It seems things are not looking up at all for Frank and Claire in the following two episodes. Well, certainly not Frank.
The fallout of the assassination attempt punctuates a tense few episodes of House of Cards. Every man and their dog knows that Kevin Spacey is not leaving his series any time soon so the tension behind his life-or-death fight lacks real tension. It comes and goes, most notably as he seizures and changes hue en route to a new liver, but it’s clear the endgame is not death.
The writers knew this going in and don’t spend too much time with the President unless it is enabling another character’s plot. It’s interesting to see the vacuum once the main character is removed. Almost every major uses this opportunity to ‘step above their authority’.
Before we reach those moments we still have the fallout of the shooting. Frank’s bodyguard, whom he groomed into unwavering servitude after a wrongdoing, is killed in the line of duty. The newsroom awards him the shot that killed Zoe’s ex Lucas, which is something, but it still hits home to lose a cast member. It lends Claire a rare show of dignity – the first step on a redemptive arc that may not reach its destination.
Doug expectantly strongarms the woman in charge of America’s donor list to get his boss a new liver. She complies begrudging and tries to guilt Doug, but we know at this point he’s even less morally sound than the president.
After Claire coerces Acting President Donald into sending a Russian citizen seeking asylum to China tensions begin to rise. Kathy, a former friend and loyal member of the Underwood Administration, is reluctant to accept her theories in such a delicate time in foreign policy. Still Claire continues to gamble, feeding lines to Donald and manoeuvring chess pieces as her husband lie unconscious.
Would Frank approve? The thought never crosses Claire’s mind. With the president incapacitated she has the opening to make a name for herself in a big way. She decides that her best chance with China is season two antagonist Raymond Tusk, and her best way to Tusk is through their mutual ex-employee Remy.
Remy is good value. He is one of the top players in House of Cards and his moves are rarely wrong. His relationship with badass Jaqui Sharp has humanised him significantly and was a major reason he quit ‘the game’ altogether. Now Claire has leverage that Remy and Jaqui are sleeping together in secret and intends to use it.
Jaqui, upset, asks for their date to end. Trouble in paradise.
Claire’s bold American-Russian-Chinese deal’s second piece falls into place thanks to a begrudging Remy. With the Russian president attending an international summit in Germany she decides this is her chance to close the (from what I can gather) unprecedented coalition.
Putin, sorry Petrov, is a stubborn prick that pulls out many of the tricks Claire and the audience have said before. Claire bites back and ultimately, riskily, he folds. A dangerous state of affairs that faced strong resistance from loyal Underwood Administration right hand Cathy. Perhaps a rivalry is brewing?
The deal is sealed and the liver is transplated. Two more major events fall from this. Opposition for the nomination Heather Dunbar (the Bernie Sanders to the Hilary Clinton, on the same team overall but competing for the leadership) resigns amid correct accusations she met the man that shot the president and tried to get an old friend to start an investigation. Underwood is now unopposed, and the series immediately shifts its attention to the Republican frontrunner (the Trump to his Hilary).
An FBI investigation discovers Lucas’ suicide note that details accusations of Peter and Zoe’s murders, amongst other things. It makes its way to the press and some of the journos grumble skeptically before resting for now. Two seasons on and Zoe Barnes is still causing problems. She even appears in a dream sequence while Frank is fighting for his life, indicating he’s not yet put that to bed either. Peter Russo and Claire Underwood also appear to torment him. Kate Mara and Corey Stoll have moved onto bigger (but not necessarily better) things with Fantastic Four and Ant-Man. It was so exciting when Kate Mara was cast as Invisible Woman and while the movie was terrible there was no denying her career would bounce back. Returning to her old stomping ground will certainly help.
Claire and Francis reunite and he congratulates her on the deal. He makes a strong case for the coalition of their marriage to be repaired and she insists it must not be in a First Lady capacity. He agrees and television’s most ruthless couple are on the same page – for now.