House of Cards Season 3, Chapter 33 Summary – A Presidential Marriage
This episode opens with Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and Claire (Robin Wright) renewing their married vows in a private church. The scene then flashes back one month earlier, on Air Force One from the ending of the previous episode, when they are bringing Michael Corrigan’s body back after his Russian cell suicide.
The Underwoods arrive back at the White House both going to their respective rooms to sleep, further showing the widening chasm between Frank and Claire.
Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) and Gavin Orsay (Jimmi Simpson) meet at a diner. Gavin has found Rachel in Santa Fe. Doug is obsessed over seeing her and asks for the signal camera feeds. Doug makes an appearance at this physical therapist going away party. She makes a pass at him and he winds up staying the night.
The scene changes to the President studying a huge Sanskrit being put together by a few guest Buddhist and Hindu monks. They are building a sand mandalas in the center of the White House. The sand painting will take a full month and the episode keeps reflecting back to it to show the process of time.
Frank talks with his senor staff about Congress’ disapproval of his forced American Works program. Bipartisan side of Congress are against it. As Frank and Claire struggle through their differences, they are sitting for the Presidential portrait as Claire tries to recover the Russian debacle through the U.N. The photographer asks for a little more of a smile, Frank has trouble complying. The Underwoods are truly struggling.
President Underwood continues to talk with Thomas Yates (Paul Sparks), who is writing his autobiography and propaganda for the America Works story. Frank dodges a lot of questions from Thomas. Mr. Yates complains and says the only time Frank ever told the truth was when they were drinking one night in the residence of the White House. Back then, Thomas asks “Why don’t you sleep in the same room?” To gain confidence with the President, Yates shares that he didn’t write Scorpio, the book he is famous for. At that point the President starts sharing real truth with Thomas and that he is having marriage problems and doesn’t deserve Claire.
Next during a cabinet meeting featuring round table discussion with heads of state, Frank and Claire get into a public argument on how to handing the U.N. problem. Their conflict escalates over a smoke in the oval office, they further argue it out.
After President Frank Underwood’s radio address, he decides to visit the FDR memorial. The significance is suppose to be the promotion of his American Works on the 80th anniversary of Social Security.
Instead he observes that the statues of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt are separated by a wall. This wall is symbolic of the wall between Frank and Clarie. They decide to renew their marriage vows and unite again as a team. The tide finally begins to turn, as Claire confronts the Israel ambassador to support the U.N. vote.
Your held a gun and somebody told you where to stand. Don’t confuse that with burden the Commander and Chief faces.
The monks finish there sand painting. They then clean it up and go home. Completing the circle, Frank gives Claire a picture of the sand painting. Touched by the gesture, she moves back into his room.
Fred Campos’ Thoughts on the Episode
This episode focuses on the tough emotional side of being married to the President. Frank and Claire start at a complete disconnect caused by Claire’s stance against Russian in regards to Matthew Corrigan. It also shows that no one can complete their goals as separate individuals, but rather can accomplish much by working together. Relationship have deep secrets, whether a hidden identity of Rachel from Dong, or the point that Scorpio wasn’t completely written by Thomas Yates.
The monks working tirelessly together for something as beautiful as a brief picture. Their work symbolizes the relationship of Claire and Frank. The soothing chats are a great contracts to the turmoil the Underwoods go through in their individual work. I think this contrast shows that it takes unified work, focus, and time from all parties to make any relationship work. Be it a marriage or a country ally.
Four Stars for Chapter 33.
Images from Netflix.com House of Cards.