Spoilers ahead for House of Cards Season 6 With a new president comes a new tone, and in House of Cards Season 6, Commander-in-Chief Claire Hale (Robin Wright) certainly has a different leadership strategy than her late husband. She addresses the camera in a way that’s perhaps less threatening than Frank, but it’s still just as devious. Claire’s fourth wall breaks on House of Cards reveal what she’s really thinking, since until this point, audiences have had no idea what’s been going on in her head.
The first time Claire acknowledged the audience was in Season 4, when she simply looked at the camera. However, she didn’t address viewers directly until Season 5, when she said, “Just to be clear, it’s not that I haven’t always known you were there. It’s that I have mixed feelings about you. I question your intentions, and I’m ambivalent about attention. But don’t take it personally. It’s how I feel about most everybody.” Savage!
And now that Frank Underwood is dead, audiences get way more where that ice queen delivery came from. Sometimes it’s just a look, sometimes it’s a monologue, and more often than not, it’s just a quick, chilling aside. But here are Claire’s best fourth wall breaks from Season 6:
Audiences will recall Frank’s opening monologue in House of Cards Season 1, which he recited right before breaking a dog’s neck. “There are two kinds of pain,” he said. “The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain — the sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things.”
Claire’s speech in Season 6, Episode 1 is a clear foil to this, as she frees a trapped bird. “It’s not true, what he told you all those years ago,” she tells the camera matter-of-factly. “That there are two kinds — useful and useless. There’s only one kind. Pain is pain.”
The president finds her late husband’s ring on her bed, which she immediately puts on. “I know,” Claire tells the camera. “You want to know what really happened to him. A man like Francis doesn’t just die. That would be — what’s the word? Convenient.”
The Commander-in-Chief has begun setting up her cabinet to betray her, so she begins playing possum, feigning ignorance to things she really understands. However, it’s clear that she’s fully capable, as she tells the camera, “Playing incompetent is so exhausting.”
In a truly inspired performance, Claire convinces her cabinet to commit veritable mutiny after she pretends to go off her rocker. However, she tells the camera how she really perfected the pained expression that audiences see plastered all over the news. “It’s actually not as easy as it looks,” she divulges.
“See, in order for me to make that face, I have to imagine the perfect combination of things. Here’s the recipe: First, I have to think about all the ways in which men have tried to manage me my whole life. Then, I think of America’s worst fear when it comes to a female in the Oval Office. And finally, my biggest regret: Francis J. Underwood.”
Claire’s frenemy, Annette, knows that she’s had three abortions. So after the president pisses her off, she leaks this information to the press. Claire is forced to address this scandal — specifically her 16-week abortion — and tells the news outlets that have gathered in the Oval Office that the fetus wasn’t viable.
However, she tells viewers at home what really happened. “The baby was viable,” she says. “Francis and I as parents were not.”
It’s clear this season that Claire is cleaning house, and she orders the murders of Cathy Durant (Jayne Atkinson), Jane Davis (Patricia Clarkson), and journalist Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver). However, she seems to have some semblance of guilt about it because she runs out of the room to vomit (or maybe it’s just her pregnancy?).
Either way, she tells the camera that she’s struggling to cope with her actions. “Please know,” she says, “the thought of accelerating the exit of three poor souls from this Earth is beyond painful.”
Things are getting tense at this point on House of Cards, and a very pregnant Claire is sitting in her nursery, singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Except there is some very eerie music playing in the background, and the mother-to-be turns to the camera as she sings, “If you see a crocodile, don’t forget to scream.”
This fourth wall break is just a split second, so blink and viewers will miss it. Claire discovers that Doug was the one who killed Frank, and after cutting her on the neck with his letter opener, she stabs him in the stomach. After suffocating him, she says, soothingly, “There — no more pain.”
This again harkens back to that first scene in Episode 1, where Frank put that hurt dog out of its misery. In this way, she has become — if not worse — at least as bad as her husband, which shows how easily power corrupts. Immediately after this, she gives the camera a quick, knowing glance. Chills!
Doug (Michael Kelly) briefly acknowledges the camera in Episode 7. He has just finished shaving his sizable beard when he says, “She leaves me no choice.” Here in the series finale, audiences hear him address the peanut gallery once more. “I never liked talking to you in the first place,” he says, with that classic Doug charisma.
Fourth wall breaks have always been a fixture of House of Cards, and with Frank dead this season, it gave audiences a chance to gaze into Claire’s twisted psyche, learning about her motivations. And she’s certainly succeeded in what she set out to do and left an impressive body count in her wake. The worst part is, no one may ever find out what she did except the viewers.