Welcome to the HOC episode you’ve been waiting for! The one everyone was talking about back in February! The one you didn’t want to miss, and other promotional-type phrases that would have probably aired had this been a regular television show on television! And you know what? Chronology be damned! There’s no way the opening screenshot of this recap could ever be something besides this:
Of course it’s no surprise that Frank is bisexual, what with the one very revelatory episode at The Citadel in Season 1, but I guess it is sort of surprising that Claire is aware of this? But given their no-secrets marriage, that’s not even it either! What’s really shocking is the way Claire orchestrated everything — the damsel in distress act, the broken glass that wounded Meechum’s hand, the getting him super drunk — to facilitate getting her husband laid. I don’t know if you guys remember, but the Underwoods have an UNCONVENTIONAL MARRIAGE. And this scene did a good job of showing that, because I feel weird about it! On the one hand, get it, Frank, I guess… On the other hand, the encounter has a little bit of the “drunk girl at the frat party” quality to it. Just the slightest bit of a rapey aftertaste. IDK. To paraphrase your grandma, this was some Hollywood tomfoolery right here.
But let’s rewind back to the beginning for the rest of the boring episode. Haha, it’s all boring compared to an ambiguous Meechum threesome, right? (Though I do think that Claire went to bed after the foreplay portion of the program ended.)
So if you remember from last week, Garrett had decided to bring in a special prosecutor to look into the matter with the Chinese money laundering through the Indian casino to allegedly influence American policy. The idea was to show everyone that the White House didn’t have anything to do with whatever happened and therefore has nothing to hide from the DOJ. Cool. So the special prosecutor Heather Dunbar, a dour-looking woman in a straight-laced suit and sporting a very no-nonsense hair bun is very on the case and very clearly all-business! Let’s see how that’s working out.
First off, Ayla Sayyad is suddenly very popular in Washington for having broken the story that shed the doubt on the Walker administration in the first place.
As for Frank, he is playing it very cool with Ms. Dunbar, assuring her that he and Daniel Lanagin never discussed super PAC funds during their meetings together. She then asks if the name Xander Feng means anything to Frank. “Other than being plastered all over the news, it means no more to me than Kim Kardashian,” Frank quips, winning over the entire interrogation panel, except for Dunbar, who gives everyone a look like she’s trying to buy a used car from Frank and now her friends just drove the price up by 2k by laughing at his lame joke.
But Dunbar is undeterred. She continues questioning Frank about any possible connections between the Port Jefferson Bridge and Xander Feng, Raymond Tusk and Daniel Lanagin, et cetera, et cetera, trying to find evidence of evildoing instead of simply questionabledoing, which is all she has right now. Frank denies everything, makes some more jokes intended to belittle her investigation, and then she hits him with her most damning piece of evidence yet, courtesy of Remy: a photo of Doug taken from the security cameras at Lanagin’s casino on the same day that the White House meeting re: the republican attack ads took place. And that’s not all. Dunbar also confronts Frank with flight records indicating that Doug flew to Beijing the very day after his casino visit. Yikes! Frank is finally speechless.
Back at the White House, Tricia drops a bomb of her own on Claire: she has decided to withdraw her support from the sexual assault bill. Claire does a spit take, pretty much. And with a New York Times interview on the horizon, no less! Is it because Tricia wants to distance herself from her and Frank because of the snowballing scandals they’ve been involved in seemingly the entire year? Tricia is like, “Pretty much,” but she’ll continue to help as much as she can, “quietly.”
Later, Frank meets with Garrett and the rest of the Cabinet and he is visibly nervous. He keeps rubbing his class ring finger, where the ring no longer resides, of course, having been buried many episodes ago in Spotsylvania, not long after Frank’s first secret meeting with Xander Feng, incidentally. Even Garrett comments on how fidgety he’s being. “I’ve never seen you so stressed, Frank,” he says. Frank brushes it off, but once alone, he rubs his face with his hands in the quintessential “I’m so screwed” body language. “I feel exposed,” he confesses. “Even Achilles was only as strong as his heel.” Good line!
Back at his office, Nancy (Frank’s once-again assistant whom he promoted in exchange for her informing on Jackie’s whereabouts in the last ep.) tells Frank that a package came for him. It’s the watch he gave Remy when Glendon Hill hired him away from Frank’s staff way back in the day. What could it mean?
Apparently it means that Remy is going full dark side. We next check in with him in California, as he pays Ted Havermeyer a visit to glean dirt on Jackie, under the guise of vetting her for future employment by his firm. Remember Ted? The guy Jackie back-stabbed to ensure her uncontested promotion to whip? Ted has a real bone to pick with Jackie and his life is really shitty, being forced to live all alone in his fancy mansion and whatnot, so he reveals to Remy all about how Jackie was the one who leaked the story about his secret daughter.
