REVIEW: House of Cards – “Chapter 36”

I'm Jeffrey Rex Episode Review - Netflix - House of Cards 36The following is a review of the tenth episode of season three. Expect spoilers in the plot description.

So far this season, keeping peace has been the toughest thing for the President – as this season is getting closer to its end, we’ll see if he has what it takes to take on real danger. Let’s get to the plot description:

The episode opens with a town hall meeting with potential voters. Frank is nice, friendly, funny – but people want an answer on the Jordan Valley. Did they do it? Are their grandchildren safe? Are their soldiers? Frank cannot answer those questions. To prevent the televised debates from happening too soon, he makes Jackie Sharp agree to ask for a postponement.

Meanwhile Claire is anchoring, mediating, a meeting of Palestine and Israeli representatives. There’s talk of troop-reduction, but nothing fruitful as of yet. Claire is upset about the Israeli government, upset about a potential no-fly-zone. The representative, however, cannot comment on the matter immensely.

Frank is informed by a Sentinel-friend that Tom Yates, his author, is looking into Frank’s University-past – he doesn’t exactly look pleased, but then again Frank has always wanted to be in control. The following night, the Israelis instute the no-fly-zone, and cancel their meeting with the President. The Russians don’t care – they say. Petrov will go to the Jordan Valley nevertheless. And Frank? He plans to meet him there – though Claire disapproves.

When POTUS finally reaches the Russian camp he is greated by the stoic Viktor Petrov. Petrov and POTUS seem to agree on a plan to clear the Jordan Valley – but suddenly Petrov is out of line. He wants Claire gone. Gone from the Ambassador-position – that is his final demand. Non-negotiable. Back in the States, Orsay is meeting up with Lisa – he is going to tell her the truth, or, you know, as much as he can. His name is not Max, he doesn’t have AIDS, and he is leaving. Her still reaction is heartbreaking, Lisa’s relationships have been tough.

Meanwhile, Petrov is toying with POTUS. Saying that Claire is blinding Frank, pointing out how easily they manipulated her into convincing her husband to ship the SEAL-team to the Jordan Valley. She is blinding the President. Petrov notices the look that Frank has on his face – he wants to throw down – and Petrov tells him how he has been in battle, he has fought. He has killed. Marking his territory. A pissing contest. They’re the same type of person, Petrov claims – as we cut to the President leaving Petrov and the Jordan Valley. Frank tells his wife when he returns home, and eventually she agrees to resign. Petrov won the battle, one might say.

Frank calls up Tom Yates in the middle of the night. Yates arrives and meets with the President, who’s intoxicated. Yates reveals that, in fact, he was the rent boy from his story – he had lied to the President. He tells him that he’s addicted to intimate conversations and secrets – he tells him that he’s a friend. Just as Yates looks to have won Frank over, just as it looks like Frank is about to kiss Tom – he pulls himself back. He mustn’t, he cannot. Prized information for a writer, if he intends to use it. The episode ends with Claire sacrificing herself for her husband yet again, this time though – to a lesser extent.

This was a very good episode, one that was strengthened by great performances across the board. Kudos to Lars Mikkelsen and Paul Sparks (Tom Yates), especially, for holding their own in scenes with acting-legend Kevin Spacey. I really liked that we saw the vulnerable side of Francis again, even if he pulled himself back – this man is hurting when he sacrifices his wife, and he cannot reciprocate.

Great shots in this episode, especially during the Petrov-Underwood discussion, definitely a great episode for director Agnieszka Holland.

I wonder how much more we’ll hear from Viktor Petrov now. Claire’s out of the UN, Russia’s pulling back from the Jordan Valley – and the 2016 campaign is going strong in the closing months. If this was it for Lars Mikkelsen, then he deserves a lot of praise – good job.

A-

I’m Jeffrey Rex

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