It’s safe to say the journey to the sixth and final season of House of Cards has not been plain sailing.
Launched on the streaming service in 2013 with Kevin Spacey at the helm, the series came "very, very close" to being cancelled at the end of last year after its lead actor was sacked from the Netflix show following sexual misconduct allegations.
Spacey's co-star Robin Wright has been praised by cast and crew for leading the charge to keep the show on air for one final season - saving their jobs in the process - as she returns as President of the United States following Frank Underwood's death (more on that later).
Ahead of the series 6 launch on Netflix on Friday, November 2, we reveal why everyone’s talking about House of Cards, and what you’ve missed so far...
And don’t forget, if you’re a BT TV customer, you can add Netflix to your BT package, so you’re paying for everything through one simple bill.
What is House of Cards about?
An adaptation of the 1990 BBC mini-series of the same name, and based on the novel by Michael Dobbs, House of Cards is a political drama on Netflix, set in Washington, D.C.
Created by Beau Willimom, House of Cards is the story of Congressman Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a ruthless and cunning politician who comes up with an elaborate plan to attain power in the White House.
Alongside wife Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), the couple will stop at nothing to conquer everything in their wake.
The Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning show deals with greed, power and corruption in the dirty world of US politics.
What’s happened in House of Cards so far?
If you're new to the show or just need a refresher (it’s pretty easy to lose track of what’s happened in the first five seasons), here's the story so far (spoilers ahead).
Season 1 introduced us to corrupt Congressman Frank Underwood from South Carolina. He's married to CEO of an environmental organisation, Claire.
Frank is sleeping with The Herald journalist Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) and giving her stories for the paper. Claire also happens to be having an affair with photographer Adam Galloway (Ben Daniels).
We meet ill-fated congressman Peter Russo (played by Corey Stoll, below), who Frank Underwood murders for his own political gain by gassing him to death in his own car - just the first of Frank’s many grisly murders.
Zoe and fellow journalists Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus) and Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer) start to uncover the truth about Peter's death, and Zoe soon breaks things off with Frank.
After he talked Vice President Matthews into standing down, Frank is made Vice President of the United States, which is where we start season 2.
The Herald journalists are near to finding out the truth about Congressman Russo’s murder, so - in arguably one of the most shocking and unexpected scenes of the entire show - Underwood pushes Zoe Barnes (below) in front of a train while he's in disguise.
Also in the series, Frank feuds with wealthy businessman Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney), and employs Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) as his Press Secretary.
Claire publicly reveals she was raped at university by a man who is now a general in the Marines, and later falsely admits to having had an abortion before pushing for sexual assault legislation.
Meanwhile, Frank’s Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) becomes obsessed with prostitute Rachel Posner (played by Rachel Brosnahan, below).
She fears for her safety one night, so attacks him with a rock and leaves him for dead at the end of series 2 (more on that later).
Frank becomes President at the end of the series by making up a story about President Walker, creating a public scandal which forces him to resign.
In season 3, Underwood - now President - employs novelist Tom Yates (played by Paul Sparks, below) to write a book about America Works, his campaign to get everyone in the US a job.
Frank employs Claire as US ambassador to the United Nations. She sabotages a press conference with Russian President Viktor Petrov, who demands her resignation. Frank agrees, and Claire storms out of the White House, humiliated by her husband.
Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel) launches a campaign for the presidency, but Underwood wins another term.
We also learn that Doug is alive - he tracks down Rachel and kills her, burying her in the desert.
Following her fall-out with Frank, we find Claire living with her estranged mother at the start of season 4. She employs LeAnn Harvey (played by Neve Campbell, below) as her political strategist.
There’s trouble in store for the Underwoods who are living separately, with Frank advising Claire to tell the media that the reason they aren’t attending events together is because her mother is gravely ill.
Lucas (the journalist from The Herald), attempts to assassinate President Underwood, killing his bodyguard Edward Meechum in the process. It's all the more significant as Frank and Claire had a threesome with Meechum back in season 2.
Claire starts an affair with author Yates, who becomes a speech writer for the Underwoods.
We meet Will Conway (played by Joel Kinnaman, below), who’s Frank’s Republican rival for the presidency. As a seemingly wholesome, ex-military family man, he is the antithesis of Underwood.
