This episode fluctuates back and forth in time, something new for the series. The opening scene finds the Underwoods back in Gaffney, SC (Frank’s hometown) where the couple are renewing their vows. Claire’s hair is dark brown now. They seem to have done a complete 180 from where we last left off, the two look very much in love with each other. Huh? How did that happen? Last we checked, the pair were screaming at each other aboard Air Force One in an intense fight over Claire’s public scolding of Petrov.
Unexpectedly, we jump back a month to that very point. The Underwoods are still aboard Air Force One on the way back home to the US. Half the country hails Claire for standing up to Petrov, the other scolds her behavior. The couple take their official Presidential portrait while barely speaking to each other. With Russia’s cooperation out the window, Claire has to play nice and figure out a way to get the Middle East peace resolution passed in the UN. To add insult to injury, word comes down Zimbabwe has tacked on a point to the resolution that would give them command over troops. Israel now refuses to support the bill, which means it won’t pass. It’s suspected Russia may be behind these underhanded tactics. Claire demands they find out which country set up the block so action can be taken.
Meanwhile, Frank and Thomas Yates are slowly getting to know each other as the author gathers information for this upcoming novel. Frank spills details about how he grew up, his parents, then repeatedly tells Yates not to print these stories. The writer expresses his frustration, asking Frank when he’s going to start trusting him with the truth. Finally, Yates breaks through to the President when the two of them stay up late one night getting drunk in the White House. (It seems Frank has gotten way into indie games this season, first Monument Valley and in this episode he plays The Stanley Parable.) Frank speaks honestly about his marriage, acknowledging he and Claire have had a rocky relationship since he took office. It’s refreshing to see him be so open about the challenges of marriage. Clearly he’s still very much in love with Claire, but also won’t allow anyone to get in the way of his quest for power. The men get a little loud during their drinking session and awaken Claire, yells at them to quiet down. She complains about Thomas, adding that he shouldn’t be trusted.
In a cabinet meeting the next day, Claire relays that Israel is apparently behind the proposed block by Zimbabwe to the peace resolution. She asks Frank to send additional funds to Zimbabwe, the only way to get Israel to back down is to outspend them. They’ll see that the U.S. has committed more funds than Israel can afford, and pull the block. The President shuts her down, belittling her further by adding, “This is ill conceived. You should think before you bring a proposal such as this.” Ouch.
As the episode goes on, we also get a look at a group of Tibetan monks who are working on a sand painting project in the White House. The monks create a beautiful, detailed work of art painstakingly using colored dust. Once finished, it is promptly wiped out and the dust returned to the earth. It’s obviously a heavy-handed metaphor for the episode itself: life comes and goes so easily, nothing is permanent.
On the 80th anniversary of the Social Security Act, Frank delivers a rousing speech in support of America Works. He stresses the need for change, noting that America must adapt to current economics struggles. We learn that the jobs bill has created over 25,000 jobs already, exceeding expectations. Later in the day, Frank visits the FDR Memorial where he takes time to reflect. Something sparks a change of heart, and upon returning home tells Claire he’ll commit to sending Zimbabwe the needed funds. The two seem to agree they need a change. Claire dyes her hair brown (the color of her hair when she first met Frank), and we jump ahead to see them renewing their vows again. Their renewed love for each other is touching. At the very end of the episode, Frank even gifts her a photo of the completed sand drawing by the monks with a note saying “Nothing is forever– except us.” Awww.
Additionally, we finally learn a little background on Yates. To get Frank to open up to him, he divulges a big secret. Yates didn’t write his first novel. His hustler friend wrote the first half, and asked Yates to burn the writings while he lay dying in the hospital. The now-author didn’t, choosing to finish the novel instead. “My entire career is based on a lie,” he tells Frank. “ You don’t have a monopoly on secrets.” The two men form a deeper friendship, allowing the President to open about his past.
But wait, the episode also gives us a quick check in on the hunt for Rachel. Gavin gives Doug a bit of good news, there’s CCTV footage captured of her in Santa Fe. Although the footage is a few weeks old, she may still be around the city. Stamper tells Gavin he wants more, an exact location or the terms of their deal won’t be met. Gavin needs to dig deeper to have the block on his passport lifted. Back to work, it seems.
Are Claire and Frank back on the same side for good? What kind of book will Yates actually write? Can Gavin finally locate Rachel? Let us know your thoughts about the episode below.