Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chapter 19 Season 2 – House of Cards Episode Summary 2.6

Vice President Frank Underwood pitches at Orioles baseball game
House of Cards Chapter 19 Episode Summary: Raymond Tusk takes advantage of the energy crisis to pressure the President into acceding to China’s demands, but Vice President Francis Underwood remains an obstacle in his plan.  Meanwhile, Lucas Goodwin rejects accepting a plea from the U.S. government and convinces Tom Hammerschmidt to write an article about his conspiracy theory.

House of Cards Chapter 19 Recap: The United States is on the verge of a crippling energy crisis due to the high prices of samarium dictated by China.  President Garrett Walker calls the cabinet members to discuss strategies to combat the crisis and suggests the use of attrition against China.Continue reading...

The retaliation from China as the consequence of such action concerns the members of his cabinet.  China could purposely fail to attend the refunding auction, which would lead to a spike on long-term interest spikes.  Vice President Frank Underwood, instead, recommends going on the offensive.  Members of the committee offer suggestions that will force China’s hand.  One recommended increasing the inspection rates by 20% on foodstuffs and holding the perishable goods in ports to rot.  Another suggests burying the move with increased spot checks further delaying the process.  One of the members, however, asserts that attrition only delays the inevitable, but does not solve the problem.  Frank then advises the President to purchase samarium through a third party by executive order.  This will allow the U.S. to force the Chinese to either raise prices worldwide or lower them in order to maintain a direct trade with the U.S.  With enough supply of samarium for defense, the U.S. can then sell the surplus at a discount to nuclear power companies.  The only consequence is the public outrage at offering the richest of the wealthy government subsidy.  Frank Underwood believes that such outrage is tolerable than allowing the country to go into an energy crisis.  President Walker accepts his Vice President’s recommendation and instructs his team to begin the process of acquiring samarium for defense purposes through India.

Remy Denton meets with Frank Underwood to discuss a better solution than the samarium subsidy he proposed.  Remy’s client, Raymond Tusk, is not interested in the subsidy, but rather on the U.S. ending the conflict with China.  The trade war has put a halt on his refinery project.  Tusk claims that his rare earth refinery in China will solve the energy crisis, but Frank argues that it will take years for his refinery to benefit the American people.  Remy is certain that Frank has another agenda than solving the energy crisis and insists that Frank make the demand, but the Vice President of the United States remains unforthcoming of his requirement.  Frank later speaks with the President about Tusk’s collusion with other nuclear companies and their rejection of the Administration’s solution to the energy crisis.  Frank wants to ban vertical integration in order to end Tusk’s manipulation of the energy market.  He believes that adding an antitrust agreement to the Emergency Energy Bill will consequently break up the regional supply and distribution monopolies of energy companies.  The bill need not pass, but will serve as a threat to Tusk.  The President considers Frank’s proposal and asks of pursuing it in secret.  He does not want to get the ire of the world’s wealthiest.  Frank asks current Whip, House Representative Jackie Sharp, to relay the proposed Emergency Energy Bill to Remy Denton.  They meet over drinks and end up in bed.  Jackie gives an appearance of resentment for having slept with the lobbyist and insists on not receiving special treatment for it.  Remy accepts her request and later sends her a text message relaying Tusk’s refusal to give in to the threat of an antitrust agreement added to the Emergency Energy Bill.  Jackie calls Frank to inform him of Tusk’s response.

Frank speaks with the President and insists on holding their ground.  He suggests further threatening Tusk with the involvement of FERC.  FERC is to conduct a price-fixing review of Tusk’s energy company, which will force him to divulge his company’s accounting.  Frank believes that Tusk will submit to the Administration’s demand just to avoid the disclosure of his books.  President Walker, however, believes that the matter has gotten out of hand.  He decides to resume talks with Raymond Tusk.  Frank argues that doing so implies surrender, but the President has made his decision.  He turns to Tusk.  Frank claims that the President is about to betray him with a FERC investigation.  Nevertheless, Tusk is not intimidated with the threat of an investigation for the energy crisis will continue and worsen before a hearing ensues.  Frank then accuses Tusk of overcharging for electricity, but Tusk can justify the prices to the designs of the free market.  Tusk is perplexed about Frank’s motive for wreaking havoc on the relationship of the U.S. and China.  He begins to wonder if Frank is intentionally trying to ruin the President, but Frank claims to have been working on protecting the President from Tusk.  Tusk begins to believe that Frank is taking revenge for the betrayal done to him on the Secretary of State nomination.  Frank denies the accusation and supports it with the fact that he has made himself the Vice President of the United States.  He demands Tusk to accept the subsidies or suffer the consequences of a FERC investigation.

