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

 
 

Claire is in bed at Murky Towers, reading a new news piece about Freddy’s old conviction for armed robbery and a little vehicular manslaughter of two senior citizens on the side. The news story explicitly connects Frank to Freddy. Yup, more Tusk. At least Frank’s the one taking the hit this time. Frank summons Seth. (Not Doug? Hmm.)

Frank wants to issue as simple statement that Freddy has served his time, so buzz off, but Seth counters that the Underwoods cannot afford to look any shadier, what with naked Claire on the front page of every newspaper in the country. Frank hunts for (and finds!) hidden cigarettes while, to his credit, refusing to tank Freddy’s new business just as it’s taking off. He demands that Seth bring Freddy over for a press conference in the morning.

The next day, Freddy and Darnell try to walk to work as some truly horrible paparazzos rush up to harass them. The paps get rude and next thing you know, Darnell has pulled a gun on the worst of them. Uh-oh. The only person who’s happy about this is Chekov.

On CNN, “professional model” Stephanie Daldrey is happily explaining how easy it was for her and Seth to create a really close fake of Claire’s shower photo. Candy Crowley points out that fakery is a serious allegation. Seth is throwing so much shade that crops may never grow in New York state again. He’s calling Adam a publicity hound and also “potentially troubled.”

Claire and Frank get dressed and are perfectly calm as they watch the trashing. Adam and his fiancée are less so.

Seth arrives at Murky Towers to let the still-gussying Underwoods know that Freddy’s son is in custody. Frank immediately changes tack to go see Freddy. Seth objects because “it’s the projects” and Seth is a douche. Claire objects for different reasons. “Freddy is dangerous because you care too much,” she says, “And when we care too much, it blinds us.”

If Claire has a tattoo of anything, it’s “When we care too much, it blinds us.” This scene is pretty great, with Claire finding her calm and trying to rein in Frank by standing almost perfectly still while he buzzes around her. I think that Foster woman might have some directing chops.

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Claire wants Frank to stay focused, but she can’t control him this time, maybe for the first time. Frank leaves.

Back at Adam’s Suddenly Much Colder Love Den, his as-yet-unnamed fiancée wonders if she can get him something to eat. And also who blew dragon flame through her pillow. Adam snarls and broods over his trashing, finally realizing how ruthless the Underwoods really are. Fiancée notes that getting worked up isn’t going to change anything. Evidently Adam has a type. The phone rings, and the music suggests that this is no telemarketer.

A disguised Frank gets into a black SUV and roars off. Freddy opens his door and there Frank is with his Secret Service team in incognito hoodies. Frank and Freddy bond over blues, and then Frank gets down to brass tacks. Freddy’s son has a bail set for $60,000. Freddy asks after Claire, and Frank accurately estimates her suit of armor at three inches thick. “Somebody’s trying to take you out,” says Freddy. He also says whoever it is just stepped on the wrong rattlesnake. Close, Freddy. But a little bigger, and with wings.

Frank explains that he needs to distance himself from Freddy. Aw, man. I was hoping he’d hold a little firmer on that. And Frank isn’t coming in for ribs anymore. Freddy says that he couldn’t if he wanted to: The suits are pulling out of the deal, and Freddy is selling his own place for Darnell’s bail. Oh, and Freddy isn’t getting his 95 grand — there was a morality clause in the contract. He can get 45 grand for the storefront.

Frank offers to help Freddy with the money, to make it a loan, just like Frank did with Darnell. But Freddy won’t take his “guilt money.” Frank accuses Freddy of being prideful and Freddy elaborates on his gangbanger past. Whoa, Freddy killed a lot of people. He and Frank really do have a surprising amount in common. Freddy says all he can do is make his own way. Frank raps on the table to strengthen his knuckles for the next fight and gets up to leave. He says the offer of money is still open. Freddy tells Frank he was just a good customer; there’s no need to pretend he was a friend. That was one honest conversation.

Back in his car, scenery flashing past him across the window, Frank tells us we should indeed think he’s a hypocrite. “The road to power is paved with hypocrisy and casualties,” he explains. “Never regret.”

Adam is frisked and metal-detected, then feels and stumbles his way past the light-absorbing wall sconces of Murky Towers. Frank makes sure he left his phone and unnamed fiancée at home. The Underwoods explain why coordinating for damage control is so necessary and get so annoyed when Adam points out that they lied to him. Can you imagine getting the Double Underwood treatment?

Inez — HER NAME IS INEZ — has a dad who’s a human rights activist in Bogotá, currently imprisoned. Remy, it turns out, threatened to get her father executed if Adam didn’t cooperate. Dang, Remy. I knew Tusk was vicious, but that’s a hell of an order to carry out. I would now like to see Doug and Remy compete in an evil-off cage match.

