House of Cards season 6, episode 1 recap: Chapter 66

Claire puts distance between herself and Frank’s memory, while Doug is loyal as ever in the first episode of House of Cards season 6. This is the final season of House of Cards.

We begin the first episode of House of Cards season 6 in the past: a young girl is out in a field with young boys surrounding her and taunting her. The young girl looks relaxed and doesn’t react as she smokes a cigarette. We are brought to the present immediately and see President Claire Underwood listening to an oral report of threats made against her online.

Claire is determined to attend Fourth of July festivities, but the Secret Service and her Vice President, Mark Usher, adamantly oppose that idea. Usher tells Claire she should stay at the White House, and she needs to reassess a nomination she’s put forth because of the Shepherds. Claire rebuffs Usher and tells him the first female president won’t be inside the White House on the Fourth of July.

Claire dismisses Usher and hears a distant knocking sound while in the Oval Office; it sounds a lot like Frank’s signature desk knock. Claire follows the sound to a wall and removes a framed painting. We see the wall has previously been patched up, and Claire pushes through until she creates a hole. A bird flies out of the hole and Claire carries the bird outside in her closed hand. Claire tells Frank, and the audience, she’s done with him and then releases the bird outside. With a gesture that looks like a cross between forgiveness and revenge, Claire returns inside and gets on with her agenda.

Seth is visiting Doug at a psychiatric facility. Seth tries to lure Doug to come with him and work for the Shepherds, but Doug is steadfast and won’t consider it. Seth and Doug discuss Frank: Seth remarks Claire said Frank wanted to be buried in Gaffney next to his father, while Doug insists Frank wanted to be buried in Arlington. Doug asks Seth if Claire cried at all for Frank, and Seth can’t answer the question.

Claire meets Annette and Bill Shepherd, two rich and powerful people who seem to be cashing in on favors owed to them. Claire arrives at their home to mingle among the rich and powerful and meets Annette’s son (watch for him the rest of the season). While Claire is interested in avoiding a lot of questions, everyone seems to have an opinion on what Claire should be doing as president. The current conflict seems to revolve around Claire’s nomination of Gallagher, which Bill believes is unacceptable because she’s a “tax and spend Democrat.” While Claire tries to assert her independence, Bill Shepherd is quick to point out that Frank made them promises. Bill tells Claire it’s time for her to deliver. Before she leaves, Bill tells Claire to sign the bill that’s sitting on her desk as soon as she returns to the White House.

Mark is in the Oval Office holding a meeting about a future proposal while Claire is in the presidential motorcade heading to the airport. While the motorcade makes its way down the road, a single shot is fired. Claire is not hurt, and the Secret Service hold her down as they make their way to Air Force One. On the plane, Claire distracts from the delay and calls it a security issue. As she leaves the press area, a young reporter tells her she interviewed Frank for hours before he died. The reporter begins asks Claire questions, and prefaces her questions with a comment about how Frank told her a lot. Claire tells the reporter when a president visits the press on Air Force One, the status quo is everything is off the record.

Doug has his therapy session at the psychiatric facility and we see that this isn’t the first time Doug has had to go through this; his answers seem the same every time. The doctor goes through the motions as Doug once again takes responsibility for Zoe Barnes’ death, and doesn’t deviate from his loyalty to Frank. The doctor asks Doug what the president gave him, and Doug responds it was a letter opener. Doug claims he spoke to Frank the night he died.

Claire returns to the Oval Office and speaks with Usher. Usher wants Claire to sign a bill that’s sitting on her desk, but Claire changes her mind. Usher again addresses Claire with an informality that she doesn’t appreciate, and she begins setting boundaries: Usher is not to hold meetings in the Oval Office when she’s not there.  We see Claire as a little girl again: the boys have cut her dresses off and she’s run away to hide in a barn. A young boy follows and apologizes for the teasing and bullying. Through a hole in the door, Claire can see the boy standing close. Claire reaches for a broom and jams the end of it through the hole, hitting the boy in the eye.

Claire speaks with a Secret Service agent and tells him she believes her husband was murdered. Claire plays the part of the concerned wife in front of the agent, and then makes her way to a private area. Claire calls Doug’s doctor and asks for information about his latest therapy session; she’s especially interested in knowing what Frank gave Doug before he died. The doctor tells Claire that Doug received a letter opener from Frank.

Claire finds Frank’s ring on his bed and wears it on her middle finger. Claire gives us the middle finger as we hear another ghostly knock. Onto the next episode of House of Cards! 

What did you think of the first episode of House of Cards season 6? Let us know what you thought about the season premiere of House of Cards in the comments!