David Giesbrecht/Netflix
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March 08, 2016 at 07:17 PM EST

The season 4 finale starts with a pretty great cold open, as ICO leader Ahmadi is shackled, hooded, and dragged out of captivity while tympanic drum rolls ripped straight from Hannibal‘s sound design work to create serious tension. The hostage crisis is about to come to a head, and the cold open assures us it’s going to be intense.

Picking up where the last episode left off, Frank takes control of the call. The terrorists try to get Conway on the line, but Frank is forceful. He tells the captors to let all three Millers go in exchange for the opportunity to speak to their leader, Ahmadi. The terrorists refuse and Frank gives them one last offer. Let the mother and daughter go and they can speak to Ahmadi, or else their conversation ends. Frank gives them 10 seconds, and the terrorists refuse to reply.

That means that Frank needs to regroup and figure out exactly what the next steps are. First, Claire is in charge of readying Ahmadi for a potential call with the terrorists. She’s holed up with him in a government safe house in Virginia, offering him a shower and fresh clothes. It’s all part of a plan to get Ahmadi on their side, to get him to tell the terrorists to let the Millers go. In exchange, the U.S. will allow Ahmadi and the Ba’athists to return to power in his true home, Iraq… or so Claire says.

Meanwhile, Conway is truly losing his grip. He can see the presidency slipping away. There’s an article out there, orchestrated by Frank, that says Conway did in fact interfere with the House Intelligence Committee. It’s a huge blow to Conway, especially coming on the heels of his statement about him being “ashamed” of his military service. Now he’s lashing out as his family and trying to find a way out from under the Underwoods. No viral video will save you now, Will!

Things get even worse for Frank when Tom emails Seth asking for a comment from the president in regards to his upcoming article. The Herald plans to go live online in a few hours, but Tom gives Frank an opportunity to explain himself. When Seth sees the email he panics and tells Doug.

Both men bring the news to the president and guess what? He’s not too happy about it. After he yells and screams at Seth and Doug about letting this happen — you’re in the wrong, Frank, in case you forgot! You killed people! And a dog! — he tells them that he wants a meeting with Tom immediately.

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Back in Virginia, if that’s where Claire truly is, the First Lady/potential future Vice President is trying to convince Ahmadi to go ahead with her plan. She tells him that he has a chance to do good for his country. Ahmadi doesn’t believe her though, and as he says, his family has only ever known violence and destruction because of the U.S. Now they’re getting a taste of their own medicine, feeling the terror he and his family feel every day, and he’s not about to become a traitor to his cause.

NEXT: I’ve made a huge mistake

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Ballots, betrayal, and barbecue combine in Netflix’s original drama, which stars Kevin Spacey as cunning congressman Frank Underwood and Robin Wright as his equally ruthless Lady Macbeth. Based on a 1990 BBC serial of the same name.
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