It’s been a year and 13 days since Netflix subscribers were able to spend their Valentine’s Day devouring season two of House of Cards. In the wee hours of Friday morning, fans finally gained access to the next installment of the addictive political thriller. For viewers who—unlike this journalist—have a social life and haven’t had time to rewatch season two in the weeks leading up to the premiere, here’s a refresher on where we left off with each character.
Francis “Frank” Underwood
Or should we say President Underwood? Two murders—Congressman Peter Russo and journalist Zoe Barnes—and a lot of shady business later, Frank closes season two having finally secured what he’s been aiming for: the presidency. He spent most of last season working to drive a wedge between President Garrett Walker and his wife, Tricia, to distract Garrett from his power struggle with Raymond Tusk, the billionaire who made his money in power plants. When Frank discovers Raymond’s illegal financial dealings with Xander Feng, a corrupt Chinese investor, and a money-laundering operation masterminded by Raymond that’s affecting Congress, he uses the knowledge to stir up mistrust between Garrett and Raymond and get Garrett put under investigation. Things go from bad to worse when Reverend Larkin, who’s been counseling Garrett and Tricia about their marriage, is called in to testify and it’s revealed he was illegally coached by the White House. When Raymond reveals to a congressional committee that Garrett was involved in the money-laundering scheme, POTUS is forced to step down before he’s impeached. In the final episode of the season, Vice President Frank Underwood is sworn in as Commander and Chief. Highlight reel: Pushing Zoe in front of a train, his and Claire’s threesome with Secret Service agent Meechum, and that indelible image of him tapping his ring on the desk in the Oval Office.
Claire had her hands in all kinds of scandalous business in season two. Dealing with her former employee Gillian Cole’s threat to sue her for wrongful termination, announcing in a televised interview that she had an abortion after being raped in college, planting the seed in First Lady Tricia’s mind that her husband, President Walker is having an affair, and fending off accusations after photos of her affair with photographer Adam Galloway make headlines, but she still manages to manipulate the situation to her advantage, especially when she uses her rape story as a platform to introduce a military sexual assault bill. At the end of season two, Claire remakes Frank’s class ring as a “Congrats on scheming your way into the presidency” present. Highlight reel: Telling Frank that he’s about to pin a military star on the man who raped her, getting tipsy with Secret Service agent Meechum, and considering the possibility of becoming a mother.
After spending the season mooning over Rachel Posner, the call girl who’d become his responsibility to shield from the press, Frank’s trusty second-hand man is killed at the hands of his obsession. Highlight reel: Doug realizing Rachel is in love with another woman, and using a convicted hacker to trap Lucas Goodwin into committing a felony.
On threat of impeachment, Walker resigns his office at the end of season two, having been slowly picked apart piece by piece by Frank’s brilliant scheme. His marriage is on the rocks, he’s been implicated in money laundering, and he’s under investigation for having coached his witness. And even still, he and Frank end the season amicably, partially because Garrett is clueless to Frank’s involvement, but really because Frank writes a darn good letter. Highlight reel: Briefly earning our respect by turning on Frank for ruining him—only to lose it again by later absolving him of all wrongdoing.
Primarily in charge of stirring the pot, Remy reveals Claire’s affair with Adam Galloway and barbecue joint owner Freddy’s gang life background. He also has a relationship with Jackie Sharp throughout the season, which gets messy when he tries to use their connection to turn her against Frank. Highlight reel: Actually making a pretty cute couple with Jackie when they leave off the shop talk.
A distraught Lucas suspects Frank had a hand in Zoe Barnes’s death. When he attempts to prove so by hiring a hacker, he gets arrested for cyberterrorism. Highlight reel: Meeting Cashew the guinea pig, the only definitively innocent character in the series.
Though he briefly secured a presidential pardon for his illegal business dealings, when he finds out that he’s no longer safe, Raymond tells the Congressional Committee that Garrett was in on the money laundering. Unable to escape his actions, Raymond ends the season in prison. Highlight reel: Raymond watching Frank toss a very expensive steak into a pool.
After becoming the new House Whip, this war veteran falls for Remy, which puts her in a tricky spot between her allegiance to Frank, who got her the gig, and her boyfriend, who is busy digging up dirt on the Underwoods. At the end of the season, Jackie leads the charge to get Garrett impeached. Highlight reel: Getting some pretty awesome tattoos on her ribs.
Season three is now available to stream via Netflix.