As the mid-point of the season looms ahead, things are starting to get confusing. One of the more difficult parts in watching House of Cards is keeping up with the multiple plot threads. In this episode, we are in the thick of it. Let’s work these all out one by one, shall we?
First, surprise! Frank is actually planning to run for President. (Did anyone ever doubt this?) He’s cooked up a plan to use Jackie as a pawn in his political scheme. She’ll announce her own candidacy for the presidency, to distract the Democrats. Weeks later, Jackie will then quit. Coincidentally, who will run in her place? Frank, of course. Jackie gets to be Vice President on his ticket in return. Underwood/Sharp 2016.
However, Heather Dunbar is keeping things interesting. She’s hit the ground running, making appearances on talk shows to drum up support. Smartly, Heather is emphasizing her pro-gay rights stance by bringing along the husband of Michael Corrigan with her. While on the trail, Doug Stamper is trying to prove himself as a vital member of Heather’s campaign. She remains cautious and skeptical, but who wouldn’t be? Doug is still perceived as fiercely loyal to the Underwood family. He gets in Heather’s good graces by recommending a brilliant foreign policy expert. Just as we think Stamper might have turned a new leaf, he reveals a book kept in his possession that holds a secret about Claire. He hints that the First Lady asked for it to be destroyed, but Doug instead kept it. We don’t know exactly what it is, but I’d wager to guess it has something to do with lying about her abortion during her on-air interview from last season.
Now that the smaller subplots are over with, we go back to the main plot of the episode. That America Works plan is going well, huh? Frank defies Congress by bypassing them since they won’t give him the votes he needs to pass the program. In some complicated way that makes little sense, he’s figured out a way to get the funds needed to implement America Works. Frank will raid the cash from FEMA’s disaster-relief funds to pay for it all. The Secretary of Homeland Security tries to speak up against the action and is promptly fired by Frank. The President recruits the help of Washington DC’s mayor who holds a press conference declaring a state of emergency over the high unemployment rate in the district. He states that on July 4th, any resident of DC can register for work and they’ll be guaranteed a job. The overall goal is full employment within 12 months for everyone who signs up. The theory behind the action is that if America Works is successful in DC, it will be successful across the United States.
At the White House, the Telegraph have sent over another reporter named Kate Baldwin as Ayla’s replacement. She’s a hard-hitting, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist who isn’t afraid to make waves. (Yay, strong women!) Almost immediately, she senses something isn’t quite right about the jobs plan. On a quest to dig up some dirt, her paper trail leads her to Arnold Silva, an administrator at FEMA. The two meet secretly and he hands her documents highlighting Frank’s scheme to procure disaster-relief funds for his own benefit. The story hits the papers the next morning, obviously making him furious.
In an attempt to smooth things over, Frank recruits well-known novelist Thomas Yates. He’s read Yates’ video game reviews (lots of talk about the mobile game Monument Valley) and wants the author to pen a novel based around the backstory of America Works. It’s total propaganda, an attempt to sell the jobs plan and make it appealing. Yates’ isn’t entirely sold on the concept, but Frank tells him to mull it over as he leaves the Oval Office.
Lastly, the situation with Russia has reached a boiling point. Israel pulls their support as the vote on the Middle East resolution comes up. Claire manages to delay the vote in an attempt to get more time to foster support. The First Lady finally decides the only way to make things happen is by getting Frank involved. She asks him to commit 5,000 troops without going through Congress. He agrees to do so immediately. Awww, it’s almost cute. In a weird power struggle sort of way? Thanks to Frank, Claire finally has the upper hand against Russia.
The next day, Claire invites the Russian ambassador to talk – in the ladies restroom. (She’s got to show him who’s the boss, right?) She lets the ambassador know he’s finally been outplayed. Frank’s commitment to sending troops has brought Israel back on board in support of the resolution. The vote will pass. She tells him that the U.S. expects the release of Mark Corrigan, and to pass the message along to Petrov.
Oh, and one final thing! As Frank makes his remarks on July 4th, we see the long line of folks lined up to register for America Works. We see a familiar face from previous seasons: Freddy, the barbecue restaurant owner. The ghosts of Frank’s past are coming back.
Will Russia admit defeat against the Middle East resolution? Can Kate Baldwin take Frank down for good? What’s Freddy’s importance going to be this season? Drop us your thoughts below.