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‘House of Cards’: Who Is Mark Usher?

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House of Cards

The latest season of Netflix‘s smash-hit original series House of Cards threw a handful of mysterious new characters into the mix, and the one that seems to be prompting the most questions is political advisor Mark Usher (Campbell Scott), a quietly ambitious silver fox. While he first seems to be supporting Republican candidate Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman), Usher knows what’s best for him, and latches on to whoever has the greatest chance at success. So who exactly is this guy? Here’s your Mark Usher primer:

Did we meet him before Season 5?

Nope. While his introduction happens so nonchalantly that you feel like you should remember him from previous seasons, Usher’s first appearance occurs in the third episode of Season 5 when he joins Will Conway’s campaign in the final hour to help him milk the last few votes he needs to be elected president. His connection is super convenient, and he is immediately thrust into a position of power on the team. “Marshall and I go way back,” Usher says. “The timing is right for all of us, right?”

What exactly does Mark Usher do on House Of Cards?

Usher is initially employed by the Conways to lead Will to victory on the campaign trail. As a campaign advisor, he has experience in winning elections on multiple levels, and by joining Conway, it seems like he’s finally going to win the biggest race of all. Once he becomes a White House staffer, however, he seems to be at the Underwoods’ disposal, and does everything from advising to organizing secret meetings, cleaning up messes of an illegal nature, and manipulating events behind the scenes.

Who is Mark Usher really working for on House of Cards?

Usher jumps ship when it becomes clear that Will Conway is too unstable to be president and boards #TeamUnderwood as they continue their White House reign. He is a Republican, but he’s willing to put party differences aside in favor of the greater good (being in power, apparently). The fact that Claire (Robin Wright) employs him to get rid of Tom’s body after she murders him implies that there’s a deep trust between the Underwoods and Usher, but whether or not he will use this against her will evidently play out in potential future seasons. For now, though, he seems to be invested in the Underwoods. Even if they do annoy the living hell out of him.

Why doesn’t Doug like him?

Doug has jealousy problems.

Okay, Doug’s distrust of Usher is totally fair. He swoops into the White House after working for the competition and immediately is given a handful of privileges that Doug had to work his ass of for. His position also throws Doug’s status as Chief of Staff questioned, which would piss off just about anyone.

Is House of Cards‘ Mark Usher based on a real person?

Like the theories surrounding many other characters on the series, there have been a slew of rumors regarding who Mark Usher’s character may have been inspired by. “I think Mark Usher is based on a number of people that have emerged over the years,” said showrunner Frank Pugliese. “This sort of pundit-like, uber-campaigner manager, political star maker.”

What’s he gonna be up to next season?

While a Season 6 hasn’t been announced yet, it seems likely that Usher will continue to play a crucial role in the Underwood administration, especially as Claire takes on the role of Commander-in-Chief and he’s forced to navigate the divide between her and Frank (Kevin Spacey). What side he’ll end up on remains to be seen, but he’s certainly got enough dirt on both of them to completely dismantle their empire.

Watch House of Cards on Netflix

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