Hullo, everybody! We’ve entered the home stretch! It’s the fifth-to-last episode of House of Cards! That means it will only take another month for this series of recaps to end! One month left! Can you believe it? What I’m saying is I’ll be wrapping this baby up just in time for Season 3 to premiere! LOL I kid, I kid! But also… I kinda feel like for sure post-production is about to start on it soon?
Anyway, Episode 9! Get your monogrammed hankies out, ’cause it’s a sad one!
The cold open is basically a day in the life of Freddy from the BBQ Joint. We’ve never before seen this character in such an intimate context, so this episode will definitely be significant for him in some way. There he is waking up at the butt crack of dawn. There he is doing some creaky stretches. There he is happily walking to work and greeting his neighbors. Aw! It’s already painful to watch because good people on this show just do not fare well, historically. But for now, at least, Freddy is in good spirits, as the recent newspaper profile of Frank has brought a lot of new business his way, as well as a promising franchise deal. (Spoiler alert: it falls through because of course it does.)
Also, unrelated, this:
And they say there are no jobs for women over 50 in Hollywood! But seriously, good on you, Jodes. You could certainly do worse!
Anyway, so Tommy Devine walks Freddy through the proposed franchise deal. Freddy stands to clear $95,000, no strings attached, just for agreeing to try this new venture. Seriously, there are NO STRINGS ATTACHED, as multiple characters are sure to reiterate over the course of the episode, which certainly activates our collective “other shoe dropping” instincts.
Tommy shows Freddy some mockups for the second restaurant, and it’s… er… how do I put this… super racist? It appears the investors want to sell the whole “experience” of Freddy’s, not just the ribs, meaning that they want the subsequent restaurants to have the same run-down back-alley look of the original. Freddy, whose decor aesthetic is not a quirky affectation but his actual life, is understandably not all that thrilled with the idea of signing off on what would be essentially a dinner and a minstrel show, just so “them white folks can feel like they slummin’.” Reluctantly, Freddy signs the contract.
It turns out that he has an estranged son and grandson whom he wants to help by taking this deal. The son is an ex-con in dire need of someone giving him a chance, while the grandson is an adorable rapscallion who could really use a stable adult influence in his life. This whole situation is ripe for its own imminent tragedy, is what I’m saying. Ugh, I don’t even want to keep writing about all this, because it’s just too sad!
Back at chez Underwood, Frank and Claire are still reeling from the story Remy has planted in the North American Tabloid for Salacious Rumors or whatever that make-believe publication is called. Seth and Doug are both there too and there is some tension there, right on schedule. Everyone has a different idea of a best course of action, but Claire says she wants to take care of it. Frank is doubtful at first but agrees to take a step back. He breaks the fourth to tell us that it’s Claire’s battle to fight and everyone should just trust her. Hahaha, gotcha! Of course he doesn’t say that. We’re talking about a Frank Underwood soliloquy here, guys! Today, his extended metaphor comes to us from the world of medical sciences: “This hurts us both, but it’s not my wound to suture,” he begins. “Claire must be the surgeon. Only she can stop the bleeding.”
Claire calls Adam, that perpetually open-collared walking cliche of a sexy middle-aged cosmopolitan artiste (how did Claire ever even like him??), to ask him to destroy the photo and publicly deny ever having taken it, OH BUT ALSO JUST A QUICK THING BEFORE I FORGET, can you send me a digital copy of the photograph because vaguely plausible reasons, pleeeeeeeez? He agrees, then they chat for a bit. It turns out that, to heal the gaping wound of Claire’s Season 1 abandonment, Adam spent three months in Bogotá (of course), where he met a new lady love. Her name is Inez (of courser), and now the two of them are living together in his supes trendy NYC loft (of coursest). Claire is classy about it, but she definitely makes a classic “I don’t want you, but I want you to want me” face on her end of the phone call. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.
For his press appearance, Adam comes out with his beautiful young Mexican friend from Colombia at his side and denies the photo and the affair, just like Claire asked. He is very convincing. Then, Claire and Frank take the stage. Claire is the picture of innocence in a girlish white dress, which contrasts nicely with her underhanded actions; instead of denying the photo/affair just like Adam did, she throws him under the bus and says that actually, he did take the photo, as Frank himself commissioned it as a portrait of his “so very beautiful” sleeping wife. Then they bring out the “portrait,” which they blew up, printed and framed on the fly from the digital file Adam sent over. Twist!
So convenient that the one photo Adam kept of Claire was such a classy one, right, guys? More on this later.
Adam is shocked and pissed. He calls Claire to tell her exactly how shocked and pissed he is. “It would have been too clean,” she tells him by way of explanation. She didn’t want the media to assume the two of them had been coordinating their stories. She wants him to give another statement to the press saying that he did take the photo and was too scared to say so at first. Because nothing puts a rumor to rest faster than someone giving a statement which they immediately recant. Come on, Claire, admit it. Part of you just hated knowing this poor bastard was actually happy without you. “I’m sorry I lied to you,” she says. “I wasn’t trying to be manipulative,” which is kind of like James Franco telling that 17-year-old he wasn’t trying to be skeevy.
