Tuesday, May 30, 2017

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 E13 CHAPTER 65 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY: In the pre-credits sequence, President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) blackmails Congressman Romero to drop the congressional investigation.

In private, Vice President Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) is angry with Frank for not sharing his gameplan.  He tells her that his resignation was not a last minute decision but part of a long-run plan since Elysian Fields. He has realised that the real power is not in the White House but in the powerful forces who control it. Therefore the most powerful combination is for Frank to control the private sector influence on the WH and for Claire to be running it. She resents him telling her that he made her the President and tells her she has to pardon him for all his crimes once she's President.  She says she could be impeached for it.  Frank also reveals that he was the leak all along via his Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly). She tells him to shut down the surveillance and that she killed her ex-lover Tom Yates.  He tells her he'll do that as soon as she pardons him and that she'll have to pardon Doug too at a later date.

Claire then tells Special Adviser Mark Usher (Campbell Scott) about the death of Tom Yates in his house.  

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 E12 CHAPTER 64 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY: In the pre-credits sequence, President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) pushes Secretary of State Cathy Durant into a serious fall to prevent her testifying against him.  The Underwoods' Special Adviser Mark Usher (Campbell Scott) learns that the House is preparing to impeach Frank.

Vice President Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) receives a note from her ex-lover Tom Yates (Paul Sparks).  Jane Davies (Patricia Clarkson) gives her a herbal remedy for her migraine but says Claire needs to be careful with the dosing.

Ex campaign manager Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) tells Frank about Aidan McAllan and is rewarded with a job.  Frank reveals to his Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) that he doesn't fully trust Leann. Later Jane Davies asks her to hand over the evidence Aidan gave her but she refuses. 

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 E11 CHAPTER 63 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY: In the pre-credits sequence, journalist Tom Hammserschmidt (Boris McGiver) and press secretary Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) debate the impact of ex President Walker's testimony to Congress. Hammerschmidt claims that President and Vice President Underwood (Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright) are close to impeachment.  After the credits we see Secretary of State Cathy Durant discussing immunity with her lawyer over lunch before being joined by Jane Davies (Patricia Clarkson).  Jane makes overtures and asks Cathy if Claire could survive and become President.  

Meanwhile the Underwoods decide to attack Walker's credibility.  But the stress causes Frank to lash out at Claire who has more chance of survival.  Radically, she then breaks the fourth wall for the first time in the series and explains that she knew the audience was there the whole time but feels ambivalent about it.  The Underwoods then tell Usher that Frank is willing to accept Censure. Claire also tells Usher that she won't stay out of it, but will support Frank.

Claire asks her lover Tom Yates (Paul Sparks) to leave the White House.  Frank's creepy ex-personal trainer Eric declares his love for Frank.

Alex Romero tells the Underwoods special adviser Mark Usher (Campbell Scott) that he has become an Independent and is now sitting on the Congressional Committee investigating Frank.

Meanwhile, ex campaign manager Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) enquires as to whether Aidan McAllan (Damian Young)'s death was suicide or murder. 

Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) discovers that it's Seth Grayson who's leaking against Frank and that Cathy Durant is loyal. He also discovers that McAllan left something for Harvey.  Stamper reveals to Claire that Frank had him follow Tom. In response she warns him off seeing Laura Moretti, the woman he has been sleeping with.  Stamper then tells Moretti he's the reason her husband was killed. But Moretti is sanguine about the news.  Stamper then goes to Leann Harvey's house to tell her he's been watching her.  She seduces him.  We realise that Frank is watching through Leann's laptop cam.

We, and Hammerschmidt, learn that although seemingly loyal, Cathy Durant will testify against the Underwoods. Moreover, he is sent an anonymous thumb drive - perhaps from McAllan?

Finally, Stamper and Frank share their concerns about Claire's loyalty. 

COMMENTS: The shifting power is indicated by Claire breaking the fourth wall. I'm still ambivalent about this. I also feel that the odds are so stacked against the Underwoods that it would be incredible for them to survive. 

