There’s one thing I’ve learned throughout the three seasons of House of Cards: pay attention. Everyone matters. That person who shows up for a few minutes in an episode? You will probably see them again. So when this episode opened with solicitor general Heather Dunbar before the Supreme Court justices, I knew she was about to become a bigger piece of this season’s puzzle.
First, you might be wondering what a solicitor general actually does. They act as the official representative of the federal government of the United States in front of the Supreme Court. Basically, a solicitor general decides what the government’s legal stance will be in court if they are involved in a case. Heather is called in front of the Supreme Court, defending the use of drone strikes to take out a wanted terrorism suspect. She admits that civilians were killed by drone strikes in this attempt and that the government takes full responsibility publicly for the strike. The solicitor explains, “While the government’s action was tragic, it was not unlawful. It was legal. It was necessary. It was right.” It may not be the most compassionate choice, but it was one the President needed to make. Heather closes her argument by emphasizing the office of the presidency itself, stating “we can prosecute presidents, but not the presidency.”
Meanwhile, Frank is paying his respects at Arlington National Cemetery for fallen soldiers. After the ceremony, Jackie Sharp and Remy clue Frank in to a few major details about Heather Dunbar. She comes from an incredibly wealthy family. She’s ambitious and well liked. They think the Democrats are going to back her as their Presidential candidate for 2016.
Luckily, Frank has a plan to try and cut off the potential threat. He invites Heather into the Oval Office for a chat. If you’ll recall from the first episode of the season, Justice Jacob let Frank know that he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and that he wanted to retire. Frank would not let him resign. President Underwood lets Heather know he would like to nominate her to the Supreme Court. She accepts immediately.
At the same time, Frank’s conscience is weighing on him heavily. He invites the man who was injured in the drone strike to the White House to apologize for the damage done. Understandably, the man does not accept his apology and even admits he dreamed of strangling Frank with his bare hands. The President interjects, firmly saying he had to make a tough decision he thought was right. Knowing that the two will never see eye to eye, he sends the man out.
In other news, the America Works program isn’t gaining any support. Ayla, our intrepid reporter, is trying to get a scoop from senior officials on who actually supports the program. Seth denies her access. At a press conference later that day with President Underwood, Ayla grills Frank on his stance on gay rights. She refuses to back down, pressing him again on a number of topics. Frank abruptly ends the conference.
Seth gets his revenge by cornering Ayla and telling her that her White House press credentials have been revoked. In a sneaky deal by Seth, he promises everyone in the press corps that they will have access to interviews regarding the jobs program. In return, the head of the White House Correspondents Association allows for Ayla’s dismissal. Ouch, don’t get on the administration’s bad side, journalists.
Back at the White House, Frank meets with Justice Jacobs to let him know he’s changed his mind. He can retire as the justice wanted, and Frank already has a candidate in mind. Unfortunately, Justice Jacobs has also changed his mind and has decided to stay on for as long as he is able. Furthermore, Heather has known about Justice Jacobs’ Alzheimer’s diagnosis since day one. Infuriated by Frank’s self-motivated actions, she marches over to the Supreme Court steps that afternoon and announces her intention to run for President. Well, that worked out according to plan… things seem to be continuing their downward spiral for Frank.
Angered and shaken, Frank makes a late night call to the priest who delivered the sermon at the soldiers’ funeral. He asks him what is justice and things turn into a debate about the laws of man vs. the laws of God. The priest tells him, “Using fear will get you nowhere. It’s not your job to determine what’s just.” Frank grumbles about adhering to God’s law as the priest leaves. Visibly angry, Frank walks up to the statue of God displayed in the church and spits on it. He goes to wipe it off and the entire statue comes crashing down, breaking into pieces. It’s a bit on the nose, but a powerful symbol of Frank’s defiance against the rules.
Other subplots in the episode include Claire attempting to scrounge up enough support from other nations to bypass the security council veto on the Middle East peace resolution. Russia stands defiant, firmly voting as the sole no vote. We’ll see how this goes, it seems Petrov refuses to budge.
Additionally, Stamper and hacker Gavin are still trying to track down Rachel. Gavin almost gets caught using the FBI’s bandwidth to find her, with no success. He goes so far as to show up at the A.A. meeting Rachel’s former girlfriend from last season frequents. She doesn’t give him much information, but I wonder if we’ll have a breakthrough in this plotline soon.
Lastly, Stamper is making moves of his own. He finds Heather, calling her up just as she’s exiting a meeting. She sees him down the hallway of the building, lurking creepily in the shadows. Stamper makes his intentions known, he wants to join her team. Given that Doug is so devoted to the Underwood family, I wonder what play he’s making here. Let’s see if Heather actually gives him a chance.
Do you think Ayla will be back? Is there anyone in Washington left that actually supports the President’s agenda? Can Claire take down the Russians? Leave your thoughts below and let us know!