House of Cards: Chapter 41
March 10, 2016 8:13 AM - Season 4, Episode 2 - Subscribe

The states of many unions are explored, as Claire takes on her mother, Frank definitively and publicly stomps out Claire's House plans, and a Russian coup attempt is revealed.
posted by Etrigan (13 comments total)
 
Underwood v. Underwood.

I am so torn. I love seeing them be so vicious but I hate it when they are so utterly cruel.

Also: SenpaiFrank noticedtalked to me!
posted by sparklemotion at 6:51 PM on March 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed the back and forth scheming between Frank and Claire. It was perhaps wildly unrealistic, but it was definitely fun.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:17 PM on March 10, 2016


The fight between Claire and her mom was a real gut punch.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 6:54 AM on March 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ellen Burstyn got me back into this show. The previous season was just dreadful.

I wish they would show us why Claire resents her mother so, to the point of cutting her out of her life completely for years. It can't just be that she hated Frank.
posted by missmerrymack at 11:41 AM on March 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


The Claire v. Mrs. Hale is great addition to the show. I also wish we knew more about why there is a conflict, but after watching the episode, it's better for the quality of the show that we aren't directly told the story because it would direct us away from the main plot.

Ellen Burstyn joining the show is another example of the brilliant casting that House of Cards displays.
posted by Become A Silhouette at 1:21 PM on March 13, 2016


I wonder what it's like to realize that you have parented a shark.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:41 PM on March 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wish they would show us why Claire resents her mother so, to the point of cutting her out of her life completely for years. It can't just be that she hated Frank.

As someone with a difficult relationship with my own mother, I like that they left it vague. A lifetime of mundane slights is just as toxic as big, specific reasons. We don't know if it's either it neither, but I think it's more powerful not to know.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:36 PM on March 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


It seems relatively obvious to me that Mrs Hale is a Southern lady of the very old school, and while Claire will play by the rules when she has to, she much prefers to make her own rules and force others to play by them. I suspect her mother took a dim view of that, especially as a teenager--in S1 when the abortion and rape stuff comes up, she mentions that she was pregnant as a teenager, and had something of a wild streak. I can easily see Mrs Hale not being okay with that. Plus there are whiffs of Claire being very much the apple of her father's eye, so there may be some Freudian rivalry on that score as well.

On top of all that, Claire--much more than Frank--sees people merely as objects to be used when useful, discarded when not. (In fact I think that Claire is the actuality of what Frank tells himself he is. She's the sleek Maserati to his, I dunno, Lexus. But he thinks it's the other way around.)

So I think she showed up to her mother's place to try sweet talking first, then dropped the facade and told her what's what when she wouldn't play ball. I strongly suspect that her mother had seen hints of this before, but was never fully targeted and in Claire's sights. Another thing worth noting is that Claire never, ever makes idle threats, and I'm willing to bet cash money that her mother was well aware of that particular fact. Claire never bluffs. Frank does.

More or less I'm working my way around to the point that everything Claire does is very, very calculated (although she's also highly skilled at taking advantage of the unexpected); her character development even in just the first two episodes of this season requires a complete rethink of everything she's done up until now. The interviewer alludes to this way back in S1, that the union between Frank and Claire is more pragmatic than it is romantic, and I'm thinking she may well have been right--but not from Frank's perspective of getting access to Claire's dad's money, from the perspective of Claire thinking "this is a useful train to ride to my next destination." See also S3 when she's talking to whatsisname, Yates? and says she told Frank she'd give him seven years at a time. I think that scene in the blood bank really needs to be reviewed as to whether she was actually getting faint, or whether it was the performance of a consummate actress knowing exactly what she had to do to make Yates write what she wanted him to write.

Frank thinks he knows people. And to an extent he does, but the only thing he's capable of understanding w/r/t motivation is hunger for power, and how to manipulate someone to get what he wants by playing to that hunger--see how he never, ever understood Freddy and was astonished when he wanted a gardening job instead of the kitchens at the White House. And how he utterly misunderstood Zoey, thinking all she wanted was power and fame when, as a journalist, hunting for the truth was her prime motivation and fame was merely an avenue to access. Stamper he gets, most members of the House and Senate he gets, etc. He understands power, but he wields it like a broadsword.

Claire, on the other hand, is a (Manolo Blahnik) stiletto. Or perhaps more accurately a scalpel. What she understands is people, as well as power, and that makes her far more dangerous. There's something to unpack there about Claire understanding the need for emotional labour and using it as a tool to get what she wants while Frank's tools are more stereotypically masculine and in your face, but I can't quite form the thought.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:26 AM on March 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


I think that scene in the blood bank really needs to be reviewed as to whether she was actually getting faint, or whether it was the performance of a consummate actress knowing exactly what she had to do to make Yates write what she wanted him to write.

Oh, it was totally a performance. Robin Wright is doing some amazing things with the character -- she's performing a role that's constantly performing multiple roles, and some of those roles are themselves explicitly performing their own roles.

Basically, Claire Hale-Underwood is Orphan Black, but combined.
posted by Etrigan at 9:32 AM on March 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yes! Which means I now need to binge, again, with the understanding that there's not a single impulsive thing she's ever done, not a moment when she's been truly honest, from the beginning.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:38 AM on March 14, 2016


that the union between Frank and Claire is more pragmatic than it is romantic, and I'm thinking she may well have been right--but not from Frank's perspective of getting access to Claire's dad's money, from the perspective of Claire thinking "this is a useful train to ride to my next destination."

Yeah that was my impression from the get-go. In fact I'd say she always seemed like the smarter and more politically-savvy of the two.
posted by Hoopo at 2:59 PM on March 14, 2016


This thread pairs well with the thread for the season 3 finale, which has a lot of good discussion about Claire and her motivations. I found it worth re-visiting the view from last season.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:51 PM on March 19, 2016


I'm surprised Frank is messing with Claire in the way he is. He has to know that if she divorces him or even simply refuses to take part in his campaign, he'll lose the nomination. But then as we're discovering, Claire is, like everyone else he knows, simply a tool to be used and discarded and destroyed if it is no longer useful. He may have cared something about her, but her value lay in the fact that she was the perfect politician's wife, and he never hesitated to sacrifice her or her goals if it furthered his own ambitions.
posted by orange swan at 10:11 PM on November 5, 2016


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