Warning: Do not keep reading if you haven’t watched the first nine episodes of “House of Cards” Season 2. Up next, “Chapter 22.”
Where we are:
There are two big plotlines this episode, both stemming from Raymond Tusk getting back at Frank Underwood for ruining his rare earth refinery with Xander Feng: Claire’s affair and Freddy’s rib shack.
For Claire, she’s ready to do battle. She tells Adam Galloway to deny, deny, deny, which he does. Then she goes on the air in a press conference to say the picture in the D.C. Daily is one she and Frank commissioned Galloway to take of her in their home.
Galloway is irritated that she didn’t tell him the plan, but she says if their stories were too coordinated, the press would smell a rat. And she’s right. Claire tells Adam to go back to the press, tell them he lied because he was scared and that’ll be the end of it. She’s right about that too. If Galloway had just done that, this probably all would’ve gone away.
Except Galloway decides he doesn’t like all the lies or something — like, way to grow a conscience, Mr. Sleeping With the House Majority Whip’s Wife. It’s not that Galloway is the only one to blame, but he and Claire had an affair, Frank didn’t care, they were all adults about it. But it’s damage control time, so play the game, Galloway.
Instead, Remy gets to him, and Galloway gives the Daily another photo of Claire. This time she’s naked in the shower and has short hair, which means it was taken fairly recently. Claire didn’t actually know he had this photo and it … doesn’t look great for her.
The play then becomes to tell the press that it’s fake and to sort of kidnap Galloway to D.C. to find out what the heck is going on. Turns out that Tusk’s reach extends to a judge in Bogota, who is presiding over the trial of Galloway’s fiancee’s father. He’s a human rights activist arrested for treason, and the prosecution is going for the death penalty. Tusk blackmailed Galloway into leaking the second photo.
The Underwoods say they can get the charges dropped, but Galloway has to tell the press the photo was a fake and say he lied about any kind of affair.
What’s really baffling about this whole situation is that there were a dozen people at the party Galloway had when Claire was shacking up with him in Season 1. They may not have known who she was then, but surely some of them realized who she was when Frank became vice president, right? Maybe not, but it sure seems like a loose end that could bury them. They even mention the party in this episode. Hmm.
Anyway, the other awful thing Tusk is up to is going after Freddy, which is just beyond the pale, as far as we’re concerned. Leave the nice rib man alone, Tusk!
The big play here is to reveal Freddy’s jailbird past (and also that his son did time) in order to make the vice president have to distance himself from Freddy. Unfortunately, the unwanted media attention gets Freddy’s son to draw a gun on a photographer, which not only means Frank has very little choice in distancing himself (because he wasn’t going to, initially), but also that Freddy’s son is now going back to jail because having a gun violates his parole.
Plus, Freddy’s franchise deal is dead because of the morality clause in the contract. He’s able to sell his rib shack storefront and use that and the little money he had saved to pay his son’s bail and … that’s the end of Freddy, we’re assuming. It’s infinitely sadder than pretty much anything that’s happened on this show, except maybe Peter Russo’s final hours, because Freddy is innocent. He’s just a hard-working man trying to do something for himself, and he gets caught up in this crapstorm of political posturing.
Either way, now that Claire’s been targeted and Freddy’s been taken down completely, the Underwoods are going after Tusk.
Meanwhile, Zoe Barnes 2.0 is sniffing around Tusk’s connection to China, Feng, the president and Frank. Her name is Ayla Sayyad, and the red line from Shady Grove draws ever closer.
Doug also gets to smack Grayson down a bit, with the best line of the episode: “Upward mobility has a ceiling with the Underwoods. I’m the ceiling.”
Best Lines (the rest):
Frank: “I won’t leave one of my own bleeding on the field.”
Freddy: “Somebody’s tryin’ to take you out.”
Frank: “It appears that way.”
Freddy: “Whoever it is, they done stepped on the wrong motherf***in’ rattlesnake.”
Frank: “Do not mistake any history you have shared for the slightest understanding of what our marriage is. Or how insignificant you are in comparison.”
Frank: “I want him obliterated.”
Claire: “More than that. Let’s make him suffer.”
Frank: “I don’t know whether to be proud or terrified. Perhaps both.”