House of Cards: Chapter 31
March 5, 2015 5:02 PM - Season 3, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Frank declares war on Congress to jump-start his jobs program. Claire spars with the Russian ambassador.

Frank sets up a pilot America Works program in DC. How does he do it? By having the mayor of the city declare a state of emergency due to unemployment and requesting FEMA assistance. The Secretary of Homeland Security resigns, Congress leadership throws a fit, and the FEMA director's soul dies a little on the inside.

Dunbar ponders whether to hire Doug or not. Is he a mole? The foreign affairs consultant he recommended does seems more than capable despite the product placement. When Doug shows Dunbar the journal proving that Claire lied on national television about never having an abortion, she refuses to use the information, stating she would never do that to another woman. But it does mean that Doug gets the job.

Jackie needs to fake-run for President in order to siphon off some of the women's vote for Dunbar and to sell folks on AmWorks through the "I once doubted but now I'm a believer" narrative. In order to look more family friendly, Remy suggests she marry her heart surgeon boyfriend. Jackie and Remy throw weird vibes at each other during the discussion and when Jackie does get engaged, Remy isn't entirely unflappable about the news.

This episode introduces Kate Baldwin, Ayla's mentor and replacement. She immediately starts doing her job and Seth gets chewed out. We also meet Thomas Yates, a novelist. Frank wants him to write a book about America Works and Frank. He hasn't committed yet but he does find Frank an intriguing subject. (And Monument Valley is a really neat video game.)

But let's talk about Claire! She discovers that Moscow's threatening to sell arms to Iran which freaks out Israel enough to withdraw from the override resolution. It's clear the US has to personally send troops in order to get things back on track but Claire first starts with threatening sanctions on Russia. The Russian ambassador shrugs off her threats and tells her that she has no business being ambassador. He also tells her that he likes her dress as he leaves.

She goes to the Oval Office to talk to Frank and have a joint smoking session. Turns out they haven't slept in the same room since coming to the White House. Claire turned down an overture earlier in the episode and while she doesn't have a reason for staying in a separate bedroom, she affirms her love for him. Frank's not even worried and is willing to give her the space she needs. But their talk ends with him agreeing to sign an Executive Order to commit troops to the Jordan Valley.

This leads to Claire pulling off an amazing power play on the Russian ambassador in the U.N.'s womens' room. Piss on that, man!

The episode ends on a super up note - the Underwoods are heading to Russia to discuss the Jordan Valley, Michael Corrigan is going to be freed, it's the 4th of July and folks in DC are lining up for hours to get a job. Including former ribsmaster Freddie! Nothing bad can possibly happen now!
posted by zix (13 comments total)
 
OK is it just me or does Yates have the acting prowess of a cardboard box? Every line sounds like he's reading it in a high school English class. His performance was so flat it was distracting.
posted by hellojed at 5:31 PM on March 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


I can't decide if Doug is trying to stick it to Frank by working for Dunbar, or if he's going to try crawling back to Frank after sabotaging Dunbar's campaign. It seems like it's heading toward the former, but the latter wouldn't surprise me at all.
posted by donajo at 5:33 PM on March 5, 2015


the Freddy-standing-in-line bit was a lot more clever than this show usually is about peeling back ironies.

also: Kim Dickens! put Kim Dickens in everything!
posted by Kybard at 5:36 PM on March 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I liked seeing Claire get her groove back. Poopuppance.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:57 PM on March 5, 2015


Monument Valley is definitely cute, but I somehow doubt the President trawls through Rock Paper Shotgun or whatever for random game reviews? What a weird way to find a writer.

I definitely like Dunbar as Frank's opponent. I'm guessing Doug either ultimately corrupts her into Frank 2.0, or he finds something truly appalling in her past and makes it public.

Claire in the women's room was so delightful. I love watching her take someone apart and make them squirm like that. Frank does seem to outright give her a lot of things that seem politically unwise so far, however. I'm surprised he hasn't pushed back more; it would give them a more concrete reason for their relationship to be on the rocks, but as it is, I guess Claire's just... bored with him? In need of another round with Meecham? Something?
posted by tautological at 6:20 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Yates is giving such a weird and flat performance, I can only assume its a conscious decision by the show runners.
posted by sideshow at 8:40 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I loved with scene with Claire in the bathroom. She plays up feminine traits (putting on make up, asking his opinion of her appearance) while also performing masculine acts (negotiating, and in the bathroom). I love that she kept things going while she was actually going and kept the stall door open too. I loved the twist on the "deals made in the men's room".
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:20 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


That was some LBJ-inspired tactics.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:45 AM on March 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


When Doug shows Dunbar the journal proving that Claire lied on national television about never having an abortion...

Just to clarify, she didn't lie about never having had an abortion (she admitted to that). She lied about the timing and the reason (she claimed it was the result of being raped, but I don't think that the rape resulted in a pregnancy).

Yeah, Yates is giving such a weird and flat performance, I can only assume its a conscious decision by the show runners.

Yates is played by the guy who played Mickey Doyle on Boardwalk Empire. Every time he finishes a sentence, my brain inserts that nervous "teeheehee"* that Doyle always did. So annoying.

*video starts with full frontal corpse nudity, has HBO level language
posted by sparklemotion at 7:47 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


That monument valley review bit meant that for a second, the show was actually about ethics in video game journalism.

(the weak point of the this series so far seems to be assuming I find Doug Stamper fascinating when he's not engaged in deadly schemes. I do not.)
posted by The Whelk at 8:45 AM on March 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I can't decide if Doug is trying to stick it to Frank by working for Dunbar, or if he's going to try crawling back to Frank after sabotaging Dunbar's campaign.

That's exactly what's going to happen. He has lived and breathed for Frank for the better part of two decades. No way is he giving that up. He's going to mole his way through Dunbar's campaign, and then make a phone call. "Mr President, I have something you want to know."

I also have a vague feeling/hope/whatever that Jackie is going to defect to Dunbar after Frank screws her over again.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:15 PM on March 19, 2015


Yates is played by the guy who played Mickey Doyle on Boardwalk Empire. Every time he finishes a sentence, my brain inserts that nervous "teeheehee"* that Doyle always did. So annoying.

Easily my favorite character on Boardwalk Empire. His performance here is oddly constrained.
posted by octothorpe at 6:17 PM on March 22, 2015


Been rewatching and flicking through these threads, this jumped out:

Monument Valley is definitely cute, but I somehow doubt the President trawls through Rock Paper Shotgun or whatever for random game reviews? What a weird way to find a writer.

Frank's a pretty hardcore gamer, has been since S1. And remember in S2 when he's upset that the Secret Service has cut off internet access to his gaming console. Not surprising that he'd run across reviews of games... and remember in S1 he says "I read everything."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:54 AM on January 25, 2016


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