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 E10 CHAPTER 62 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY: President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) discusses Congressman Romero's Declaration of War Committee with Special Adviser  Mark Usher (Campbell Scott) and Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly).  Usher uses a press leak to get Jackie Sharp not plead the fifth. 

Jane Davies (Patricia Clarkson) tells the Underwoods that IT specialist Aidan McAllan (Damian Young) is being interrogated in Jordan but has not given up any information.  Jane then meets former Underwood campaign manager Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) and tells her that he's alive but being held for information.  Leann then goes straight to Claire and tells her what Jane said in order to curry favour.  Claire confronts Jane who retains her cool. Jane also tips the President to an attack on Homs, suggests he draw a "line in the sand" before it, to justify a massive troop invasion afterward. This would also distract the Declaration of War Committee.

The Underwoods ask both Usher and Davies for their opinions on each other and both are negative. It emerges that Usher was also backing Romero as a future GOP Presidential candidate and the Underwoods demand he declare his loyalty to them.  Frank then meets with ex President Walker against Claire's advice and Walker straight up accuses Frank of stealing the Presidency.  He then throws Frank under the bus in the Congressional committee.

Doug tracks down the junkie that journalist Tom Hammserschmidt (Boris McGiver) was speaking to and sends a message to Rachel to come home.

Claire confesses to her lover Tom Yates (Paul Sparks) that Frank killed Zoe Barnes.

Aidan McAllan (Damian Young) meets Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) in a parking garage and once more asks her to leave with him. She refuses but gives him a gun. Later she gets an email indicating that he's dead with a link to some files.  He has been shot in the eye. 

COMMENTS: It's hard to see how Frank gets out of Walker's testimony but they always do. It's also hard to believe that Claire has really fallen for Tom to the extent that she confesses to him. This is the jump the shark moment for me.

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 E9 CHAPTER 61 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY: The election is finally over.  President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) won Ohio and thus the election against Republican candidate Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman).  Conway's old campaign manager Mark Usher (Campbell Scott) is appointed Special Advisor to the President replacing the Underwoods' former campaign manager Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell). The Vice President Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) sacks speechwriter Tom Yates (Paul Sparks) but still wants to see him.  The Underwoods are using Jane Davis (Patricia Clarkson) to assassinate IT specialist Aidan McAllan (Damian Young) and know this will put them in her debt.  Journalist Kate Baldwin (Kim Dickens) goes to Russia to interview Aidan and tells him that Leann has been forced out of power.  He calls her and tries to persuade her to come to Russia but she refuses and tells her people are coming to assassinate him.  However, Jane and the Underwoods are actually taking him to Jordan to be interrogated. 

As they are about to attend the White House Inaugural Ball, Frank's creepy personal trainer Eric makes a move on him and Frank quasi-threatens him in return.  Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) escorts him from the ball. Separately, a scorned congressman says he's going to attempt to resurrect the Republican's investigations into the Underwoods.  Frank warns Tom Yates not to cheat on his wife. 

White House Press Secretary Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) tries to contact Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) but fails. Tom now has the video tape of the moment Frank killed Zoe Barnes in a metro station but the evidence is inconclusive. Tom calls Zoe's father but he doesn't want to get involved before turning up at Tom's office. 

COMMENTS: A holding episode at best. It's hard to ignore the suspicion that it exists merely so that series creator and episode writer Beau Willimon could give Frank a breaking the fourth wall speech chiding the American voters for electing Trump. Otherwise, from a narrative pacing point of view one would've picked up a few months into the new administration.

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 E8 CHAPTER 60 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY: Former  President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) attends a cultish private gentleman's club called Elysian Fields to influence the vote in Ohio.  It turns out that Republican presidential candidate Will Conway's (Joel Kinnaman) campaign manager Mark Usher (Campbell Scott) is present but not Conway.  Usher clearly states that Veep hopeful General Brockaw is the better politician than Conway. Frank impresses the Elysian members and humbles Brockaw with his rhetoric.  

