PLOT SUMMARY: As Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) prepares for a live TV interview with her new PR man Connor Ellis (Sam Page), Vice President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) scrambles for the votes to avoid the government shutdown. The trade is to accept a bump in the retirement age in five years time, and is brokered by the new Majority Whip Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker) and lobbyist Remy Danton (Mahershala Ali.) Jackie makes a ballsy move, refusing to trade for votes and demanding loyalty. Meanwhile, we get to know the hacker, Gavin Orsay (Jimmi Simpson), an FBI informant. A White House assistant opens an envelope apparently containing anthrax, causing an immediate evacuation of the Capitol. Frank is sequestered in his office with Donald Blythe (Reed Birney) - the Democratic congressman disappointed with him cutting education funding - as cell coverage is blocked and the vote is delayed. This forces Claire to do the live interview on her own, at Frank's urging, and with her reluctance. She describes a vivid memory of being taken by her father to Dealey Plaza. However, drawn on the question of why they don't have children, and she admits she had an abortion on live TV. Needing to justify why, she admits to having been raped by General Dalton McGinnis, to Frank's evident surprise. In the second ad break, Claire calls another victim of Dalton McGinnis who publicly accuses him. As the episode closes, Frank serenades Claire as they smoke on their steps.
COMMENTS: I'm not a massive fan of the device of the government lock-down, and I'm guessing that reintroducing Donald Blythe as a significant character will make more sense to viewers binge-watching seasons 1 and 2 concurrently. And as for Jimmi the supposedly hard-ass hacker - what a bag of over-the-top writing and nonsense - the face-slap, the "I keep a gerbil to remind me how close I am to death" line. Complete idiocy. Still, for all that the dynamite in this episode once again resides with Claire, and her explosive live interview revelations. Once again, it's chilling to see her exploit her rape, but then again, her attacker does deserve to be outed (although preferably this would've been in a court of law - it's not a perfect world.) The key question is how far Claire planned to make the accusation and how far Frank knew - it appears to have been spontaneous, but I guess we'll discover more. At any rate, this episode has radically changed my perception of their marriage - and the deep abiding connection they share.