House of Cards 2.06: Mercury Rising, Samarium Not so Much

Here we are. Episode 6. And look there’s Rachel, hey how are ya beenawhile! She has a mouthful of ice cubes and her face in the A/C unit. It is hot hot hot, you see. It’s hot everywhere. Rachel’s neck of the woods? Hot. Washington? Hot. Words simply cannot convey how hot it is on the entire East Coast right now, so here is a dramatization:


And that was our HOT open, hahaha. Have I mentioned it’s off-the-charts hot?

Even Lucas is sweating it out in the interrogation room, though that may have more to do with facing 35 years in prison rather than the temperature.


The only one who isn’t super sweating right now? Raymond.

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I guess the heatwave didn’t make it as far west as St. Louis. Or maybe Raymond can afford to spend a couple hours birdwatching because he will be back inside his mansion by sundown, where he’s rich enough to keep his AC going ALL NIGHT.

Oh yeah, see, there is also an energy crisis in the US because of the tenuous relations with the Chinese, who have stopped selling samarium to the US, which makes Raymond very worried because he needs samarium for his nuclear power plants. He really needs things to settle the hell down, basically, but in spite of his ability to carry on having outdoor hobbies in his little Midwestern corner, he cannot seem to get a hearing with Garrett for the life of him. He even goes to Frank for help, hahaha, that’s how you know he’s desperate.

Back at the White House, everyone with an important title is trying to figure out how to get out of this crisis. Frank suggests that they buy samarium from a third-party source, and then quietly sell it at a discount to the nuclear power companies. It’s controversial, but Garrett agrees to go forward with this plan and orders an executive order drawn up.

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Later, Remy comes over to Frank’s house on Raymond’s behalf. LOL, has Raymond been banished from the entire District of Columbia?? Anyway, it looks like Raymond isn’t a fan of the samarium subsidy, and Remy tries unsuccessfully to get Frank to just put an end to the trade war with the Chinese. Raymond, if you’ll remember, really really really wants to build a rare earth refinery over there someday. But Frank isn’t budging, whether because he wants to keep Raymond out of the president’s favor as long as possible or he simply doesn’t want Raymond to get what he wants. Who really knows that guy after all? Soliloquies, shmoliloquies, you know? IF this show even has a master plan that it’s working from, we certainly won’t learn about it in Episode 6.

Remy is like, “What’s your game, Frank?” And Frank is like, “Oh, I just want what’s best for the nation.” They both take aggressive sips of their drinks at each other, then Remy leaves. Here’s a shot of the Underwoods’ sitting room, just ’cause:

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Later, Frank enlists Meechum’s secret services (nailed it!) to help him practice for his first pitch in the upcoming Orioles game, so that he doesn’t embarrass himself like he did years before when he accidentally hit himself in the head with the ball while throwing a different first pitch?! You know what, I’m not even gonna try to dissect that one. You win, writers. Moving on.

“Comic relief pitcher,” Meechum quips, adorably, though he really should know better than to tease his boss about anything, as Frank responds by hurling a ball at him, breaking the stoneware they were using as a home plate and making poor Meechum jump back in fright. Then there’s a very sitcommy exchange where Frank whispers-shouts, “Don’t tell Claire!” and Claire is like, “I heard that!” from offscreen. Hey, I didn’t say it was a GOOD sitcom.

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Over at the prison, Lucas is presented with a pretty-good-for-the-money plea deal from the prosecution, wherein he will be eligible for parole in 7 years. It sucks in the sense that he was just trying to fight the good fight and OOPSIES! got tricked into committing a huge crime, but it’s pretty good compared to the 35 years that a crime like his usually gets, I guess. Having fully learned his lesson and accepted that Frank is untouchable, Lucas takes the plea. Hahaha, no, he doesn’t! This is Lucas we’re talking about, and he still thinks he has a chance to beat this thing in open court. He calls on Tom “Beer for Breakfast” Hammerschmidt to look at his research and write his story.

When word of Tom’s involvement reaches Frank, he decides to meet with him personally at the White House. “We’ll intimidate him with formality,” Frank says. Hahaha, OK!

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But Tom is not deterred. He asks Frank point blank if he killed Peter Russo or Zoe Barnes. Whoa, Tom, that’s kind of badass to ask the Vice President of these United States such a thing! Frank is like, “Tom, you’re embarrassing yourself.” When Tom leaves, Frank calls in Doug and tells him to “put it to bed.” He is not pleased at all and Doug knows he screwed up, probably by not killing Rachel back in Season 1.

Rachel, for her part, is laying low, just not as low as Doug would like. She has made friends with the Jesus peddler from a few episodes back and now works with her at the church’s daycare center. She seems fairly happy. You know, for Rachel.

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Back at the White House, Frank and Garrett are informed that Raymond and a bunch of other energy guys have rejected the proposed samarium subsidy, instigating a back-and-forth battle between Raymond and the White House, wherein each side is trying to scare the other side into doing what they want. It’s a bluff-off, basically. Multiple scenes pass, words like antitrust and FERC get thrown around, I don’t really understand half of it, to be honest, but ultimately neither Raymond nor Frank can be convinced to give in.

Cut to Camden Yards the night of Frank’s big pitch; he practices nervously in the dugout and gets all whiny about how the Kevlar isn’t allowing him the body movement he needs, etc. Come on, Frank; what are you, Garrett? Get it together.

Rachael Price sings the national anthem, Frank says a few words, walks up to the mound, and just as he winds up his pitch… BLAMMO! The whole city goes dark, just like that.

