Oh, Shesus, what an opening image. On a balmy morning, drapes blowing in the breeze, a man is tied to a mantelpiece and there are sounds of physical exertion. A plastic bag is over the man’s head. It’s impossible to tell if it’s torture, murder, or sex at first. (Spoiler: It’s sex.) Another man and a woman are helping out, and one of them finally pulls the wrapping off the recipient’s head. Hey, hey, a plastic bag is not a toy! Doesn’t anyone read the warning labels anymore?
Into the woods we go, with a Civil War re-enactor. Oh, criminy, let’s go back to the near-lethal sex. There are cannons and those bunched-up, truncated hats. Do you think some Civil War visionary designed those hats so we would always immediately know which war was being depicted? (Ah, they’re called “kepis.” Now we’ve all learned something today and can go back to savoring depravity with clear consciences.)
There are a surprising number of spectators at this re-enactment, including Frank Underwood, who looks at us knowingly, with just the right amount of can-you-believe-this-shit boredom.
A knock on the door and Mr. Feng, now wearing clothes and not wearing a plastic bag on his head, is summoned to a meeting. His lackey pays Feng’s helpful asphyxiation pals then thousand somethings. I don’t want to make assumptions about monetary units. Or units in general. It’s impolite. Speaking of impolite, the asphyxiation pals are gauche enough to count the 10,000 right there. That better have been one hell of a dual-person oxygen-restricted blow job. Though I guess that must be true by definition.
Frank speaks to the crowd and it turns out they’ve been watching the lead-up to the surrender at the Appomattox Court House. That’s got to be a tricky day for a South Carolina man. Well, you’re the Vice President of the Union, now. No hard feelings, Frank. Holy crap, that’s a three-day event. Of watching people pretend to die horribly. Which did you enjoy more, the gangrene tent or the syphilis booth?
Frank speaks to us and explains that he’s no fan of the Confederacy. Or of starting wars you can’t win. And of raising flags for asinine causes like slavery. Hey, Frank’s on the right side of that one!
Hello, Claire! Claire is calmly saying that people will move on from the abortion interview, Connor isn’t so sure. He’s understandably concerned that the abortion Claire spoke of in her interview happened five years after she claimed it did and someone might notice. Claire isn’t worried. She says there are no medical records and there were no nurses there, just the doctor, and he’s dead. I’m a little surprised that Claire is this lackadaisical about it.
Connor wants to get out ahead and shape Claire’s image, since the assault she survived is part of it now. Claire does not wish to talk about it. She brings Willa back into the room to ask how things are going with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Chairman is unavailable, but the director of the Joint Staff is. 11 a.m., tomorrow, Frank’s office. That sounds like a fine place for all or part of Hell to break loose, yes. Claire would also like Congresswoman Brooks and the First Lady on the phone. And then Claire pulls out her second-longest and -sturdiest spoon, the one she uses for shit-stirring.
Doug and Frank are in a nice, clean, dim car, so happy to be away from woods and gunpowder and simulated lice. Omniscient Doug offers Frank a briefing on everyone in the summit with the Chinese, but Frank says that what Secretary of State Durant is doing in Washington is a sham—the real deal will be with Feng. Let’s hope he doesn’t choke during negotiations.
Xander Feng has deep ties to the Democratic Party and is big in telecom and has a net worth of $50 billion—which dwarfs Industrialist Tusk’s fortunes by quite a bit. Doug doesn’t know of any ties (heh) between Feng and Tusk other than the rare earth business, so he’s curious to know what Feng wants. Frank knows that Tusk is an opportunist, because it takes one to know one. And Frank would like the opportunity to undercut Tusk.
Frank walks past a moderate-sized gaggle of reporters who want comments on the upcoming summit talks. Um. Feng is waiting for him. Frank offers tea and pleasantries, and then they get down to business. Page 4 is the rare earth refinery that Feng intends to open with Tusk; Frank pushes him to open the deal up to other bidders. For appearances.
Photo by Nathaniel Bell. Image courtesy of Netflix.
Next is a bridge over the Long Island Sound. Who knew that bridges would be such a political hot-button issue this year? Feng has one little issue that he wants to discuss before they can get down to bridging: A currency manipulation lawsuit against China. Frank offers to back off the suit, but actually Feng wants him to make sure the lawsuit is pursued. He says China needs it to look like America forced a World Trade Organization ruling, not that China gave in. Frank asks for a little time to brief the President. Frank explains to us that back in Gaffney, the key to diplomacy is to shake with your right hand, but hold a rock in your left. Feng seems to have handed him a rather large and pointy rock.
Connor walks into the hotel lobby past some of the press pool. They are bored out of their goddamn trees with the Civil War stuff and crave meat.
Photo by Nathaniel Bell. Image courtesy of Netflix.
Frank and Doug confer. Frank wants Doug to tell Secretary of State Durant the exact opposite of what Feng said—that they need to drop the WTO lawsuit before they can discuss the bridge. Feng and Tusk want the suit to keep going, but does Beijing? Frank knows that Feng and Tusk (Could this pairing of names be any more delightful?) profit if the suit goes through. Doug knows that forcing Beijing’s hand could throw the summit, which, yes, is what Frank has in mind. Frank would like a nice, tidy leak about dropping the suit with just a soupçon of Feng.
(Yes, there are a lot of international business deals and treaty negotiations this season. Remember when you could just send a sitting Congressman an escort and douse him in alcohol? Good times. But, hey, bigger plans call for more complex set-ups, so we must bide our time a little.)
Ooh, time to go to the Hacker Lair! Bosch/Gavin/The Parrot cuddles Cashew the Guinea Pig while Lucas practices slipping his (fake) evil thumb drive into an industrial server.
Lucas feels good about his sneakiness mojo and pushes Gavin to hurry up and finish coding so he can let ‘er rip. Gavin puts Cashew back in her cage and gives Lucas a really good chance to back out. Lucas machos about having faced death threats instead of listening to him. And now it is time for some dick-measuring over journalists vs. hacking soldiers. Gavin gives Lucas one more chance to not get thrown in jail forever, but he won’t take it.
Out in the beautiful Spotsylvania countryside, Connor leaks like he in the care of my former building manager. He says there’s a Chinese businessman who’s back-channeling the negotiations, and oh, P.S., maybe the nice reporter he’s leaking to will remember this little favor later. Psst. Reporter. You should maybe look up this former colleague named Zoe.
Doug gives a progress report on the leaking, which Frank doesn’t care for because it’s too many degrees away. He wants Doug to meet with Feng himself tonight, which should be no problem because Doug only has to manifest in like six other places. Oh, and Lucas is thiiiis close to committing some cyberterrorism, so no worries there. Frank wants it clean, like all of his kills.