We’re in the home stretch of season three, the House of Cards finish line is within sight! I’m going to be honest, these last few episodes have been a struggle. This whole season has been a struggle. It’s been lacking a bit of oomph, you know what I mean? There’s been much more focus on plot than characters, and it may be suffering a bit because of this. I’m cautiously optimistic with the season finale two episodes away, but I miss when this show felt a bit more fun and melodramatic rather than being serious and political. Without further ado, let’s get to the episode at hand, shall we?
Claire is blond (RIP brown hair) and back on the campaign trail in Iowa. She’s working hard to get the women’s vote at every luncheon and fundraiser around. Frank’s proving to be a hard sell to that demographic in particular. At one luncheon, a woman asks Claire the big question we all have on our minds, “How can I trust your husband?” I don’t know if anyone on that show has the answer.
After the event, Thomas Yates trails behind her. He’s still out to get that elusive interview with the First Lady. She keeps dodging him, putting it off yet again. Claire still has her guard up to everyone, but the gates feel like they are slowly lowering.
Meanwhile, Frank is preparing for the first big presidential debate between the candidates. Jackie is also on board Air Force One as the two plan their strategy. He wants Jackie to be ruthless and call out Heather on her privileged background. She’s uneasy about putting herself at risk, especially when Frank asks Jackie to point out Heather’s children are in private school. Jackie’s own step-children are in private school, as well. The President makes it clear that Jackie needs to come out swinging if she expects to be on the Underwood 2016 ticket. Jackie agrees to be the “pitbull” and Frank will play the level-headed role.
Next thing we know, Heather and Jackie’s vehicles pull up in the middle of nowhere for a discreet chat. Jackie wants to endorse Heather. Her supporters combined with Dunbar’s would be an easy victory over Frank. There’s a catch, though: Jackie wants to be promised something in return. Maybe not Vice President, but at least a cabinet position. Heather doesn’t bow to her demands. She wants to win, but not under anyone else’s way. Jackie lets her know she will be staying with Underwood then, and the two go their separate ways.
The following day comes the big debate. One of the best scenes of the season, the candidates come at each other fast and furious. Things start out on course: Heather calls out Frank on taking FEMA funds for America Works and gives a list of his failures throughout the Underwood presidency. (They aren’t hard to think of, almost everything Frank does this season goes wrong.) Jackie does indeed play the pitbull of the debate, stumping strong for gender equality. She points out Heather’s wealthy, privileged upbringing — (What does she know about working hard?? She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.) Frank points out her lack of experience, having never held political office.
Fighting escalates and things are getting heated. Both Frank and Jackie bring up the kids in private school issue. Jackie goes one step further and claims Heather sends her kids to boarding school perhaps because she doesn’t want to raise them herself. The audience is silent. Clearly, a line has been crossed. Frank adds insult to injury by then attacking Jackie, commenting that her step-children also go to private school. Ouch, the twist of the knife hurts.
Concurrently, Claire is watching all of this go down at one of the Underwood field campaign field offices in New Hampshire. After Jackie’s misstep, the talk turns to criticism of Claire’s tenure as United Nations ambassador. Heather questions Frank’s appointment of his own wife to a position of power. The President dodges the question. Claire grows uncomfortable and leaves the viewing party early. Again, Yates asks to talk to her, and again she denies his request to chat.
Post-debate, Jackie visits Frank in the Oval Office. She’s furious, claiming he has her on a leash. Frank strikes back, reminding her they are not equals. Jackie will do what he says, when he says it. She storms out of the office. The following day, we see Jackie on TV, where we assume she is stepping down to become part of Frank’s campaign. Instead, she sticks it to him and endorses Heather Dunbar.
At the White House, Remy quits as Chief of Staff after growing resentment between him and Frank. Has his conscience finally gotten to him? Perhaps. As Remy takes off his White House pin and hands it to Seth he heeds one warning: if Frank continues on this path, he won’t have anyone left standing by his side.
But wait, Claire continues on the campaign trail. In the middle of nowhere New Hampshire, she drops into a community center to donate during a blood drive. Sat in a chair while giving blood, Yates finally gets his moment to talk with her. He asks about her marriage, wondering why she stays with Frank even after being forced to resign. The First Lady starts to get light-headed and gets personal with Yates. She views marriage like a position in office, every seven years she reevaluates whether or not to take the leap. She passes out after admitting, “What I hate… is how much I need us.” Frank flies up to New Hampshire the next day and surprises her. In the last scene, we see Claire smile back at Frank as she’s reading a picture book to a group of young kids. The two of them are chained to each other now more than ever.
Lastly, the situation with Doug takes another turn. Hacker Gavin calls him up and admits his claims were a lie, Rachel isn’t really dead. He also knows where she really is. Gavin demands that a fellow hacker friend be freed by Doug, only then will he reveal Rachel’s location. Will he be able to resist the bait and learn to let go? We’ll soon find out.
Will Jackie face repercussions from Frank? Can Claire break out and be more than merely a wife in the service of her husband? Let us know your thoughts about the episode below.