House of Cards 3×06, 3×07, & 3×08: I can’t believe we’ve become this

Frank and claire underwood renew their vows

These episodes are three of the meatiest of the season. We also get to see where some clips from the season trailers come from, which is super exciting – like a dog walking on its hind legs!

3×06, “Chapter 32”:

Frank and Claire go to Russia to talk to Viktor and to fetch Michael Corrigan from prison. Much to Claire’s dismay, Michael will not go quietly into the night. Claire hangs out in his prison cell for a good long time trying to convince him to sacrifice his principles in order to be set free.  In Michael’s bleeding-heart-activist brain, he knows that leaving prison on the cozy Air Force One, admitting defeat to the entire world, and forgetting about the Russian protesters – one of whom died during a hunger strike Michael failed – would haunt him for the rest of his days. But Claire knows what it’s like to be haunted (remember the suicidal rape victim from season 2?). She pretty much just wants him to get over it, reminding him that his apology is ‘just words’ and that he doesn’t have to mean it. What Claire fails to explain, what Michael fails to understand – or perhaps he just doesn’t care – and what a viewer can see clearly is simply: the freakin’ President of the United States is here to pick you up from prison, all of this is bigger than you, and people love you and want you home, so just go already! But instead he hangs himself with Claire’s scarf while she’s asleep. And Claire Underwood is haunted by yet another ghost.

Meanwhile, Petrov is convinced the Underwoods are scheming against him once he hears that Claire refuses to leave the prison cell without the stubborn Michael. Frank swears they’re totally innocent, and the one time he happens to be telling the truth, Petrov still isn’t buying it, so he talks about how good at murder he is to sound scary. He reveals his true feelings on the gay propaganda law – the grounds on which Michael was arrested. Ironically, he’s totally cool with the gays, but his people aren’t, so he had no choice. ‘Religion, tradition, for most of my people, it’s in their bones. This law was passed for them.’ Hmm. Sounds familiar. I’m sure Frank, or any real life politicians, know what it’s like to have to sacrifice doing what they believe is right in order to keep the mob from burning down their doors. Knowing that Michael’s death happened because a President wanted to get reelected makes it even more of a bummer. The protesters were fighting the wrong beast. The problem isn’t Petrov. The problem is society.

Netflix

Netflix

After Frank and Viktor hear of Michael’s suicide, they come to the agreement that they’ll just have Claire say what Michael was supposed to on behalf of him and the deal will continue. But Claire is the Underwood with the conscience, so she shares the truth with the world. She called Michael brave for being willing to die for his beliefs and ended her speech with, ‘shame on you, Mr. President,’ effectively flinging any chance of agreement between the two countries into the Siberian wilderness.

Frank is not very understanding of his wife’s recent trauma and the intimate discussions about marriage between Michael and Claire come full circle. He mentioned wanting to leave his husband, but that it would be ‘bad for business’ because of the fight for marriage equality. It would be similarly bad for business for Claire and Frank to split up, but his death and her solidly human reaction causes a fight that may end up doing just that.

 

3×07, “Chapter 33”:

The episode opens with the vow renewal ceremony of Frank and Claire. The episode goes back and forth between the days immediately after the fight to the day of the ceremony. Thanks to the convenient, admittedly beautiful, and certainly symbolic sand ritual Tibetan monks are creating at the White House as ‘part of a cultural exchange,’ we know the vow renewal ceremony takes place one month after the fight. Frank and Claire have to pose for their white House portrait and it’s awkward. Did Claire recoil at Frank’s touch? Is Frank ‘searching for things that aren’t there and ignoring the things that are’? There’s some retaliation happening; after Claire reprimands Frank for being too loud with Tom outside her bedroom, Frank singles her out in a cabinet meeting. Despite seeming genuinely hurt at Claire’s ‘I should never have made you President’ remark – for which she has apologized and claims she didn’t mean – Frank discloses to Tom that he never felt that he deserved Claire and that there would have been no White House without her.

Netflix

Netflix

Tom claims he has ‘no interest in the salacious,’ yet seems to be prying deeper and deeper into Frank and Claire’s lives. He admits in an information trade-off that his first book was, in fact, partly authored by his friend who committed suicide. He swore to his friend he would destroy the first half after he died, but finished the book and took credit for it. ‘It was too good.’ What other stories might he steal?

Despite the unrest, Claire defends her marriage to the Israeli ambassador who feels sorry for Claire because Frank ‘turned his back’ on her in Russia, calling him ‘the bravest and most resolute man I know’ and telling her ‘every day he wakes up bearing responsibilities you can’t possibly imagine.’ Claire needs to carry around a bag of mics to drop. Maybe ‘I love Francis, now more than ever,’ her oft-rehearsed line she said to Michael in the prison cell, is actually true.

 

3×08, “Chapter 34”:

Storm’s a’ brewin’! And its only victim is AmWorks. Yep. Who would’ve guessed Frank’s quasi-legal reallocation of FEMA funds to funnel his jobs program would have come back bite to him in the buns?

Doug does something other than creep around in the dark thinking about Rachel: He suggests Heather meet with Jackie and tell her she’s suspending her campaign funding because it looks bad to ask for money when there might be a storm in a few days (spoiler alert: there isn’t one). She suggests Jackie do the same so she doesn’t look like a bitch. Just a friendly tip, lady-candidate to lady-candidate. Except then we find out that Doug isn’t really on Heather’s side after all and is still trying to win back the heart of Frank. Everything about Doug is depressing. But Seth doesn’t give Doug credit for tipping the POTUS off about the meeting between Heather and Jackie, so he remains alone in the darkness.

Tom the Author and Kate the Journalist hook up and waste their pillow talk on Frank. Tom thinks he’s out of a job because AmWorks is dead, and he was hired to write a book about the program that people would definitely buy and care about and would not be the most boring thing ever. But then Frank decides to announce he’s running for President. His plan worked! AmWorks was enough of a success in DC that he has a chance to run a successful campaign on its coattails.

But was it a success, though? Freddy, Frank’s old buddy/master BBQer, was a beneficiary of AmWorks. With its funding cut, we see that his boss has to let go of one of his kitchen staff. But Frank gives Freddy a job as a groundskeeper at the White House. In a declaration of gloomy reality, Freddy tells his grandson that he can never be President.‘No, this place ain’t for you and me. It’s good to have dreams, just so long as they’re not fantasies.’ I can see why he’s feeling so downtrodden. We saw Freddy go from owning a BBQ joint frequented by at least one United States Congressman to mopping floors in an unknown restaurant kitchen. Maybe AmWorks offers technical employment, but our only example of the program in action is far from thriving.

Netflix

Netflix

Victoria Fisher

Victoria Fisher

is a freelance writer and glitter connoisseur based out of her Adventure Time onesie in Michigan. She frequently apologizes to her husband for watching ahead without him in whatever TV show she’s unreasonably obsessing over. She’s lost a lot of husbands this way. Give her money to write stuff for you here or read about feelings on her blog.

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