List of House of Cards episodes

The fourth season of the American web television drama series House of Cards was announced by Netflix via Twitter on April 2, 2015. Filming began on June 16, 2015. The season premiered on March 4, 2016.


On April 2, 2015, Netflix announced via its Twitter account that it had renewed House of Cards for a fourth season of undisclosed length, to be released in early 2016. The tweet read: "I will leave a legacy. #Underwood2016".[1] The first casting calls were announced on May 5, 2015, to occur on May 15.[2] Film crews were spotted filming on June 16, 2015.[3]

In December 2015, it was revealed during a 2016 Republican Party presidential debate through faux advertising that the season would premiere on March 4, 2016.[4] In January, show creator, executive producer and showrunner Beau Willimon's departure following the season was announced.[5] The first trailer for the season, which focused on the contentious relationship between the Underwoods, was released on February 10.[6] The press release associated with the trailer said "In an election year, the stakes are now higher than ever, and the biggest threat they face is contending with each other."[7]


On July 1, 2015, Neve Campbell was announced as having been cast for season 4.[8] In September 2015, Colm Feore was announced as having a recurring role.[9] In February 2016, Joel Kinnaman was announced as having a recurring role.[10] On February 10, Ellen Burstyn and Cicely Tyson were announced as cast members in conjunction with the release of the first trailer for the season.[7]


No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release dateProd.
401"Chapter 40"Tucker GatesBeau WillimonMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-401

Frank travels to his home state of South Carolina for the next phase of his 2016 presidential re-election campaign. Rumors about his wife's absence on the campaign trail grow. Claire is staying at the home of her mother, Elizabeth Hale, though they do not speak to each other for the first few days.

Claire hires LeAnn Harvey to help her begin a campaign for a local Congressional seat, currently held by Doris Jones. LeAnn tells Claire that it is assumed Doris' daughter Celia Jones will run for the seat next, and Claire insists they will need to change their minds about that. Claire and her mother finally talk. Elizabeth does not hide her contempt for the President, and is bothered by Claire's constant comings and goings, and tensions elevate between them. Doug Stamper arrives at the meeting with Doris and Celia, and sabotages the discussion, but Claire tells LeAnn she is not giving up.

Frank arrives at Elizabeth's home and informs Claire that her mother is suffering from terminal lymphoma. The two make a deal that Claire will attend the State of the Union address in exchange for Frank leaving her campaign alone. Claire goes into her mother's room and sees that she uses a wig to hide the baldness caused from chemotherapy. Claire and Frank then make a press announcement together regarding Elizabeth's health, thus explaining Claire's absence from Frank's campaign. In the meantime, Lucas Goodwin is released from prison under witness protection, and is settled into an apartment under an alias.
412"Chapter 41"Tucker GatesMelissa James GibsonMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-402

Claire starts her own power play for Doris Jones' congressional seat, putting her and Frank at odds with each other. Elizabeth speaks to her friends, urging them to indirectly donate to Dunbar's campaign. Frank makes last minute changes to his speech before delivering the State of the Union address, and during the speech, he announces that he will be fully funding Doris' health care center, and throws in his support for Celia to take over the seat after Doris retires, thus effectively ending Claire's chances at the seat.

In the Situation Room, Frank is told that Russian President Viktor Petrov has had several political rivals killed, and that Igor Milkin, a business owner, has come to the U.S. requesting asylum. Frank, Linda and Cathy call Petrov to discuss the situation, and Petrov accuses Frank of sponsoring an attempted coup against him. Claire and Elizabeth argue about money for her campaign, and Claire threatens to sell the family property that is in her name.
423"Chapter 42"Robin WrightFrank PuglieseMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-403

Doris and Celia introduce Frank at predominantly African-American church in his hometown of Gaffney, South Carolina. There he talks about what it is like to struggle with poverty, and how the recent increase in gasoline prices (due to Russia's slowdown in production), puts pressure on poor communities like theirs. Claire arrives to help Frank with the South Carolina primary, but he does not trust her. In the meantime, he hosts Doris and Celia at his house, cementing their support.

