Warning: Do not keep reading if you haven’t watched the first four episodes of “House of Cards” Season 2. Up now: “Chapter 17.”
Where we are:
Frank and Claire end up trapped in two very different situations when an unidentified white powder arrives in the mail at the Capitol, which leaves Frank on lockdown with Donald Blythe (the congressman who fell on his sword regarding the education bill leak). This causes Claire to have to do an interview with CNN by herself.
She could have canceled, but a live CNN interview while her husband, the vice president, is trapped on Capitol Hill during a possible terrorist threat is too juicy to pass up.
The interview turns to the subject of the Underwoods’ marriage, with real-life CNN correspondent Ashleigh Banfield wondering how calculated of a match it is. It seems many people think Frank married Claire for her family’s considerable wealth, which certainly helped him get elected to Congress nearly 30 years ago.
Claire says the money came because her family wanted to support her husband, not the other way around. We would imagine it’s probably somewhere in between — it’s hard to picture Claire and Frank having some whirlwind romance. What seems more likely is that they met, realized what a good match they were and built a marriage on shared ambitions and mutual affection.
The interview then presses the subject of kids, which seems weird even before it gets to the abortion question. If Claire has a pat answer she always gives, hasn’t the “why didn’t you have kids” question been asked and answered many times? Why does anyone care at this point? Frankly, why does anyone care at all, but particularly if she’s answered the question before?
But after Claire gives her stock answer about kids, Banfield presses her as to whether she’s ever been pregnant and that’s where the interview slides completely into the realm of the unbelievable. No one would ask that, but without it, we wouldn’t have a plot for Claire this season, so let’s just roll with it.
Claire uses the opportunity to say that she was pregnant once — from her sexual assault committed by Gen. Dalton McGuinness. Now, viewers immediately find out this is not true. Claire’s three abortions that she mentioned in Season 1 were from two mistakes in her wild teenage years and a pregnancy by Frank during his first congressional run (more on that in a second).
But Claire has apparently decided it’s time to take revenge on McGuinness by dropping this bombshell. Knowing what we know of the Underwoods, you have to wonder how long Claire has been planning this. We’re sure the show will reveal that information eventually and hopefully this time, there’s not a watershed act to completely debunk Claire’s master plan.
It’s not like McGuinness doesn’t deserve it. He’s not just a one-time rapist — it turns out he’s a serial rapist. Women in the military start coming forward almost immediately after Claire reveals her secret.
But it seems like a risky gambit, since at least a few people outside of Claire and Frank’s marriage have knowledge of her abortions — including the fertility specialist she just visited, like, a week ago in the show’s timeline.
Just because there’s doctor-patient confidentiality doesn’t meant something can’t find its way to the press, and all Claire needs to look like a complete fraud is for stories to become public about her other abortions or that the one she admitted to actually happened five years after her rape. Being caught in one lie brings the whole (ahem) house of cards crumbling down, even if the sexual assault charge is true.
But she (and Frank) seem unconcerned, so clearly the all-powerful Underwoods have it all mapped out.
Meanwhile, Frank and Jackie Sharp are hard at work whipping House votes for the entitlement reform bill that just passed the Senate. With a little help from Remy, Jackie figures out that different tactics will work on different people — she alternately sweet-talks, strong-arms and straight-shoots with various representatives until it looks like the bill will pass.
Finally, Lucas and HEROnymous are hatching their plan to get the data from Zoe and Frank’s communications, which involves Lucas touring a data center and planting a device that will let HEROnymous into the center’s servers, under the guise of writing a piece about cyber-terrorism.
Except HEROnymous is actually Gavin, an informant/mole for the Secret Service. Doug Stamper’s Secret Service liaison is using Gavin to trap Lucas (so, presumably, the Underwood camp can dispose of him, one way or another). There is talk of an elite hacker called AVUnit that will surely pop back up — the Secret Service wants him and Gavin hasn’t been able to hand him over yet.
We’d like to think Lucas (and Janine, who hopefully comes back) will actually be victorious in avenging Zoe’s death, but since “House of Cards” isn’t about them and it has a Season 3 coming, we’re not holding our breath.
Frank: “This sort of stubbornness makes you no better than the Tea Party.”
Donald: “Except for the fact that we happen to be right.”
Frank: “I know you think I’m fundamentally deceptive, but I am capable of a genuine compliment.”
Frank: “Good things happen to good people.”