Elizabeth Ward, a prosecutor from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has come to offer a deal with incarcerated Lucas Goodwin in exchange for a plea, but the journalist refuses to accept the deal.  Notwithstanding his defense lawyer’s advice, Lucas rejects and deal and insists on going to court where he can expose the crimes of Frank Underwood.  The U.S. Attorney, however, presents the lewd photographs of Zoe Barnes found in his apartment as evidence of his obsession on the deceased journalist.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office will present that his obsession led him to concoct a conspiracy theory that explains her unexpected death.  The U.S. Attorney offers a twenty-year sentence for breaking into a data center and for fraud with eligibility for parole in seven.  Although Lucas is not in the position to make demands, he insists on rejecting the deal unless he is allowed to speak to Tom Hammerschmidt.  Lucas gets his request and relays to Tom the same story he already told him before.  He wants Tom to write the article exposing Frank Underwood, going against the advice of his lawyer.  Tom suggests taking the plea and foregoing the article, but Lucas remains determined to expose the crimes of Frank Underwood.  He agrees to write the article, but warns his friend of tackling it professionally and without bias.

Tom Hammerschmidt begins his research.  His persistence concerns Doug Stamper.  He asks Agent Nathan Green to handle it, but the First Amendment hinders the FBI Agent from burying the story.  Moreover, U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Ward is looking to indict Gavin Orsay, a criminal that had been on the FBI Most Wanted list for six years, instead of Lucas Goodwin.  Stamper decides to deal with Hammerschmidt himself, but orders Agent Green to coerce Lucas into taking the plea.  Stamper is at his wit’s end causing him to apprise Frank of the situation.  Frank decides to speak to Hammerschmidt in person at the White House to deny all of the claims without alienating the journalist.  The status of Frank Underwood does not intimidate the seasoned journalist who asks him forthrightly about the murder of Peter Russo.  Frank vehemently denies his involvement.  More importantly, he insists that the late congressman committed suicide.  Hammerschmidt, however, divulges the identities of the people who could corroborate the theory and provide evidence of Frank’s guilt.  He intimidates the Vice President with the facts that Rachel Posner and Roy Kapeniak do exist despite their unknown whereabouts.  Frank asks Stamper to take charge of putting the article to bed after sensing the futility of convincing the journalist to see the preposterousness of the claims.

FBI Agent Green and his partner pay a visit to Janine Skorsky to speak to her about Lucas Goodwin.  She informs them of his visit and of the numerous calls he placed.  Janine did not return any of his calls.  The FBI continues to question her and begins to ask about Gavin Orsay.  The line of questioning prompts Janine to end the interrogation and to ask for a lawyer.  Agent Green, however, informs her that she is not currently suspected of aiding Lucas in cyber terrorism, but they might if she insists on speaking to them in the presence of her lawyer.  Janine agrees to sit through the inquiry without legal counsel, but becomes agitated after the FBI Agent intimidates her into testifying against Lucas.  She is to sign a testimony that proves her friend’s guilt.  Janine asks the FBI agents to leave and makes them aware of her rights.  Agent Green, however, threatens her with the charge of abetting a criminal in cyber terrorism.  Fighting the charge will take years and will keep her from taking care of her ill mother.  Janine agrees to sign the testimony that proves Lucas’ guilt in front of the U.S. Attorney.  She and Tom visit Lucas in prison.  Tom shows him the article he wrote that provided no evidence to the claims inadvertently making the incarcerated journalist appear insane.  Lucas reproaches Janine for her dishonesty.  Janine admits guilt, but justifies her actions with self-preservation.  She begs him to take the plea and to forget about putting Frank Underwood to justice.

Claire Underwood and First Lady Tricia Walker discuss the event they are to attend as part of the campaign for the awareness of the endemic nationwide problem of sexual assault.  The President is supposed to attend the event if his schedule allows him.  Claire agrees to avoid mentioning the sexual assault problem in the military in the presence of the President.  Christina Gallagher’s arrival upon the First Lady’s request interrupts their meeting.  Seeing Christina allowed Claire to bring up her affair with her now deceased boss, Peter Russo.  The insinuation did not go amiss with the First Lady.  Meanwhile, Claire intimates to Christina of having perceived the First Lady’s lack of confidence.  She advises that Christina reach out to the First Lady to express her gratitude for the opportunity to work with the President and to offer her services to the First Lady as well.  Christina finds the move brash, but follows Claire’s advice against her better judgment.  True enough, her approach did unnerve the First Lady.