LeAnn accesses the Underwood's safe deposit box, and uses its contents to orchestrate a scandal by having a picture of Frank's father with a KKK member, which is hung across a prominent billboard. Frank's cabinet begins to investigate how the photo got leaked, and attempt to perform damage control from the scandal. Frank addresses the same church again, giving the congregation context for the photo. Seth, however, sends LeAnn a photo of Frank with a Confederate reenactor which then goes public as well, and Frank loses the South Carolina primary.

Frank finds Claire's earrings in the safe deposit box, revealing the scandals to be a part of her plan to wake Frank up to the shortcomings of his campaign, and how much he needs her on his side. She demands he make her his running mate in his campaign, but Frank derides her proposal.
434"Chapter 43"Robin WrightJohn MankiewiczMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-404

In the Situation Room, Frank and the Joint Chiefs plan a dangerous political game using Milkin as leverage against Russia. Durant objects, saying the move could trigger a hostile response from Russia, but Frank overrides her and instructs them to draw up the plan. He is later shown signing the plan against Durant's repeated objection.

Protesters picket a campaign rally at Hammond University, chanting "Blunderwood." Frank first delivers a speech to the friendly crowd inside the university, and then goes outside to greet the protesters. While doing so, he is shot twice by Lucas Goodwin. Edward Meechum returns fire at Goodwin, and both Meechum and Goodwin die from their injuries. Underwood is brought to the hospital in critical condition, and Vice President Donald Blythe is sworn in as Acting President.

Blythe meets with Frank's cabinet and is presented with the decision to either continue or abort the Milkin operation. He is indecisive, and asks for time to think the situation over. Stamper brings in Claire to help, and with her assistance, Blythe instead decides to land Milkin's plane in China.
445"Chapter 44"Tom ShanklandKenneth LinMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-405

The FBI tells Stamper that Lucas left behind a suicide note detailing out his belief that Frank killed Zoe Barnes and Peter Russo (in Season 1), and that the note was already entered as evidence and could not be hidden away. Stamper tells Claire about the note and she asks for a copy.

Blythe is preparing to speak with Petrov about the Milkin situation, and he asks Claire for help. She offers to sit in on the call, but he tells her Durant would object. Claire then offers to secretly listen in on the call and text him advice on how to respond to Petrov. During the call, Blythe tells Petrov that Frank may not survive, and so the two of them need to learn how to negotiate with each other.

Claire addresses the press about Frank's health and also explains away Lucas' accusations as "mental illness". Following up on the story, Kate Baldwin tracks down Tom Hammerschmidt, and he reiterates that he does not believe Lucas' allegations either. Meanwhile, Frank suffers hallucinations as his health continues to deteriorate. The doctors tell Stamper that it is too late for a living donation and that Frank needs a liver transplant to live.
456"Chapter 45"Tom ShanklandLaura EasonMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-406

Blythe, Tusk, and the cabinet discuss Claire's Russian economic assistance plan, including the sharing of U.S. oil drilling technologies in exchange for China carrying a larger part of the bailout's cost. Blythe intended to present the plan at the upcoming G7 Summit in Brandenburg, Germany. Claire and Durant argue over Claire's involvement in the process, but Blythe adds Claire to the G7 delegation anyway. Petrov refuses to negotiate with Durant, but will talk with Claire. After arguing the terms, she tells Petrov he is a beggar, and will take what he is given.

Dunbar is brought before the Department of Justice for questioning about her meeting with Lucas. She admits to it, and uses the opportunity to go after Frank and his administration, but this effectively ends her candidacy. In the meantime, LeAnn is told that GOP candidate Conway is manipulating search engine hits to increase his visibility for the election, which may be an insurmountable advantage. She tells Claire this, but Claire is too preoccupied to address the issue.

