House of Cards: Chapter 32
March 9, 2015 6:33 PM - Season 3, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Frank and Claire travel to Moscow to meet with Petrov.

Frank and Claire fly to Russia to convince Petrov to allow UN troops to occupy the Jordan Valley, as well as to negotiate the release of Michael Corrigan, an American gay activist in Russian prison.

Claire visits Corrigan in his cell and tells him that the terms of his release include Corrigan making a public statement apologizing for gayness. Corrigan refuses because words have meaning. Claire, intrigued by the fact that Corrigan has actual principles, refuses to leave his cell until he agrees to read the statement and be released. Claire and Corrigan spend the night talking about their respective relationships, but when Claire falls asleep he uses her scarf to hang himself in his cell.

Meanwhile, Frank is negotiating with Petrov over the positioning of troops in the Jordan Valley, the removal of US missile defense from eastern Europe, as well as the final wording of Corrigan’s statement. Petrov is suspicious of the Underwoods’ intentions, but he eventually agrees to support the Jordan Valley resolution.

At the press conference to announce the compromise, Claire steps up and announces Corrigan’s death and shames Petrov for Russia’s anti-gay laws, effectively killing Frank’s agreement with Petrov. On the flight home, Frank and Claire fight about her newly-found convictions, ending with Frank saying to Claire, “I should have never made you ambassador,” and Claire replying, “I should have never made you president.”

Gavin uses a fake HIV diagnosis to manipulate Rachel’s ex, Lisa, into telling him about their relationship. Lisa reveals that she told Rachel about her fantasy about moving to the wilderness in New Mexico, which gives Gavin a focal point for his search for Rachel.
posted by donajo (21 comments total)
 
The show goes completely off the rails this episode by making Claire an idiot.
posted by spaltavian at 8:16 PM on March 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah - Claire public shaming NotPutin! was the breaking point for me in this season. I actually read an interview from buzzfeed with one of the writers for the show where they openly admitted to this season mostly being a thought experiment around "what if frank and Claire weren't a team" instead of writing the characters and how they would act based on the previous two seasons.

Blegh - this was worse than the Sloppy murder of the reporter.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 8:39 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


A more generic way in which this show has become (more) unrealistic is by not introducing more White House characters now that Underwood is President. He seems to have only 2 staffers of any import - his Chief of Staff and Communications Director. No deputy CoS, no senior advisers ..etc. I get that it's probably to do with economy of characters and storytelling (and budget) but it hurts verisimilitude. Having an entourage of 2-3 when you're a Congressman is OK, but not when you're the President.
posted by Gyan at 10:04 PM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am unsure when on the flight there Claire got a lobotomy, but uuuuuugh. That speech seemed so vastly out of character that I initially assumed there must be some underlying 11th-dimensional political chess going on, but NOPE. I like ruthless, competent Claire, but she seems to have left the building.

He seems to have only 2 staffers of any import

I continually wonder what happened to his press secretary, at the very least. Maybe he's so unpopular with Democrats he can't even pay them to work for him?
posted by tautological at 10:21 PM on March 9, 2015


No matter how much of an ogre you are, there will be enough people to leap into any White House position. It I get it's Netflix saving money. But it does show they were't really prepared to show Frank in power.

They obviously couldn't think of a entertaining story to tell here, which is why they apparently decided to make Claire and Frank into different characters to manufacture a conflict between them. They weren't prepared to deal with the realities of covert power; which is why you have the Chief of Staff personally being James Bond and a hit man in the same few days. They weren't prepared to deal with politics, which is why you have this bizarre ideological mishmash and Frank taken foreign policy risks that wound't benefit him even if successful. And they couldn't nail down that the Communications Director doesn't hold too many press conferences, and that the West Wing has more than two staffers.

I think a good story could have been written about Underwood as president, but these writers clearly weren't prepared to do it. They did all the shadow maneuvering well enough though. I wish they stuck with what they did well and had 3 seasons of Frank hatching schemes. Frank obtaining the presidency should have been the end, not the midpoint, of the story.
posted by spaltavian at 7:14 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Interview with Executive Producer

Here lies spoilers if you haven't binge watched the whole season already.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 7:25 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Claire has done stupid impulsive things in the past too: Running off with Adam, tanking Frank's legislation about the river or whatever it was, admitting to (one of) the abortions on TV. The speech was much more stupid because the stakes are so high now, but this is why Frank should have known better than to let her take on such an important role.

Nothing she has done on the show has ever really shown that she'd be qualified for an ambassadorship -- congresswoman, sure. CEO, naturally. Hell, she'd make a sweet VPOTUS. But a role where you have to be nice to people even when they are assholes to your face is not one that Claire Underwood should have been anywhere near.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:26 AM on March 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


I actually read an interview from buzzfeed with one of the writers for the show where they openly admitted to this season mostly being a thought experiment around "what if frank and Claire weren't a team" instead of writing the characters and how they would act based on the previous two seasons.

