Episode 6 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.
Banish any thoughts you may have had of Frank changing his spots following his recent brush with death. He’s back, full force and with Claire by his side once more. Or should that be he’s by her side? They’re now playing to her beat, her demands, her ambitions. And together they know that their combined might and the ability to go further than anyone else is their real strength.
With Heather Dunbar dead and buried and thus Frank’s nomination as Democrat candidate essentially assured we turn our attention to the Republican frontrunner. We’ve glimpsed Will Conway briefly and now here he is; young, good looking and lantern-jawed, home loving, with a beautiful wife and kids. Clearly this is a formidable potential opponent for the Underwoods and the juxtaposition of their morning routines – Frank takes multiple medications as Claire looks on, Will Conway bangs his wife in their sumptuous bathroom – highlights the stark contrasts. But Frank is firing on all cylinders. “Find your steel Claire!” he admonishes as she expresses doubt in their plans.
And what plans. The path to Claire not just being made Frank’s running mate, but being begged to do so, is laid carefully by the Underwoods, brick by brick. First asking Donald Blythe to stay on, knowing he won’t, Frank then gets the party leadership to draw up a list of candidates, engineering for his next patsy to be picked. Meanwhile Claire begins spearheading a gun-control initiative. Think this has anything to do with Frank being shot and poor Meecham dead? Don’t be silly. This is a meticulous, long-term play for their own personal goals and it’s fascinating to watch.
Always keen to highlight it’s prescience, House of Cards introduces it’s version of ISIS in the form of the ICO (International Caliphate Organisation). Creating just as much mayhem in this world, Frank naturally sees an opportunity in the form of sanctioning sweeping domestic surveillance, ostensibly to combat terrorism. But Frank knows he could use the massive amount of data that would be collected as a way to effectively rig the election. Dangerous? Yes, that’s why he’ll keep it as a last option. The safer route would be to discredit Conway and his close ties with Pollyhop, the Google-like search engine that he’s using for exactly the same reasons. As Frank talks us through these plans, he finds himself standing between portraits of JFK and Reagan. “All three of us took a bullet, and I know why we’re smiling, we survived” he addresses Reagan.
Chapter 46 feels like the start of a new season, or at the very least House of Cards Season 4.5. Having Frank and Claire back together and doing what they do best is invigorating, so much so that it’s almost possible to feel sorry for Conway and his family ahead of time. But when we have a flashback to 2013, where House of Cards all began, and see the first, brief meeting between Frank and Will Conway, it’s obvious he’s just another self-serving career politician in the mould of Frank. “You want a career in politics and the Twin Towers fall in your lap? Timing couldn’t have been better.” he says of his early career and joining the air force the day after 9/11, a move which acted as a springboard for his political ambitions. Yes, he’s like Frank but he won’t be prepared to go further.
“We’re going to destroy them” says Claire at episodes end.
“Yes, we are” coos Frank. And we’re with him all the way.