Stamper intimidates the Secretary of Health to make sure Frank is next on the list for liver transplants. As they wait for a donor, Frank hallucinates about Zoe and Russo, his victims. A teenager's suicide provides a viable liver, and Frank goes into surgery. He is moved to the White House as soon as he can talk, and as he recovers from surgery, he asks Claire, "Stay with me." She insists things would have to be different than before, and he agrees. He is later shown signing the bailout agreement Claire created.
467"Chapter 46"Tom ShanklandBill KennedyMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-407

Dunbar drops out of the campaign, leaving Frank the last remaining Democratic candidate. He manipulates Blythe into stepping aside, and asks the Cabinet to look for a new running mate. Claire talks to the press about gun control, specifically where guns can be purchased without background checks. She speaks with Julia, a NRA representative, whom she ruthlessly attacks on Frank's advice. Meanwhile, Tom Hammerschmidt, once again looking into Lucas' death, visits Janine Skorsky, who confirms his accusations.

Conway, Governor of New York State, is the GOP front-runner. He served in the Air Force after 9/11 and is ahead of Frank in the polls. Conway is using Pollyhop, a search engine, to gain an unfair advantage in the election. Stamper works to expose Conway's illegal Pollyhop activity; while LeAnn advises using the threat of ICO, a terrorist organization, to get the FISA Court to authorize domestic surveillance. Conway holds a live webcast, admitting to the Pollyhop data mining, and wins a huge jump in the polls while doing so. Claire advises Frank to abort a military strike against ICO and instead go forward with LeAnn's plan; he agrees.

Later, the Underwoods watch footage showing they had met the Conways at President Walker's 2013 New Year's Eve party. They vow to destroy the Conways together.
478"Chapter 47"Alex GravesJohn MankiewiczMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-408

The Conways talk to Yates about publishing his book on the Underwoods, and they offer publicity through their connections at Vanity Fair. Later, Claire meets with Yates, and in exchange for speech writing service, she offers to bring him back on staff to let him finish the book the way he wants to. He agrees to the Underwoods' offer.

Frank meets with Dean Austen of Ohio, the Democratic party's top pick for his running mate. Meanwhile, Aidan secretly passes information to LeAnn, and she in turn anonymously delivers a quarter million names and phone numbers to the gun control lobby. Claire records an emotional plea for gun control, asking people to call their senators. Later, Claire tells Julia of the NRA that they coordinated eighty-four thousand calls to senators in less than 24 hours. Frank intimidates Austen into publicly supporting Claire's gun control bill which destroys his relationship with the NRA, and his chances at being VP.

Conway again pressures General Brockhart to resign; this time offering to make him his running mate if he does so. He agrees, and they arrange for him to have a photoshoot on Vanity Fair, and an exclusive interview with Baldwin.

Hammerschmidt continues exploring Zoe's life, following Lucas' trail, and discovers that Meechum used to frequent a pizza place near Zoe's old apartment.
489"Chapter 48"Robin WrightFrank PuglieseMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-409
At the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, the party holds an open selection of Frank's running-mate. Durant takes an early lead, but LeAnn works with Celia Jones to leverage Texas' votes for Claire. The Underwoods then offer both Durant and Baker the position of Secretary of State if they throw their support behind Claire. Conway goes on the air demanding an apology for Brockhart, and that he do something about the terrorist group ICO. Frank's response is to "kill them with kindness": he publicly apologizes to Brockhart, and asks to meet Conway privately to discuss action on ICO. The two meet in private and talk to each other, but not about ICO. When convention voting resumes, Louisiana votes for Durant for President and pushes to reconsider Frank as the official candidate. Conway reveals that he was contacted by Durant to coordinate the vote. Claire then leaves for Texas, taking Yates with her to work on her potential acceptance speech.
4910"Chapter 49"Robin WrightMelissa James Gibson and Kenneth LinMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-410

An early morning Slugline article praises Claire's role in the G7 summit negotiations with Russia, while attacking Durant as being ineffective there. Frank announces he is returning to Washington to deal with an ICO advance. On Air Force One, he and Durant talk, and she tells him she will sow dissent in the ranks of the convention until he has Claire support her as the Vice Presidential nominee.

