Thank God for bingewatching! I am back with my review of episode two, in which Claire and Frank are to battle for their political lives, as well as set a direction for the rest of Frank’s first term. So, let’s get to the plot description:
The episode opens with Claire having to defend her nomination publicly. She’s asked specifically about DR Congo, and she answers it rather well. Back at the White House, Underwood is being told that the Democratic Party doesn’t want him to run in 2016. If he does run, he is being informed, the Democratic leadership will not support him. Back at the Ambassador-meeting Mendoza, who said he wouldn’t oppose her, is grilling Claire publicly. And he traps her, when she utters that the military is irrelevant in a specific discussion. The Underwoods are under fire, and Frank postpones a meeting for the third or fourth time. The episode becomes a race for supporters for both Underwoods. Whereas Claire is unable to find support from the Senate, Frank finds out that Terry Womack was the one fielding the idea of a new face for 2016. Meanwhile, Remy Danton is looking for information through Jackie Sharp – and Doug Stamper through Seth Grayson. Sharp says she didn’t know about the leadership plan until just before the meeting, and Seth Grayson doesn’t let Doug in on what’s happening – just simply stating that the AmWorks plan is postponed. Sharp is aggressive in the meeting with Danton – saying that if she is to support Frank, and feed him information again, she wants on the ticket as VP. This is where it gets interesting. Sharp is acting like Frank did when he was blindsided by no involvement in the new government. Also, she phones Ayla Sayyad – a reporter. Looks like she has her own Zoe Barnes. Later she indirectly informs Sayyad of the leadership’s meeting with the President.
Meanwhile the Underwoods are hard at work trying to find some support – Frank is aggressive as he begs, while Claire is buttering up candidates. Their tactics are interesting, but not surprising. After a run, Claire returns home to find Frank weeping – his dream of becoming a leader – more than a placeholder – is falling apart. Claire, uhm, alleviates his pain – by sleeping with him. The next morning he is in a much better mood. He is going to run in 2016.
Back in the Senate they’re counting the yea’s and the nay’s – we’re going to find out if Claire’s nomination is successful. Final Tally: 52-48 against Claire’s nomination.. Back in the Oval Office, Frank is still trying to figure out what to do with his run for office in 2016 – suddenly he comes up with a plan, though we aren’t kept in loop as of yet. Later, while speeking with Claire, we’re being told that Frank is to give a speech, which will set his plan in motion.
Frank meets with the leadership – he says that he intends not to run for office in 2016, and that he will inform the country of his decision later tonight. He tells them that he expects them to support America Works, renew the party by trying to get America Works through congress. He wants them to meet him halfway.
Now it’s time for his big speech. He starts by stating that the American Dream failed them. That for too long they’ve been lied to. “Let me be clear, you are entitled to nothing” – Underwood is aggressive in his speech, and says that he believes the government has failed in handing them the tools to build their future – the American way. He says that he is aware of the fact that people running for office aren’t saying this to them, but he can – for he isn’t seeking the Democratic nomination in 2016. He goes on to quote FDR and his revolutionary New Deal. America Works is to reinvent the American Dream – that is the goal for Underwood.
Back at Doug Stamper’s apartment, Seth Grayson has arrived. Doug informs Seth that Frank is, of course, running in 2016 – there’s no way he’s not. Doug is confident. Not being with Frank, on Frank’s team, ‘forces’ Doug Stamper back to the bottle… Back in the Oval Office, Frank says that his government needs to own up to their mistakes. That is what America needs. At the very end of the episode, Frank approves Claire’s new plan to gain the UN Ambassador nomination.
I really like the performances in this episode. Seeing Frank and Claire under fire and worn out is exactly what we need to. It’s true to life, and Spacey is especially good here. Seeing Frank being aggressive at the same time that Claire is softening up Senators… Well, that’s magical – and it only works with good actors in the split-screen shot which can be dodgy. The unsung hero of this episode, performance-wise, would be Molly Parker – who plays Jackie Sharp. She’s cold, she’s decisive. Great performance.
This was a good episode. It was absolutely exhilarating to watch Frank and Claire fight for their lives as public figures – and their political weight. Some dodgy scenes were saved by great acting – as we’ve come to expect of this show. A lot of new things are learned in this episode, and I think this episode finally gives us an idea of what Underwood’s presidency will mean.
I’m Jeffrey Rex