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Here’s What to Expect from Season 3 of House of Cards

3 minute read

House of Cards returns at midnight on Netflix. Based on where season two left off and early reviews, here’s what fans can expect.

Obviously, spoilers follow.

More policy, less scandal

Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is president now, which means he has to take a break from murder and manipulation to actually run the country.

For those who don’t remember, Frank convinced Senator Hector Mendoza to start a smear campaign against President Garrett Walker (because he and his wife had been to couples’ counseling) and persuaded a special prosecutor to implicate Walker in a scandal involving money laundering with a Chinese businessman. President Walker finally stepped down, making Frank Underwood POTUS.

Early reviews suggest that the first few episodes are, well, a bit dry (albeit somewhat closer to real Washington politics than the riveting first two seasons).

Frank will struggle to hold on to his office

Remember, Frank’s term is almost up. He’ll soon have to seek reelection in 2016, which will be tough considering 1) he wasn’t voted into office 2) he’s made a lot of enemies and 3) he’s a murderous psychopath, a fact that’s bound to come out at some point.

We find out if Doug Stamper is dead or alive

Frank’s ex-chief of staff, Doug Stamper, was knocked out by ex-prostitute slash born-again Christian Rachel Posner and left for dead in the woods. Stamper was tasked with keeping Rachel from revealing any details about Zoe Barnes’ death. (Remember: Frank pushed Barnes in front of a train last season.) Unfortunately for him, he fell for Rachel. When he discovered that she was in a relationship with a woman she met at church, he chased her through the woods, where she hit him over the head a few times.

Is Stamper dead? If not, what does that mean for Rachel? And whether or not he survived the attack, Underwood will have to find some way to explain away the incident.

Gavin Orsay will be a player

The creepy hacker who’s overly attached to his pet guinea pig is still working as an FBI informant. He and Doug struck a deal that he would keep silent about Barnes’ death if Doug dropped the hacking charges against him. With Doug incapacitated or even dead, he could easily go rogue.

Many of the compelling minor characters from previous seasons are either dead, incarcerated or missing — Peter Russo, Zoe Barnes, Lucas Godwin, Rachel Posner, Janine Skorsky. Gavin is one of the few non-politicians left who can threaten Frank or help him. Expect him to be back with a vengeance.

Claire will get hers

Just as conniving as her husband, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) unceremoniously dropped her bill to make it easier to adjudicate sex crimes in the military in order for she and her husband to make it into the Oval Office. It’s unlikely she’ll be satisfied sitting by and doing nothing as first lady.

Pussy Riot will guest star

It was reported back in August that two members of the Russian punk rock activist group Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, would make an appearance on the show. We can safely assume, then, that at some point Frank will be forced to address Russian politics — and possibly the country’s discriminatory laws against gay people.

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com