Armed with this new tidbit, Remy drops in on Jackie to blackmail her: either she tells Dunbar that Frank coached her on her testimony or he will leak the truth about how she really became whip. She tells him to go ahead, that she has no intention of perjuring herself, and if he does go through with his threat, it will confirm how little she ever meant to him. “I won’t be manipulated by Frank, and I sure as fuck won’t be manipulated by you,” she tells him.
Back in Washington, Frank tears into Doug for not being careful enough. “We’re not young men,” he tells him. “If we fail, we will die in a cage.” Doug is besides himself with regret and apologies. He’s not been himself, he confesses. It won’t happen again, he assures Frank. Frank decides to give Doug a “third chance,” as he puts it, and it’s actually really sweet because it’s obvious Frank both needs Doug, now more than ever, and cares about him in his own way. Doug could not be more grateful and even suggests to Frank that he should take the fall for everything. “That’s what having a staff is for,” he says. But Frank has a better idea, as it turns out; they’ll tell the truth. “Selectively.”
Later, Doug deletes Rachel from his phone, then destroys it, which of course sends an alert straight to Gavin’s lair.
Then Doug goes to make peace with Seth and enlists him to make sure there’s nothing incriminating in Frank’s flight records for the past several years. Phase Two of the plan is Frank telling Garrett that he intends to release his flight records to Dunbar as a “gesture of cooperation” and convincing Garrett to do the same with his own. Garrett is worried about his secret marriage counseling crossing Dunbar’s radar, but Frank assures him she won’t even be looking for that, so naturally, fiction’s lamest president ever agrees to turn over everything.
Meanwhile, Claire brings in a newly medicated Megan Hennessey to discuss being the new face of the sexual assault bill now that Claire is both a baby killer and an adulterer in the media and she’s lost Tricia Walker’s support to boot. “It’s hard to say no when I’m in your house,” Megan says. Point: Claire, I guess.
But Megan’s mental stability is short-lived. Though her interview with real-life political journalist Matt Bai goes very well, Megan returns to Claire’s a little TOO victorious, and her crazy-eyed enthusiasm isn’t lost on Claire. Within minutes, she symbolically spills her crazy pills all over Claire’s kitchen tile.
At the DOJ, Frank’s deception is in full swing. He admits to most of Dunbar’s suspicions, but says that he only lied about the back-channel with Feng because he had to protect the president, and Doug only visited the casino because Frank suspected something fishy was going between Lanagin and Feng, but certainly nothing Garrett Walker knew about. Dunbar is like, “I feel like I’m not getting the full picture,” and then Frank is like, “I’ll give you the full picture,” then presents her with his personal travel records going back 10 years as well as Garrett’s from the time he took office.
Meanwhile, Remy goes to see Raymond Tusk in — get this — his private gentleman’s beauty parlor and, in a surprisingly twist, lies about having gotten anything incriminating on Jackie from Ted. Awww! He loves her after all! Later, he meets with Frank in an empty church — sure — and promises to stop coming after him in exchange for his help. See, the watch that Remy sent Frank way in the beginning bore an inscription (“To improve is to change; to perfect is to change often”) and now he wants Frank to aid him in making a change. It turns out that his partners at Glendon Hill have essentially Don Draper-ed Remy (put him on paid leave as a precursor to terminating his partnership) because of the investigation, and now he wants to insure a future for himself, “whatever that may look like.” Frank asks if this has anything to do with Jackie, and Remy makes a constipated face like maybe it does, but he just says, “That’s over.” Oh, Remy! Your mouth say one thing, but your eyes say another!
By the time Frank gets home that night, Claire has already done her wifely prep work and all but serves Meechum on a platter. “I slept like a baby,” Frank tells her the morning after. “Good,” she replies. “You needed that.” THESE TWO!
Lastly, Doug drives over to Rachel’s for who knows what reason but doesn’t go in because he hears sexy noises coming from inside her apartment. And because I promised you guys an additional icky last week, Doug goes around the building and, like a gross peeping tom, watches (through the completely unobstructed window!) as Rachel and Lisa go full on Blue Is the Warmest Color.
Also, Garrett takes a prescription pill in secret, and Heather Dunbar’s crony alerts her to the recurring meetings Garrett and Tricia have been making to their dying friend. The end!
Next time, we will discuss the Spoiler/Spoiler brokup! It’s like a breakup but between bros!