Buckle up, everyone. The Russians are in town.
President Petrov (clearly standing in for Vladimir Putin), is invited by Frank to the White House for policy discussions. Right out of the gate, Frank has an uphill battle to climb. Concerned citizens march in protest of Petrov’s visit and the country’s homophobic laws. No one seems enthusiastic about this summit at all. President Underwood is desperate to leave a legacy somehow during his tenure.
For once, Frank is the one begging and pleading. It’s almost refreshing to see him having to kiss up and grovel to other politicians. This time, he’s looking to broker a deal for… peace? Hey, something good for once! President Underwood asks Petrov to agree to a plan that would put Russia and the United States at the forefront of achieving a Middle East peace settlement. Petrov remains unaffected and against the plan. This will be a harder deal to finagle than Frank originally thought.
Petrov takes an immense amount of pleasure shutting Frank down at any chance. Nevertheless, President Underwood attempts to butter him up. Knowing that he surfs (well, he’s photographed surfing to try and maintain “cool factor’), Frank gifts the Russian leader with a custom surfboard. Petrov remains unmoved, even making snide comments alluding to Claire’s affair from previous seasons. He declares, “The Middle East is hopeless. Russia has nothing to gain with peace in the Middle East or by working with America.” Mic. Drop. Petrov leaves the Oval Office to get ready for the state dinner that evening. Frank’s downward spiral keeps getting worse and worse.
At the state dinner, it appears that Frank might have a hint of a plan. In a much rumored appearance, two members of Pussy Riot show up invited to the evening’s festivities. The evening slowly starts to come undone. Petrov and Claire go head to head with snarky quips (and a little flirtation) during dinner, two steadfast figures standing their ground against the other. Senators become agitated and miffed for being seated far down the table, making their displeasure known to all there. Things are going just greaaat. At one point in the evening, Petrov brings out Russia’s most expensive vodka ($750,000 per solid gold bottle) for a toast. Members of Pussy Riot stand up and take the opportunity to finally slam their country’s leader. The two punk rockers shout at Petrov and decry the many human rights abuses Russia has committed via their interpreter. The band storm out of the dinner, leaving Frank to messily apologize for the scene. Petrov takes it in stride, completely unfazed by the evening’s proceedings.
But wait, it gets awkward. The dinner moves to another room, where a singer friend of the Underwood’s regales guests with old standards. Obviously, the moment is used to give Kevin Spacey a chance to sing and do his best lounge singer impression. Not to be outdone, Petrov drunkenly leads everyone in a rousing rendition of a Russian song… and then makes things totally uncomfortable by pulling Claire in for a kiss. Frank ends the evening there, guests say their goodbyes and exit fast.
Clearly attempting to recover some semblance of dignity from the evening, Frank makes one last attempt to gain Petrov’s favor. The pair sneak off to a back stairwell in the White House to partake in a few Cuban cigars. It’s a grand gesture, but the Russian president sees right through it. “Frank, I don’t get softened up by a nice dinner,” he declares before stubbing out the cigar against the wall and walking off.
In the morning, Frank takes a bold step and finally stands his ground. Petrov demands that the US give up an area of their missile defense system in exchange for Russia agreeing to the Middle East peace settlement. Frank says no and promptly cancels the joint press conference scheduled for the two leaders. Petrov is dismissed, while Frank maintains some semblance of power and dignity.
Meanwhile, Claire is dealing with pains of her own. She’s been appointed ambassador to the United Nationals at last by recess appointment, but things aren’t going all smooth. Cathy, the Secretary of State, and Claire are attempting to develop a good working friendship together. Claire doesn’t want to step on the secretary’s toes, it’s a tough balancing act she’s trying to figure out. At the state dinner, the two ladies have a great moment post-vodka binge by indulging in a game of beer pong. It’s nice to see Claire open up to someone else, even if it’s to get on the secretary’s good side.
Lastly, Doug Stamper is still determined to get back on his feet and in the White House. He turns down a lucrative job offer, accusing Frank and Seth of setting it up to get him away. Stamper has his eyes on Chief of Staff, nothing will get in his way. Hacker Gavin gets in touch with him, where Doug asks for his help in tracking Rachel down. Huh, where is this going? Stamper is playing a dangerous game getting involved with an FBI informer.
What did you think of the episode? Can Claire make moves now in her new position of power? What’s Frank’s plan now that he’s stood up to a bully? Share your thoughts with us below.