|Robin Wright at the London première|
PLOT SUMMARY: Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) remains in New York with photographer Adam Gallworthy (Ben Daniels) but it is clear she will return. Zoe (Kate Mara) begins to confide in Lucas about the older man she was sleeping with to get her leads. However, the focus of the episode is on the fragile mental state of the now disgraced Congressman Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) as he continues to drink, and guilt-ridden, hands himself into a police station. He is tracked down by Doug Stamper (Michael Kelley). Meanwhile Congressman Frank Underwood's (Kevin Spacey) long game is revealed: he will persuade the Vice President to step in as candidate for the Governor's seat; and will himself become Veep, hoping in time to launch a Presidential campaign. He calls in his favour from Vasquez (Sarakina Jaffrey) and also tempts her with implied senior office. To get his plan in motion, Frank stages Peter's suicide. It is unclear how complicit Doug is. As the episode ends, Claire is by Frank's side at a press conference mourning Peter's death.
COMMENTS: Carl Franklin (HIGH CRIMES) directs another emotionally heavy episode, where Frank's true schemes are revealed. The focus of the episode is Peter Russo's slide into a suicidal state and Frank calmly murdering him. As usual, I just love Corey Stoll's believable, tragic performance as Peter - a character whose bad choices and self-indulgence could have been unlikable and unforgivable. However, it is in this episode that I most feel the problems of Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood as compared with the Ian Richardson Francis Urquhart. In the British original, Urquhart was so manifestly evil that the grandeur of his plans and his murderous intent were no surprise. He didn't go from honest citizen to murderer in one fell swoop - rather he had committed feigned insider trading, pimped out secretaries and generally done nefarious deeds all the way through the series. This made him less plausible, perhaps, but made his final act of murder far less jarring. I looked at Frank Underwood, by contrast, and wondered if US viewers, unfamiliar with the original series, would have guessed that he would go to such lengths based on the information contained in the preceding ten episodes I'd be genuinely interested to hear what you all think. One final note about the bizarre opacity of Doug Stamper. How far do we think he was complicit in the plan from the beginning - from grooming the hooker, to tracking down Russo? And how far can his loyalty by questioned? If Claire rebelled, why not Doug? And how far does he know so much that Frank will have to murder him too? We are all set for a gripping denouement.
I am not familiar with the series this version is based on but I was shocked at how casually Frank murdered Peter. He was a flawed but likable character kind of felt sorry for him and he wasn't a threat to anyone but himself so I find it cold of Frank to have done that when Peter's life was already pretty much ruined.ReplyDelete
Couldn't agree more anonymous. First, given how mild Frank had been the murder seemed out of character. Second, what does it really achieve? In the original series the character is more openly mean, so it seems more in character, plus he has no other choice.ReplyDelete
Come on. It was clear that Peter could destroy everything and had to be eliminated. I enjoyed the slow burn of the scene in the parking garage as the audience slowly realizes what Frank is about to do and therefore what he is truly capable of.ReplyDelete
I don't think so. His credibility was destroyed. Even if he had the self-awareness to make any accusations they would've been seen as the deranged accusations of an addict. And frankly, I think suicide wasn't far off anyway.ReplyDelete
But my issue was less with whether or not Russo needed to be murdered as to whether the series has done enough to make it credible for Frank to do so, given what we'd seen of him to that point.
I too agree that the producers did not do enough to establish Frank's character as one that was capable of murder. I was surprised when I saw the direction the episode was going after Doug pulled Peter out of jail. To go from a lying, cheating manipulator to a cold, calculated killer was a big jump for one episode.ReplyDelete
I don't know the BBC version either and I couldn't agree more that this cold blooded murder came as a big surprise. I also think that how they tricked Peter back into misery seemed a little too easy (could they really trust Rachel that far?), but that's alright compared to this move. Does Claire know Frank as well as she says she does? What would that make her? Do they have more bodies buried in the cellar under that rowing machine? We'll have to see in the finale, I guess.ReplyDelete
Maybe Frank duped me too, but I interpreted his killing of Peter as more of a move that he felt needed to be made out of necessity. He said multiple times to Doug in the last episode and this one that the intention was for Peter to fall from from grace and then recover again... I don't think all of that could have possibly been posturing. Frank clearly has a long game but there is some maneuvering within that; it's not all planned. The killing struck me as more of the kind of go-with-the-flow, react-to-ongoing-circumstances move that if anything fits in perfectly with the caricature of Frank that the show has spent the entire season cultivating.ReplyDelete
@Matt - interesting points. I think we'll know if your thesis holds true in season 2 - if Frank is going to be more opportunistic then we should see more of this "go with the flow" type of action...ReplyDelete
I think this episode was the weakest link in the season. Peter Russo suicide was very easily accepted by public and police!!! I mean he was a congressman who was running for elections, he was missing for two days and he was found that in passenger's seat of his car! There ought to be some camera records that shows that he was not alone while entering the garage of the building!ReplyDelete
Couldn't agree more. I have the same issue with Homeland. How can Brody be out in hired cars dumping bodies without somebody cellphone videoing it?ReplyDelete
The murder made me think of the scene with the dog in the first episode and what he said back then...ReplyDelete
Frances Underwood's decision makes no sense, least of all because the difference in being a cold, manipulative politician to murderer is gargantuan, and poorly set up in the series.ReplyDelete
Suicide? Believable? With all the holes and weak spots in the set up? Let's see: Russo's in the passenger seat (weird), the D.C. pol who pulled Russo out of jail for Frank (knows too much), Stampa (knows too much), Rachel (knows a whole lot, and really, would Stampa put her through that, given how he's been portrayed), any fingerprint check will show that the car's been wiped down, Meachum (knows too...oh, you get it).
And besides, Russo's fall at the hotel wasn't believable, either. He'd shown far too much self-control and focus on the long game to be so easily tempted, on the eve of a huge victory (jobs for Philly, more campaign support).
Nah. Sorry. Very weak.