Season five picks up a few days after last year’s finale, which saw ICO terrorists capture a an American family named the Millers.
The Underwoods managed to negotiate mother Caroline and daughter Melissa’s release, but father Jim was beheaded live on television.
Frank and Claire conspired to use the attack to their advantage. The president declared all-out war on ICO, and promised to “make the terror” as Claire broke the fourth wall for the first time.
The season premiere mirrors last year’s closing scenes, and opens with Claire staring directly down the camera with a trademark icy glare.
“There’s a lot of noise out there, a noisy press that’s choosing to dwell on the past instead of what’s happening right now,” she says, as the camera zooms out to reveal that she is filming an election address.
The speech sets the tone for a later scene, which reveals that pesky journalist Tom Hammerschmidt is still investigating Frank’s catalogue of misdoings, now with the help of an unassuming style reporter.
It also mirrors the return of Frank’s soliloquies, which pepper the new season.
As Claire shoots another take, the scene moves to Congress, where a politician is calling for a “debate on the miscreant [the president]” and his war on terror.
Cut to Frank entering the room, uninvited, and taking to the stand.
Incredulous, he says: “I am on my way to the funeral of an American patriot [Jim Miller]. A good man. A husband. A father who was beheaded on American soil. And this chamber chooses to debate me.”
House of Cards season 5, episode 1: Frank and Claire Underwood address the nation
Arriving at the funeral, Frank and Claire promise Caroline and Melissa that they will find the man who killed Jim.
Melissa is far from impressed and interrupts the eulogy to condemn Frank, who she says killed her father.
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As she storms out of the service Melissa tells Frank that she hopes he dies, and that Claire becomes president.
When Frank tells Claire about the exchange, you can almost see the spark of an idea forming in her eyes.
Later on the First Lady appears on television to debate Tom Hammerschmidt about her husband’s declaration of war.
“We’re fighting to keep this country safe,” she says, and reveals that the White House is circling in on the killer, Joshua Masterson.
House of Cards season 5, episode 1: Frank and Claire attending a funeral
In a bar, Will Conway is watching footage of Frank’s speech in Congress. Campaigning has been suspended, leaving the Republican in a quandary.
“We’re not against a war, we’re against his,” he tells his aides.
Conway is plunged into further turmoil when it emerges that his wife Hannah has posted a video online sympathising with Masterson’s mother.
Hannah explains: “I said what I said because that woman is a victim. We all are, and it has to stop.”
At the White House, Claire is determined to one-up her rival spouse and says that she wants to meet with the mother.
“We need to dial up the terror. And the mother can help us with that.”
House of Cards: Most shocking moments Tue, February 7, 2017
House of Cards: Here are Frank and Claire's most shocking moments.
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The most shocking moments in Netflix drama House of Cards
Frank takes her out to the White House terrace, where they watch the crowds that have assembled at their front gates, holding signs that read “we are all Jim Miller”.
The crowd are wondering what the President and First Lady are doing, and if they will be able to protect the nation, Frank says.
It seems that their plan to terrorise the nation is already working, while the Underwood’s fractured marriage seems to be repaired.
Claire tells Frank: “I should have been there when you got shot. I wish I was there.”
But when she asks him “what are the President and First Lady doing tonight”, he reminds her that she is spending the night with her lover, Thomas Yates.
The following day (we assume) Claire meets with Joshua Masterson’s mother for a cosy chat that soon turns into a hostile interrogation.
House of Cards season 5, episode 1: Claire meets with the terrorist's mother
“Didn’t you know what was going on in your own home,” Claire asks. “You saw what he did, didn’t you? Would you like to see it?”
The scene has echoes of Claire’s infamous shutdown of Hannah Conway – “Do you regret it, not having children?” / “Do you ever regret having them?”
The First Lady tells Masterson’s mother to appeal to her son, to get him to turn himself in.
She then visits a burned-out gas station, and calls out Conway for “refusing to acknowledge the seriousness of the threat made here at home”, before a protestor ends the appearance.
Back in the Oval Office, Doug Stamper tells Frank that the FBI has located Masterson and is ready to act.
Rolling news channels show coverage of agents raiding an empty bunker, but of course, Frank has had the terrorist in custody the entire time.
“Did you think I didn’t already have him, that I would have left him out there somewhere? I thought you knew me.”
House of Cards season 5, episode 1: Frank meets terrorist Joshua Matherson
After taunting the terrorist, Frank orders an agent to kill him.
“I want you to get some good, usable footage of his killing. and then destroy everything else.”
In a presidential address he announces that Masterson has been captured and killed, and repeats his call for Congress to endorse his war.
He calls Melissa, who doesn’t want to speak to him.
Meanwhile, Stamper discovers that the war committee Frank has asked for will be used to investigate his crimes.
Oblivious, Frank and Claire venture out to the White House gates to greet the growing crowd.
The couple shake hands as Frank tells the people “you have nothing to be afraid of”, before turning to camera and repeating himself, sneering.
Already season five feels more focused than season four, with much of the action focused on the Underwoods who are more determined and more ruthless than ever before.
This does come at the expense of characters such as Doug Stamper and Catherine Durant, whose appearances are token.
Brief scenes indicate that the Pollyhop and NSA hacking storylines will continue throughout the season, and will hopefully make more of an impact this time around.
Check out our House of Cards season 5, episode 1 review for a full rundown of the new instalment.