We’re also introduced to ICO - the fictional version of ISIS - and the series ends with Frank declaring war on ICO, forcing the US public to vote for him out of fear.
After rejecting her proposal that the couple run for the presidency on the same ticket, Frank make Claire Vice President of the United States.
In season 5, Underwood is running for re-election but losing to Conway. He manipulates voter data to help him win the White House - but it’s still looking like he’ll lose.
So Underwood fakes terrorist intelligence so that the polls are forced to close, and the election is deemed null and void. US law means Claire, as Vice President, is sworn in as acting President in the meantime.
A clip of Conway being aggressive on a flight is leaked, costing Conway public support. He admits defeat in the race for the presidency and Underwood is re-elected.
The Zoe Barnes story is re-investigated at The Herald, and when Frank gets wind of this, he forces Doug (Michael Kelly, below) to say he killed her to cover up the truth that he pushed her in front of a train.
LeAnn Harvey is killed in a dodgy car crash (we don't know by who, but it's likely to be Frank, or Doug, because they felt she couldn't be trusted).
Speaking of women he can't trust, when Frank finds out that Secretary of State Catherine Durant (Jayne Atkinson) is going to testify against him in an inquiry about his corruption, he pushes her down a flight of stairs, and we presume she's dead.
Frank resigns because he realises on a camping trip with a number of polticians that it's the people behind the scenes who have the most control, and sets Claire up for the presidency, seeing them rule the country together.
Claire kills author Tom Yates, who she’s been having an affair with, because he threatened to reveal their secret. This, her first murder, sets her up for season 6 in which she becomes the first female president of the US.
You'll like House of Cards if you loved…
The Newsroom, Homeland, Designated Survivor, The West Wing, Scandal, Madam Secretary.
Three reasons why everyone’s talking about House of Cards season 6…
1. Where’s Frank Underwood, and how did he die?
Season 5 of House of Cards ended with Claire ignoring a phone call from Frank, then looking down the camera lens saying the words "My turn" - mimicking Frank's habit of breaking the fourth wall.
Nothing in that scene suggested that Frank was going to die, rather that she was going to assume power having played second fiddle to her husband for the past five seasons.
However, Kevin Spacey was fired shortly after season six began filming following allegations of sexual misconduct.
A trailer (below) has since been released which confirms Frank’s death by showing Claire standing over his grave. However the cause of his death remains a mystery.
2. Claire’s the boss - but she's not the only #girlboss
House of Cards producers dealt with the Spacey problem by making women the centre of the story, with Robin Wright herself directing many of the episodes.
“The reign of the middle-aged white man is over,” Claire Underwood declares at one point.
In fact, one of the show’s stars Patricia Clarkson (below) said that House of Cards should be renamed because of the high number of strong female characters in season 6 (herself, Robin Wright and Diane Lane, to name but a few).
Clarkson, who plays Jane Davis in the political drama, said: “There are a lot of powerhouse women – it should be called House Of Women, not House Of Cards.
“We’re all here, we’re ready to go, with Robin riding front and centre, it does not get any better. It’s delicious this year, it’s a really powerful year.
“All of the men are amazing too.”
3. New cast members will stir up controversy
Following Frank's demise and that of everyone else he's murdered along the way, some fresh blood was needed for the final season.
Season 6 introduces the Shepherds, a brother-sister duo who run Shepherd Unlimited, a massive conglomerate that has the power to make or break world leaders, according to Vanity Fair.
Diane Lane joins the cast as Annette Shepherd, while Greg Kinnear (both pictured below) joins as her brother Bill. Annette is also a former school friend of Claire Underwood’s - or is she?
Speaking in her Vanity Fair interview, Diane revealed her character’s not ‘good’ or ‘bad’. She confessed: “I had a friend who said to me, ‘So are you a bad guy or good guy on the show?’
“There’s no such thing as any “good ones” on this show because everybody’s clambering for power.”
Watch the official trailer for House of Cards season 6 below:
All eight episodes of House of Cards season 6 will be available to stream on Netflix from Friday, November 2.
You can add Netflix to your BT package, so you’re paying for everything through one simple bill.
If you’re already a Netflix customer, press the YouView button on your remote, scroll across to ‘Apps and Players’ and then press the Netflix button.