Francis practices throwing a baseball with his bodyguard Ed Meechum and seeing him do so remind Claire of the first pitch he threw in Greenville.  Francis would rather forget the event.  It was the Greenville Drive, Single-A team for the Red Sox home game.  Francis had the honor of throwing the first pitch.  Wanting to throw a real pitch, he decides to throw from the mound.  The ball slipped out of his hand just before he released it.  It went straight up in the air and hit the top of his head on its return.  The episode caused an uproarious laughter from the crowd of spectators.  The time of the first pitch for the Orioles baseball game at the Camden Yards arrives.  Frank could not contain his anxiety of bringing shame upon himself with another failed pitch.  He takes issue with the Kevlar bulletproof vest and assigns blame on Meechum if he fails.  Frank addresses the crowd with a brief speech and walks to the mound.  He prepares to throw the ball when all of the stadium lights go off.  Secret Service men run towards the Vice President to whisk him to safety.  Later, they learn that the city has experienced a massive power outage.

President Walker calls Raymond Tusk after learning that one of his companies caused the outage.  He suspects Tusk of intentionally causing the blackout and candidly asks the mogul about it.  Tusk denies the accusation and insists that the heat wave pushed the power grid to its limits.  The President continues to doubt Tusk after the man informs him of taking two of his power plants in Georgia and Tennessee offline for an unscheduled maintenance on the southeast grid.  Tusk claims that the blackout in Washington D.C. strained the two power plants in the southeast.  The maintenance is a precaution against a dangerous breakdown.  The President tries to convince himself to accept Tusk’s explanations, but Frank contends that the outages were done deliberately to pressure the President into accepting Tusk’s terms.  President Garrett ponders the stimulus for Tusk’s drastic action and learns that Frank had spoken to him about the possible FERC investigation arguing that Tusk claimed to have accepted the subsidy deal.  Frank feigns having been deceived and suggests of Tusk’s playing him and the President.  He supposes that Tusk is trying to ascertain the Administration’s next move.  Frank continues to assert the notion of the superfluity of shutting down the southeast power plants, but the President needs assurance that the power plants are indeed safe from distress.  Frank states that the power outage that left essential institutions without power constitute an emergency and suggests the creation of an executive order that permits the government to take over the power plants allowing them to assess the risk.  He later secretly meets with Raymond Tusk at Freddy’s BBQ to coerce complicity.  Tusk is to accept the subsidies or face a government takeover of his power plants.  Frank dissolves the deal they agreed on before.  They are no longer bound to work together, because Tusk had numerous times worked against Frank to realize his self-interests.

Rachel Posner is enjoying her volunteer work at the Christian fellowship.  She has become friends with the young woman who introduced her to the fellowship, Lisa Williams.  Unfortunately, Doug Stamper has come to learn of her new affiliation.  He waits for Rachel in the parking lot and makes his presence known with a blast of the headlights as Rachel and Lisa were walking to Lisa’s car.  Rachel makes an excuse and manages to evade questions from Lisa with whom she was to have dinner.  Stamper drives her home and reproaches the young woman for attending the fellowship arguing that Rachel risks exposure with every person she meets.  He informs her that Lucas Goodwin took the plea, but insists that she must remain in hiding despite of it.  Rachel wonders if Stamper keeps her hidden for his pleasure.  She senses the man’s desire to be with her in spite of Stamper’s struggle to suppress having carnal relations with her.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Chapter 18 Season 2 – House of Cards Episode Summary 2.5

Vice President Frank Underwood in Spotsylvania
House of Cards Chapter 18 Synopsis: The White House enlists Vice President Francis Underwood as its envoy in the back-channel negotiations with China’s emissary, Xander Feng, and uses the anniversary of the Overland Campaign in Spotsylvania as cover.  Frank wreaks havoc in the negotiations deliberately relaying false demands from the Chinese causing the President’s bridge project to fall through.  Meanwhile, a man named Seth Grayson unearths Claire’s abortion records and extorts a job in the Vice President’s staff in exchange for his silence.

House of Cards Chapter 18 Recap: Vice President Frank Underwood honors the 150th anniversary of the Overland Campaign with his presence beginning in the reenactment of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House where General Grant met General Lee for the first time.  Frank, a native of the South, takes no pride in the Confederacy, but his honoring one of the last battles leading to its fall is filled with irony.  He takes no pleasure in attending the event and addresses the crowd with a short and banal speech.Continue reading...

