'House of Cards' Season 2 episode 3: Doormats and matadors, laws and sausages
Where we are:
This episode focuses on avoiding a government shutdown, with Frank extending an olive branch to the Republicans of agreeing to raise the retirement age and make some entitlement reform if the Republicans will pass the omnibus bill.
The way Frank figures, the retirement age is going to be raised eventually, so why not make a show of bipartisanship and get credit?
Everything seems fine, with Frank working with Senate Majority Leader Hector Mendoza to hammer out a compromise and get him to write in a formal agreement that if the Senate passes the retirement age amendment, it will signify passage of the entire omnibus bill.
Except Tea Party leader Curtis Haas balks and takes his caucus with him. The Republicans' absence means the Senate doesn't have a quorum required to vote, so Frank uses parliamentary procedure to compel the absent senators to appear -- they'll be arrested if they don't.
Six of them end up being dragged into the chamber in handcuffs and the vote passes the amendment, and therefore the bill. Win for Frank. Plus, Mendoza's happy because the handcuffs part was all for political cover -- the Republicans had to look like they were being forced so that Haas doesn't retaliate against them.
It's actually a rather interesting episode, if you enjoy the inner workings of the Senate. However, as a man on one of our other favorite political shows once said, "There are two things in the world you never want to let people see how you make 'em -- laws and sausages."
But what we don't care for is that Raymond Tusk, over three episodes, has morphed into a spineless whiner. He's a small burr in Frank's side, but one that Frank easily brushes aside at every turn. What a disappointing use of Gerald McRaney -- after such high hopes for the character as a foil to Frank after Season 1.
Fun fact: The dragging of the senators into the chamber in handcuffs is based on a real-life event. In 1988, the Republicans left the Senate chamber so a quorum could not be reached and Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd ordered them back. Sen. Robert Packwood of Oregon was found hiding in his office and carried into the chamber.
In another storyline, Lucas is digging into the deep web stuff and the FBI has discovered some of his posts. Doug orders his friend and executive liaison for the secret service to trap Lucas and shut it down.
Lucas is then contacted by HEROnymous, who is awesomely played by Jimmi Simpson. We don't know if the Venn diagram of "House of Cards" fans and "Psych" fans overlaps much, but it overlaps on us and we were delighted to see Mary Lightly as a weirdo hacker who has a pet guinea pig named Cashew. Because of course he is. HEROnymous says he's going to help Lucas, but we aren't so sure.
Who isn't going to help Lucas is Janine. She's taken a teaching position in Ithaca and is spending time with her mom. Is that the last we see of her? Let's hope not.
Also, Rachel the hooker is now Rachel the telemarketer and also Rachel the sometimes-churchgoer. Doug is concerned about her making friends with anyone, so either he's going to kill her or want to save her from despair and loneliness and end up falling in love with her (if he's not already).
Finally, Claire is preparing for her new job as second lady of the United States and for that, she needs a chief of staff. She finds Connor Ellis ( Samuel Page), a smart but smarmy young man who wants to make the Underwoods (specifically Claire) likable to the American people, continually referring to the first interview they did together back in 1986 when Frank was running for Congress for the first time.
Oh, and the Underwoods wonder if Christina is sleeping with the president. Please let that not be true.
Frank: "There are two types of vice presidents: Doormats and matadors. Which do you think I intend to be?"
Walker: "You wouldn't call this a problem?
Frank: "Not if it's solved before it becomes one."
Walker: "I wanted a vice president who could manage Congress, not one who bites off more than he can chew."
Frank: "The higher up the mountain, the more treacherous the path."
Frank: "I used to be on the edge of the frame. Now? I'm only three feet away."