House of Cards Season 3, Chapter 31 Summary – War on Congress
This episode opens with Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), reviewing the Stafford Act to see if he can declare a state of emergency to rob the FEMA disaster relief fund. He wants to steal this money to fund his otherwise defunct American Works program. Frank gets the Mayor of District of Columbia, Barney Hall, to go along with it. He then fires the Secretary of Homeland Security and has FEMA report directly to him.
Meanwhile Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel), wastes no time in moving her presidential nomination forward. Appearing with Michael Corrigan’s husband on a morning talk show, she gather’s gay votes. Panning back from the television screen, we see Doug Stamper gaining strength through his physical therapy, anxious to get back in the political game. Doug does ending up in Heather’s office wanting to join and help her campaign. Heather is uncertain of his motives until he recommends an excellent foreign policy director and offers a folder of secrets on Claire Underwood.
The President meets with Jacqueline “Jackie” Sharp (Molly Parker), his loyal Majority Whip from Season 2. With promises of vice-presidency when he runs, he asks her to run against Heather Dunbar. His plan is to have her drop from the ticket later, thus forcing Frank to run in her place. To give validity to her campaign, Jackie decides to marry to make a good showing for the voter.
We get introduced to Kate Baldwin (Kim Dickens), she is from the Telegraphs London bureau and Ayla Sayyad’s replacement, whom Seth Grayson (Derick Cicil) fired previous. She confronts Seth privately saying she is going to push back twice as hard since he can’t fire two women from the press back to back. Kate not missing a beat is slowly uncovering the story of Frank’s plan to steal money but cannot get anyone to go on record. However, Arnold Silva the deployment brains inside FEMA gives her a copy of the upcoming FEMA prediction of hurricanes. Thus the number of people hurt with a now underfunded FEMA relief. This information shows up as two articles on the front page of the Washington paper the next morning. Continuing to under mind Frank and showing the press power of this great new character.
Frank gets some edit help from Claire on his American Works speech and we see some touching moments that perhaps their relationship is continuing to heal. (They currently sleep in separate beds.) After Claire realizes she cannot get her U.N. resolution passed without troops, she returns to Francis who agrees to put in troops to help her negotiations.
Clarie, with Frank’s 5,000 troops, plays a fantastic power play by requesting the Russian Ambassador to meet her in the ladies bathroom. While talking to the ambassador and using the facilities, she breaks the news of the troop to cause him to back down. He will release Michael Corgan, and this will occur not between them, but rather “president to president.”
Frank has a moment of clarity and decides to write a story to the general public. To write his story, he taps Thomas Yates (Paul Sparks), a novelist who is promised complete access by the president. The story will be complete propaganda of Frank’s life reflecting and promoting American Works.
No writer worth his salt can resist a good story. Just as no politician can resist making promises he can’t keep.
As the evening of July 4th comes to a close, it appears that Frank’s all day American Works project is a success. As the camera pulls away, we see none other than Freddy Hayes (Reg E. Cathey), former owner of Freddy’s BBQ, in line seeking a job.
Fred Campos’ Thoughts on the Episode
In previous episodes it appears that everything that possibly could go wrong for the Underwoods does. Finally about halfway through the series we see a tiny victory for Clarie. I think the bathroom scene with the Russian Ambassador is extremely powerful and classy.
I am unclear whether Doug wants to be a mole for the President or will turn into another problem Frank will have to overcome. I love the development of two new characters, Kate Balwin and Thomas Yates. Will Jackie Sharp be Frank’s loyal VP? I cannot believe she would marry just to aid her crazy run against Heather. How is this going to affect her on/off again relationship with Chief of Staff, Remy Danton?
Or will Jackie double cross Frank and be a real competitor? What about Heather Dunbar? What will Frank have to do to overcome Heather’s campaign? I am so happy to be teased with Freddy Hayes. What will his role be? Lots of great questions that keep me on the edge of my seat and wanting more.
Four Stars for Chapter 31.
Images from Netflix.com House of Cards.