Frank Underwood begins his research of Xander Feng, Raymond Tusk’s business partner on the Rare Earth Refinery whose net worth exceeds that of Tusk.  Feng’s deep family connections to the Party built through his grandfather’s service and friendship with Mao Tse-tung gave way for his success in the telecom industry that secured his wealth.  He meets with Feng in his hotel room to discuss business proposals that will truly mend the conflict between China and the US following the failed Joint Commission talks.  Their negotiations occur in parallel with the trade summit in Washington where State Secretary Cathy Durant creates an appearance of reconciliation with China.  Feng begins the back channel dialogue with China’s grant to Clayton West of a 40-year lease on the Mei Mei Rare Earth Elements Refinery.  Frank hints of the indefinite awarding of the lease to Clayton West, Tusk’s nuclear energy company, with an argument that the lease must go to the highest bidder for appearances sake.  Feng is certain that Tusk will outbid any competitors.  They move on to President Garret Walker’s priority-one item, the construction of a bridge over the Long Island Sound from Port Jefferson to Milford sanctioned by the Committee on Foreign Investment in exchange for a 25-year toll-taking contract.  Frank believed Feng funding the bridge to be a done deal, but Feng brings up the issue of the currency manipulation suit the US filed against China in the World Trade Organization.  Contrary to the expected demand, Feng and his associates would like the US to pursue the lawsuit.  Feng’s alliance managed to convince their conservative counterparts to accept a free-floating currency for China that requires the exchange rate to be determined by the market without central bank intervention.  The change to an open currency could free up interest rates and reduce inflation in China to the benefit of entrepreneurs such as Feng and Tusk.  China, however, prefers to receive the WTO ruling to conceal their conformity with a US sanctioned mandate.

Frank, however, decides to go against Feng’s demand and instructs Doug Stamper to inform Durant that China requires the abandonment of the WTO suit before discussing the bridge.  He suspects the unusual demand to pursue the lawsuit as an agenda serving Feng and Tusk, but not Beijing.  Frank worries that Feng and Tusk is using Washington to force Beijing into agreement, which may jeopardize trade summit negotiations.  He supposes that the Standing Committee remains divided despite Feng garnering support for his cause.  They are to leak the Administration’s decision to drop the lawsuit as soon as Durant presents it in the summit.

Claire Underwood would like to let the interest surrounding her rape die down without action from her part, but Connor Ellis worries that the press will uncover her dishonesty given that the rape that supposedly led to her abortion happened five years before the abortion.  Claire is not concerned and assures Connor that she and her husband ensured that no medical records on her abortion exist.  Only the doctor who performed the abortion was present and he already passed away.  Nevertheless, Connor believes that silence after a serious accusation, one that has become the center of attention, is a mistake in public relations.  Claire remains adamant with her decision leaving Connor to acquiesce and leave for Spotsylvania.  Connor becomes the person chosen to leak news of the Administration’s decision to drop the WTO suit.  Doug was to disclose the information, but decided to relegate the task to Claire’s Communications Director in order to distance Frank from the leak.  He speaks to Ayla Sayyad about information he claims to have received from a Chinese businessman with ties to the Standing Committee who is doing back-channel negotiations with the US.  The Wall Street Telegraph reports the news of the U.S. dropping the WTO suit without naming Feng as the source, but the articles in Hong Kong do.  Ayla confronts Connor after learning of the identity of his supposed source as Xander Feng.  She questions him about China’s decision to use the wealthy, corrupt businessman as their back-channel emissary noting that the man is one offense away from obtaining a death sentence in China.  Connor, however, intimates of only having assumed the role of messenger.  Meanwhile, Feng learns of Frank’s betrayal, but patiently waits for him to reach out to him.

Doug Stamper arrives in Feng’s house to discuss the dropping of the WTO lawsuit.  He notes of China’s declaration of victory over the decision and reveals the Administration’s suspicion of the legitimacy of his request.  Feng is already displeased of the Vice President sending his Chief of Staff to represent him in his meeting.  He vilifies Stamper and taunts the alcoholic with an Old Fashioned he made using a rare and fine 1926 Macallan that cost forty-thousand dollars a bottle.  Stamper ends the teasing by smashing the glass to the floor.  He gains Feng’s acknowledgement and obtains his message to the Vice President.  Feng refuses funding the construction of the Port Jefferson Bridge unless the lawsuit is reintroduced.  He gives assurance in managing the members of the Standing Committee protesting the WTO suit adding that the majority wants reform.  Feng, however, sends his warning of bypassing the Vice President altogether if he refuses to cooperate.  Stamper delivers Feng’s message to Frank and offers to inform the President, but Frank forbids him from doing so.  Frank intends to fuel the wrath of the President.  He instructs Stamper to have the State Secretary resurface the bridge project in order to ascertain Feng’s bluff.

