Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chapter 1 Season 1 – House of Cards Episode Summary 1.1

Representative Francis Underwood becomes Zoe Barnes' source
Episode Summary: Congressman Francis Underwood having done his job to support the newly elected President Garrett Walker expects to reap his reward with the Secretary of State nomination.  He soon becomes aware of the president’s betrayal after learning that the president already has someone else in mind.  The betrayal also affects his wife, Claire Underwood, for a substantial donation from SanCorp to her organization is dependent on her husband’s nomination.  Francis, unwilling to accept defeat, hatches up a plan to exact revenge.  Meanwhile, Zoe Barnes, a talented young journalist at The Washington Herald is anxious to cover news with substance.  Her inexperience, however, becomes a hindrance and is the reason for her trifling assignments.  Her determination lands her high profile news that will propel her career as a serious journalist.

House of Cards Chapter 1 Recap: Francis Underwood bursts out of his house after hearing a crash and a screeching car fleeing the scene.  He and his bodyguard, Steve, find the dog of his neighbor lying on the street whimpering in pain.  He puts the dog to sleep with his bare hands stating his distaste for useless pain.  Later, he and his wife, Claire Underwood, celebrate the New Year at the White House with their host President-elect Garrett Walker and a slew of top politicians and aides.  As expected Vice President Jim Matthews is there enjoying the festivity unaware that his party is about to force his retirement after doing his job in delivering the Keystone State where he was governor.  There also is the Chief of Staff, Linda Vasquez, whom Francis attests he helped land the coveted job.  Linda, a woman not to mention a tough Latina, proved to be the perfect choice for the job.  Francis sees her as the gatekeeper to the White House, one people like him would need to be on his side.  This is because, Francis, the House Majority Whip has ambitions of his own.  He feels that his role as the person to keep things moving in Congress is about to end for he is now ready to start a new chapter in his political career.  Husband and wife return to their house looking forward to an announcement that will propel Francis’ political career.  Moreover, his appointment will ensure a generous donation from SanCorp to Claire’s foundation.Continue reading...

Zoe Barnes is at The Washington Herald, and finds an opportunity to bump into the editor-in-chief, Mr. Hammerschmidt, hopeful that the man will recognize her; he did not.  The young woman weary of covering the Fairfax County Council begs her superior, Lucas Goodwin, to allow her to write an insider blog about the Hill.  Lucas rejects her request for he finds insider blogs no better than TMZ, a type of journalism he detests.  Zoe, on the other hand, has found respect for the news website turned TV series due to the amount of viewers it attracts.  She blames journalists like Lucas for the death of print journalism.

Representative Peter Russo arrives at his office and learns that a guest is already waiting for him.  An irked Henry Chapman of the Province Trust has come to persuade Peter to make changes to the zoning laws so his company can begin building on the empty lot that is the subject of contention.  Province Trust donated fifty grand towards Peter’s election, which they expect the congressman to return in kind.  A supposed call from the President-elect interrupts their conversation.  In reality, it is only Christina on the other line bailing Peter from an uncomfortable meeting with Mr. Chapman.  He listens to Christina’s salacious statements as Mr. Chapman believing that the President-elect is on the other line looks on with anticipation.

Francis meets with Linda disappointed that the President could not attend their meeting.  He begins the meeting with the memo regarding the Middle East policy he plans to send only to learn that the President is no longer nominating him as Secretary of State.  Only a few weeks in office and already the President has started to break his promises with the excuse that Congress needs Francis.  Washington is pushing for a complete federal overhaul of education, one that is in danger of failing due to the division in Congress.  The President sees Francis as the man to get his plans moving in Congress.  Despite deliberately choosing Michael Kern over Francis for Secretary of State, Linda asks Francis for his support.  After thinking through her request, Francis expresses his continued support for the President.  The disappointment of being passed over looms over him that he chooses solitude as he gathers the strength to deliver the unfortunate news to his wife.  He returns home hoping to avoid his wife only to find her waiting for him, incensed at his avoidance.  She claims to be more upset of his evasion than the loss of the SanCorp donation.  Early that morning, Claire finds her husband smoking a cigarette by the window where he spent the whole of last night thinking of a solution to their predicament.

