Saturday, March 05, 2016

HOUSE OF CARDS - S4E11 - Chapter Fifty

Thoughts: Badass Freddy Hays - what a hero - the only man willing to tell the President he's a motherfucker but also to beat up the journalist who would bring him down! But beyond that we get to what is so strangely open and confident in the marriage of Claire and Frank with his offer to keep Tom on. They are a strong enough partnership that it can admit of a menage a trois. But isn't this fascinating ground that we already covered in seasons 1 and 2?  It feels like this series has taken Claire's storyline - that was all about her personal empowerment in season 3 and the first few episode of season 4 - and put her back exactly where she was. She works with and for Frank and he just throws her a live-in plaything to tend to her needs. Is this really the definition of a strong woman in the new millennium?  Even Doug Stamper's growing obsession with Laura Moretti feels rather stale.  With only two episodes left, one wonders where the surprise will be? Is it that Claire will break her partnership if Frank is impeached? All feels rather lacklustre. 

Running time: 51 minutes.Written by Tian Jun Gu. Directed by Kari Skogland.

Detailed and spoiler-filled plot summary:

President Frank Underwood and Vice President Claire Underwood are on the campaign trail in Louisiana. They are 12-14 points behind the Conroys and the doctors say Frank can't take an airplane more than once a week.  Frank needs to project strength in foreign policy to offset his lack of mobility.  In an aside to camera, Frank tells us that he has put a muzzle of failed nominee and Secretary of State, Cathy Durant, put won't hesitate to put her down if she becomes difficult. 

Frank's Chief of Staff Doug Stamper gets a call from the widow of Frank Moretti, the man who was denied a liver transplant on Doug's orders to save Frank.  She wants to meet him for coffee in gratitude. He listens to the message obsessively, as is his wont and later meets with her.

Journalist Tom Hammerschmidt meets in secret with Remy Danton at the site of the barbecue joint Frank used to finish.  Remy stonewalls.  It transpires that the Freddy Hayes, who ran that barbecue shack, is now employed in the White House.  Freddy tells him he's leaving to work elsewhere and when Frank asks him to cook him ribs as a send off Freddy is hugely offended. Tom then doorsteps Freddy.  Freddy responds my beating Tom up as he's not a snitch. Tom later meets with Remy. He agrees to do a classic ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN silence indicates you're on the right track confirmation. Tom takes the story to The Washington Herald and the owner, Margaret Tilden, tells him that if he cracks the story he'll be made Managing Editor again. (Note that Margaret is best friends with Cathy Durant.)

Claire discusses Tom Hays' speech for her and how saying the paragraph about love made in front of him made her uncomfortable. Nonetheless, visiting a family who have been trolled for supporting the Underwood, Claire publicly gives that part of the speech.  Later Claire calls to tell Frank that Tom isn't going to work on the campaign any more but that they don't need to worry about him. Tom later meets with Frank and admits the affair. He'll never betray Claire by publishing his book.  Frank tells Claire that Tom should stay on because he can give Claire things that Frank can't. 

Data analyst Aidan Macallan tells Frank's campaign manager Leann Harvey that Claire isn't having an impact. Later he meets with Frank and tells him that Claire's speech about love was a massive hit. "The Conways are everything everyone wants to be - you'e everything everyone wants to become."

The GOP ticket - Conroy and Brockhart - meet with an advisor that tells them to keep ICO in business till after the election. Brockhart is unimpressed by this cynical move.  Frank calls up Conroy and tells him he's being fed leaked information and that having Brockhart influence the Republicans to not have Russians go in is unpatriotic. If he continues, Frank will have to send in American troops instead. Conroy refuses and hangs up.

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