Previously on House of Cards, ‘Chapter 37’
Dunbar may be ahead in the polls but the Underwood campaign has Claire. She has double the popularity of Frank and has become the face of his candidacy. The further she commits herself to the campaign, the further it distances her from Frank. Even in Iowa they’re sleeping in separate bedrooms. When Frank thanks and compliments her on a job well done, she leaves him with a cold and simple, “good night.” There’s a short moment when Frank is alone in his bedroom where he actually looks quite lonely.
Yates has completed the first chapter of his book and has left it with the Underwoods to approve before continuing on. When Frank calls Yates to ask where the rest of the book is, the author seems out of sorts. We discovered in the last episode that he was once a junkie, so I had first assumed that he was using again. Once I heard more details on that first chapter, I think it’s safe to say that Yates was just extremely nervous of what the Underwoods might think.
The chapter has nothing to do with America Works. It’s a cold and harsh, albeit realistic, view of Frank and Claire’s marriage. Of how Claire compares her vows to suicide, how Frank feels that Claire deserves better, and that “legacy is their only child.” The Underwoods agree that they’ve revealed too much and the whole book idea was a mistake. Yates doesn’t take the news well; he desperately wants their story to be told and insinuates that he’ll release it by other means. Frank reminds him that he knows the truth about the origins of his first novel so watch your back, bro. Something about the chapter resonates with Claire though because she reads it a second time.
Ignoring the President’s threat, Yates gives the chapter to Kate and pleads with her to write about it. She’s not going to risk her reputation for this guy though and tells him to move on, start something new. He’s not giving up. Yates leaves Kate in a huff, similar to how a teenager may stomp off and slam their bedroom door, saying that he almost felt something for her. Wow, what a cool dude.
Yates’ book feels like a parallel to the show itself. While each season has a ton of political plot, the heart of the story – an icy, cold heart of course – is Frank and Claire. Though Yates’ book was supposed to be about America Works, the political plot, their marriage is “the key that unlocks everything else.” It’s a bit on the nose, but I like it.
Justice Jacobs has decided to retire and offers Dunbar his position for a final time. It’s an offer that she easily turns down. She wants the presidency too badly and it looks as though she’s ready to sacrifice her morals to get it. Claire’s favorability has Dunbar’s team searching for dirt on the First Lady. When Jackie is unable to get information from Remy, Dunbar turns to Doug; he still has the journal that would expose the truth about Claire’s abortion.
Frank and Dunbar meet in the ominous back stairwell, where Dunbar reveals that she has the journal. She’s giving the President 3 days to bow out gracefully from the race before she goes public with it. Frank, of course, denies any knowledge of the journal and believes that even if there were one, Dunbar wouldn’t have it in her to do anything about it. She’s struck a nerve with Frank however, he’s fine if people come after him, but Claire is another story. In a chilling fourth wall break, Frank tells us, “if she goes after Claire, I’ll slit her fucking throat in broad daylight.”
Doug proves, yet again, his unwavering loyalty to Frank when he brings the journal to him at the White House. He only kept the journal in case he needed to one day prove himself to Frank. Dunbar was never close to getting her hands on it, Doug merely used it so she would take him seriously enough to gain access to her inner circle. There could be additional copies though so how could Frank ever trust him again? Doug burns the incriminating page, which Dunbar was prepared to pay 2 million for and that’s good enough for Frank. Then, in an act similar to two young boys making prank phone calls, they call up Dunbar and tell her to go fuck herself. Petty.
Knowing that Seth wanted the chief of staff position, Doug tries to make peace with him. The two of them are shaping up to be Frank’s only remaining allies. Doug’s first order of business though is to find Rachel, but he’ll need to find Orsay first.
Left to canvass alone in Iowa, Claire meets Suzy. A young mother whose marital problems allow Claire another opportunity to become introspective about her own marriage and to build on her increasing doubts. It’s odd how quickly Suzy is to divulge the problems of her relationship and her kind of outrageous ideas on how to get out of motherhood. The dialogue felt forced and it was enough to lift me out of the scene entirely. The one saving grace was when Suzy told Claire that she should be the one running for President.
Claire is stunned by the news that Doug never destroyed the journal. In fact, I don’t recall seeing her this alarmed in quite some time, if ever. The betrayal hits hard and is only intensified when Frank appoints Doug as his chief of staff. She’s livid with Frank for making the decision without her.
By the end of the episode she’s confronting Frank, declaring that they’ve been lying to each other for a long time.
Jackie offers Remy a job on the Dunbar team, but Remy is done with politics for good. He may even leave Washington. Jackie is clearly unsettled by this news. Some part of her believed that she and Remy could remain close by working together. Remy turning down the job wasn’t something she anticipated. She shows up at his apartment to confess that she can’t stop thinking about him. The way Remy was able to leave the White House in a heartbeat has allowed her to see that she’s not living the life she truly desires. She’s married for all the wrong reasons, and the love she feels for her husband pales in comparison to what she feels for Remy. They attempt to go their separate ways but at the last second, they give in to each other.
This may have been an issue, if as an audience we had gotten to know Jackie’s husband any better, but we didn’t. Adultery’s not cool, but in the context of this TV show, I couldn’t be happier about it. The tension building between Jackie and Remy all season only pointed towards a reunion. As much as I don’t want to lose these characters, their stories may be over. They’ve both had a realization that the politics game isn’t what they want to play and it makes perfect sense that this type of life changing decision would bring them together again. I’m hoping these two get one of the rarely seen happy endings on House of Cards.