Aaaaaaaaaand we’re back this afternoon for another three-episode review of Netflix House of Cards Season 3. If you’d like to see episodes 1-3, check here, and as always, watch out for spoilers!
My husband is now convinced that Frank Underwood is Satan himself, or at least the writers’ incarnation of him. I am almost convinced.
But first, let’s back up a bit. We need to talk about Heather Dunbar, the solicitor general, because we her argument to the Supreme Court, and that means that She Is Important To the Plot.
We saw Dunbar a bit already. She prosecuted Walker, apparently. And she’s working on a case in which a drone strike killed and injured civilians, and she’s been given permission to declassify some aspects of the incident to achieve the state’s desired result in court. In the Supreme Court she defends the actions of the state, and when asked why she prosecuted Walker but defends this action of Underwood, she lays it down to presidential authority–you can “prosecute presidents but not the presidency.”
Meanwhile, Remy and Jackie have figured out that Dunbar is Important to the Plot, too. They show up at Arlington (just after a funeral that Frank has attended) to tell Frank to be wary of Dunbar. She’s from a wealthy family, very wealthy, and she’s ambitious. They think she’s about to run for president.
Yeeeees. Frank needs a formidable adversary.
But Frank doesn’t think so, of course. He’d rather make Heather another offer, and so he does. One of the Supreme Court justices tried to retire earlier in the year to spend more time with his family after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but Frank would not accept his resignation. Anyway, he figures now Justice Jacob can retire and Heather Dunbar can become a Supreme Court justice. She accepts, but I can’t help thinking something is fishy.
Now Frank must meet with one of the survivors of the drone strike who is suing the administration. He tries to justify his actions, to assure the survivors of their necessity, but there is of course no satisfaction for losing one’s family and one’s legs in a drone strike. And Frank is told as much before the survivor leaves, angry and hurt.
AmWorks (Frank’s semi-adorable pet name for his America Works Program), is also in trouble. Republicans aren’t going to let it pass, of course. Ayla, a reporter who has been badgering Seth Grayson for more information, pushes Frank too hard in a press conference. She questions his views on gay rights, throwing out implications about an American citizen who has been taken prisoner in Russia after a Russian gay rights protest. Of course, the actions get Ayla removed from the White House after a bit of politics between Grayson and the Correspondents Association. It’s not terribly surprising, even if it’s a bit cowardly, that a reporter who hit that hard might be asked to hand in credentials.
Oh, and there’s Doug, still searching for Rachel. Gavin (guinea pig hacker guy) is pressing him for a passport in return for the work he’s been doing. But Doug wants him to do more. Gavin finds Rachel’s former roommate/lover, Lisa, at an AA meeting and strikes up a conversation with her. I want the doe eyed girl to run away, but she doesn’t, of course.They never do.
And things are still getting worse for Frank. Jacobs no longer wants to give up his spot as a Supreme Court Justice. Frank pressures him, but Jacobs is honest with Dunbar about the pressure. Cut to a news conference and Heather Dunbar announcing her candidacy for president. (Hooray!)
Doug approaches Dunbar, asking for a job. He’s tired of being shut away from the Underwoods. At least he says so. Somehow I doubt this is really a turn of loyalty, and so does Dunbar, who in any case isn’t eager to align herself with Doug’s brand of politics.
It’s about this time that a very despondent Frank has the priest from the Arlington funeral dragged out of bed and brought to speak with him in church. When the priest walks out of the room, Frank sidles up to the crucifix at the front of the church and talks to Jesus.
For a moment, anyway. Then he spits on the crucifix (cut to me, covering my mouth; it’s funny what shocks us). And when he tries to wipe away the spit, he knocks down the crucifix, and it shatters (cut to me, covering my mouth and laughing; it’s funny what’s funny). Frank picks up a piece of Jesus—the ear—and walks away muttering about having Jesus’ ear. Cut to me laughing so hard my stomach hurts.
Husband is now firmly assured that Frank is the writers’ incarnation of Satan. I just want to watch…
Jackie and Frank are discussing their plan for the election. Jackie is running but will drop out, and when she does, Frank will give her a place on the ticket. Makes sense, I suppose. She’s there as a distraction and to pull in votes that she’ll bring with her as VP nominee.