Frank resumes his obligation as Vice President of the United States and attends a tour of the battleground including the Bloody Angle where 15,000 Union-Confederate soldiers lost their lives on the half a mile wide battlefield.  The organizers of the event surprise him with an introduction to his ancestor, Corporal Augustus Elijah Underwood of the 12th Regiment of McGowan Brigade.  A fact Frank Underwood is unaware.  Corporal Underwood was only twenty-four years of age and a father of a two-year old son he never met when he died in the Battle of Spotsylvania.  The story of his great-great-great-grandfather as told by the actor captivates Frank Underwood causing him to delay the rest of the tour for a more detailed chronicle of his ancestor’s death.  Corporal Underwood tells of the attack that occurred in the middle of the night.  The scarcity of weapons left him unarmed, but his courage did not falter despite the enemy’s advantage.  He attacks a Yankee with his bare hands and bites him fiercely to the bone.  Regrettably, the enemy overpowers him and bashes his head with a rock.  He was buried in a mass grave without a headstone.

Claire Underwood and the head of the Women’s Caucus, House Representative Elaine Brooks, have lunch with First Lady Tricia Walker in the hope of gaining the support of the First Lady in their fight against sexual assault.  This after the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff refused to meet with Claire.  He, however, agreed to send the Director to speak in his behalf.  Congresswoman Brooks claims of the Joint Chiefs’ uncooperative attitude towards her appeals regarding sexual assault, but the Joint Chiefs refute her accusations.  The Director belies their uncooperativeness with assertions of established measures and procedures created to bring offenders to justice.  He, however, belligerently makes it clear that civilian jurisdiction on crimes committed by the military will never materialize.  The arrival of the First Lady disrupts his contention.  Claire Underwood deliberately scheduled a different time for the First Lady in order to startle the Joint Chiefs with her arrival and presence.  Having accepted the impossibility of civilian jurisdiction over military offenses, Claire proposes allowing civilian oversight on military courts.  This too incenses the Director of the Joint Chiefs and indignantly dismisses the suggestion.  The First Lady senses the uniformed officer’s averseness to accept recommendations from civilians and interjects of her husband’s role as Commander-in-Chief despite his civilian status.  She urges the Director to consider the recommendations from Claire and Congresswoman Brooks allowing Claire to bring up the atrociousness of the military’s sexual assault prevention literature that advises submission to an assault.

Lucas Goodwin continues his education in hacking and practices stealthily plugging the thumb drive into a server.  Gavin Orsay also known as HEROnymous Bot attempts to dissuade Lucas from enacting a federal crime, but Lucas is determined to push through with it.  Lucas finds his experience as a crime beat writer sufficient for the undertaking.  He equates it to his expose of the DC drug ring that involved corrupt police officers.  Gavin warns him about the severity of taking on the FBI, but receives insult for the crimes he did anonymously.  The unstable hacker goes into a tirade of the punishment his friends received at the hands of the FBI for their attempt to expose government surveillance, corruption, and other conspiracies.  Gavin sees himself as a soldier.  He tries one last time to deter Lucas from committing the crime.  Regrettably, Lucas believes the unlawful retrieval of Zoe Barnes’ phone records is his last option.  Agent Nathan Green barges in Gavin’s apartment after Lucas had left.  The FBI agent chastises the hacker for attempting to dissuade the journalist from committing the crime.  The ruthless agent envious of the luxury afforded his prisoner takes his aggression on Gavin’s pet guinea pig, Cashew.  He establishes his authority as Gavin’s master and treats him like a dog.

Lucas meets with the uncharacteristically nervous and seemingly reluctant Gavin.  He convinces the hacker to hand him the thumb drive confident of their plan’s success.  Lucas later attends the tour of the data center that includes a tour of the highly secure area that houses the servers.  Aware of Lucas’ desire to see the servers in close proximity, the guide enthusiastically permits him access inside the caged servers allowing Lucas to plug in the thumb drive.  The FBI working undercover as the tour guide and his colleagues arrest Lucas Goodwin.

Mrs. Susan Marbury receives Mr. White of Planned Parenthood in her house to discuss the naming of a fund after her deceased husband in honor of his work.  Mr. White claims that the delicate matter he would like to ascertain warrants an in-person meeting.  He asks Mrs. Marbury if her husband performed any illegal abortions and aggressively pursues this line of questioning with inquiries about the identities of the patients.  Mr. White mentions Claire Underwood by name.  Mrs. Marbury denies her husband ever performing an abortion on Claire Underwood, but Mr. White claims to know that he did.  The livid Mrs. Marbury ends their meeting, but Mr. White is undeterred and reveals his real name, Seth Grayson.  Seth apprises Mrs. Marbury of his deception and claims to have been working for Claire Underwood to ensure that her secret remains buried and Dr. Marbury’s reputation untarnished.  He convinces Mrs. Marbury of his good intentions and manages to sway her into giving him her husband’s journal.  The journal contains an entry of the abortion he performed on Claire Underwood twenty-five years ago.