Francis’ staff watches the news announcing the nomination of junior senator Michael Kern for State Department, a position they know very well their superior coveted.  They agree not to speak of the nomination without Francis’ prompting.  Francis calls his right hand, Doug Stamper, in a private meeting to discuss his plan.  He finds a positive aspect on the betrayal done to him.  Francis no longer finds himself indebted to President Walker and his Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez, and he sets his eyes on a more worthy prize.  Their first order of business is to bring down Kern and install their choice for State Secretary.  He and Doug go through a list of potential candidates and find Catherine Durant a suitable choice.  The woman known to be anti-Walker and has the experience necessary to become State Secretary.  With a chosen candidate, their plan now only needs a person they can control to do their bidding.

Peter Russo makes love to his assistant and girlfriend, Christina Gallagher. Soon after, Christina, knowing the inappropriateness of their relationship, begins to wonder if he would abandon her soon after he tires of her.  After six months of being together, Peter finally declares his love for her.  A few days later, he is caught with another woman in his car and is pulled over on a traffic infraction only to be found driving under the influence.  His blunder is Francis’ gain for he now has found his patsy.  Doug meets with the police commissioner luring him into consenting with their request with a promise to help him fulfill his ambition of becoming the mayor of D.C.  Christina bails Peter out of jail.
Francis meets with Peter to discuss his recent indiscretion.  Naïve, Peter assures Francis that he made it out scot-free only to learn that his deliverance was due to Francis.  The Whip reads a litany of Peter’s offenses.  Peter comes to a realization that Francis has met with him to exact reward for having saved him.  Francis wants his absolute and unquestioning loyalty.  With an errand boy in place, Francis speaks with Catherine about making her Secretary of State.  The woman becomes suspicious of his motives, but is attracted to the idea of holding the much-coveted position.  Moreover, Francis’ insistence of needing someone like her to stand up to the president when he is wrong stroked her ego.

Zoe determined to cover news on Washington offers political reporter Janine Skorsky help with research.  Janine having heard of Zoe’s plan to write an insider’s blog rejects her offer.  She, however, finds a man to bring him to the symphony where many dignitaries are in attendance.  One of them is Congressman Francis Underwood, who was caught sneaking a glance at Zoe’s behind when she walked passed him in her skimpy white dress.  The act was caught on camera that a photographer from The Washington Herald thought to share with Zoe.  Soon, Zoe is knocking on the Underwoods’ front door much to the chagrin of the congressman’s bodyguard.  The congressman himself answers the door and soon enough learns of Zoe’s identity.  Disapproving of the reporter’s intrusion, Francis prepares to dismiss the young woman when she shows him a photo of him glancing at her behind.  Francis invites Zoe inside his house and learns of her intention.  Zoe asks Francis to become her source with the promise to print anything the congressman desires without asking any questions.  The congressman argues against the disadvantages of agreeing to her proposal, and shares his knowledge of the inconsequentiality of the articles Zoe has been writing.  She acknowledges the insignificance of the job she has been tasked to do, and declares that she is better than the assignments given her.  Moreover, she finds her situation analogous to the congressman fully aware of his being passed over for the State Secretary position.  Francis considers acceding to the young reporter’s offer, and has yet to decide confirming or rejecting Zoe’s suspicion that education is first in the administration’s legislative agenda.

Linda pays a visit to Francis’ office that Francis sees as a desperate move from the Chief of Staff.  Even more desperate is her attempt to get his favor by offering him privileged seats at the inauguration that includes a set of tickets at the Jefferson Ball.  Francis suspects that Linda has come to seek his help in making the education bill a reality, and guesses that the administration had enlisted Donald Blythe to draft the legislation.  Francis disapproves of the choice, and ostensibly so does Linda.  The Chief of Staff, however, came in defense of the President citing that Donald Blythe is the face of education for his relentless effort to reform it.  Francis’ job is to bring Donald, known to be a proponent of far-left politics, to the middle in order to get the bill passed within the first hundred days of President Walker’s administration.  With the president seeking to make the pledge in his inaugural speech, Linda looks to Francis to assure her of the bill’s passing.  Francis gives her his word.  He meets with Donald to review the bill, and soon shreds it to pieces to Donald’s shock.  Francis finds no chance of getting the bill passed at its current state, and is resigned to the fact that he will have to write the education bill.