Claire visits her mother Elizabeth, who has moved downstairs on the advice of hospice care. Though Claire and Elizabeth still have a strained relationship, Elizabeth and Yates have an instant rapport. The hospice nurse tells Claire they can give Elizabeth medicines to make her comfortable and ease her death. Claire helps Elizabeth take large doses of medication, and she peacefully dies shortly after. Later, she and Yates are shown sharing a moment, and then waking up in bed together.

LeAnn confronts Stamper about going after her, and tells him he will not find anything on her. Stamper then confronts Seth, who defies him at first, but let the two talk and Seth insists it is time they all work together.

Frank and Durant continue their arguments in the car, and then in the Situation Room. Claire begins to doubt their plan and tells Frank to consider letting Durant win the nomination as his running mate, but he insists they press on. Frank then uses the rumors of Zoe and Russo to intimidate Durant into giving up her votes to Claire.
5011"Chapter 50"Kari SkoglandTian Jun GuMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-411

After experiencing pain on Air Force One, Frank is told he can only fly once per week during his recovery. They decide that Claire will continue on the campaign trail without him. She and Yates work on her speeches, and they resume their affair. Yates leaves the campaign, and Frank confronts him. Frank later tells Claire she should take Yates back on the campaign with her.

Frank wants to go after ICO even harder, and he instructs Durant and Stamper to coordinate the involvement of Russian troops, but their efforts are blocked by Conway. Frank then decides to move forward with a ground operation using U.S. troops.

Stamper receives a voicemail from Laura, Tony Moretti's widow, to whom Stamper donated money; Tony Moretti had died after failing to receive the liver that went to Frank instead. Stamper returns the call and later meets with her at a restaurant.

Remy meets Hammerschmidt where Freddy's Ribs used to be. Remy confirms little at first, but later they play a game of "Never Have I Ever" and Remy indirectly confirms Frank's crimes. Hammerschmidt returns to the Washington Herald to continue his work.
5112"Chapter 51"Jakob VerbruggenLaura Eason and Bill KennedyMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-412

Frank, Claire, Conway, and Brockhart hold a debate while Aidan runs his algorithms on their talking points. Conway and Brockhart deny Frank's accusation that they worked to block the use of Russian troops against ICO. Stamper pressures a reluctant congressman Wallach to publicly state that they did.

ICO has taken three hostages, the Miller family from Knoxville. They demand a withdrawal of U.S. troops and the release of ICO's captured leader, and they say they will speak only to Conway. Stamper brings FBI and Homeland Security to Aidan's office, and they are able to identify the hostage takers. Frank calls Conway in to help talk to the hostage takers, but the crisis remains unresolved.

Hammerschmidt tells former President Walker that Frank conspired to have him impeached, and asks him to help expose Frank's crimes. Remy and Jackie meet and discuss Hammerschmidt's investigation, and Jackie says she wants to go on record about Frank.

Claire asks Stamper to work on an unrevealed plan for the next morning. In the meantime, he goes home to rest and Laura cooks him dinner.
5213"Chapter 52"Jakob VerbruggenBeau WillimonMarch 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)HOC-413

Frank demands the hostage takers release Caroline and Melissa Miller. Meanwhile, Claire negotiates with Yusuf al Ahmadi, who was being held in Guantánamo Bay. The girl and her mother are rescued by the FBI after the hostage takers disclose their location, though James remains a hostage. Ahmadi says he'll help negotiate James' release, but when he goes on the line with the hostage takers, he breaks the agreement.

