Episode 4 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.
Frank is waylaid in hospital due to that pesky life-threatening gunshot, and beset by hallucinations brought on by toxins coursing through his bloodstream. A mute Meecham is glimpsed, as is the ghost of his Confederate soldier ancestor, Augustus Underwood. Is Frank on the way out? Are these his visual death throes? Don’t count on it. In his absence, Claire is feeling, and acting, extremely Presidential, counselling Acting-Prez Blythe and admitting that she feels nothing at the prospect of Francis dying. A moment of true, unflinching honesty? Or a calculated move to make Blythe believe she’s open and completely honest? C’mon, this is an Underwood.
Elsewhere, the FBI have been investigating would-be assassin Lucas Goodwin and a complete transcript of his allegations and the ‘proof’ he’d collated has been found. Thinking quickly, Claire decides to hide the potentially damning news in plain sight and proceeds to hold a masterclass in press briefings; she breaks down, she recovers, she expresses pity for Goodwin who was a ‘very sick man, she could school Meryl Streep in acting. Only one reporter, the tenacious Kate Baldwin, follows up on the story, tracking down Goodwin’s ex-editor Tom Hammerschmidt. Goodwin may be gone, but his work has clearly been picked up by another.
Acting-Prez Blythe has a phone conference with irate and manipulative Russian Premier Petrov; the oil crisis perpetrated by his counterpart is causing huge problems and Blythe is nervous and dithering. Luckily (for her at least) he’s accepted Claire’s kind offer help; unbeknownst to anyone, including the present Doug Stamper and Secretary of State Catherine Durant, she’s listening in on the call and feeding Blythe lines. At her behest, he drops the fact that Frank is seriously ill and and is in dire need of a liver transplant, highly sensitive information they had agreed to withhold. Just what is Claire’s long term plan?
Whatever it is, it involves blackmail. And lots of it. She instructs Leann to get Remy Danton back to work, threatening to go public with his affair with Jackie Sharp; yep, those damning pictures of the pairs hotel liaisons were indeed at the hand of Mrs Underwood. Did you ever doubt otherwise? They need Remy so he himself can blackmail Raymond Tusk, Frank’s main antagonist in season 2, into using his connections with the Chinese to help the Russian energy talks. Let’s hope for Claire’s sake she’s keeping track on who she’s blackmailing and with what; this could get confusing.
Meanwhile, Seth has appraised Doug of Heather Dunbar’s brief meeting with Lucas Goodwin and her call to the Attorney General, information he’s divulged to keep his job after Doug told him he was sacked. Sensing immediate blood, Doug has the AG quickly interrogated and threatened with the sack herself unless she reveals all. Things do not look good for the future of Heather Dunbar’s campaign, nor the woman herself.
The ever-loyal Doug then goes back to visit Frank who’s still at death’s door. He’s shocked and appalled to learn the President of the United States is only number three on the transplant waiting list and immediately makes the rash offer to donate some of his liver. But Frank needs a whole transplant and Doug is a recovering alcoholic, two facts that seem to have slipped his mind. His love, and willingness to do absolutely anything for his boss clearly has no bounds. This level of loyalty, especially to a man who cast him into the wilderness in season 3, is a little scary if we’re honest.
Of course Frank won’t die. Will he? Episode 5 closes with him suffering a seizure and hallucinating his imminent death at the hands of his ancestor. If he does, what then for Claire’s plans? And just how much would Doug cry if he did?