|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.