A Russian boat looking for oil in Antartica is in trouble. The US is in a position to help and Claire tries to do this in exchange for IT specialist Aidan McAllan (Damian Young).  The Chinese tell Jane Davis (Patricia Clarkson) that there's an American on board the boat.  Davis tries to broker a deal to save the boat, but Claire refuses to acquiesce to the Chinese demands. The Chinese eventually save the boat. Jane reveals that both the Russians and Chinese wanted the American who was on the boat. 

Frank gets out of the Elysian retreat and he and Claire listen to the audio of Conway threatening the pilot. They reach out to Mark Usher to lure him away from Conway. 

Meanwhile, speechwriter Tom Yates (Paul Sparks) tells Claire he loves her and she says he might love him back.  Doug and Frank plan Conway's downfall. 

COMMENTS: "I work with everybody." So Jane Davies remains fascinating. But ask yourself - if Tom Yates were written out of this season would it make any difference? And how on earth can Claire like him at all. This has to be an act!

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 E7 CHAPTER 59 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY: In private, Acting President Claire Underwood and former  President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) argue about the best strategy to defeat Conway. In front of the Joint Chiefs, they once again argue about taking out a suspected terrorist. 

Republican presidential candidate Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman) looks fragile. His campaign manager Mark Usher (Campbell Scott) is protecting him from appearances.  Conway's wife suspects that Usher really favours the VP candidate Brockaw.

Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) speaks with Secretary of State Catherine Durant  about Aidan McAllan (Damian Young) and Cathy suspects that Aidan has dirt on the Underwoods. Cathy then introduces Leann to Jane Davies (Patricia Clarkson) the deputy secretary for commerce. Almost immediately, the President and Acting President, Cathy and Jane are put under lockdown because of a missing truck carrying nuclear waste i.e. a dirty bomb.  As a result, the two state election is postponed without the press being informed why.  Jane offers to ask her contacts about the bomb.  Claire is suspicious as to her level of security clearance. Jane then makes a phone call in private in Arabic and appears to offer Claire the terrorist.   Frank gets out of the bunker and confronts one of the Generals who chose to stay above ground. He accuses her of being involved in a coup and faking the terror threat.  Immediately, Claire gets a call saying the truck has been found and it was simply an accident.  Later, Frank is given photographs of speechwriter Tom Yates (Paul Sparks) having sex with the White House tour guide in the press room.

Meanwhile Tom Hammerschmidt's sidekick starts interviewing the woman Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is sleeping with, while Tom (Boris McGiver) follows up other leads. Doug realises the investigation has resumed. 

Finally the Underwoods meet with Mark Usher.  Realising his part in the attempted coup given his ties to Vice Presidential candidate Brockaw, they play him a recording of Brockaw apparently saying he would not obey an order from President Underwood to put soldiers on the ground.

COMMENTS: Well it appears that Patricia Clarkson is the hinge upon which this series turns.  At last, a potentially interesting, powerful and slippery antagonist for the Underwoods.  Also we get a great Underwood victory in the final scene.  Bravo!

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 E6 CHAPTER 58 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY: First Lady and Vice Presidential candidate Claire Underwood is sworn in as Acting President while the House continues to vote on whether  President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) or Republican Presidential candidate Governor Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman) should be President.  Claire hesitates over giving Frank security clearance. She frankly asks her campaign manager Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) about Frank's chances in a revote in all 50 states vs in the House. She replies that a revote in just Tennessee and Ohio is his best shot but it wouldn't be what was best for Claire. Nonetheless, Claire proposes the two state vote but is clearly concerned.

An apparently Russian force has occupied a US base in Antartica.  The Russians deny the troops belong to them.  Secretary of State Catherine Durant lobbies Congress to pass sanctions on oligarchs stating that a vote for the measure is not a vote for the Underwoods who may not be around in a week.  The Russian President then reveals that he has custody of IT specialist Aidan McAllan (Damian Young).

We discover that Frank's new personal trainer is his creepy fanboy Eric. 