There’s also Heather Dunbar to contend with. She’s not sure yet if she wants to hire Doug, and her main adviser isn’t either. What Dunbar is certain of is that she wants to run to the left of Frank. She’ll play up her stance on gay rights (and I’m struggling a little with this part, because I’m not quite sure where/why Frank’s stance on gay rights became negative; it almost doesn’t make sense, given his prior trysts) and use the imprisonment of Corrigan, the American citizen jailed in Russia, as a way onto the platform.
Ah, yes, and I’m sure we’ll all wondering about AmWorks, too. Part of the federal coffers that Frank has to raid for his AmWorks plan are disaster relief funds. The head of Homeland Security gets fired in the midst of this because of his objection to Frank’s ideas. No one else dares to object, of course.
Ayla’s replacement at the White House shows up in the form of Kate, and she’s a welcome introduction. Kate’s good at figuring things out. She’s gutsy and quick-witted, and I don’t doubt for a moment that she’ll be more difficult to contend with than Ayla. She quickly finds the fired Chief of Homeland Security and breaks the story. Frank is furious, of course.
And Claire is having trouble at the UN. Her inexperience is showing, and the settlement she’d almost negotiated to circumvent Russian objections and put a peace-keeping mission in place in the Jordan Valley begins to fall through. Frank agrees to put in troops without passing it through Congress.
Then there’s this weird moment in the bathroom, when Claire invites the Russian ambassador in with her as she readies to leave. She informs him, while she’s peeing (what’s with the peeing this season?!), that he’s been out-maneuvered.
And Doug is Up to Something. He gives Dunbar Claire’s old journal, which would prove that her abortion was not after a rape and that she lied during a televised interview. It’s damning evidence to have on a first lady, and it’s dirty business. Dunbar says she would never use such information against another woman. But I don’t think we’ve seen the last of that journal.
Frank, meanwhile, has hired Thomas Yates, a quite-brilliant-and-beautifully-handsome novelist to write the story of AmWorks. I foresee Frank having another sexual adventure with this one. And AmWorks is starting in Washington. There’s Freddy in the line, oh Freddy, another that I hoped would be back this season. I just wish it weren’t under such circumstances.
First, a bit about Doug and Gavin, and then off to Russia. Gavin is still pretending to be Max, a former alcoholic and junkie, at local AA meetings, to get Lisa to open up about Rachel. He pretends to have recently lost a lover (ugh); he pretends to be HIV positive (UGH). She takes him under her wing and begins to talk about Rachel. And Doug is still flirting with his physical therapist, who looks a bit like Rachel and pays attention to politics.
Now for the Underwoods.
Frank and Claire have gone to Russia to try and smooth things over with Petrov and secure the release of Michael Corrigan. Claire goes to the prison cell to speak with Michael Corriganwhile Frank goes to Petrov’s office.
The assumption is, of course, that Frank will have a much more difficult time convincing Petrov to allow Corrigan to leave than Claire will have convincing Corrigan to do what is necessary to leave. But when what is necessary turns out to be Corrigan reading a statement of apology and the other 27 people who were arrested staying in jail, Corrigan refuses.
(Nevermind that the other 27 people are Russian citizens over whom Claire has no jurisdiction. And while I understand the reluctance to apologize, to say some of what was written on that page, is that worth staying in prison in a foreign land? Is it worth dying for)?
Claire refuses to leave the cell without Michael and asks that she be able to speak to him privately, with no electronic bugs. They talk about their respective marriages, and for the dozenth time at least this season, we’re aware that there’s trouble between Claire and Frank. Real trouble.
When the bug is removed from the cell, Petrov becomes even more distrustful of the Underwoods. And let’s be clear–none of this is because of what he believes. Petrov admits to Frank that he knows the law is barbaric, but the law is to preserve tradition, and therefore he will uphold it.
Back in the cell, Michael wants to think about what to do, alone. Claire decides to take a nap. And somehow, her nap turns into the sort of nap that one doesn’t wake from even when someone commits suicide beside one. (HOW?!?) She sleeps through Michael Corrigan hanging himself from the bars of his cell window with her scarf.
Naturally, everyone is scrambling a bit. They’ve come to take home an activist but must return with a corpse. Frank and Petrov come up with a plan to continue the deal, saying that their plan was to release Michael that day. Claire can’t hold her tongue, though, and she lashes out at the law and at Petrov. Publicly. This will not end well.
And then Frank and Claire have a fight. They have THE fight. She made him president. He made her ambassador. It’s a vicious fight that relies on words, and the words, oh, do they sting. They’re murderers. He’s a coward. It’s a delicious implosion 3 season in the making.
And then it’s over.