A few familiar faces return during House of Cards season 4. Don’t read until you’ve watched episode 6!
The first surprise appearance is from Lucas Goodwin, the former co-worker and lover of Zoe Barnes. He’s literally the first character we see at the very beginning of House of Cards season 4 as he sits in jail with his cellmate, sharing sexy stories to get him off. Over the course of the next few episodes we see him get released from prison — unbeknownst to Doug and Frank — and eventually try to assassinate President Frank Underwood (Here’s our discussion on that twist).
Although Lucas doesn’t kill the president, he seriously injures him and his liver. This causes Frank’s body to experience a series of hallucinations as he lies unconscious in the hospital while he waits for a liver transplant. These scenes — which flash between the “real” Frank and what’s going on in Frank’s mind — offer viewers just a couple of small opportunities to spend time with the president as he lies in critical condition. These episodes were special because House of Cards was largely carried without Frank Underwood/Kevin Spacey, which is a first for the show.
Frank’s final hallucination is the one we need to talk about. Right as he goes under the knife to receive his new liver, he has visions of being at a sort of subway station in the White House and seeing Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara). This is the first we’ve seen her since Frank pushed her onto those train tracks at the beginning of season 2. At the time it was one of the biggest shockers we had seen on the show, and set the sophomore season off on an exciting (if tragic) pace.
As if Zoe’s appearance and her sorta-kinda romantic scene with Frank in the Oval Office wasn’t enough (we’ve come a long way from the days of them banging in Zoe’s apartment, haven’t we?), the craziness hits another high when we see someone pounding a ring on the Oval Office desk. It’s not Frank having a vision of himself! It’s Representative Peter Russo, another one of Frank’s victims. Remember, Frank killed him in season 1 by suffocating him in a running vehicle in a garage.
Peter and Zoe begin to have some romantic time of their own:
As the hallucination continues, Frank, Zoe, and Peter go head-to-head-to-head and the President grows visibly angry. The reason for Frank’s anger isn’t clear. Is the anger reflective of the pain he’s experiencing in surgery? Is he having strong feelings about murdering two people? Or is it both?
And then his surgery ends, and the recovery process begins.
This is the first time that Zoe and Peter have appeared in the show since they were killed by Frank. They’re dream sequences, but they were significant appearances because the actors shot new scenes with Kevin Spacey.
After surgery and a period of recovery, Frank returns to the White House and comes to realize that he needs Claire more than she needs him, leaving us with a strong implication that Frank is ready to make her Vice President despite rejecting the notion a couple episodes ago.
What happens next? We’ll have to watch episodes 7 and beyond to find out.
This all makes you wonder: If Doug hadn’t swooped in to get Frank a new liver faster than scheduled, what would’ve happened in further hallucinations? Would the dog he killed in season 1 have come back to haunt him too?
House of Cards season 4 is streaming now on Netflix.