Previously on House of Cards, ‘Chapter 34’
Frank has hit the campaign trail in Iowa. He’s using the small successes of America Works and the failure of Congress to back it, as his platform. The crowd loves him as they chant along with his slogans. Backstage, Claire gets a message from Cathy and stealthily delivers it to Frank at the podium. Eight Russian soldiers have been killed in the Jordan Valley. Russia is blocking the blast site and Frank can’t get Petrov on the line.
While in Iowa, Frank was supposed to meet with Harlan Traub, the IDP chairman and the President of the Food Processors Association. Frank wants to postpone, but is advised to meet with him before Dunbar can. In a rash decision, Frank invites Harlan back to Washington with him. He can’t campaign on the plane, it’s not legit, but he instructs his staff to make Harlan feel special until they can meet again at the White House.
Yates and Kate are also in Iowa, following the campaign trail but skipping most of the speeches to stay in the hotel room and get cozy. Kate has a college-aged daughter and has been divorced twice. Yates doesn’t care. He has no expectations and neither should Kate. When they arrive on Air Force One, Frank invites Yates to the front of the plane, but Yates declines. It’s evident Frank sees something going on between Yates and Kate, but he’s not sure what the extent of it is, yet.
Frank has a brief talk with Harlan before being interrupted with a call from Petrov. Harlan may have been easily placated at first with fresh lobster, but he’s clearly becoming irritated with how the President is blowing him off. Harlan later mistakes the press area for the airplane washroom, giving Kate another opportunity to start asking questions.
While Israel is ready to blame Palestine, Russia believes the U.S. is responsible for the soldiers’ deaths. Petrov is irate with Frank and hangs up on him. Frank now understands that these deaths gave Russia options; they’re probably popping champagne corks right now.
Claire meets with Moryakov at the U.N. where he tells her, in fewer words, that Russia is responsible for the blast. She wants to offer him protection in return for the information, but he doesn’t respond. Claire shares the intel in the Situation Room, but it’s perceived as a trap, that Russia is just trying to provoke them. Against the warning signs and because of his faith in Claire, Frank approves a mission to send troops in for an investigation of their own.
At a press conference, while trying to convince reporters that Russia’s internal investigation is not of any concern, Frank goes out of his way to avoid Kate. She gets a fellow journalist to catch his attention and inquires as to why Harlan was on the plane. Frank plays it cool, but has Remy get Harlan out of Washington to avoid further exposure on the subject.
Unsurprisingly, for those of us who caught on early to Russia’s obvious ploy, the U.S. troops’ mission fails gravely. Three soldiers are injured and one is killed. In an extremely rare moment for House of Cards, we see Frank is genuinely shocked when he hears the gunfire, and has to collect himself before shutting the whole thing down.
Later that evening, Frank receives a call from Petrov. Russia knows it was U.S. troops that came to investigate and they’ve leaked footage of it to Israel. Frank accuses Petrov of killing his own men with the blast and he is the one who gets to hang up the phone angrily this time. On the news, we see that Israeli forces have entered the Jordan Valley.
While driving to the airport, Remy tries to talk business with Harlan but he’s not interested. He’s beyond aggravated with Frank and takes his anger out on Remy, referring to him as nothing more than a chauffeur. He seems like a racist asshole.
On his way back, Remy is pulled over for speeding and doesn’t have any ID or registration papers with him. Though he tries to explain who he is, hoping they’ll just look him up in the database, the matter escalates quickly. Remy has his face shoved against the back windshield and is thrown into the backseat of the police car. When the lieutenant arrives and clears up the situation, Remy demands that they issue him a ticket. Remy doesn’t want favors just because of his position in the government.
Feeling that he had nowhere else to turn, Remy goes to Jackie for comfort. He was shaken by the event because it forced him to contemplate his lack of family. He feels bad for intruding, but Jackie is glad he came, he still means a lot to her. Remy caresses her face and kisses her. Jackie doesn’t stop him. Earlier that day, Remy had snapped at Jackie in the White House, but immediately felt awful about it. She shared stories of her married life with him and though it’s authentic when he says he’s happy for her, you can tell it’s eating away at him inside. It’s touching how honest these two remain with one another. I still have hope for a Rackie/Jemy reunion.
Orsay presents Doug with a file that contains information on a Jane Doe found in a ditch outside of Tucson, which he has determined is actually Rachel. Doug doesn’t buy it at first but when Orsay says their fingerprints match, the ringing in his ears reaches that deafening pitch. He’s devastated. He leaves a voicemail with Seth, asking to speak with Frank because his mother died. When the information is relayed to Frank, he realizes it’s a code of sorts; Doug’s mother died 10 years ago.
That night, Doug falls heavy off the wagon. He’s pissed drunk at a bar, playing an arcade-style basketball game, when he accidentally hits someone with a ball. Before things can escalate he’s forcibly removed. Meanwhile, he’s missed a call from Cynthia and Heather.
As he staggers into his apartment, he vomits on the floor. I couldn’t help but chuckle at his cleanup attempt. Drop some paper towel on the floor, mush it around with a cane, and leave it there to dry, perfect. Doug has moved past trying to moderate his drinking with syringes and right into full mugs of booze. After a short glance at the Rachel surveillance feed, he throws the mug on his laptop.
Doug brings the file on Rachel to the White House because he needed Frank to believe him. He confesses that he’s drunk and Frank realizes how much Rachel meant to this man. Doug also admits that he’s working for Dunbar and his true intentions are revealed when we learn that he was doing so for Frank. He wanted to get close and find valuable information, so that he could prove he’s still useful. Frank wants to help, but Doug makes one thing clear, “I’m not Peter Russo, I won’t go like he did.” In a tender yet pitiful moment, Doug lays his head on Frank’s legs. Frank looks confused and slightly repulsed. Meechum has the Rachel file destroyed and takes Doug home. He stays until Doug’s brother, Gary, arrives.
Frank calls Dunbar and blames her for Doug’s relapse. He warns Dunbar that if she does anything to hurt him again, “I swear to god, I will put you in your fucking grave.” It’s a shame she wasn’t recording the call because this threat could easily cause Frank some serious damage. Dunbar may still have the last laugh though. She shakes off Frank’s words and heads back to her meeting with Harlan Traub.