Adam hangs up on her, and Claire goes to bed. “I think he’ll do the right thing,” she tells Frank. Frank, not one to rest on his wife’s anticipated laurels, calls over Doug and Seth instead to discuss other strategies. Doug and Seth disagree on the course of action, and the tension between them intensifies! “Watch yourself,” Doug warns Seth. “Upward mobility has a ceiling with the Underwoods. I’m the ceiling.” Doug, child, I love you to shreds, but how alpha dog can you really be if you have to explain to the other guy that you’re the alpha dog?
Meanwhile, Frank is watching it all from the window (sure) and is all like, “A little sibling rivalry between adopted boys is healthy,” or some such LOL-ery. You know, I really have to hand it to Kevin Spacey for delivering these monologues with such panache. Those lines + that accent = entertainment for days!
The next morning, Remy pays Adam a visit to blackmail him into turning on Claire. He threatens to make a call that will allegedly result in the Colombian government charging Inez’s father (a human rights activist) with treason. Mm-hmm. Sure. Adam caves and gives Remy yet another just-convenient-enough photo of Claire (or a Claire-lookalike) in a compromising position. This time she’s in the shower! My God, will this creeper stop at nothing? I defended him last week on this very blog for taking the sleeping photo, but no more! Even Claire is taken aback by this one!
Later, Seth hires a model to stage an identical photo as the one of Claire in order to show America how easy it is to make a fake photograph. Yawn. This whole situation actually makes very little sense because Adam was the one who denied the FIRST photo in the FIRST place, yet all of a sudden he decides that actually he wants to come clean about his and Claire’s affair?? I mean, why are the Underwoods even bothering to defend against this apparent liar’s allegations at all at this point?
Back at the BBQ Joint, Freddy and Darnell are cleaning up for the night, when Darnell pulls out a gun and gives it to Freddy for protection, prompting a very pointed lecture from father to son about the importance of Being Careful and Following the Rules and Not Getting Sent Back Inside. Darnell promises Freddy he will get rid of the gun. Ahhhh! You guys, I can’t take it!
Just as these two seem like they’ll be able to work things out, Raymond unleashes a new story about Freddy and a long-ago prison sentence served for crashing into a vehicle and accidentally killing two senior citizens during an armed robbery getaway. A true dick move that is intended to hurt Frank but will really hurt Freddy most of all.
Though Seth advises against it, Frank decides to hold a press conference addressing his relationship with Freddy and emphasizing his upstanding citizenship over the last two decades. “I won’t leave one of my own bleeding on the field,” he tells us. It’s nice to see Frank in a rare moment of loyalty, especially after he seemed so ready earlier to send either Seth or Doug “back to the orphanage,” but unfortunately shit just keeps getting worse.
The paparazzi intercept Freddy and Darnell on the street, prompting the latter to pull his gun out and threaten one of them. “Darnell! Parole!” Freddy yells, which is actually kind of silly, but it’s too late anyway, as a dozen or so photos have already been taken. And just like that, it’s over. Frank can no longer afford to stand by his rib man.
Frank goes to Freddy’s in secret to literally break up with him, and it is so sad! THEN Freddy reveals that his investors are pulling out of the franchise deal AND they are revoking the $95,000 on a “morality clause” technicality AND he’s selling the original Joint to pay for Darnell’s bail! Just a real Greek tragedy over here! You’ve gone too far, show! Frank offers to help Freddy with the money. “Don’t be prideful,” he says, which is such a low blow. “I’m not taking your guilt money,” Freddy replies. And that’s that. The end of a beautiful friendship primarily founded on ribs/money exchanges, but still.
Lastly, Adam gets brought in to the Underwood residence in secret.
Claire and Frank double-team him at first, Frank promising to get the charges against Inez’s father dropped, then Claire asks for a moment alone with Adam. We think maybe she might play the damsel, appeal to their shared romantic history and whatnot, but it’s quite the opposite. Adam is to go back on record and take the fall for everything, otherwise, Claire says, “I will bury you,” which reminds me: I wonder how Gillian Cole’s fetus is doing nowadays. In the end, Adam does her bidding, securing his future father-in-law’s freedom but losing Inez’s respect in the process.
Surprise, surprise, the Underwoods win again. Raymond is very angry and upset and calls Remy to yell at him for failing to destroy Frank. Then he kills a bird with his bare hand for making too much bird noise. So I guess — I GUESS — Raymond Tusk is not a very nice person?
Oh, and also, while Washington is all atwitter over the Underwood scandal, Ayla Sayyad continues to practice good journalism by dropping in on Raymond in St. Louis, probing him about his connection to Feng, the samarium subsidy, the Port Jefferson Bridge, et al. She is neither Zoe-flashy nor Lucas-dumb nor Janine-scared, just a solid, albeit still underdeveloped, reporter. Raymond is merely evasive at first but quickly starts bullying and making veiled threats — “America can be just as dangerous as Iran” — from just this side of Ayla’s personal space, because how else are you gonna make a line like that land, I guess.
And that was that! Next week: Jackie and Remy get made, Frank gets busted watching porn, and SHUT UP SHUT UP IT’S CASHEW OMG SO CUTE!