Meanwhile, Conway's campaign manager Mark Usher (Campbell Scott) is trying to woo the Congressional Black Caucus. If they can win their support, Conway will be President.  However, he comes across as arrogant and out of touch.  A frustrated Conway tries to bully the pilot of his private jet to allow him to fly the plane.  When he fails he loses his temper. Mark is able to talk him down. Mark then brokers a deal for a new Supreme Court justice and also agrees to the new two state election so long as its for both President and Veep. In other words, Claire needs to formally step down.  Frank is livid. 

Elsewhere, journalist Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) continues to block the investigation of the woman who claims she can pin Rachel Posner's murder on Doug Stamper.  However, his sidekick follows up the lead and Hammerschmidt reopens his investigation.

The bored and frustrated speechwriter Tom Yates (Paul Sparks) has sex with a White House tour guide in the press briefing room.

The episode ends of Will Conway's wife looking at him clearly disturbed by playing the virtual reality first person shooter game and Frank on the floor stretching out his back. Claire bluntly tells Frank that he would have lost the House vote. He insults Claire as merely an Acting President. 

COMMENTS:  Another basically dull episode showing Claire in the ascendant. The only hope is that the writers really push the fragility of Conway for some dramatic excitement. Words cannot describe how bored I am by the Rachel murder investigation though.

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 E5 CHAPTER 57 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY: Nine weeks later, and President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) breaks the fourth wall to tell us that two states refused to certify and so there has been no result. The Supreme Court is down a member and in deadlock and government is crippled. As in the last season of Veep, the vote therefore transfers to the House per the twelfth amendment by simple majority.  Meanwhile protestors barrack the White House.  

Inside the White House Frank meets the strange man called Eric who is an actor, personal trainer and military history recruiter. He is clearly a mentally unstable and obsessed with Frank.  Vice Presidential candidate and First Lady Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) meets with Underwoods campaign manager Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell).  Leann tells Claire that Frank's approval rating is just 19pc whereas Claire's is 30pc; that there's resistance to a simultaneous vote for President and Vice President and that Claire should consider what happens in the event of a split ticket. This view is  later echoed by Republican supporters and Claire seems open to a split ticket. Even the current Vice President tries to flatter Claire into breaking away from Frank. 

Meanwhile, Leann has tracked IT specialist Aidan McAllan to Jakarta. He then phones her and asks her to join him. He also threatens to leak information on the Underwoods unless she calls off the FBI search. She confides in Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) but he appears reluctant to act. 

Republican candidate Governor Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman) is playing a military first person shooter and is clearly emotionally disturbed by it.

A woman comes forward to journalist Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) with a story about Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) but he doubts her. Later, Doug hooks up with the woman who left him earlier for not being present.   Doug then tells Frank that he's having trouble threatening people into giving him the requisite 26 votes. Frank lashes out at a clearly shocked Doug but then apologises.

COMMENTS: "Meet your new daddy". Well this was a dull episode - again - which can be compressed into two things - Claire is now the popular force, and Aidan is a problem.  It feels to me like their is no menace in this season. The murders in prior seasons are distant lurking threats but one doesn't feel as if Frank could literally kill someone now.  Even Tom Hammerschmidt seems bored by those early plot lines.  There are no worthy antagonists - Conway is a psychological wreck - and no fascinating psychological dramas. Even Doug Stamper's sexual liaisons seem tame compared to previous seasons. Five episodes in, one wonders if this really is the impact of Beau Willamon leaving?  

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 E4 CHAPTER 56 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY: The day of the Presidential election arrives and turnout is surprisingly low. Republican candidate Governor Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman) and his campaign manager Mark Usher (Campbell Scott) are quietly confident and Will's wife proceeds to "fuck the president".

President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) gets what appears to be a genuine terrorist attack tip on a voting centre and warns the relevant Governor. The attack occurs and Claire addresses the nation telling the electorate that it is their duty to get out and vote, hoping to reverse the low voter turnout.  Usher calls the Governor of Tennessee offering extra security but the terrorist attack occurs nonetheless. Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) bullies the Ohio Governor into closing voting booths with manufactured intel from IT specialist Aidan McAllan (Damian Young) in order to counter gains for Conway in the South, previously Underwoods base.  That said, Frank calls Conway to concede but refuses to do so in public just yet. 

