Thoughts: A short episode but an explosive one that was literally exhausting to watch. I loved the desperation on Lucas' face and the deadening inevitability of the actions taken. In a sense, it's perhaps surprising that the writers didn't use this plot point before but it's really fantastic to see it thrown in at such a delicate juncture. Because by the end of the episode, Claire basically has what she wants - no? There's also some brilliant comic deadpan dialogue between Claire and Luann: "What's that?" "My mother killing a lizard." And then the final coup de grace: "Watch your step. There's blood on the floor." All in all, I couldn't be happier with the way in which this season is unfolding. My only nitpick is the cloying obviousness of the cutesy moment between Frank and Meechum.
Running time: 41 minutes. Written by John Mankiewicz. Directed by Robin Wright.
Detailed and spoiler-filled plot summary:
Press secretary Seth Gordon tells President Frank Underwood that having his wife run for Vice President would be deeply unpopular. Doug Stamper tells Frank they should try to co-opt Claire's campaign manager Leann Harvey by offering her the position of being Frank's campaign manager instead. Both Frank and Stamper still suspect Seth. Afterwards Frank jokes and flirts with Meechum and Stamper confronts Seth about the KKK photo leak.
The Secretary of State outlines the plan to get Russian businessman Igor Milken back into Russia and to destabilise President Petrov. She remains deeply opposed to the plan. Stamper offers Leann the job but she claims loyalty to Claire. Leann shows her the negative research and Claire writes a personal note to Frank and has Leann take a plane to deliver it. It is a letter saying she will file for divorce on Super Tuesday. In retaliation Frank puts Claire on lockdown with no phone signal. She is essentially under house arrest.
Heather Dunbar calls the Attorney-General and passes on Lucas Goodwin's tip. She tells her that the President abused his office to get the Feds to put pressure on Lucas. The Attorney-General brushes Dunbar off.
Later Seth approaches Heather Dunbar's campaign manager about a job and she reveals that Lucas Goodwin approached them. We then move to a campaign rally where Lucas Goodwin attempts to assassinate the President. The gunman and Meechum kill each other and Frank is shot in the stomach and liver. Stamper and Seth fetch VP Donald Blythe and swear him in as acting president. Claire flies back to Washington with Elizabeth telling her she hopes he dies. Claire is going to support Blythe. The Acting President is then briefed on the Russian coup.
Claire visits Frank in hospital. Three quarters of his liver have been removed but it can regenerate. The press uncover the fact that the killer was Goodwin. Claire calls Meechum's mother. Stamper guilts Claire into persuading Blythe to back Frank's planned coup. With Claire's advice, Blythe intends to land Milken in China. They'll ask for drilling rights in Russia and make the USA the lesser of two evils. Stamper is furious.