Previously on House of Cards, Chapter 30
There was a hell of a lot going on in this episode. It was plot-heavy and had the fast-paced rhythm of previous seasons. Several new characters were introduced, though it’s likely only a few of them will remain in focus. As much as I love the way House of Cards can put dozens of moving parts into an episode without making it feel overly convoluted or messy, it can be difficult to get a grasp on where all the storylines are at the end of this type of episode. Let’s break it down into major plot points and make sure we’re all caught up moving in to the next chapter.
Presidency in 2016
This episode took the time to paint Heather Dunbar as a very worthy opponent for Frank. John Pasternak, the husband of arrested LGBT activist Michael Corrigan, joins Dunbar on her unofficial campaign tour. They make an appearance on The Meredith Vieira Show where Dunbar makes her mark as a progressive candidate, discussing free speech, gay rights, and transparency in the White House. They also take a trip to Iowa, where it’s obvious she’s been successful in connecting with the public on her ideals.
Doug meets with Dunbar and her campaign manager, Cynthia, to discuss salaries. They low-ball him at first, stating they barely know him or whether they can even trust him. Doug knows he has value and he vows to prove it before taking an offer. His first act is to recommend a consultant who works in foreign policy. The consultant connects the dots between the peacekeeping resolution and Michael Corrigan’s arrest, and Dunbar is impressed. Doug’s next move is in the form of presenting incriminating information about Claire. Dunbar is unwilling to expose another woman’s secrets, but Doug reassures her this is the type of skill he has. It’s his job to do what no one else will. He makes a counter offer on the salary and he’s officially on the payroll.
Frank and Remy persuade Jackie to run for president, as a means to direct women’s votes away from Dunbar. She will come out against the FEMA decision, but once AmWorks is well under way, she’ll join Frank’s ticket to be vice president. Apparently women have a better chance at votes if they are married with a family, so Jackie is encouraged to consider this route with her boyfriend. When she approaches him about it, he already has a ring. Jackie reveals her engagement to Remy, and it’s kind of heartbreaking. Remy is clearly surprised and hurt by the news. I still have hope for these two.
America Works Program
In a highly controversial move, Frank defines unemployment and poverty in D.C. as a state of emergency. This forces FEMA to allocate $3 billion from its natural disaster relief fund, to support the America Works program. Knowing full well getting a Senator to agree with this would have been near impossible, Frank approaches the mayor of D.C. instead, and he’s on board. Frank wants to make sure the program’s debut has a lot of visibility and success; it has to prove this could be a nationwide initiative. He and the mayor discuss setting up tents on July 4th where people can sign up for jobs. If the President brings the fireworks, the mayor will bring the masses of people.
Frank receives pushback for this move on multiple fronts. Firstly from FEMA’s administrator Arnold Silva, who is concerned about the lack of funds left for the looming hurricane season. Congressman Birch and Senator Mendoza threaten not only to draft a law to make Frank’s use of the Stafford Act illegal, but to impeach him if necessary. Frank calls their bluff; they all know Donald Blythe couldn’t handle the responsibility of president.
The most worrisome pushback comes from Kate Baldwin, the new White House correspondent from the Telegraph. In one day she has two front-page stories concerning America Works. Kate met secretly with Silva. He gave her insider information on the potential of upcoming disasters, leading to a piece about how if disaster strikes, Frank’s redirection of funds could leave D.C. in the wind. Her other article leaked the knowledge that the secretary of Homeland Security was forced to resign after he objected to Frank’s plan. Getting rid of Ayla may have been a mistake!
In an effort to sell the idea of America Works, Frank recruits an author. Thomas Yates wrote a video game review, which captured Frank’s attentions and hooked him on the game. He wants Thomas to write a book about Frank’s poor upbringing and the values behind the AmWorks program.
As the camera panned a long line of people taking in the fireworks outside of the registration tents, you just knew there was a familiar face about to pop up. Freddy’s return is possibly the best thing to come out of the America Works storyline so far. Can’t wait to see how he’s been!
Peacekeeping Resolution/Relationship with Russia
Claire’s resolution hits a wall when she discovers Israel is withdrawing their support. They don’t trust the U.S. to actually send any troops to the Jordan Valley; they need some concrete evidence before they’ll sign back on. Claire also learns Moscow is threatening to sell arms to Iran. She decides to postpone the vote until she can regain the support it needs.
In a meeting with the Russian Ambassador, Alexi Moryakov, Claire hands him a list of Russian officials who will be sanctioned if they try to sell arms to Iran. He tells Claire she has no more business being the U.S. Ambassador than he does being the First Lady. A comment he’ll soon heavily regret. At Claire’s request, Frank signs an executive order to transfer the necessary troops.
This gives Claire the opportunity to shove her victory in Alexi’s face, and she does so in the most amazing way. She has him meet her in the washroom, where she’s busy putting on makeup. After sarcastically asking for his advice on said makeup, she proceeds to take a pee, with the stall door open. She tells him of the executive order and it clearly comes as a surprise. He stumbles over his words as he agrees to have Petrov meet with Frank once more for negotiations, and to have Michael Corrigan released. She responds to the good news by asking him to hand her a towel. I love this woman.
Looks like the Underwoods are off to Russia. Hopefully we see Petrov get some sweet comeuppance.
The Underwoods seem to be growing apart. Though they remain connected through work, it seems that their marriage and personal life is slowly fading. Claire started sleeping in a separate bedroom, and though it was at first due to a cold, she continued to stay there and is unsure of why. Frank proposes he spend a night with her but she declines the offer because of her busy schedule the following day. When they finally see each other after four days apart, she apologizes for rejecting him. He seems less than bothered however, and they share a kiss that had zero chemistry. It felt like a grade school kiss rather than a married couple’s kiss. Claire tells him that she loves him more than ever, but I’m not buying it, and by the way Frank tosses out the cigarette and glares at her as she leaves, tells me he’s not either.