Episode 8 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.
It’s convention time in House of Cards, a grandstanding event that injects a lot of pomp and razzmatazz into the usual talking heads proceedings. Republican nominee Conway is leading the news cycle, showcasing running mate General Ted Brockhart and the growing threat of ICO (HoC’s ISIS) as evidence that Frank Underwood is weak and unwilling to act. Frank’s impressed – this is a stunt he would have pulled – and quickly fires back with a press conference and a very public phone call to Conway. Together they set up a meeting to discuss the situation; pure theatre for the assembled reporters.
At the open convention, states and congressmen have a free vote on anyone for Vice President. Frank’s public nominee Cathy Durant is frontrunner and when a well-placed backwater congressman puts forward Claire for Vice President, most think it a sweet if misguided anomaly; little does anyone save for Frank and Claire know that this is the small acorn from which big plans are grown. To feather the bed, current and outgoing Vice President Blythe is briefing the press, off the record, that it was Claire who was the real negotiator and reason for the G8 victory with Petrov, with Secretary of State Durant merely a bystander. With Claire making a behind-the-scenes deal with another VP wannabee, taking his endorsement and votes for in exchange for a plum role in the future administration, and Frank assuring Cathy that she’s still his choice for VP, the pieces of their plan slowly start to coalesce.
Frank and Conway convene in a most public way for their private meeting about ICO. Once behind closed doors, all pretence drops and they trade filthy jokes and barbed insults with abandon. It’s rare for Frank to get a chance to talk with someone so alike privately and he revels in the moment and as the two men size each other up, Frank realises perhaps for the first time what a formidable opponent Conway really is. ICO is never mentioned.
Meanwhile, press secretary Grayson is feeling the pressure. Doug’s insistence that he dig up some dirt on Leann has wrought nothing so he instead gambles big and comes clean to her. Doug is furious at being betrayed but Grayson is resigned to whatever fate awaits him; there simply is no dirt and if Doug want to sack him, go ahead. He can do plenty of damage from the outside. But he can do more by remaining in his job. Doug realises there’s not a lot he can do but has something else on his mind. He’s developing a conscience concerning the man he had bumped from the top of the donor list in favour of his boss, a man with two kids who then died as a result. Doug with a conscience? How dangerous could that be?
Frank again meets with Cathy, assuring her that all the noise about Claire being mooted for the VP nomination has come as a complete shock and of course, she still has his full confidence. But what if this groundswell support gains traction and it becomes not only a potentially viable option but the popular one as well? Would Cathy be prepared to stand aside? She accedes that she would but then pulls a move on Frank that completely blind-sides him; at the convention, delegates from her home state demand that, along with deciding the VP nominee, the Presidential candidature should also be up for discussion as well. It looks like political suicide by Durant until she reveals she’s done a deal with Conway. If he becomes President, she’ll stay on as Secretary of State. Watch out Frank. Others are playing the game as well.