“The reason we have these meetings is so I can get accurate information from you,” President Walker lectures to Frank Underwood. Walker is not happy, this is a high profile bill and Democratic split on the vote is almost more upsetting than its failure. Linda’s lack of involvement comes out, but Underwood covers for her. He has bigger fish to fry—and plus, she only owes him more for the backup. Underwood is on an episodic mission to determine and punish whoever sabotaged his perfectly laid plans.
Ironically it doesn’t take long. Zoe Barnes is waiting outside his office with a scoop. Based on her sources… Claire convinced the two dissenting Dems that it was OK to reject the bill. “I’m feeding you Francis, now you need to feed me.” Underwood schedules a quick meeting with Abrams and Vanderberg to confirm and storms out after he gets his information.
His next stop is an obvious one: CWI. The Underwoods go back in forth in Claire’s office expressing their anger. Underwood needed this bill, but Claire needed the supplies from Sudan—supplies only Remy was willing to help recover as Underwood was too wrapped up in his own initiatives. He lectures her about how this could ruin whatever their big “plan” is, but she doesn’t care. It’s his plan, not “ours” if she’s kept in the dark. “Lately it doesn’t feel as if I stand beside you Francis.” He reveals word got out and this disagreement has potential to become a story. “She wouldn’t have been a problem if you hadn’t dropped your pants and you come in here and berate me in my office and exposed up?” Underwood let’s her know CWI isn’t as important as she thinks; she lets him know she’s been used as he uses everyone else. “Get out.”
He leaves and gets another unwelcomed showdown: a call from Russo. He’s pissed. He promised his people jobs and Underwood promised him that bill would pass. Russo doesn’t want to hear the BS. “If you hang up, you won’t like who I call next,” he threatens. Russo is willing to go public with the whole thing—if he goes down so does Underwood. “I’m not afraid of you anymore,” he says. Frank’s reply is simple. “Then you’re mistaken.”
Those are the first words Underwood utters as he’s in the office feverishly pacing with Stamper. They’re talking cryptically about some procedure that’s clearly already been set in place.
“You have everything you need on your end?”
Stamper asks for $3,000. “Once we do this, we’re committed. I can’t predict how he’s going to act,” he begs.
“Well, I won’t be blackmailed,” Underwood says.
He goes home as he promised Claire he would, and Underwood hits the row machine to destress after a rough day. He can’t get in touch with Claire and ends up texting Zoe, heading there for the usual. She’s even less into things as usual. “Tell Claire I said hi,” she quips, after revealing the little meeting the two had hours earlier. He sits on his window sill with cigarettes until the morning light, vowing to carry on despite the rebellion—even if he must do it alone.
Underwood’s first stop of the day is CWI. He casually approaches Gillian for information. Claire apparently mentioned some sickness and the need to take a few days vacation. That’s all Underwood needs, but while he’s there he’ll ask Gillian about her relationship with Stanford. Vazquez’s kid needs a little recommendation. “Will you please do this favor for Claire and me… and for the President?”
Up next, Remy is waiting for him at Freddy’s. “How much would it be worth to SanCorp if Russo was a pro-natural gas candidate, how valuable would that be?” Sure, he sponsored the watershed bill, but he’s pro-employment not anti-drilling. How about a SanCorp site in Philadelphia? Remy says he’ll run it up the ladder and they end the business so Underwood can meet some ribs.
Russo, shocker, isn’t not thrilled with this idea. He and Underwood bark at each other. Eventually Christina and Underwood play the devil/angel on his shoulder roles. “This sounds like flip-flopping,” she says. “SanCorp shutdown the watershed bill, but they can also be a powerful ally,” he insists. Underwood can’t promise that SanCorp will promise, but Russo’s support means they’re certainly open to it. He leaves Russo with a proposal: meet with Remy tonight at a cancer charity event sponsored by SanCorp. If it goes well, discuss it during a pre-scheduled radio spot with Pittsburgh media. Russo takes a quick word from Christina, but agrees to cancel his previous appearances for the charity ball. (Before leaving, Underwood cryptically asks if Russo has told her—or anyone for that matter—about Trepeniak. Their secret is safe for now.)
That night, Underwood is still slightly rattled from the Claire intel he gathered at the CWI. He enlists Meechum for a little off-the-books missing persons location. Stamper joins him for the evening debrief. They confirm the radio interview and that “the plan” is still on-going. Underwood insists he’s ready but asks for a status update anyway. “You really want to know the details?” Something is clearly afoot. Underwood makes a quick reference to the fact he’s never taught Stamper how to play chess, but at this point it’s he who doesn’t get to see the whole board. A quick soliloquy about his hatred of “being in the dark” only confirms it.