Claire informs her office manager, Evelyn Baxter, that their foundation will no longer be receiving a donation from SanCorp.  Even without the donation, Claire is adamant in expanding their charity work internationally.  The lack of funding, however, forces them to let go some of their staff including those who have been with the organization since its establishment.  Evelyn, aware of their lack of experience or knowledge for Claire’s proposal to build wells in Africa, becomes even more discombobulated at hearing of Claire’s plan to hire new people to help with their international efforts.  Evelyn completely disapproves of letting go of the pioneers of the organization to make room for new ones, but Claire remains resolute and unyielding.  Claire, however, is aware that staff cuts are not enough to sustain her organization’s expenses.  She plans to get the Holburns to make a sizeable donation to CWI, which she can arrange in exchange for tickets to the Jefferson Ball.

Zoe receives a call from Francis and hastens to meet with him.  Francis confirms her suspicion, while she makes assumptions that the president needs an education bill sponsored by somebody with legitimacy on the subject.  There is only one person that fits the bill, and that is Donald Blythe.  Even Zoe is astounded with the choice given that Donald is a proponent of an old-school tax-and-spend politics, while President Walker built a persona as a moderate.  Nonetheless, Francis serves her first break in journalism with a shredded copy of the first draft of Donald Blythe’s education bill.  Soon, Linda learns that Donald Blythe has been asked to rewrite completely the draft for the education bill making her extremely anxious about its completion and its inclusion in the inaugural speech.  Francis, however, assures her that the setback will not affect their plan to get it ready within President Walker’s first hundred days in office.  Zoe returns to the office greeted by Lucas’ reproach after she had left work without a word and ignored his calls.  She says nothing, and hands him the draft of the education bill.  The weight of what Zoe has delivered prompted Lucas to show it to their editor-in-chief, Tom Hammerschmidt, who then hastens to get the legalities of publishing it squared away.  He, however, is unwilling to publish the draft by itself.  Fortunately, in the few hours Zoe was out of the office, she managed to put together excerpts and analysis of Donald Blythe’s draft of the education bill.  She apprises them of the contents of the bill, stating its angle as very far left of center, so contradictory to the newly elected president’s propaganda that won him the presidency.  The tables have turned as Tom assigns Janine to do background copy for Zoe.  This did not sit well with the chief political correspondent.

The day of the inauguration has arrived and just a few rows from the president’s podium stand Francis and Claire Underwood.  With Francis’ assurance, President Walker makes education the keystone of his administration.  He promises delivering a comprehensive education reform bill that will properly fix, finance, and strengthen America’s schools.  Moreover, he pledges to have the bill in congress within the first hundred days of his administration.  All essential dignitaries attend the Jefferson Ball along with some privileged friends such as the Holburns, who could not thank Claire enough for procuring those tickets to the exclusive event.  Given his recent nomination, Senator Michael Kern enjoys being surrounded by opportunists as a riled Francis looks on.  He leaves their table to speak with Donald, who is preoccupied with rewriting the education bill, but finds refuge in Catherine Durant for her installation as Secretary of State will not only further his plans, but also damage Michael’s career.

Francis takes his breakfast at Freddy’s BBQ Joint, a derelict restaurant that serves scrumptious rack of ribs.  On the front page of The Washington Herald beside news of the inauguration is Zoe Barnes’ expose on the education bill.  She reveals that the bill the president so emphatically vowed to pass in Congress is far left of center as it ties massive funding package to liberal mandates and significantly expands Federal Control.  Its revelation alarms Donald and the administration, while Francis relishes at his handiwork and The Washington Herald gets a surge of traffic on their website.


Watch Chapter 1 of Season 1 of House of Cards
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