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It turns out, the power outage took out the entire region, and the failure was with one of Raymond’s plants. Coincidence? Raymond assures Garrett that he did not plan this, it’s just something that happens during a heat wave, the grid simply went over capacity, see? He will have the plant up and running in under three hours, and by the by, he will need to take two of his other plants offline tomorrow for “unscheduled maintenance”; we wouldn’t want an accident, would we? Point: Raymond, I guess.

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Eating alone in the dark! It’s the “twirling one’s mustache” of the 21st century!

Garrett and Frank, of course, are livid. Frank lies to and manipulates Garrett into believing that Raymond has been lying and manipulating them both all along, and convinces Garrett to seize control of Raymond’s plants under executive order, even though the last president to do a semi-comparable thing was Woodrow Wilson during WWI. Garrett goes for it, though, and it only takes a moderate amount of ego stroking on Frank’s part. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this president is an embarrassingly easy mark.

This new threat finally gets Raymond to back down and agree to the subsidy, and it is safe to say that he and Frank are over. They’re not even gonna pretend to be friends anymore.

Meanwhile, in Lucasland, Doug has Special Agent “Cashew Crusher” Green pay a visit to Janine, who is cooking dinner with her mom and generally minding her own business. Green wants Janine to sign a formal statement that paints Lucas as a lunatic/liar. When she refuses and tries to call his bluff, he intimidates her by threatening to arrest her for abetting a cyberattack, and he gets up real close and personal, too, the better to smell her hair, I guess, because this guy is THE FUCKING WORST.

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Eventually, Janine relents and signs to the lie, which makes it into Tom’s article. This was the nail in Lucas’s coffin, because there’s no way that article isn’t going to sound completely bonkers now that the one other witness to his theorizing has overtly turned against him. “Everybody’s fucked me,” Lucas tells Janine. She is sorry to have let him down, but she doesn’t want to end up like him, basically. “I am trying to save us both,” she says. Lucas’s hope is now utterly gone, just like Doug intended, and he finally agrees to take the plea. Oh, boy. It was actually a rough scene to watch, TBH. See you in seven years, Lucas! By then hopefully Frank will already have gotten his comeuppance, if this show wisens up at all and doesn’t keep having him win at every single turn!

Later, Doug shows up at Rachel’s to tell her the “good news” about Lucas, and she’s all like, “Great, I’m off to church then!” but Doug still won’t let her go. They still have to be careful, he says, ’cause now it’s his ass on the line with Frank, too.  Even after Rachel summons all of her special whoring skills to try fucking the permission out of him (if you can even call grabbing a guy’s boner a “special skill”), Doug rebuffs her, but just barely. Not to brag or anything, but I totally called his weird love for her back in Episode 1.

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Also in this episode:

Claire works on planting seeds in Tricia Walker’s suspicious, possibly unstable little mind. This time the seed is Christina. Remember her? The one plucky brunette and long-suffering girlfriend of Peter Russo who was poised to become a major character at the end of last season but instead has been relegated to playing a mere pawn in other characters’ poorly conceived power plays?

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Yup, that’s her!

Claire works hard (actually, not hard at all, because apparently Tricia is the most easily manipulated character ever penned, second only to her husband Garrett) to convince Tricia that Christina is maaaaybe, possibly, very likely some sort of serial boss-fucker. You know, because she’s done it a total of ONE OTHER TIME.

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Lastly, Jackie and Remy engage in S.E.X. and some intense post-coital banter with each other. Just a real Rock and Doris, those two.

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And that was everything! This episode was quite a snoozefest for me. Not enough Claire, I think was the problem. Too much of that drawn-out battle of wills between Raymond and Frank. What did you guys think? Did you like it when Remy said that Jackie’s voice “does something” to him? How about when Raymond said he was “too old to tango”? Top two lines of dialogue for sure!


About Commentatrix

First-wave millennial.
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8 Responses to House of Cards 2.06: Mercury Rising, Samarium Not so Much

  1. taoreader says:

    These recaps are great, because I read them and go “Ohhhh so that’s what’s going on with Whimpy Prez and Evil VP and Major Dad. And the Chinese guy.”

    I am always in favor of More Claire. Never too much Claire.

    And Hot Lucas just looks like Regular Lucas to me, since he always struck me as kinda greasy. And I haaaate whatserface’s blonde hair.

    • Commentatrix says:

      I had a crush on Lucas once upon a time, a crush largely based on his cleanliness, curly hair and well-kempt apartment. But he may well have been kinda greasy all along! Who even knows anymore!

  2. Man, Robin Wright looks great in white button-down shirts.

  3. Lizrd says:

    Poor Lucas! I had high hopes for Tom writing a kick ass article. I mean that guy at least was a real journalist at some point. Also, Janine! I expected more from you! Lucas can’t survive in prison. Help a fellow journalist out! On the positive side, hopefully Lucas can spend his time in prison writing a poignant and funny memoir a la Piper Chapman.

    • Commentatrix says:

      Orange You Glad You Didn’t Foolishly Try to Expose Frank Underwood: The Lucas Goodwin Story

    • Yeah, I was hoping Tom would come through on that, too. Or, even without the article, at least get the sense that there’s something there and keep digging. Then maybe we could have an interesting plot line about how the Underwoods can’t control/contain everything. Instead, it’s more of the same. Maybe that’s the Rachel plot though…

      Also, maybe I missed it, but why the scheming against Christina? Is Claire just keeping her subterfuge skills sharp?

      • Commentatrix says:

        I don’t know, it’s kinda risky to be Janine and Tom at this point? I’m sure they both believe Lucas for the most part, but the evidence just isn’t there and clearly they are just dealing with too powerful an opponent. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a hero under normal circumstances, but I get it.

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