Episode 9 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.
With Secretary of State Cathy Durant playing what she thinks is a strong hand and Claire’s mother Elizabeth at death’s door, you could be mistaken for thinking the Underwood’s backs are to the wall. But nothing could be further from the truth. What better way to depart this earth than to use your death for your daughter’s political gain? And if you’re running out of options, you could always admit to murder and threaten more. Then simply deny everything.
Cathy’s bombshell and double crossing from last time is still reverberating and she’s not finished yet. “My mistake was I assumed you wouldn’t stab me in the back. Your mistake is that it backfired….This is business, we were partners. You broke the contract.” she spits at her President. It’s taken a few years but she’s finally got the measure of Frank. And she finally feels that she’s also got the better of him. Probably not Cathy. Probably not.
Claire’s mother, the redoubtable Elizabeth, is very ill in Texas and Claire senses if not so much an opportunity then at least good timing. Taking writer and Underwood confidant Tom Yates along, she returns home to learn her mother doesn’t have much time left at all. And despite their years of acrimony, the still clear of mind Elizabeth obviously cares for her daughter, at least on some level. “It’ll help you win, having your mother gone,” she says, clearly in a lot of pain, a statement as stupefying as it is true. The ice in Claire’s eyes almost softens as she tenderly gives her mother the morphine overdose she’s requested. And in that moment, Claire show’s she’s the equal of her murderous husband, albeit in a much more caring capacity. Mother dead, she hops into bed with Tom. Well, the sexual tension had been palpable.
Talking of murder, Frank clearly must do something about Cathy Durant. She’s not backing down and could seriously damage his and Claire’s plans. Alone with her in the Oval Office the President plays his trump card. He starts talking of the late Peter Russo and Zoe Barnes and, fixing his Secretary of State with a stare ice cold, states, “It’s all true. I killed them both – just like Lucas Goodwin said. But nobody believes it and nobody ever will because that’s how good we are at making things disappear.” A beat, a moment for it all to sink in. Then the denial, Frank claiming it was all a joke before explaining to Cathy how she will take herself out of the running and give her votes to Claire. The poor woman merely stands and capitulates, a quivering mass of nerves and hatred.
With no one to oppose Frank’s nomination and Claire’s bid for the VP slot unassailable with Cathy’s votes, the two are confirmed as running mates, America’s golden couple who have vanquished all who stood in their way. Their next opponents are the Conways.
In a strong chapter filled with more backstabbing and tension than is decent, there are two points to make. Elizabeth, who it was hoped would have much more involvement after the first couple of episodes, quietly slipped away, somewhat reconciled in death to her daughter. That’s a shame, for she could have been a worthy opponent to Frank; the promise of her character was never fulfilled. Second, the ease with which Cathy Durant stepped back, allowing Claire to take the VP nomination, felt off. Sure, if Frank Underwood threatens to kill you and get away with it as he has before because ‘that’s how good he is’, you’d quake and nod. But we expected more of the Secretary of State. But perhaps this is not the last we have seen of her?
With three episodes to go, we’re set for the almighty political battle with the Conways.