In the early hours of the next morning we learn that there are lawsuits alleging electoral malpractice in almost every state holding up the result. Aidan McAllan texts Leann to say he can no longer work for the Underwoods.

COMMENTS: "The American people don't know what's best for them.  I do.  I  know exactly what they need. They are like little children, Claire.  The children we never had. We have to hold their sticky fingers and wipe their filthy mouths. Teach them right from wrong. Tell them what to think and what to feel and what to want. They even need help writing their wildest dreams and crafting their worst fears. Lucky for them, they have me. They have you. Underwoods. Underwoods 2016, 2020, 2024, 2028, 2032, 2036. One nation Underwood."  And finally -  finally we get the diabolical Frank we always wanted!  A man willing to violate term limits in order to forestall the inevitable election loss.  And yet apart from the last five minutes of the episode this was still fairly dull.  

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 EP 3 CHAPTER 55 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY: It's the day before the Presidential election.  We open on a campaign ad for Republican Presidential candidate Governor Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman). It outlines the heroic act of valour that won him military honours.  Will then accuses President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) of failing to keep the country safe in a live stream.  A public questioner asks why the terrorist Josh Masterson wanted to talk to Will and why he only managed to negotiate the release of Mrs Miller and the daughter rather than the husband who was then beheaded.  A survivor of the attack calls in but can't get Conway to admit that he lied about the event in Afghanistan. We realise that the Underwoods campaign manager Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) is behind it, but with little apparent success. Conway also brings a new manager on board - Mark Usher (Campbell Scott.)

First lady and Vice Presidential candidate Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) addresses a campaign rally. She then joins Frank for another one. He's losing his voice but refuses her help in a patronising manner. Back on Air Force One, Claire receives information from the Secret Service that the sleeping Frank asked for on a suspicious looking man in the crowd.   Once landed, Secretary of State Cathy Durant (Jayne Atkinson) gives Frank four options of people to arrest that could be the ICO terrorist.  He is reluctant to arrest the wrong person on election day. Doug then brings him information on Conway's "heroic" act.  Much later, Claire wakes up to see Frank awake and fully dressed.  He phones Conway to say he shouldn't feel ashamed about whatever happened in Afghanistan. 

Meanwhile Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) chides the ex-Vice President and now Governor in a swing state for failing to implement voter centres.  Stamper accuses him of making excuses and lying and he agrees to comply.  Later Doug has a casual hook up but she leaves because he's not present in the room.

The morning of the elections, campaign manager Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) gets the early numbers and they're not good for the Underwoods. Nonetheless they are defiant.

COMMENTS: Given that this was the pre-election episode I found it frustrating and dull. The Underwoods didn't really have anything on Conway who is bland as a antagonist.  They are basically united.  The pullback to Claire's lover in her bed is no longer shocking as we are used to their open marriage.  The testimony of the press secretary came to nothing. And there are no consequences to the IT attack yet.  A complete non episode with the exception of a rather nice and creepy tracking shot round the corner of Doug's bedroom. The theme of frustration continues - both in terms of Doug's hookup's sexual frustration and Claire's political frustration at not being Veep yet, and one suspects, not being President yet. 

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 E2 CHAPTER 54 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY: Press Secretary Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) takes part in a conversation with that confirms that Remy Danton is hiring lawyers to give testimony against Frank but that former Vice President Garrett Walker will not so as not to damage the party.  Grayson later offers to testify privately to the committee in exchange for immunity.

Vice Presidential candidate Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) attends a public event announcing that all MTA workers will be given gas masks, continuing to elevate the climate of fear. She is cornered by Ken Caswell who complains that the President won't return his calls, and who tells her that one of Frank's ex homosexual lovers, Tim, has gone missing in suspicious circumstances. She threatens him but later criticises Frank for leaving loose ends undone. She expresses sympathy for Frank's loss but he tells her she's the only person he's truly loved before calling to sympathise with Tim's wife and burning all the evidence of their relationship.

