“House of Cards” recap (2.10): Who watches the watchman?


It’s a full moon, and trouble is brewing. Gavin/Hieronymous Bosch/The Parrot stares out at the night, cuddling Cashew the guinea pig. I love Cashew. And I feel closer to her since we all saw her through her ordeal. A GPS tracking alert goes off on Gavin’s computer, and Gavin says that “someone’s being a bad boy.” Oh, I hope Gavin and Cashew are going to squash a certain FBI agent.

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Over at the Depression Arms, Rachel reads aloud to… Oh, dammit, it’s Doug. Doug does a lot of scary stuff, but this fake, forced courtship is really starting to roll over the competition for Most Fucked-Up Aspect of Doug’s Life. Doug’s punishment for this behavior is that Rachel is reading inexpertly from the Bible.

…Only he’s not really listening, he just likes the sound of Rachel’s voice. I have a feeling he’s going to revise that opinion after the “there’s something I need to talk to you about” she just gave him.

Whoa! Who’s that hooded figure zipping up a duffel bag full of explosives? Criminy, it could be literally anyone on this show, going after literally anyone else on this show. I wonder if everyone on House of Cards has ulcers and heightened startle reflexes.

Speaking of bombing, Rachel is bombing at telling the truth to Doug. She says Lisa is going to be staying there for a while. Because, um, her roommate kicked her out. Also Lisa’s mouth gets chilly sometimes. Rachel does some very tentative standing up to Doug, refusing to kick Lisa out, but Doug can’t go as nuts as he’d like to because he gets a text that he has to go to the White House because of a crisis in China.

That’s a pretty foolproof exit line: “Gotta go. Crisis in China.” I think we should all try it at least once this week. Doug says Lisa had better be gone by the next time he and Rachel talk.

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Meanwhile, Duffel Man does… Um, something in the superdark. Frank’s Secret Service agents don’t notice.

Frank is severely pissed that Doug took so long getting to the White House, so he knocks him down a peg—Seth did Frank’s briefing, and now has security clearance equal to Doug’s. And Doug is shut out of the meeting. Ouch, Doug. How’s that taste? Maybe this coercive fake relationship isn’t very good for you. Just a thought.

So two Chinese destroyers are doing some ominous lurking around a Japanese island. Maybe over shipping routes? We all know it’s goddamned Tusk again, but let’s call it shipping routes. Japan wants to pursue diplomacy… In the form of some big-ass American ships.

The Secret service guys at Murky Towers are on to Duffel Man and fan out. Gavin watches the feed too. A police car screeches up and the Duffel Avenger makes a run for it.

Ed Meechum wakes up Claire—yes, of course she looks perfect—and says he’ll explain one she’s in the safe room.

Ooh, Robin Wright directed this episode. Claire watches over us all.

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In the Big Crisis Meeting, we all try to figure out what the Chinese want and how to get them to get their ships the hell out of there. Someone comes in and whispers to Frank, who whispers to the President.

Whoa—Duffel Man is an anti-choice nut, and the target was Claire. Frank demands that Meechum stay on the case for as long as he needs to. Meechum says he’s happy to stay as long as necessary.

Remy and Jackie Sharp are in bed. Jackie. Psst. He was trying to have an innocent guy murdered on behalf of a parakeet murderer last episode. We formally request that you stop sexing Remy. Remy lazily asks about Jackie’s tattoo, the one of poppies. She says she got it in the army, but won’t tell Remy about it. Remy does some persuading with his fingers.

Jackie tells him, as her arousal grows, that she likes the pain of the tattoo needle. She killed a lot of people in the army, she says. The pain of getting tattooed helped. And then Jackie gives in to pleasure.

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That was an agreeably fucked-up little scene. Well done, Ms. Wright.

Shesus H. Criminy, there’s a warship-level crisis going on and someone just tried to blow up Claire and Frank is still obsessing over getting rid of Tusk. JUST KISS ALREADY.  Doug will do yet more digging, but Tusk doesn’t leave many footprints.

Frank suggests the casino, which Doug finds dangerous. Seth starts to leap in and Doug whacks him on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper… But Frank wants Seth’s input. Oh, dear, looks like he’s setting his sons at each others’ throats again. Seth suggests using Ayla, since she’s already been connecting dots.

Ayla gets a package. It’s got some Chinese characters in it, meaning “pursue currency.” Follow the money.

Claire arrives at the Whip’s office—and, Claire, may I mention what a compelling combination that short hair and sharply tailored pantsuit is? Is there something you’re trying to tell us?—for a pleasant chat with Jackie Sharp…Who won’t co-sponsor Claire’s military assault bill. She thinks civilian oversight is too extreme.

(And this is the only part of this plotline that doesn’t feel right to me. We’re meant to believe that Sharp is the only woman in the House to oppose this bill because she’s the one with military experience. But surely as a combat veteran Sharp is all too well aware that women in the military tend not to report assaults—or tend to have their reports dismissed—because as things stand, they have to report straight up the chain of command, often to a superior who did the assaulting. I know that the show wants to set up a plot twist that sends Sharp head to head against her sponsor/would-be puppetmaster Frank Underwood, but it feels like a dude wrote this twist, and one who hasn’t been paying attention to the real-life struggle to deal with sexual assault in the military. It’s puzzling, especially given the show’s usual attention to political authenticity.)

To get back to the matter at hand: You know what Claire doesn’t care for? People saying no to Claire. She turns on a dime, looking for points of attack immediately. She accuses Jackie of lying, of trying to distance herself from Claire after the Galloway scandal, of selling out women to grub midterm election votes. Jackie holds firm, saying she’ll actively fight the bill if it goes to the floor in its current form. (But does not, as one of the shrewdest negotiators on this show and as woman who has been in the military, offer an alternate solution. Again, this feels like such an odd misstep.)

Sharp suggests more studies, at which Claire rightly scoffs, and then offers to re-discuss when Jackie gets back from California. Claire hopes Sharp will change her mind, and then powerdykes it on out of there. Daaaamn.

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In the Halls of Power, we learn that Japan is starting to military up and China is offended at the attempt to buy them off. The President takes a moment to ask after Claire. Aww, he’s an OK guy in a lot of ways. I hate to see him get eaten. Frank and the President bond over not having slept during the crisis, and then Frank expertly sticks in a skewer and suggests that Walker refresh himself by spending a little time with his wife. Walker admits that that’s not a low-stress activity for him right now. Frank looks like he’s drinking cream as the President says counseling and his marriage in general aren’t going very well.

Whoa! The President fired Christina when Vasquez resigned. That’s a raw deal. And we didn’t even see it. Frank mother-hens the President into taking a nap, then points out that sleep equalizes us all—putting even the powerful on their backs.

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Ayla, by far the best reporter the show has ever seen, works the phones. She just figured out the casino travel connection. And she’s also ordered a luxury bus for a bunch of wealthy Chinese passengers who aren’t going to show. Someone’s going to be pissed. I hope she at least sent over a tip.

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