Claire Underwood meets with Seth Grayson after claiming to have unearthed records of her abortion in August 1986, years after her sexual assault.  Seth has come to demand a job, arguing that her current Communications Director failed to destroy evidence of her transgression.  He asserts having shown loyalty by presenting her the damning evidence instead of selling it for considerable profit to the newspapers.  Moreover, he recommends keeping Connor to avoid consequences of his abrupt termination.  He is quite certain that Connor will eventually resent working with him and will decide to accept the job he had secretly arranged for him.  Claire worries that Connor will go to the press with the truth she revealed to him and remains reluctant in acceding to Seth’s demand.  She distrusts Seth Grayson, a man whose qualifications exceed the job he desires, but Francis advises to accede to his demand.  Francis believes that Connor will remain silent about Claire’s secrets with an amicable departure.  He argues of wanting to work with a distrustful but effective staff than a reckless one.

An irate President Walker orders a conference call with him, Frank, Tusk, and Durant after Feng rejected financing the bridge due to Frank’s deceitfulness.  Tusk insists that Feng had complained of Frank’s relaying the opposite of his demands, but Frank vehemently refutes the accusation.  He presents his suspicion of Feng working for his personal gain and not China’s.  Moreover, he insinuates of Tusk’s collusion.  The President, however, wants nothing but to ensure the success of his infrastructure program through the construction of the Port Jefferson Bridge using only foreign investment to guarantee deficit reduction.  He forbids both Frank and Tusk from contacting Feng until the revival of the bridge deal.  He, instead, instructs Durant to take over.

Frank continues his duty as Vice President of the United States and visits the encampment of the Overland Campaign reenactment.  He finds the actor playing his grandfather playing the fiddle and asks him to show him the exact spot where his grandfather died.  Claiming to pay respects to his ancestors, the Vice President manages to evade his entourage allowing him to meet with Feng, willfully disobeying the President’s order.  Frank wants Feng to inform Tusk that he and the President are not his puppets.  Feng threatens him with the finality of his withdrawal from financing the bridge, but Frank could not care less.  Tusk complains to the President of Frank’s disobedience forgetting that his knowledge of Frank’s conversation with Feng implied his own insubordination.  Frank advises the President to walk out of the summit and to refuse to negotiate with China, an advice Tusk warns the President against taking.  Sensing the futility of the conference call, the President steps in and admits his two errors.  He recognizes now that he erred in accepting Tusk’s recommended Chinese emissary and making Frank his envoy.  President Garrett Walker pulls out of the negotiations with China due to Frank’s failure as the back-channel emissary.  Frank had successfully steered the President to take the action he desired him to make.  Later, he resumes his duty and attends the groundbreaking of the Overland Campaign Visitor Center where he gives his grandfather the honor to break the earth.  Frank then asks for a moment of silence in remembrance of the dead.  He buries his ring in the broken earth.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Chapter 17 Season 2 – House of Cards Episode Summary 2.4

Claire Underwood reveals her rapist to Ashleigh Banfield
House of Cards Chapter 17 Episode Summary: Vice President Frank Underwood sets out to inveigle House Representative Donald Blythe to support the entitlement reform, but finds that the man he betrayed has become difficult to deceive.  Jackie Sharp must prove herself worthy of the Office of the Majority Whip and reluctantly teams up with Remy Danton in the Herculean task of gathering votes for the much contested entitlement reform.  Meanwhile, Claire Underwood must do the live interview on CNN alone due to the biohazard scare that left her husband quarantined in the Capitol.  The interview quickly becomes scandalously revealing.

House of Cards Chapter 17 Recap: Raymond Tusk sends Remy Denton at the last minute to help gather votes for the entitlement reform not wanting its failure to derail President Garrett Walker from mending the conflict with China.  Vice President Francis Underwood persuades Majority Whip Jackie Sharp to accept the help of Remy arguing that people are more likely to accede with both of them making the request.  Frank, on the other hand, will induce House Representative Donald Blythe and consequently his supporters to vote for the entitlement reform.  He only has two hours and seventeen minutes to do so.Continue reading...