The next morning, Meechum is driving Underwood and begins to reveal the intel gathered. Underwood knows as soon as Meechum says Claire is in NY and not at a hotel. “Adam Gowdy.” He doesn’t need the additional details, just for Meechum to turn the radio to Russo’s radio interview. Underwood catches it just as Russo is beginning to drown in Watershed Bill questioning. An f-bomb slips, he can’t transition to natural gas talking points, the host asks if Russo is drunk. Stamper pulls the phone away, Underwood hears the hang-up.
Checkmate. Underwood texts Zoe, preps Vazquez on Russo and learns that her son as been accepted at Stanford. He follows-up with a call to Stamper. Russo’s demise is already on the New York Times. “He’s done his job, now let’s help him back on his feet.” With the pawn out of the way, Underwood reveals his end-game in a soliloquy. With the Democrats now floundering in Pennsylvania, they need Vice-President Matthews to step up. After that current Queen moves to its place, well, that leaves a vacancy right next to the King.
The episode doesn’t end there however. Stamper is at the room where Russo took the interview. The shower is on, Stamper heads in to move Russo along… but nobody’s there.
Russo holds a press conference after the bill ends and the press is ravenous. The last question comes from Jeanine and she reveals his opponents’ newest campaign: “If he can’t follow through with Congress, can he follow through with sobriety?”
After his follow-up dust-up with Underwood, Russo takes Remy’s meeting. He’s heard enough to leave Remy with, “have your clients listen to WPZZ in Pittsburgh tomorrow at eight.” All of a sudden, he leaves and a woman swoops in… it’s Rachael. She’s obviously forcing the issue, but Russo tosses aside her advances. He won’t even take a drink. But after watching her down a quick champagne shooter, she admits she likes when things get a little sloppy. “Then I get undressed.” Russo doesn’t take the bait still, but he will politely accept a room key Rachael leaves for him.
Later on, he can’t help himself. The roomcard is put to use, Rachael continues to feed him a sob story (“Staffer boyfriend stood me up, couldn’t be seen with me, etc. etc.”). She busts out little nips of whiskey. “I really shouldn’t be here,” is the man’s last plea. They toast to her, throw back the nips, and Rachael mounts him.
“That’s the last of it.” Rachael dumps a shot of whiskey onto his chest. For a moment, she’s had enough of it. “Have we met before?” But she won’t let Russo in on anything. She opens the curtains, let’s him know it’s 7:15 am, and leaves. “You can keep the room ’til noon.”
Russo tries to vomit quickly and clean-up. Stamper calls his cell, Russo’s place couldn’t get a hold of him earlier. “You sound drunk…” is one of Stamper’s first sentences, Russo’s hurried throughout everything but not noticeably slurring. When Stamper arrives, he continues to play the game. “We can’t do this interview. We should cancel.” Russo resists, insists the show must go on. Underwood’s details are crystal clear. A disaster of a radio interview only confirms it.
Claire follows-up the dust-up with Frank by addressing the Zoe issue head on. “It’s such a shame, how naive you are… I’ve known everything from the beginning Zoe, my husband and I tell each other everything. Don’t you believe me? Is there a spider I can trap? I’m not here to punish you or tell you to stop, I just thought I should open those big, bright eyes…. Maybe you’re not that naive, a lesser woman wouldn’t have opened the door.” And with that, she leaves. Hails a cab, books it to Union Station, and takes a little vacation from D.C.—at the home of everyone’s favorite photographer, Adam.
Claire and Adam’s interactions are extremely surface. But he notes she “hasn’t brought any luggage” after Claire dodges a question about the length of her stay, and soon what clothes she does have are on the floor.
Stamper slowly reveals the plan he and Underwood talked about in passing. He meets Rachael (the former whore) at an apartment he’s set up for her—covering first and last month’s rent, the security deposit, and a little for furniture. But… he needs one last favor first. (It’s not a sexual one, directly speaking at least.)
Zoe is relatively quiet in this episode after having her eyes opened by Claire. She finally sees her apartment —and her situation—for the festering cesspool it is. She heads over to Lucas’s place asking if she can stay there for a few nights.
We discover they haven’t seen each other in six months outside of Lucas approaching her apartment drunk one night. She won’t reveal real details on this night, just mutters something about feeling “trapped in a place where I didn’t really live.” The couch is hers for now… though later in the night she’ll slip into the bedroom. Lucas doesn’t mind, they finally kiss.