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

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Early morning and someone squashes a bug, works his core, and hits the inversion table. It’s Freddy. He walks to work and grabs his paper — the one with Claire’s scandal right on the cover. Freddy tears it in half and sets it on fire. I have a feeling Claire will be doing something similar soon, only it won’t be paper.

Ooh, Jodie Foster directed this episode. Nice work, ma’am!

At Murky Towers, we’re of course having a cosy little War Room conference about the scandal, with Doug, Claire, Seth, and Frank. I’ve been deeply curious to know how this is playing with Frank. Last season I was under the impression that having affairs is just something the Underwoods did with one of those quiet understandings. But I’m guessing that part of the understanding was that nothing should hit the papers. And sometimes those understandings have a way of falling apart once things get less quiet.

Doug says no one at the Daily will cough up about sources, but duh, it’s Remy. There’s also a concern that Adam Galloway will go public. Claire says he wouldn’t, that she’ll make sure of it. Frank’s not crazy about Claire being the one to take care of that little errand, but she says “I’ve got it covered,” in that deceptively cool tone of voice that makes him back down. The meeting breaks up with Frank telling Seth to follow Claire’s lead and Seth immediately starting to work on a timeline of her association with Galloway.

29HoC 1Photo by Nathaniel Bell. Image courtesy of Netflix

Frank moves into the next room to talk to us directly. He says “this hurts us both, but it’s not my wound to suture.” Claire needs to be the one to stop the bleeding.

Back at Freddy’s, the suit guy with the franchise contracts has a mock-up of the barbecue sauce bottle design and just a few little things to sign before Freddy gets his $95,000. Suit Guy steps just a little too far — he pulls out plans for the flagship restaurant in Silver Spring, complete with fake peeling linoleum. Suit Guy says they don’t want it to look too nice, and Freddy says, “You want white folks to feel like they’re slumming.” Ouch. Suit Guy babbles about atmosphere and how people want the “experience” without leaving the suburbs. Freddy sums up the role he’s being asked to play with a succinct word that we don’t use on this website. Freddy hates this, but he signs. He’s supposed to get his money in about a week.

Claire is on the phone with Galloway, asking him to deny the affair, deny taking the picture of her in the bed, and deny pretty much everything except that maybe they once curtly nodded at each other as part of a business relationship. She wants him to destroy the original of the picture — the original that he has right there – then e-mail her a copy of the digital file and then destroy the original digital file. Adam tells Claire that he watched her big CNN interview. He misses talking with her.

Claire asks Adam how’s tricks, and he sums up that he went to Bogotá, Colombia and long story short, new girlfriend who’s living with him now. Claire seems surprisingly thrown by this piece of information. And saddened how quickly things happen. Adam says he won’t talk to the press until he gets instructions… And then kisses his new girlfriend.

Freddy walks to a run-down apartment building and his way is blocked by three scumballs who say he has to buy something if he wants to get inside. Freddy makes it clear just through sheer umbrage that he is no one to be messed with and the creeps, somehow sensing the intense core work that has already happened today, back down. I don’t think Freddy is someone you want to get angry.

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Freddy knocks on a much-graffitied door. It’s opened by his surprised grandson. His grandson is mostly surprised because he hasn’t met Freddy before.

Frank’s stuck in Murky Towers until they can clamp down on the scandal, so he’s doing a little work on his model while he takes a call from the President. He assures Walker that if anything were true, Frank would tell him. Lies roll so easily off Frank’s tongue sometimes, like he’s swirling hard candies in his mouth. Walker offers to make a statement and stand behind the Underwoods, which is awfully sweet. And super dumb. Frank primly instructs the President on how he should respond instead, refusing to dirty his hands and saying he doesn’t engage in gossip-mongering. It’s interesting that the President just accepts that now.

Frank excuses himself to go watch Adam Galloway’s statement to the press.

Adam, as he has been told, stands in front of a bank of his cameras with his girlfriend, stating that there was no romantic relationship and that he didn’t take the photograph. He and his fiancée — whoopsie, that’s a different thing than a girlfriend, last time I checked — are very sorry that the Underwoods have to go through this.

Seth delicately suggests that Claire should change her clothes before her press conference, because he has accurately gauged the American tendency to equate the book with the cover. Claire agrees and sets off to dig up a Conservative Tea Lady outfit.

Claire apologizes to Frank, saying she should have been more careful, but he won’t even chasten her for that. Yes, their dragonlove does include an out clause for affairs. I guess that sort of thing is easier to navigate when you each have three hearts and a thousand years of living behind you.

Claire admits that she wishes Frank would be more upset. Frank responds “Tusk came after you because of me. It’s you who should be upset.” If I directed this episode, the show would immediately cut to a shot of Tusk out bird watching, and then suddenly Claire’s spiked tail punches straight through his chest, but Ms. Foster seems to want to play her hand a little more close to the vest. Fine. Claire agrees with Frank that being upset is wasted energy, and then he says “Shall we rehearse?” and off they go.

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Freddy’s son Darnell is refusing a handout, but Freddy corrects that this is a loan he’s offering — and a way to get a house for his son and grandson. Darnell can pay it off slowly by working in the restaurant. Freddy and his son have not gotten along well in the past — Darnell’s time in prison may have something to do with that — and this offer is not mending fenced the way Freddy had hoped. He takes off.

Seth is talking to the press, spinning and lying and spinning and lying. He adds the genius touch that the Underwoods have taken a full day to respond because they’re looking into their defamation and slander lawsuit options. And now the reporters can wait another 30 before their next slice. Ayla? Is not having any more of this cheap tabloid fodder. She peaces out and is booking herself a flight to St. Louis before the other reporters have finished flipping their little notebook pages. OK, those are some reporting instincts that border on psychic.

Claire and Frank step out of Murky towers, trying not to blink as they step into the daylight. She and Frank join hands and let the ridges down their backs brush against each other.

Claire looks like, well, Claire. It’s a wonder the reporters don’t all rush out to buy hats just so they can rush back, tip them in apology, and then walk away, ashamed of themselves for bothering such a creature.

29HoC 4Photo by Nathaniel Bell. Image courtesy of Netflix

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