We open on an attack ad. Sharp, Womack, Birch and Frank Underwood are all featured as bad picks by the President in an opposition party ad from an unknown SuperPAC. Looks like the midterm elections are in jeopardy and the President is pissed. Frank’s up for finding the source of the money and strangling it. The meeting breaks up, but, whoops, Frank has to stay after class.
President Walker bitches that Frank was supposed to steer Congress and was not supposed to be unproductively (from the President’s point of view) meddling in everything else. Walker says he should have listened to Tusk and kept Frank stuck in Congress. Ouch. The President gives him a hell of a spanking, and Frank takes the old play-martyr-when-you’re-guilty tactic, telling the President to keep using him as a punching bag or let Frank get back to work. Oh, my, we’re all pissed off. Good.
Frank and Doug are in with a consultant. Looks like this new money for the opposition is coming from one of their own past donors. It takes Frank about three hot seconds to connect the dots back to Tusk, which is still a scene later than the rest of us did.
Back at Freddy’s, a newspaper reporter is interviewing Freddy as part of a “human interest” story. Freddy’s handling it well. Say what you will about Frank and his scheming and murdering; he’s also been a loyal customer for 20 years.
President Walker is in the middle of a walking-talking meeting and stops to look at something: A regulation-size punching bag with a big white bow on it. I take a moment to wonder if it’s full of snakes, but judging by the card, it’s a peace offering. The President smiles, not realizing he is extra-doomed.
I’m fascinated by the choice they made for Frank’s handwriting. It’s not as artificially careful as I’d expect his to be.
Doug is in a casino horse racing bar, ordering club soda. The waitress bonds with him over sobriety, and then we see that Doug is being seriously surveilled. The guy doing the surveilling is casino owner Dan Lanagin, whom we all suspect of funneling Tusk’s money into this shady new SuperPAC. Aren’t post-Citizens United political funding rules awesome? Dan Lanagin would like to know what the hell the Vice President’s right-hand man is doing there. Betting on horses and figuring out how to cockblock you, sir.
Aww. It’s nighttime at the White House and Frank and Walker are bonding over drinks. Frank is deliberately eating a little crow and they’re having fun over the gift: An actual punching bag. Uh-oh. The Walkers are planning to come to Murky Towers to dinner. Bring a food taster. Walker loves the White House and its history, and Frank loves spouting aphorisms. Seriously, he’s out of control in this scene. The two try to feel some Harry S Truman vibes and… fail. More bonding.
Doug seems to be done with the betting and the being surveilled for the moment; he has manifested at the waitress’s place. She makes a show of tidying up for him, then asks Doug which panties he wants her in. This would be an almost explicit scene if the waitress’s lights actually lit up her apartment, but it’s House of Cards, so they don’t. I worry what will happen if one of the characters on this show ever needs to read prescription instructions or a newspaper.
Hello! Jackie Sharp decided she liked Remy’s apartment and/or pecs pretty well after all. She’s lounging quite comfortably in bed as he gets dressed. Remy seems a little sad that Jackie only seems to want one-night stands. He says he’s a big flirt, but he only sleeps with someone when he’s into her, and he prefers to stay and cuddle. Aww, Remy just showed us the hidden soft side of lobbying. Jackie makes a joke and Remy gets sad-pissed and says he’s not giving it up again unless his relationship with Jackie is leading somewhere. Kudos, show, for taking that reversal on the traditional roles and just playing it out realistically instead of for laughs. Well done.
Doug is vertical again, having literally pumped the waitress for information on Lanagin’s casino. Well done, Doug, you slut. He tells Frank that three or four times a year, a group of wealthy Chinese dudes fly to Lanagin’s Missouri pleasure palace and drop millions of dollars. Doug’s going to run down that plane, probably by flying after it. The besheeted waitress totally calls Doug on the fact that he was thinking about Rachel the whole time. Ooh, that stings. Doug leaves her his ten-year sobriety chip.
In the Whip’s office, Claire is discussing strategy for her pet legislation and she, Jackie Sharp, and Frank wonder how to whip up support and co-sponsors. The Underwoods’ duelling media handlers, Connor and Seth, both immediately pull out their dicks and start measuring them, and then they whip them around the room like Willow Smith’s hair. Seth wins by suggesting the New York Times Magazine and knocking one of the antique paintings off the wall.
Jackie, in a hell of a mood, asks Nancy to read the bill and summarize it for her—and share it with no one.
Oh, Remy, you pig. Remy sits on one side of two angled park benches and sneakily asks what’s up with Claire’s abortion. On the other bench, Seth (!) lies that her story checks out. Remy is frustrated and wants new dirt on Claire then. Remy, Claire is going to have your entrails for a stylish state dinner boa. Seth claims that if the Underwoods have skeletons, they’re buried deep.
Seth is tired of Connor being around and having to knock so many knickknacks off the mantelpiece, so Remy says he’ll find him a job offer. Remy tries to pay Seth for half his work, but Seth won’t take payment until he delivers. He could have delivered Claire, so what the hell is his game?
Frank has his fake serious face on as he talks with Linda Vasquez, saying that he doesn’t think the party leadership will go for her unified funding and publicity proposal. Vasquez is all “Duh, that’s why I need your help,” but Frank is distracted by texts from Doug. Yup, those deep-pocketed Chinese gamblers were flown in by Tusk’s planes—38 trips since 2005. Frank tries to bail on the meeting so fast that the wind undoes Linda’s hair bun. Doug is already getting a plane ticket.
Frank gets Tusk on the horn and immediately asks if Tusk is funneling money to the Republicans. At least their meetings are more efficient now that they openly loathe each other. Tusk, with Lanagin right there in his office, lies that he never makes campaign contributions. Frank connects the dots out loud and Tusk just smugchuckles. Frank threatens that the Democrats will only unite harder, and Tusk maaaaybe lets it slip that he’s been using Lanagin’s money laundering to stack Congress since way back. Frank’s outnumbered.
Tusk knows he’ll get caught once the financial reports come out, but by then his work will be done and Frank’s House majority will have been lost in the midterm elections. Frank won’t tell the President because it will make him look uninformed. He’s going to keep schtum for a bit. Schtum and furious.
(Spinning newspaper!) Meanwhile at the Wall Street Telegraph, feisty reporter Ayla Sayyad is, with the help of a Chinese-speaking pal, digging into a secret hedge fund named Mercury Capital—and she knows that principal investor Tusk has strong ties to the White House.
Frank paints a model soldier (Augustus?) while Claire wonders aloud what to serve the Walkers. Claire suggests serving Freddy’s ribs, which is an improvement on Frank’s suggestion of cyanide appetisers with ground glass cocktails.
Oh, wow, Frank’s battlefield model is just a tiny bit obsessive. Claire prefers it to video games… For now.