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An excellent HoC seasons 1-3 recap can be found here.

Episode 2 Recap & Review is here.

Clearly there are multiple SPOILERS ahead so don’t read unless you’re up to speed with the nefarious Frank Underwood.

What a couple. You can only be grateful Frank and Claire Underwood didn’t have children. Up until walking out on him at the end of last season, Claire has always been willing to do virtually anything for her husband, but only because his star was always in the ascendant. But he’s on the back foot, undertaking the fight of his political career and now Claire’s own ambitions are being thwarted, she showing her true colours and mettle. And those ambitions are grand indeed.

FU, confident and welcomed in his home town. This won't last
FU, confident and welcomed in his home town. This won’t last

Lucas Goodwin, slumming it in his dead-end car valeting job as witness protected ‘John Carlyle’, is desperate to expose Frank Underwood for the man he is. Swallowing his pride, and perhaps more, he’s willing to do almost anything to procure a vehicle in an attempt to get to and speak with Heather Dunbar, Underwood’s main opponent in the forthcoming elections.

As Frank campaigns in his home town of Gaffney, South Carolina, Claire discusses polling data collected by Leann Harvey; she’s strong in one particular area and begins a bold initiative, one that will need Frank broken to provide leverage. Despatching Leann to a certain safety deposit box to which she has a key, Claire joins Frank at their Gaffney residence – the house at which their marriage and political life first started – and is cordial, compliant and helpful to her President husband. This understandably gets Frank extremely suspicious and his nightmare of a vicious fight with his wife, ending with him stabbed and Claire gouging out his eyeballs, returns. As does a waking dream of blood pouring from the kitchen taps. This is Frank Underwood on the ropes, under pressure and cracking, something we – and him – are not accustomed to.

Marriage, Underwood style
Marriage, Underwood style

Leann has copied a photograph from Frank’s safety deposit box – and left a calling card. Made into a banner, it’s put up at the most prominent billboard in Gaffney the day before the primaries and the news, and image, quickly flashes around the world come morning. The picture? Frank’s despised father, posing with Klu Klux Klan members, back in the day. In South Carolina, nothing could hurt Frank more.

Heather Dunbar makes political capital out of the situation as Lucas manages to get to talk to her, albeit ad hoc in a stairwell. He’s paranoid, jittery and full of conspiracy theories and Dunbar cannot take any of it seriously. This was Lucas’ one and only chance. What now for the desperate man? Meanwhile, trusted Secret Service agent Meecham has retrieved Frank’s safety deposit box that contains the Klan photograph…along with his mother’s earrings, the very ones he had loaned to Claire for his State of the Union address. This would be Claire’s calling card as to whom was responsible for the Klan poster. As the President rages, shocked at his wife playing the game so well, he’s astounded to learn of her demands. Calmly she explains that he can’t win without her, and she’ll return to his side only if he agrees to a simple request; campaign as his running mate in all respects. Put her on the ticket as Vice President.

He didn’t see this coming and, quite frankly, neither did we. The sheer audacity of Claire’s plan is staggering. Denied a senate seat, she simply decided to make a play for the second most powerful position in American politics. And with Frank backed into a corner, it’s hard to see how he can’t go along with it for, wounded and losing his home state, he’s facing political death. Claire’s polling has shown his only way of gaining a second term is with her by his side. If he doesn’t capitulate, she’ll file for divorce, sealing his fate. And you thought Frank was the sly one?

What a marriage.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
HOUSE OF CARDS S04E03
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Mike has loved movies his entire life and would happily live at his local multiplex if only they’d let him. With a particular love of genre and sci-fi, Mike will happily watch almost anything, although he did walk out of an Alvin & The Chipmunks movie a few years ago. Because he has good taste as well.