In the Season 5 finale of House of Cards, there’s a quick moment near the end of the episode in which someone jumps the fence of the White House and is shot and killed. It goes by so quickly, in fact, that some fans didn’t even catch that this was an established character.
The person who was shot and killed on the White House lawn was Eric Rawlings, the Civil War reenactor who Frank had a romantic relationship with this season. Rawlings was presumably upset that Frank Underwood had been forced out of office, perhaps also being angry that Claire Underwood seemed to have no intention of pardoning Frank for his crimes. So as a protest was gathering in front of the White House, Eric Rawlings jumped the fence.
We don’t actually see the aftermath of this, but a quick shot of a television in Doug Stamper’s apartment shows the news with a chyron reading, “PROTESTER SHOT AND KILLED ON WHITE HOUSE LAWN,” and that’s the end of the Eric subplot.
Eric Rawlings is a character who was introduced all the way back in Season 2, when Frank Underwood, then the vice president, visits a Civil War reenactment. He encounters a man who is playing Augustus Elijah Underwood, Frank’s ancestor. Frank is oddly fascinated by this man, attempting to get him to break character while he refuses to do so. Frank also asks Eric to recall all of the gruesome details leading up to Augustus Elijah Underwood’s death, with Eric saying that Augustus had his head bashed in with a rock.
We saw Eric dressed up as Augustus Elijah Underwood again in Season 4; when Frank Underwood was in the hospital experiencing strange visions after a failed assassination attempt, he saw Augustus Elijah Underwood standing over his bed.
Eric Rawlings suddenly appeared again in Season 5, visiting the White House and becoming impressed with Frank’s Civil War model. Rawlings then revealed to Frank that he made up the entire story about Augustus Elijah Underwood and that all he really knew about the man is that he died in the Civil War.
Frank Underwood a few episodes later passionately kisses Eric Rawlings, and we see Eric around the White House a few more times after that, with it being implied that Eric is Frank’s lover. Unfortunately for Eric, though, he does not make it out of the season alive, being quickly disposed with in the season finale.