Hammerschmidt asks for an interview with Frank regarding his article. Frank calls the story "unsubstantiated tabloid gossip" being used as political ammunition. Hammerschmidt publishes the article without an official comment from Frank, and Jackie and Remy go into hiding soon after its release.

In the meantime, the FBI and Homeland Security take control of the surveillance algorithm. Without Aidan and Stamper in control, their use of the algorithm in the election is at risk of being exposed.

The Underwoods discuss how to handle their vulnerable position, and Claire suggests leveraging people's fear. Frank makes a speech to the public, telling the nation to prepare for total war against ICO. The end of the episode shows the Underwoods and the cabinet sitting in the Situation Room watching the terrorists' live video of James Miller's execution, and both Frank and Claire break the fourth wall.


Critical response[edit]

The fourth season has received positive reviews from critics. On Metacritic, the season has a score of 76 out of 100 based on 17 reviews.[16] On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has an 88% approval rating, with an average rating of 7.8/10 based on 32 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "House of Cards retains its binge-worthiness by ratcheting up the drama, and deepening Robin Wright's role even further."[17] Matt Fowler of IGN gave the season a rating of 8.6 out of 10 and labelled the season "great" with particular praise given to the performances, the addition of new characters, connections to previous seasons and adding new adversaries to the Underwoods.[18]


House of Cards received 13 nominations in the drama categories for the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series, Kevin Spacey for Outstanding Lead Actor, Robin Wright for Outstanding Lead Actress, Michael Kelly for Outstanding Supporting Actor, Reg E. Cathey, Paul Sparks and Mahershala Ali for Outstanding Guest Actor, and Ellen Burstyn and Molly Parker for Outstanding Guest Actress.[19]


  1. ^ Zurawik, David (April 2, 2015). "'House of Cards' renewed for a 4th season by Netflix". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  2. ^ Zurawik, David (May 5, 2015). "'House of Cards' announces first casting call for new season in Bel Air". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  3. ^ Costello, Darcy (June 16, 2015). "Hampden hosts 'House of Cards' shoot". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  4. ^ Ausiello, Michael (December 15, 2015). "House of Cards Season 4: Netflix Announces 2016 Premiere Date". TVLine. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  5. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 28, 2016). "'House Of Cards' Renewed For Season 5 By Netflix, Creator Beau Willimon Departs". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  6. ^ Leeds, Sarene (February 11, 2016). "It's Underwood vs. Underwood in the Latest 'House of Cards' Trailer". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Butler, Karen (February 11, 2016). "Ellen Burstyn, Cicely Tyson join 'House of Cards' for Season 4". UPI. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  8. ^ Zurawik, David (July 1, 2015). "Neve Campbell joining cast of 'House of Cards'". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  9. ^ Petski, Denise (September 3, 2015). "Colm Feore Joins 'House Of Cards' As Recurring". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  10. ^ Prudom, Laura (February 2, 2016). "'The Killing' Star Joel Kinnaman Joins 'House of Cards' Season 4". Variety. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Video: House of Card Season Four Trailer". The Futon Critic. February 10, 2016. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  12. ^ Power, Ed (February 24, 2016). "House of Cards, Season Four, first-look review: a deliciously dark return to form". The Telegraph. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  13. ^ Zurawik, David (February 22, 2016). "First hour of Season 4 of 'House of Cards' is looking good". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Zurawik, David (February 28, 2016). "'House of Cards' is built on women in Season 4". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  15. ^ Maidy, Alex (February 25, 2016). "TV Review: House of Cards - Season Four". JoBlo. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  16. ^ "House of Cards (2013) : Season 4". Metacritic. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  17. ^ "House of Cards: Season 4". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  18. ^ Fowler, Matt (March 5, 2016). "House of Cards: Season 4 Review". IGN. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  19. ^ Prudom, Laura (July 14, 2016). "Emmy Nominations 2016: Full List of Nominees". Variety. Retrieved July 14, 2016.

External links[edit]