Donald grudgingly meets with Frank and immediately declares the futility of Frank’s lobbying for he has no desire of agreeing to his request.  Donald has lost confidence in Frank after he deceptively took over and revamped the Education Bill.  The version that was passed in Congress is diametric to the one Donald drafted.  The betrayal remains fresh in his mind.  Donald vows never to make the same mistake twice.  He formed a twenty-eight man coalition working to keep the integrity of the Democratic Party.  The coalition will not consent to the entitlement reform that goes against the principles of the party.  Frank could see that Donald’s resolve could not be broken.  He informs his wife over the phone of the lost cause and the quarantine of the Capitol due to the white powder present in one of the mails sent to the Office of the Majority Whip.  Meanwhile, Jackie and Remy both struggle to convince the Democrats to support the entitlement reform approved by the Administration.  The backlash from AARP remains one of their concerns, but Remy assures them of having bought the AARP President’s accord with a $45 million endowment.  This, however, will still not appease the senior voters whose eligibility to receive entitlements will be delayed a few years.  Jackie elucidates the alternative, which is the immediate discontinuation of services.  Nevertheless, the Democrats remain adamant with their disinclination to support the bill Frank Underwood crafted due to their distrust of him following the failure of the Education Bill whose political goal was to buy traction with the Republicans.  Jackie plans to intimidate her colleagues into submission, but Remy advises against it.  She follows his advice and inveigles her colleagues with complacence if they choose to withhold their support.  She, however, entices them with the promise of defeating the Republicans and winning the support of the American people through a display of progress and solidarity.  With only eight votes away, Jackie loses her gentility with two Congressmen who remain adamantly against the entitlement reform.  Remy is aware of the needs and requirements of the two house representatives and advises her to bribe them for their votes.  Unlike earlier that day, Jackie dismisses Remy’s advice and instead insults the two Congressmen.  She makes it plain their scheme of withholding their votes for ransom and becomes confident of having won their votes with her reproach.  Jackie declares of only giving rewards to those with good behavior.  The two Congressmen will not gain favors from her if they vote against the entitlement reform.

Donald calls his wife, Marjory, on the phone to inform her of the quarantine.  Frank senses trouble at home and learns that Marjory’s Alzheimer’s disease has worsened enough for Donald’s daughter, Molly, to take a semester off to care for her mother.  Frank seeks to use the man’s vulnerability to win his support.  Regrettably, Donald shrewdly perceives the deception.  He, however, remains trapped with Frank Underwood for a few more hours as one of the tests from the powder-like substance comes up inconclusive.  The quarantine and the evacuation of the Capitol proved propitious to Frank for it postponed the vote for a few more hours.  Moreover, it allowed him to do Donald a favor.  As Vice President of the United States, he was able to demand a means for Donald to speak to his mentally ill wife despite a block of all communication as part of the procedure to combat a security threat.  In addition, it gives him a valid excuse to miss the joint interview with his wife.  The HazMat crew manages to obtain secure two-way radios for Frank and Donald to use.  Frank urges Claire not to wait for him and to do the interview alone.  Later, he painfully listens to Donald speak to his demented wife who fails to recognize or remember him.  The pitiful incident allowed Frank to exploit Donald’s vulnerability with insincere concern.  He eases into the attack with an inquiry about the funding of research on Alzheimer’s, which he learns is grossly inadequate compared to the cost of care for the patients stricken with the disease.  He also discovers that Donald tried to pass a bill that will help fund the research, but was opposed by their mutual enemy, Chairman of Appropriations Howard Webb.  Marjory might have lost her lucidity, but Donald remains perceptive.  He sees past Frank’s false concern and right through his scheme of buying his vote in exchange for the funding of Alzheimer’s research.  The use of Marjory’s illness to coax his support disgusts Donald.

Meanwhile, HEROnymous Bot apprises Lucas Goodwin of the plan he envisioned will gain them access to the highly secure data center that holds the much-coveted phone records that connects Frank Underwood to the deaths of Zoe Barnes and Peter Russo.  Lucas is to use his press credentials and ersatz motive of writing an article about cyberterrorism to obtain a tour of the data center where he will then plug a thumb drive into one of the servers.  HEROnymous Bot convinces Lucas to perform the deed instead of him, arguing that his attendance of the tour before the breach will immediately make him the prime suspect.  The breaking news of the quarantine calls Lucas back to the office, but the eccentric hacker prevents him from doing so.  HEROnymous Bot induces Lucas to forego his duty as a journalist that he may walk him through every line of code he will write in order to retrieve the phone records.  This ensures guilt on both men when they get caught.  Unbeknownst to Lucas, HEROnymous Bot, otherwise known as Gavin Orsay, is working for the FBI.  Gavin struck a deal with the FBI by helping them catch cyber criminals in exchange for his freedom.  He now reports to Doug Stamper’s friend, FBI Agent Nathan Green, who maintains that his absolute freedom can only be attained with his help in the capture of AV Unit or his friends in DecSec.  Gavin is incredulous of the whole cyberterrorism operation established to catch Lucas Goodwin, a journalist inept in coding whom he does not believe to be a real threat.