President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) addresses a room full of Governors. He breaks the fourth wall and tells us he's swelling their National Guard in order to create "safe voting spaces".  He's particularly flattering to the five Governors of key swing states. Later, the Underwood's Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) rounds up Governors where they've apparently received terrorist threats, that just happen to be in his opponents strongholds. Effectively the Underwoods are engineering voter suppression.  

Campaign manager Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) and speechwriter Tom Yates (Paul Sparks) watch the current Vice President and Secretary of State Cathy Durant (Jayne Atkinson) try to explain the new border restrictions to a congressional committee. Alone, Cathy suggests resigning in protest but the VP refuses. 

Meanwhile, at the NSA, the IT specialist who secretly helped the Underwoods, Aidan McAllan (Damian Young), realises that some investigators have arrived and could be on his trail.  He tells Frank that he needs to hack a NSA system that covers a lot of Washington traffic to cover his tracks.  The apparent cyber attack convinces the wavering governors to take Frank's funds. Frank stalls on letting McAllan send the fix so McAllan secretly gives the NSA the fix anyway.  Frank goes on air and tells people that Congress must now approve his declaration of war given the ongoing terrorist attacks. 

Finally Republican Presidential candidate Governor Will Conroy (Joel Kinnaman) warns a supporter not to bring up the details of his military record in the press.

COMMENTS: Still laying the pipework for the season - the literal sexual frustration of Tom Yates felt clumsy but I very much liked the fake cyber attack storyline.  In addition, perhaps the most stylish episode ending thus far is the camera's slow pull back to halloween pumpkins carved with the faces of Frank and Claire. It's also ironic that where in the real world it's typically the GOP accused of voter suppression, here's it's a Democratic President doing so.

HOUSE OF CARDS S5 E1 CHAPTER 53 - Plot summary and comments

PLOT SUMMARY:  Series 5 opens with President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) fighting an election against Will Conroy (Joel Kinnaman). He's also fighting to avoid congressional inquiries and to battle the accusations regarding the Zoe Barnes murder in an article written by Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver).  He has however successfully suppressed the publication of Thomas Yates (Paul Sparks) tell all book by having Claire sleep with him.  

At the end of last season a terrorist called Josh Masterson (Jefferson White) beheaded a man called Miller before going on the run. At the start of this season, Miller's daughter publicly blames the President for his death at the funeral. She also hopes Frank dies and this wife, Vice Presidential candidate and current First Lady Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) will become President instead.  In response to the terrorist attack, Frank declared war on terrorism, whips up a climate of hate, fear and eavesdropping on family and colleagues, and has severely restricted immigration.  Secretary of State Catherine Durant (Jayne Atkinson) speaks to the chaos this is causing. 

Conroy decides not to oppose the declaration of war but wants to focus on the article's accusations against Frank.  However he is aghast when his wife Hannah (Dominique McElligot) expresses public sympathy with the terrorist and asks for understanding. In response, Claire Underwood speaks to the terrorist's mother, tries to make her take the blame and to show her the video of the beheading. In response Mrs Mastersen publicly asks her son to turn himself in.

Meanwhile Claire's campaign manager Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) needs Aidan McAllan (Damian Young) to break into the NSA and erase the traces of his previous work designed to track which words and ideas voters responded to by illegally tracking their social media and phone conversations. 

In the final scene, Frank breaks the fourth wall and reveals that he had Joshua Masterson in custody the entire time. 

COMMENTS:  This is the first season of HOC without the original creator, Beau Willamon, as show runner. It's too early to tell how his replacements, playwrights Melissa James Gibson and Frank Pugliese will change the tone but so far it's very similar. The only difference I detected was perhaps even darker cinematography for Frank and Claire from DP David M Dunlap - perhaps reflecting their descent into chaos and fear to distract from their political troubles.  Of course, this series will suffer from real life overtaking fiction.  I found the scene between Cathy and Frank rather too on the nose in criticising Trump's immigration policy. However, it's hard to know how far the show can avoid the overlaps given it's set up of terrorism as a major theme last season.