'House of Cards' Season 1 episodes 12 and 13: Frank (eventually) gets what he wants
Where we are:
In the first part of basically the two-part season finale, there are two interesting plots put into motion. First, President Walker decides that billionaire businessman Raymond Tusk ( Gerald McRaney) is his choice for VP and sends Frank out to St. Louis to convince Tusk to say yes. Except it's all a ruse -- Tusk is actually vetting Frank for the vice-presidency. It seems Tusk and Walker are old friends and Walker wants Tusk's endorsement if Frank is the right man for the job.
After a weekend of 2 a.m. bacon snacks and some bird watching -- which is hilarious to watch, as Frank's annoyance at Tusk's lifestyle can barely be contained -- Tusk reveals to Frank what is really going on and says his endorsement to the president comes with a price: One favor. However, Tusk needs Frank to agree to it without knowing what it is.
Frank won't do that (and really, who would?) and instead sets about trying to get one up on Tusk, enlisting (who else?) Remy Danton. The episode leaves off with us wondering just how Frank is going to best Tusk.
The other interesting plot unfolding is that Janine starts looking at Paul Capra (Peter Russo's childhood friend) because Christina wants Paul to run for Peter's vacant seat. But Janine smells a rat regarding the shipyard closure and starts to put some pieces together. Zoe is reluctant to believe that Frank is as dastardly as Janine thinks he is, but she starts to come around by episode's end, as it leaves off with Zoe approaching Christina to ask about who was pulling Russo's strings.
There's also a little side plot of Gillian Cole getting her nose out of joint because as part of SanCorp getting the CWI's filters in Sudan released from customs, they want to shoot PR footage on the ground there while CWI does its work. Claire basically has to tell her, "You work for me, so get in line or get out."
It's fairly inconsequential (in this episode, anyway), but just as an aside -- we're with Claire. Sure, SanCorp is like the antithesis of CWI, but if you ask for a favor, you have to give one in return. That's how it goes. Plus, Gillian is the employee, Claire is the boss. Tough cookies, Gillian.
The season finale picks up with Frank trying to get Remy and SanCorp to go after Tusk's company, under the guise that it'll keep him distracted and out of the VP's office. However, Frank's real play is that he wants something to hold over Tusk for his endorsement, rather than having to grant an unspecified favor.
But Remy's no dummy and instead, he aligns himself with Tusk, helping Tusk acquire shares in SanCorp. Frank's gambit didn't work, but Tusk reveals he merely wants Frank's influence in Congress regarding trade tariffs with China -- but he doesn't know what exactly he'll need in the future, hence the vague favor.
Frank offers that they should just be equals and that he'll do what he can to help Tusk, if Tusk gets him the VP spot. Tusk agrees and it's done. Frank will be starting Season 2 as the vice president.
Meanwhile, Janine and Zoe learn about Russo's arrest from Christina and then Lucas' police contacts tell him about Rachel the hooker. They track her down, and Rachel lies about Frank hushing her up, but Janine, Zoe and Lucas know better. They figure out that Frank wanted Russo to implode, forcing Matthews to run in Pennsylvania and then causing the president to tap Frank as the VP nominee.
It's a little bit of a stretch that they'd get there -- especially in the face of the watershed act, which completely contradicts everything. But it's still fun to watch the three musketeers work on this.
And with Claire -- well, she's having quite the motherhood crisis. Gillian is suing her and claiming Claire fired her for being pregnant, as Claire is haunted in her dreams by the children she aborted over the years.
In the final frames, Doug approaches Christina under the guise of being her friend and protector. She tells him what Zoe knows. Ruh roh.
Hopes for Season 2:
- More Gerald McRaney. You can never have enough McRaney, as far as we're concerned. Tusk is a formidable adversary or ally for Frank and that cannot be said about many people on this show.
- The little brain trust of Janine, Zoe and Lucas having their own little Woodward and Bernstein thing going is pretty enjoyable. Here's hoping they realize that Russo was found in the passenger seat of his car -- that right there is a big red flag that it wasn't a suicide.
- That Claire doesn't pursue this wild hare of having a child. It's sad that she's haunted by the visions of children she could have had, but a child does not fit into the Underwoods' life. Nobody wants to watch Frank changing diapers in the vice president's office.
- We feel like someone's going to die in Season 2. Will Frank have to take out Rachel? Janine? Zoe? In the original British miniseries, the Zoe character dies. That'd be a bold move here too.
Doug: "What does she know?"
Frank: "She knows the right questions to ask. I want to make sure she doesn't get the right answers."
Raymond: "Coffee? Booze? At 2 a.m., you can go either way."
Janine: "The only articles I've written that truly mattered scared the s*** out of me."