Previously on House of Cards, “Chapter 35”
The UN peacekeeping mission is a huge mess. While on the campaign trail, Frank is questioned by the public about the purpose and extent of the U.S. presence in the Jordan Valley. Will this mission really increase safety? Was the U.S. responsible for the covert mission that prompted the escalation of Israeli troops? Frank avoids the questions, using security and confidentiality as his shield. Even when this man is deflecting, the crowd still loves him. Nevertheless, town halls have been removed entirely from his campaigning schedule.
Remy meets with Jackie to discuss postponing an upcoming debate. It’s what Frank wants but Jackie has to do the dirty work, of course, so that Dunbar is none the wiser. Remy takes the opportunity to apologize for kissing her. He crossed a line. “I’m not going to put you in that position again.” (Maybe he’ll put her in another position? Nudge nudge, Wink wink!) He’s loved people before and had to let go, he can do it again. Jackie admits that it’s been hard for her to move on as well and she’s glad he brought it up. These two are so not done with each other.
Frank calls Tim Corbet, his friend and one time lover from his Sentinel days, and discovers that Tom Yates had contacted him. Yates wanted information about Frank’s school days for the America Works book, but Corbet kept his mouth shut. He didn’t want to say anything without speaking to Frank first. Frank is not pleased with this; Yates has stuck his nose in where it doesn’t belong.
Despite Claire’s best efforts to intervene, Israel institutes a no fly zone for the Russians. Petrov immediately makes a broadcast letting the world know that he won’t comply. Frank no longer has faith that the UN can control this. He trusts only his own negotiating skills and decides that he must meet face-to-face with Petrov, in the Jordan Valley. None of his staff think this is a great idea, considering the huge safety risk. Claire is especially opposed and she wants them to decide on something together. The President is pulling rank this time though. “Your plan failed,” he tells Claire.
Yates and Claire talk for a few moments, at perhaps the perfect time. He tells her that there’s a missing piece in his book: her. Claire’s first response is to believe that Frank hasn’t said anything about her. On the contrary, Yates tells her, he loves you more than anything. There would be no White House without Claire. This is exactly what she needed to hear and it causes her to soften on Frank’s meeting with Petrov. Yates wants to talk with Claire for the book. She’ll think about it.
Frank and Petrov meet in a less than fully fortified bunker to discuss their terms. Petrov makes his stance perfectly clear: end the peacekeeping mission, scale back on missile defenses, and remove Claire from her position as Ambassador. Frank tries to negotiate to keep Claire in her position, but Petrov won’t back down. He reveals that Russia has been pulling the long con. Whether or not Russia was responsible for the deaths of their own troops, Moryakov was able to convince Claire that they were. Claire was then able to convince Frank to approve the covert mission and we all know how well that went. Petrov proves to Frank that Claire is a weakness for him as Ambassador.
Petrov has made an excellent adversary this season. Frank and Claire are much easier to root for when someone even worse than (or perhaps on par with) them is part of the plot. When Petrov describes killing a man with his bare hands, it’s particularly gruesome. Though we know Frank is responsible for at least two human deaths, it somehow pales in comparison. Which is not an easy feat.
Back in Washington, Frank gives Claire the news. She says it was a mistake for him to go and he insults her, yet again. “The resolution was a mistake and Corrigan was a mistake.” Kicking her while she’s down, he also tells her about Moryakov’s deception. Defeated, Claire agrees to resign from the Ambassadorship. She’ll say that it was her plan all along to leave at this time to focus on Frank’s campaign. Ever the team player for her horrible husband, Claire will be coloring her hair back to blonde because that’s the look that polled best with the public. Seeing Claire reduced to a mere pawn in Frank’s chess game was sickening. I choose to remain hopeful that she has bigger plans up her sleeve.
Very late that night Frank calls Yates into the White House, where the author reveals that he was in fact the sex worker from his first novel. While most of his clients wanted the standard arrangements, many of them just wanted to talk. They would tell Yates their stories and he became addicted to their storytelling. Much in the same way he’s become addicted to Frank and his story. He can sense that there is something wrong with Frank and asks him about it. Not as a writer, but as a friend. Frank admits that he’s betrayed Claire and he actually looks upset about it. He and Yates hold hands and share a few penetrating glances before Yates puts Frank’s hand over his heart. Honestly, I thought that hand was going elsewhere, further south to be exact. Snapping back to reality, Frank tells Yates to go home and get some rest. He’s probably realizing too late that he has divulged way too much information with this man.
The idea that Doug is a clean freak makes perfect sense and it was nice to see it emphasized. A large part of his job was cleaning up any mess the Underwoods made. It may have been irrelevant to this episode, but it’s important to his character overall. Small details can have a big impact. However, I’m very concerned for Doug. I’ve watched enough cutthroat TV drama to know that when someone who’s been down and out finally gets some happiness, more bad things are just around the corner. What could be worse than being bludgeoned to near death with a brick? Well, we might just soon find out.
My worry stems from the fact that Doug had a few very endearing scenes with his brother’s family. After overhearing Gary speaking to his daughter, doing an adorable voice to cheer her up, he decides it’s time to meet his sister-in-law, niece, and nephew. They instantly warm up to him, especially his niece, Frankie; she knocks him over with a hug when they first meet. Frankie wakes her uncle up one morning by throwing newspaper balls in his face and he loves it. I’m not sure Doug’s smile has ever been so genuine. Fun fact: those are Doug’s (Michael Kelly’s) real life kids. That explains their great chemistry!
Gary wonders if his brother has ever considered settling down but Doug has no interest. His freedom is too important. Gary calls bullshit on this. He knows his brother’s life is all about the job, working with Frank to be specific, and he doesn’t even have that anymore. Without a job, Gary still has his family. What does Doug have? Since I don’t see Doug having kids anytime soon, it looks as though he may be putting his efforts back into getting Frank’s attention.
Orsay comes clean to Lisa about almost everything. He warns her that the FBI may come snooping around and tries to leave Doug’s contact info with her, should she need help. Lisa is pissed off, rightfully so, and wants nothing to do with Orsay or Doug. The next morning she finds Cashew on her front porch. Good to see you, Cashew.