House of Cards 3×09, 3×10, 3×11: What I hate is how much I need us

frank underwood slit my wrists with his butter knife

3×09, ‘Chapter 35’:

The JordonValley – the underlying Major Issue of this entire season – just turned into an even hotter mess when we find out eight Russians were killed there. Viktor Petrov wants to blame Frank. Petrov’s people are conducting a secret investigation and won’t allow the UN to do their thing, which isn’t suspicious at all. Frank even acknowledges, ‘Those eight bodies give Petrov options. He’s not shedding tears. He’s popping champagne corks.’ Claire meets with the Russian ambassador who all but admits that Viktor killed his own people to gain leverage in this fight. He never wanted peace! Because DUH, he even said so like several chapters ago! And Petrov has done this shady business before! People are hesitant to believe Claire because can anyone be this much of a shady bastard? But she convinces Frank, who is the President, so that’s that. They send some Americans into the Jordan Valley to check it out.

 

Gavin gives Doug a photo of a dead girl who he says is Rachel. Problem solved, Doug! Now you don’t have to do it! But he’s upset, either because he loves her and she’s dead, or because he wanted to be the one to kill her. Or both? Doug obviously handles this information swimmingly. He gets drunk and goes to the White House, where he hands Frank the picture of the dead girl. Frank is not pumped that he would bring this photo into the White House. What if someone else sees? Doug admits he’s drunk and that he’s been working for Dunbar to win Frank back and to prove he’s still useful. Then he lies on Frank’s lap and it’s so awkward and pathetic. But in a call with Dunbar, Frank tells Dunbar that if she ‘endangers’ Doug again, which apparently she did by letting him do the work he convinced her to let him do, Frank will put her in her ‘f***ing grave.’ I guess that’s kind of sweet? Man friendships are so confusing.

Harlan tries to talk about food on Air Force One while they’re trying to figure out a major international peace crisis and we get this beautiful gem of a line from Frank: ‘Please slit my wrists with his butter knife.’ Later, Harlan calls Remy a chauffer because Harlan is a stereotype. Remy gets caught speeding by the police and tries to use his status as the President’s Chief of Staff to get out of it, but it doesn’t work because he’s Black, so instead they rough him up a little. Remy has an existential crisis that ends with him making out with the married Jackie, who doesn’t even seem mad about it, because who would be? Look at him.

Netflix

Netflix

3×10, ‘Chapter 36’:

Everyone is flipping out about the Jordan Valley and it’s a huge disaster. Frank decides to go there to talk to his buddy Viktor. Israel is instituting a no-fly zone, but Viktor has zero F’s to give and says he’ll fly right through it because he does what he wants. Frank is heavily armored in the middle of the desert in a tiny box with Viktor Petrov. They have a heart-to-heart. Petrov talks about the time he killed a guy and then sent his severed head back to his village, but we know Frank kills people, too, so who even cares? Petrov is obsessed with Claire because he’s a weirdo and because he senses that Claire is Frank’s only weakness. Typical villain stuff. He manipulated her to prove Frank’s weakness. So, a part of the agreement is that Claire can’t be ambassador anymore, which is a bummer. Petrov has proven that Frank has no control in this and he’s also insulted both of them. The villain has won.

Tom the Author approaches Claire and tells her that she’s what’s missing from the book. Then Claire immediately spills her guts, tells him all he wants to know, and we finally understand Claire as a person. Just kidding! That would never happen because Claire is the mystical, impenetrable Ice Queen and we love that about her. But Tom is right, his book needs her as much as this show needs her, which is a lot. This show is as much about Claire as it is about Frank, and this season it seems to be shifting to be more about her than anyone else. Everyone is obsessed with Claire. And why wouldn’t they be? Look at her.

Tom and Frank have sexually ambiguous moments together after Tom admits he’s the one who was the male prostitute, not his dead friend. He got addicted to stories and Frank is basically Tom’s most prominent fix. Let’s not forget that Frank is into dudes. Remember Tim from the Sentinel and the beautiful threesome with Meechum? I seriously love this part of Frank. I think it’s one of the most daring portrayals of human sexuality on TV. It’s refreshing to see a character – especially one who exudes so much power and masculinity – whose sexuality unapologetically fails to be categorized. It’s just a part of Frank that Claire, and by extension, the viewers, are to accept without question. Because humans and sexuality are endlessly complex and beautiful, and that’s okay.

frank and tom hold hands

Netflix

Meanwhile, Gavin/Max figures this thing with Doug is over, so he admits to Lisa that his alter ego isn’t real. He seems genuinely concerned for her and somewhat guilty for his lies, but of course, self preservation comes before anything in this world. Seriously, do any of these people have any real friends? Who do they hang out with on the weekends? He tries to give Lisa Doug’s number for some reason, but she doesn’t want anything to do with his madness, so he leaves her Cashew on his doorstep and everyone breathes a sigh of relief because Cashew will be okay and that’s all that really matters. This show can end now. (Not really. I guess.)

 

3×11, ‘Chapter 37’:

There’s a debate! Things get juicy and super patriarchal. In preparation, Frank tells Jackie to call Heather sexist and pull the Silver Spoon card because she comes from money and sends her kids to private school. Jackie clandestinely meets with Heather to see if she can dump Frank, but Heather won’t sacrifice her integrity by handing Jackie a cabinet position, so Jackie’s like “peace out” but also secretly, “respect.” Heather Dunbar seems like a genuinely good person and an upstanding politician. I can’t wait to see what horrible way House of Cards destroys her.

During the debate, Frank just sits back and watches the ladies go at each other. He planned this so well. They look like two women in a “cat fight,” while he remains cool and composed and patronizing. ‘He remained Presidential,’ said the news while determining him the winner. Ugh. It’s perfectly diabolical, down to the moment when he (unsurprisingly) throws Jackie under the bus by pointing out that her kids are homeschooled right after she just used that same fact against Heather. This is not a good way to keep allies, Frank. You’re doing friendship wrong.

Netflix

Netflix

We learn some things about Claire in her moment of weakness right before she passes out while giving blood. Every seven years she thinks about leaving her marriage and jumping off bridges. And then we learn the core of Claire’s issues this season: ‘What I hate is how much I need us.’ Something tells me we’ll hear about this again.

Frank is losing his touch with manipulation and everyone is deserting him. Jackie drops out of the race and endorses Heather. Remy turns in his pin and peaces out. Claire just admitted she thinks about leaving her marriage on the reg. All Frank has is stupid Doug, who seems relatively stable, despite finding out that Rachel is still alive and then destroying all of his electronic devices. Is Frank’s power dwindling because his loyalty is only to himself? Will we learn more about Claire and her marital discontentment?

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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