Frank says he can get the charges dropped on account of hanging out with the Secretary of State and stuff, and Adam makes the grave mistake of snapping at Claire. Frank won’t have it. I absolutely love how Frank won’t tolerate the slightest amount of disrespect in her direction. When Adam wonders what kind of husband Frank is, he gets a quick, firm schooling on the depths of dragon love. Claire watches, the fire in her eyes flaring as Frank says:

“Do not mistake any history you have shared for the slightest understanding of what our marriage is, or how insignificant you are in comparison.”

Claire loves it when he talks like that, she really does. You can see her scales ruffle in a wave of pleasurable shiver and then smooth back down. She asks for a moment alone with Adam and Frank says sure, because there is no more boss-ass way to drive home the fact of Adam’s insignificance than to leave his wife alone with her former lover because Frank has more important things to pay attention to.

Adam is upset because his reputation is ruined and possibly also his career and he’s now the guy who put his fiancée’s life in danger and Claire has never caused him anything but pain. Claire reflects on how much ordinary mortals are like gnats, swooping around your face and irritating you with all their pettiness.

29HoC 8Photo by Nathaniel Bell. Image courtesy of Netflix

Adam says that he loves Inez more than he ever loved Claire. Her only reaction is a slight adjustment of her outfit. Claire starts telling Adam the plan in the most impersonal possible terms, and he truly has not understood the Underwoods, or he would be gibbering in fear right now. He’s going to be driven back to New York, and then he’s going to release a statement saying this was all a publicity stunt.

Adam tries to object for just a moment and Claire cuts him right down. He can take the humiliating out they’re giving him, or he can get buried by the Underwoods. Adam says he finally knows what it’s like to hate someone and Claire rises to meet him. She says “It’s a terrible feeling, isn’t it?” And she walks right out.

Remy is getting no answer on Adam’s phone. He calls Tusk. Tusk, awesomely surrounded by parakeets, absorbs the news that their extortion-through-state-sponsored-murder plan is falling apart. Enough high-level governmental muckety-mucks are involved that the judge can’t just slide by a rush conviction. Tusk — holy crap, that really is a lot of parakeets — looks for some wiggle room. To be clear: Wiggle room for getting a man he’s never met executed to punish another man he’s never met because he’s not helping to humiliate the wife of the guy Tusk is actually trying to get. Tusk wants to make sure Remy is not just giving up on their little social networking project.

Remy points out that he can’t circumvent the entire State Department. Tusk, now yelling at his birds to be quiet, bitches that he hired Remy to destroy Frank and where are his shiny scandal and murder and will you shut UP, bird? Remy tries to demote himself from henchman back to lobbyist, but Tusk doesn’t employ people who won’t at least pull out a good murder by proxy. Remy says he’ll figure something out and hangs up. Tusk walks back down the line of bird cages, snaps the neck of the bird that’s been bothering him, and just drops it on the floor, presumably as a warning to the others. It’s a tough world for pets on this show.

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Adam sets up a video camera to record his statement. The charges have been dropped, and Inez tells him not to go through with it. But Adam’s going to release the Underwoods’ statement to protect her father from getting caught up again and to protect them both from Claire. Too late: One quick look at Inez’s eyes and we all know that her respect for him is gone, and she’ll be leaving soon after.

Seth tells the Underwoods they’re out of the woods and they swing straight back into business mode. Claire immediately asks Frank to push on her assault bill. Seth starts to suggest preparing for tomorrow’s interview, but Doug backhands him across the room and Seth immediately defers to Doug’s judgment. Doug wins, and Frank tacitly acknowledges that Doug may eat Seth for the protein should the time come.

More important, it’s time to go Full Underwood on that budgie-murdering bastard Tusk. Frank wants him obliterated, but Claire wants better. She turns to Frank:

“Let’s make him suffer.”

It’s the simplest sentiments that warm your heart the most.

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Frank turns to us and tells us he doesn’t know whether proud or terrified. Just as I am shouting “BOTH, FRANK, BOTH!” at the screen, he adds “Perhaps both.”

It’s sweet, in a bone-chilling sort of way, how even Frank doesn’t see the full depths of Claire’s scariness. He hasn’t seen her threaten a fetus like we have. I wonder what would happen if someone ever saw and understood the full depths of Claire. Probably your brain just gives up and crumbles straight into soot. Very impressed soot.

Frank and Claire join hands and twine their tails, feeling the soothing pulse as their six hearts beat in sync together. And then they skip off to feed on others so the Underwoods can fly higher.

Freddy pulls a fence across his storefront and locks it, then gives the keys to Suit Guy. The whole place is probably getting knocked down — it’s worth more as an empty lot. Freddy won’t even take a memento. Eyes ahead.

Goddamn, this was a great episode. Well done, everyone.

The real suffering starts next week. I’ll see you then.

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