Step aside, Frank — there's a new player in charge.
At the end of a particularly tense and chaotic fifth season, House of Cards marked a major shift in power with two simple words before fading to black.
Season 5 is marked by its constant shifts in who's sitting in the Oval Office — first, it's Frank, then it's nearly Will Conway, and then Claire even steps in for a bit. But through it all, the power has always been squarely in Frank's hands, as he manipulates government loopholes and elaborate blackmail strategies to stay in control.
But at the end of the season, it looks like Frank's downfall is certain, as a new power has risen in the White House.
SPOILER ALERT: Obviously, this post will spoil the Season 5 finale of House of Cards.
The new season leaves us with a new President Underwood, as Claire takes over the position from her husband. Though Claire becomes POTUS about halfway through the season, it's still clear she and Frank are working together to get him back in office so they can run the country together, but that all changes in the finale.
After Frank confesses to his crimes, he tells Claire he has a plan for them to continue running the country if she pardons him. After much trepidation and worry about how the public would view her for granting a pardon to her husband, she finally promises Frank she'll do it.
But when it comes time to give her first speech as President, Claire neglects to pardon Frank. He watches on angrily from a hotel room nearby, swearing that he'll "kill her" if he doesn't get his pardon.
The season ends with Claire getting multiple phone calls from Frank, all of which she ignores. She hangs up her cell phone one last time and looks to the camera, uttering the two words that will draw the battle lines on which Season 6 will likely be fought:
Yep — it's Claire's turn to run the country, and also seemingly her turn to become the main character of House of Cards.
She speaks the line directly to the audience, in an act of fourth-wall-breaking that has become Frank's trademark. Claire first broke the fourth wall with a look at the audience in the Season 4 finale, and then she talks to us for a brief moment earlier in Season 5, saying that she knows we are watching but is wary of us.
Now that Claire is in power, cutting her ties with Frank, and talking to us directly, it seems clear she's the character we're going to be following when the show comes back for another season. Although, given Frank's deadly threat at the end of the episode, he won't be going down without a fight.
I guess they're well beyond the point of marriage counseling, huh?