Connor Ellis struggles to convince the producer to pursue the interview regardless of the absence of the Vice President.  The producer had been patient with the delay believing the reward for an exclusive interview regarding the quarantine worth the wait.  Claire steps in after sensing the disinclination of the producer to agree to the request to have the interview without the Vice President and the desire to use it as an exclusive recount of the quarantine.  Connor cancels the interview after the producer insists on making the entire interview about the quarantine causing the producer to confer with the journalist, Ashleigh Banfield, who is to conduct the interview.  Claire gets her demand and sits for a live interview with Ashleigh on CNN.  As agreed upon, Ashleigh only spends the first few minutes of the interview on the quarantine of Capitol, the reason for Frank Underwood’s absence.  The interview quickly moves on to Claire Underwood, the daughter of wealthy parents, privileged and influential.  Sensing that her background does not appeal with the masses, Claire chooses the memory of her visit to Dealey Plaza with her father.  It is the place where beloved former President John F. Kennedy was shot.  She appeals to the masses with the words of her father about Kennedy, the man who lost his life for making the world a better place.  Ashleigh, however, once again challenges her appeal with an insinuation of having agreed to a marriage of convenience citing her father’s generous contribution to Frank Underwood’s campaign.  Claire gradually loses control of the interview when Ashleigh catches her with a canned response to the question about their decision not to raise children.  The journalist notes having heard the exact answer in previous interviews, catching Claire off-guard.  Claire is even more unprepared with the succeeding question, one that insinuated her having committed abortion.  Frank, still quarantined at the Capitol, watch closely at how his wife handles the question, while Connor indignantly demands the producer to go on commercial.  His petition was rejected.  Claire affirms that she had been pregnant and confesses to have had an abortion.  The shocking revelation startled everyone and rattled Claire who requested for a break during the interview.

Claire deliberates with Connor on how to handle the questions that will follow her shocking revelation.  She reveals to the Communications Director of terminating her pregnancy thrice.  Both agree that she should only confirm one especially since the first two were a result of her promiscuity.  The third one was no better for she and Francis decided to terminate the unplanned pregnancy they saw as a hindrance to his campaign.  Connor advises against continuing the interview, but Claire ignores his advice.  Claire resumes the interview with Ashleigh and discusses the circumstances that led to her abortion.  She claims to have terminated the pregnancy that resulted in the sexual assault she received from a classmate in college.  She did not report the rape out of shame.  Claire continues with the enthralling revelation with the disclosure of the rapist’s identity.  She declares to have seen her rapist recently after thirty years of not seeing him at a commissioning ceremony.  Francis pinned the stars on the man who sexually violated her.  She reveals her rapist as General Dalton McGinnis.  Claire avows that Francis had always known of the assault, but was unaware of the identity of her assailant.  The staggering revelations left Ashleigh Banfield nearly speechless.

At last, the quarantine is lifted.  Frank before rushing to his wife vows to give Donald the funding for Alzheimer’s research despite his averseness to vote for the entitlement reform.  He bumps into Jackie, who informs him of needing four more votes in order to pass the bill.  Seeing the futility of obtaining support for the entitlement reform, Frank moves on to more pressing matters that is his wife’s scandalously revealing interview.  He leaves Jackie Sharp to deal with Donald Blythe and his coalition.  Jackie instructs her secretary to give her every ream of paper in the office and hauls them to Donald’s office.  She claims that the boxes of paper contain the names of every person in America who will lose their benefits due to the government freeze that will follow due to the failure of Congress to vote for the package that include entitlement reform.  Donald remains obdurate with his vote, but Jackie convinces him to get four of his people to vote for the package in order to avert a government shutdown.  They then will work together on the issues of concern citing that she is unlike Frank Underwood.

Claire ponders the half lie she made.  Her rape was true, but it did not impregnate her.  Connor is very well aware of the lie, but supports her of the revelation of her rapist.  She worries about General Dalton McGinnis’ denial, but a private claiming to have been the victim of the General reduces the doubt surrounding her claim.  Claire needs to talk the young woman into agreeing to divulge her identity in order to allow her to make the claim during the interview.  Claire promises protection from the Vice President of the United States ultimately convincing Private Megan Hennessey to come forward.  Private Hennessey joins the interview and reports of at least three sexual assaults by General McGinnis in her class.  Later, husband and wife celebrate their success with a cigarette.  Upon Claire’s urging, Francis sings her “Pretty Polly”, a ballad describing the murder of a young woman after she becomes pregnant and the haunting of her killer that led to his insanity and eventual death.

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