“House of Cards” recap (2.13): Tumbling Down, Clawing Up


Jackie and Remy confer. Oh, ick, Remy has no safe haven and no principles to stand on. It’s not a good look. Remy complains that Frank screwed him, but Jackie points out that Remy screwed first. Jackie says Remy will be taken care of — if he helps them out. And then his reward will depend on his merit… And will be commensurate with his loyalties, Jackie adds with a sting. He’ll just have to wait and see. Someone by a truckload of burn salve for Remy. Jackie points out that Remy can’t exactly afford to be choosy; he’s got nowhere to go. Remy says power is better than money for as long as it lasts. But it never lasts. He also says Jackie has gotten colder. And he misses her. Jackie asks again: Will Remy cooperate?

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Linda Vasquez is supremely vexed to get a call from the President asking her to tell Tusk the deal is off. There is no pardon. Vasquez offers the very politest form of “Are you fucking KIDDING me?!” that she can, but no dice. If she wants her job back, it’s time to screw over Tusk. Linda stares at her phone, knowing that somehow Frank’s prints are on it.

Frank talks to Senator Kern, ostensibly trying to get him to get on board with helping Walker… But oh, dear, Frank seems to have gotten sidetracked. Frank is suddenly talking about how if he were President, he would surely have made a man of Kern’s abilities the Secretary of the Treasury. Kern, who was passed over by Walker, has the nub of Frank’s gist.

Tusk is on the phone with Vasquez, pissed as all creation, knowing that Frank is behind the sudden betrayal but having no proof. Tusk says he’ll go back to his original plan of pleading the 5th. Only — Oh, shit — Remy Danton is volunteering to testify for special prosecutor Dunbar right now. Which means that whether Tusk pleads the 5th or not, he’s going to be caged up tighter than his parakeets. Since he has no way of knowing that Remy hasn’t, in fact, been promised anything, Tusk jumps to the conclusion that Walker is selling out Tusk and offering Remy the pardon instead. Uh-oh.

What Remy is actually doing is stalling, though. We see Dunbar and her team waiting for him to show. I want to see the spinoff show where Dunbar works off all this tightly controlled rage by kickboxing the crap out of street criminals at night.

In front of the Judiciary Committee, Tusk pleads the 5th over and over. He sounds like an even bigger sleazebucket than he is, and he knows it. Tusk stews as he gets pummelled with questions and threatened with a Grand Jury, then finally lashes out. “He knew,” says Tusk. Tusk starts spilling, just like Frank using a plausible mix of the truth and lies, saying he believes the “mechanism” he used to fund political races was in the boundaries of the law, but that, oh, yes, the President knew all about it.

Danton cancels, but Dunbar no longer cares. She’s got Tusk, which means she’s got the President. Tusk submits to arrest happily, almost disappointed that he gets no handcuffs. Dunbar and Tusk’s lawyers are dealing in seconds, talking bonds and plea bargains. All Dunbar cares about is Tusk’s cooperation.

Boom. Online petitions are flying around and China is officially Very Put Out and newspeople are making cameos left and right as we learn that Americans are mad and impeachment is rolling. The President’s approval rating is in the single-digit zone. Kern moves to unite with Republican Senator Mendoza to impeach. You know, for “bipartisanship.” Bipartisanship is tastier when there’s a plum job on the table.

Frank paints a model cannon as he and Walker consult. Frank drives a few last daggers into Tusk and suggests the President meet with Kern. Walker is starting to accept his political death. He’s tired and wonders if he’s done. Frank gives walker a rah-rah speech even as he makes continuing to fight sound even more wretched than just quietly giving up. Walker doesn’t want his kids to see him go to jail. Frank gives Walker his word that if the worst happens, he’ll never go to jail.

“He’s in the darkness now,” Frank tells us. “And I’m the only beacon of light. Now we gently guide him toward the rocks.”

Doug sits down with Gavin the Parrot. I am disappointed that Gavin didn’t bring Cashew to the meeting, but I assume she’s on a hacking mission. Gavin tells Doug he knows all about Rachel and where she is. He’s got the texts between Doug and Rachel, he’s got the apartment, and he’s got Doug’s movements. Doug is not a fan of being extorted, but seems relieved to hear that Gavin mostly wants Doug’s protection from the FBI. And he tells Doug that no one else knows about Rachel. Oh, Gavin.

Doug arrives at the Depression Arms and shoves Rachel awake. He demands that she put some clothes on and get moving, as he’s done so many times before. In the car, Doug asks if anyone contacted her. She says no. Doug says “there’s someone who knows about us,” like they’re having an affair—the consensual kind—and the fear sets into Rachel’s eyes. Rachel just wants to know if Doug is going to hurt her. And she knows that there’s nothing she can say that he’ll believe, and wonders if that would matter anyway.

Doug says he just wants to help Rachel and she finally lashes out, yelling that he only destroys things for her, and she calls out how creepy his visits are, how awful it is to read to him like he’s a child. She asks Doug why he can’t just leave her and he shouts loudly enough to frighten her into silence.

It’s late and they’re on one of those lonely roads through nowhere and they finally pull up at a red light and there is a moment of silence as Rachel calculates which is scarier: risking Doug’s rage or finding out where that car is going.

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And suddenly she’s out the door and sprinting into the woods. For once, this isn’t a metaphor: RUN, RACHEL, RUN!

She’s in the woods now, so very dark and insects humming everywhere. Doug wheedles at her in the darkness, trying to get her back, telling how much he tried to protect her. And Doug is just beginning to explain why he has done all this for her when Rachel comes up from behind and clobbers the fuck out of him with a rock.

Doug manages to turn to her and ask stupidly what she’s doing, but she hits him again across the temple, and then nails him one more time for luck. Doug falls down.

And then Rachel is back in the car and speeding away. DRIVE, RACHEL, DRIVE!

Let’s all hope she’s already calling Lisa (safely, using a hands-free device) and meeting her back at the Depression Arms to pack their things while they have an abbreviated Big Relationship Talk and then ditch Doug’s car and go anywhere, literally anywhere but the DC-Baltimore metropolitan area.

And let’s hope it’s at least a couple of days before anyone remembers that there’s an ex-prostitute out there who knows what happened to the late Congressman Russo.

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