“House of Cards” recap (2.9): When We Care Too Much

Claire steps up to the microphone and talks about the hurt that these accusations have brought her. The very idea that she could be unfaithful to her husband!

And then she and Frank whip out some clothesline and a few pins and hang Adam out to dry. They cannot imagine why he would deny taking such a beautiful photo when they themselves commissioned it. They claim the photo was taken right there at Murky Towers — an obvious lie, because you can see who’s in it — as a birthday present for Frank, who loves how beautiful Claire is when she’s sleeping.

Adam watches his television, stunned speechless, as Claire claims that the he, the poor dear, must have been intimidated by the media. Yes, it’s a killer move with a nice little fuck-you-and-your-new-fiancée half-twist, but Adam doesn’t need to be that surprised. Did he not notice who Claire was while he was sleeping with her?

29HoC 5Photo by Nathaniel Bell. Image courtesy of Netflix

Later, Adam is extra-pissed. He looks like an idiot and now there are squads of reporters rappelling down his building. Claire explains that coordinated answers would have looked like coordinated answers, and they couldn’t tell him what they were planning to do because fuck you and your new fiancée. Adam can confirm their version or he can have reporters all up in his jockeys for the next three news cycles. Adam hangs up on Claire. Hangs. Up. On Claire. Adam does not know the rules of this world. Frank offers Claire a cigarette, but she’s going to get some shuteye. Frank calls Doug and tells him to get to Murky Towers with Seth pronto.

Frank is thinking lawsuit, but Seth says the paper won’t settle because more time in court equals more papers sold. Doug says that having the President make a statement isn’t a bad idea, but Seth contradicts him and says nope, introducing the President is introducing a press operation they can’t control, and coordination looks bad. Frank defers to Seth’s judgment and steps away to get another drink.

Doug is all over Seth like a wetsuit, making it clear that Doug isn’t going to get Connored out of a job. Seth tries to play dumb for a nanosecond, then just rolls with it. Doug, like me, does not believe for one second that Seth just turned over the abortion doctor’s journal, the one that could ruin Claire, without a backup plan. Seth admits that those are good instincts, but claims he’s telling the truth. Uh huh.

Frank hilariously watches them fight from the kitchen window. Of course he knows exactly what’s going on. He says a little sibling rivalry is good for each other. They’ll either Fight Club each other into being stronger or the weak one will get kicked out of the nest. It really is a good thing that the Underwoods didn’t have children, don’t you think?

Adam and his fiancée arrive in his gallery to find Remy, who wants more proof that the affair happened. Adam tries to kick him out, but Remy trumps that gesture by showing a phone with a bunch of calls to and from Bogotá. Uh-oh.

Back at Freddy’s, there’s a line down the block. Freddy’s son shows up to work for him. For about half a minute, the show lets Freddy and Darnell think that things might be looking up.

Tusk’s assistant calls him because Ayla won’t leave the lobby. Tusk is very interested to hear that someone from the Vice Presidential press corps is there. Ayla has overplayed her hand without even knowing she had it. Tusk asks his assistant to send Ayla up.

Claire is back at Murky Towers, reassuring Tricia Walker over the phone that she’s fine. Seth walks in with a tablet and the news that Adam has given his statement to the press… In the form of a much more explicit photograph of Claire in the shower. Claire calmly gets off the phone. The face of the woman in the shower is partially obscured, and Seth asks if it’s really Claire. She immediately says “No,” and then quickly moves through “It might be,” and “It could be,” to “It probably is.” This sequence could have broken down into comedy if they had played it even slightly differently, but everybody walked that tightrope just fine, so we’re all still pretty much on edge.

Claire says she didn’t know he took the picture (Gross, Adam. That is super creepy and gross. We are done with you.) and then when Seth points out that based on her haircut in the picture, the timeline Claire gave him for the affair was bogus. Claire says that hey, just because she said the affair was over more than two years ago doesn’t mean she didn’t visit. Happy that you shoved Connor out of that job now, Seth?

Tusk is spinning his venture with Feng as he talks to Ayla, a little surprised that she knows so much about Chinese politics (and about his business). And that’s not all she knows about: Ayla rattles off the things she believes are intertwined, including Feng, Tusk, the bridge venture, the Gilgamesh subsidy, and Tusk’s former bromance with the President. Tusk tips his hand with the thing that non-guilty people shout all the time: “Who sent you!?”

29HoC 6Photo by Nathaniel Bell. Image courtesy of Netflix

Tusk tries to pull it back by saying that, sure, he gets paranoid because as a rich guy people are always after him, ha, ha, and OK, seriously, why is she in St. Louis instead of trailing after Underwood? Ayla says it’s her gut. Tusk asks if she misses Tehran, because during the ten minutes he kept her waiting, Tusk found out everything about Ayla, including where she used to be stationed and why she left. (Hint: Tehran.)

Tusk offers Ayls a vase his wife got him from Tehran. It broke during shipping, and he wants to remind Ayla how hard it can be to put something back together again once it’s been crushed. That’s a damn fine threat. I wonder if Tusk has crates and crates of broken-and-repaired vases in his back room from all over the world so he can use location-appropriate threats no matter who drops by. Tusk makes sure Ayla knows much he hates reporters and how much he loves retaliating against them. And then he gets right up in Ayla’s face and says that America can be just as dangerous as Tehran. Ayla thanks him for his time and leaves with as much dignity as she can.

Tusk leaps to the conclusion that Ayla is there for Frank, and immediately calls Remy. He tells him not to hold back; hit him again, and hit him hard. Sir, you will not be annoying Claire this way. I eagerly await your lavish punishment.

Freddy counts up the day’s take and it’s his best one yet. Darnell mops up and it looks like things are really smoothing out between them. However, Darnell doesn’t like the fact that Freddy is carrying all that cash around. He thinks Freddy should have a gun, and just happens to have one on hand to loan him. Freddy is not amused that Darnell is violating his parole. He gives Darnell some serious Real Talk about how there’s some potential real good, like managing a chain of franchises good, coming their way, so how about not blowing it all by getting sent back to prison? Darnell’s mouth says yes, but his eyes say maybe.

Seth is talking to a woman whose bone structure is a lot like Claire’s, telling her how short she’d need to cut her hair for this “modeling job.” Oh, and he needs to know how well spoken she is. Like when, just for a random example, she is issuing a statement to the press.

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