House of Cards: Chapter 37
March 20, 2015 12:30 PM - Season 3, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Things turn ugly when Frank, Jackie, and Heather square off during their first debate. Tom joins Claire on the campaign trail.

Frank and Dunbar are about even in the polls so it's super awkward debate time! During debate prep, Frank wants Jackie to call Dunbar sexist once she questions Claire's appointment but Jackie feels hinky about it. Another thing Jackie feels hinky about is talking about Dunbar's kids and the fact they go to private school. She reveals that her stepkids go to private school but Frank convinces her to be the pitbull as he acts Presidential. Jackie meets with Dunbar before the debate and offers her endorsement for Secretary of Defense. Dunbar refuses because she wants her appointments to be merit-based and because she wants to win her way. Jackie decides to stick with Frank.

At the debate, Dunbar starts off very strongly against Frank, especially since Frank can't help but defend America Works. She brings up Claire and Jackie sticks to the plan, calling Dunbar sexist. Every time Frank brings up America Works, Dunbar is able to get in a few shots due to the whole FEMA Stafford Act funds thing. Jackie brings up Dunbar's kids and private school but then accuses Dunbar of not wanting to raise them and thus send them to boarding school. Dunbar defends herself ably and accuses Jackie of being sexist since no one would ever accuse a male politician of being a bad father. It's pretty much what Jackie feared about bringing sexism into the debate. That's when Frank throws her under the bus by bringing up that Jackie's stepkids also go to private school.

Jackie feels horrible about what went down and decides to fly back to DC to talk to the kids about what happened. When she talks to Frank, she tells him that she humiliated herself and that she's not comfortable with their dynamic. Frank tells her that this isn't a partnership of equals and that if she wants to be VP, she'll do whatever Frank wants.

Gavin, now free and out of the country, lets Doug know that Rachel's actually alive. Gavin tries to make a deal - get the charges against his friend Green dropped and Doug'll get Rachel's location. Doug manages to stay sober for 60 days and thanks his brother for standing by him.

Claire campaigns for Frank as Tom shadows her. She looks upset when she watches the debate in her hotel room and refuses Frank's calls. The next day, at a blood drive, Tom gets a chance to talk to Claire. He asks her about her hair. She talks about the focus grouping of her appearance and how everyone hates campaigning. As she gets light headed, she tells Tom that how she initially decided to give her marriage seven years and if it stayed good, she'd stay for another seven more and what she really hates is "how much I need us" before passing out.

Remy drops by when Frank and Freddie are chatting. He tries to advocate for Jackie but Frank questions Remy's loyalty and demands unconditional loyalty from his subordinates. Remy warns him about that attitude and how he won't be able to get anywhere if his staff leaves. When Frank is briefly called away to check on Claire, Freddie tells Remy it doesn't do any good calling out Frank, "it's like blaming a snake for its fangs". More importantly, he asks Remy to cover for him because he can't do work when Frank wants company and that Freddie used to be able to walk away when he got tired of Frank.

Tom tries to do some marriage counseling when Frank calls, but Frank isn't having it and wants Claire back in DC so that the White House doctor can check on her. Frank decides to go to New Hampshire to Claire.

Jackie drops out of the race and endorses Dunbar. Remy quits the White House. Frank watches Claire read to children, ignoring Seth's call.
posted by zix (7 comments total)
Ugh. This episode. I hate watching real political debates, and I almost didn't make it through this one.

I like how this episode hints at the fact that Freddie doesn't actually like Frank all that much. He was a good customer back in the day, and he was useful for getting Freddie a good job now. But Frank thinks they are friends, but really they aren't.

And Frank's misjudgment/taking for granted of people really comes to a head this episode. He almost fixes things with Claire with the showing up out of the blue stunt, but you could tell the moments when he was pushing Jackie and Remy away. He hasn't treated either of them with respect all season.

Claire is a creepy good campaigner.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:00 PM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I actually have a hard time buying the way Frank is interacting with his people. He is positively Malkavian In seasons 1 and 2, and knows just how to give the person what they want at the right time and then save the threats for only when the player has no other move. Here he's just being a dick bag to everyone.

Has their been a change of the guard involved in the writing this season? This just seems like another political drama. It doesn't belong in the House Of Cards series. There is no meeting of minds, and both Frank and Claire are useless. I suspect they're attempting to show them out of their respective depths, but all we see are two bumbling characters. I suspect it's the lazy writers fall-back of making a character change to fit the plot(s), and unfortunately it's noticeable as hell.

I knew the moment they had Claire donating blood that they'd have her get light-headed and say too much. And Claire would be aware of that risk too, making that scene completely unbelievable. I don't believe season one and two Claire would let Yates near her at that moment. In the same way I also suspect she would have given him time alone much earlier and fed him what she wanted him to know.

Blah, I'll finish this seasons, and pray they'll fix whatever they broke going forward.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:16 PM on March 20, 2015 [8 favorites]

Yeah, this is somewhere where it gets even caugh up in nonsensical politics -- I don't care that the politics and politicking bares no relation to reality, I don't go to HoC for accurate scheming, I come to HoC for people having screaming affairs while twirling mustaches and being basically Disney villains in Federalist-styled rooms.
posted by The Whelk at 4:58 PM on March 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

And also for the amazing things that Claire wears. I'm kind of happy she went back to blonde. I guess that makes me a predictable peon.
posted by olya at 8:21 AM on March 21, 2015

I guess that makes me a predictable peon.

I'm right there with you. Robin Wright looked absolutely stunning in that last scene with the children. Loved that white dress she had on at the beginning of the episode too.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:16 PM on March 27, 2015

I haven't felt nearly as engaged by this series as by the previous two. Less sly wit, less winking, less fun. I'm hoping the payoff will pull me over the line, but the final moves will have to be pretty damned good after they have futzed around with the chess pieces for so long to happy me up.

First post here, btw — hi, everybody!
posted by Wolof at 5:48 AM on March 31, 2015

I agree with others in this thread that it's not in character for Frank to have become so terrible at dealing with people in this third season. Not that he was ever a good guy, but he at least tried to hide it before, and to behave strategically. It doesn't make any sense that he would think that now that he's president he can simply order everyone about.

I did really enjoy Heather Dunbar going all Elizabeth Warren on Frank and Jackie's asses, and also that Jackie and Remy have decided to bail from the Underwood train.

I'm so done with the whole Doug Stamper Show, but I knew Rachel wasn't dead.
posted by orange swan at 9:10 PM on November 3, 2016

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