Oh, so that's why...okay. I felt like they were the core of the first 2 seasons, and breaking them up so soon into the series didn't make much sense. :/

I continually wonder what happened to his press secretary, at the very least. Maybe he's so unpopular with Democrats he can't even pay them to work for him?

In my fantasy version of S4, Netflix brings on Peter Capaldi to reprise his role as Malcolm Tucker, in the role of Underwood's press secretary, and he gets to swear at everybody.
posted by hellojed at 12:07 PM on March 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


tanking Frank's legislation about the river

The river legislation meant that she got something out of it for her NGO. The abortion thing also ultimately served to get her what she wanted (the disgrace of that general) if I recall correctly. So two out of three were done to further her goals, and Adam seemed to be a net neutral for her.

An irate Petrov means neither Claire nor Frank get what they want, and intentionally outraging Petrov for the memory of some guy who was determined to stay in prison largely so that he wouldn't have to go back to his rocky marriage... Claire usually regards people like that as weak, not someone she empathizes with.

Admittedly, I thought the whole recess appointment of Claire to ambassador was something that I also thought Frank would've been too smart for (surely there was some other governmental position she could take a run at?), so I generally seem to be giving these characters more credit for brains than perhaps I should.
posted by tautological at 8:01 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Frank obtaining the presidency should have been the end, not the midpoint, of the story.

They are loosely tracking the outline, in the abstract, of the original UK trilogy. So, barring cancellation, it will probably end in the same way.
posted by Gyan at 12:50 AM on March 11, 2015


They are loosely tracking the outline, in the abstract, of the original UK trilogy. So, barring cancellation, it will probably end in the same way.

Surely; I just wish they wouldn't. The original went off the rails too.
posted by spaltavian at 5:48 AM on March 11, 2015


Am I the only one who is really enjoying this season? Watching Frank successfully hatch schemes was getting old by the end of Season 2. It's fun to see him in a situation where he is so clearly in over his head. Claire, too.

Yeah, there are some holes in the story and the set-up (the staff thing occurred to me, too), but I've never watched this show for realism. It's well-made pulp.
posted by breakin' the law at 10:42 AM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who is really enjoying this season? Watching Frank successfully hatch schemes was getting old by the end of Season 2. It's fun to see him in a situation where he is so clearly in over his head. Claire, too.

I would have been happy with a season where Frank has schemes and gets thwarted by someone who plays the game better. Petrov is perfect for this, and I really liked the episode where he came to Washington because it was fun to see someone needle Frank knowing there aren't consequences. But seeing them over their heads because of their own incompetence is disappointing.
posted by Gary at 11:00 AM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I want to see Frank have a rival. I don't want to see him tripping over his own shoelaces.
posted by spaltavian at 11:06 AM on March 12, 2015


I have no problem just enjoying the season, although yeah, all the problems people are talking about are there. So it's not just you.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:28 PM on March 12, 2015


I got the impression she empathized with him over the regretful marriage part, and his death was as much about his activism as his unhappiness in marriage. Claire's outburst was a way to push down those doubts in herself by latching on to his activism. Or rather, her moment of vulnerability over their shared relationship woes needed to be buried deep down, and so she latched on to his activism. It was reckless, but she's been reckless before.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:41 PM on March 15, 2015


[Fixed "Chapter 33" in title to "Chapter 32"]
posted by taz at 1:23 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just can't believe Claire would do that.
posted by grouse at 4:31 PM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


When I see my own comment on Recent Activity, for whatever reason I read it in Frank's voice.
posted by grouse at 5:15 PM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am unsure when on the flight there Claire got a lobotomy, but uuuuuugh. That speech seemed so vastly out of character that I initially assumed there must be some underlying 11th-dimensional political chess going on, but NOPE.

Actually... if you consider the arc of the UK series, more or less the same thing happened. US version is doing it in slo-mo and telling the audience. Claire has realized that in Congress, she and Frank were a team--to a point (can't remember if S1 or S2; conversations including her saying stuff like "I did my part"). She's well past that point now.

Final shot of the series is going to be Claire in the Oval Office. At the desk.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:10 PM on March 19, 2015


Am I the only one who is really enjoying this season?

I've been binge watching from SE01 for the last week, and I came here for my first time just to comment on this episode. I love this show so far, and this one really grabbed me, powerfully.

The Claire fuckup maybe seemed a little out of nowhere, but in the end she has never seemed super competent, just vindictive and interested in the upper hand in the moment. I loved her turning the tables on the Russian UN ambassador in the toilet, forcing him to suck up the femininity that he was using to insult her. It was pure Claire, power tripping and ego.

But what really grabbed me, what I wanted to say: I just fucking love the unique new way Underwood breaks the fourth wall throughout the series, and his last line when everything has completely gone off the rails for him, his presidency, for his relation with his wife, and there he is all alone in his Airforce One office. But he's not alone, we're still here with him!

"What are you looking at?"

An excellent bit of intimacy, me the viewer and Kevin Spacey / Underwood. It really works.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:59 AM on May 20, 2016


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