Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chapter 2 Season 1 – House of Cards Episode Summary 1.2

Francis Underwood tells Zoe Barnes to name Catherine Durant as the State Secretary nominee
Episode Summary: Congressman Francis Underwood assembles a team of young staff members to work on the new draft of the Education Reform Act.  After receiving pressure from SanCorp Industries, he works toward fulfilling his end of the bargain and begins the undoing of Michael Kern.  Francis taps Zoe Barnes to write an article that will question Kern’s credibility as Secretary of State with an anti-Israel editorial published in his college newspaper where he was the editor.

House of Cards Chapter 2 Recap: Representative Francis Underwood meets with Speaker Birch and Congressman Rasmussen to discuss the week’s agenda, but there appears to be only one item on their agenda, the cleanup of the education bill that the media revealed as far left of center.  The discussion is fruitless, as neither the Speaker nor the Majority Leader can offer a plan that will effectively resolve the gaffe.  Remy Danton, Francis’ former press secretary, interrupts the excruciating lunch meeting.  Francis introduces him to the politicians and informs them of his making partner at Glendon Hill.  Remy is in charge of one of Glendon Hill’s major clients, SanCorp Industries.  The natural gas company, SanCorp Industries, funds Francis’ office in exchange for his loyalty.  The recent passing over of Francis as Secretary of State has made the natural gas company leery of their deal for they were counting on his nomination to secure the offshore drilling accounts in Argentina.  SanCorp Industries has come to collect the millions they already spent on Francis after believing his promises, Francis assures Remy that he is working on solving the problem that prevented him from fulfilling his side of the bargain.  Despite Remy’s current hold over him, Francis finds Remy’s choice to leave politics for money disappointing, because he believes that real power is in governance.  Moreover, he believes that power is lasting, while money is unenduring.Continue reading...

Given the scandalous expose of Donald Blythe’s draft on The Washington Herald, Linda Vasquez assigns the tedious task of producing the promised education bill to Francis.  He is to get the reformed bill to the floor in the first hundred days of President Garrett Walker’s administration.  Francis assembles a group of six, young congressional staff members his fellow congressional representatives chose to work on the education bill.  Although troubled with the impossible deadline, the group acquiesces to their assignment.  Donald meets with Francis to discuss damage control.  Francis puts on a show of taking the blame for the fiasco knowing that Donald will take the route of the martyr and accept the blame.  Moreover, Donald declares that Francis must be the one to author the much awaited education bill.  He is obviously unaware that Francis already has a team working on a new draft as they speak.  Donald meets with the press to announce his decision to relinquish management of the Education Reform Act.  In addition, he declares Frank Underwood as his replacement.

Francis meets with Zoe Barnes to seek her help dispatching a senator.  He shares with her the editorial on the Camp David Accords that called for President Carter to instruct Israel to withdraw all its citizens from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank adding that the Israelis illegally occupied those territories.  The incendiary editorial was published on a paper where Michael Kern was editor.  He, however, did not personally write the article.  Even Zoe finds the link to be thin, but Francis believes that it is enough to discredit Michael as a formidable candidate for Secretary of State especially since the administration has made the Middle East the priority of its foreign policy.  Zoe continues to resist publishing the story believing that it will fall apart with a simple denial from Michael Kern, but Francis threatens her for her reluctance.  Surrendering to his threat, Zoe submits the story to Lucas Goodwin, who shares the same opinion she had.  She finds herself providing the same argument Francis gave her.  The article is only meant to question the soundness of Michael Kern’s nomination for Secretary of State.

Francis watches Michael express his opinion regarding Israel and Palestine on ABC News and finds that the man has been coached to use Francis’ idea of a trickle-down diplomacy.  Soon, Michael finds himself being asked about an editorial that ran in the Williams College Register where he was editor at the time the article was published.  Although Michael’s press secretary managed to ignore Zoe’s requests for comment, Michael could not find a way to evade the issue now that George Stephanopoulos had brought up the article that he notes will be on the front page of The Washington Herald.  Michael denies writing the editorial, but does not refute having approved its publishing.  He notes that the publication of articles go through a voting process.  Michael puts himself in a quandary when he was unable to say that he did not support the opinion of the editorial that found Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as illegal.  To make matters worse, Michael laughs at the insinuation instead of refuting it.  George Stephanopoulos grills Michael Kern until the nominee of the Secretary of State is left with a gaping mouth unable to defend himself.  It was just what Francis wanted to achieve when he had Zoe write the controversial article.  Doug Stamper finding a burnout, libertarian writer on Michael’s college editorial staff will cement their case against Michael.  Francis and Stamper find Peter Russo to be the perfect person to speak with Michael’s former staff turned drug fiend writer living in a trailer park.

Peter receives a call past midnight and makes an excuse to his girlfriend about meeting with Congressman Wilensky to go over tax incentives.  In reality, he meets with Stamper to give him instructions on an assignment he needs to complete that day.  He boards the plane as per his instructions and spends the time reading the conspiracy blog of Roy Kapeniak.  Soon after his plane arrives, Peter rents a car from Enterprise and drives to a trailer park where Roy resides.  Peter gets a door slammed at his face after introducing himself as Congressman Peter Russo.  He, however, coaxes Roy to speaking with him after declaring himself a fan of his web site bearing a bottle of hard liquor as a gift.  Roy becomes nervous after Peter sits on a bong only to learn that the congressman is into illegal drugs as well.  While Peter is at a trailer park in the Berkshires, Stamper is arranging for the silence of the prostitute Peter was with the night he was arrested.  The prostitute knows very well that Peter is a congressman and for ten grand, she is to forget about the congressman and his arrest.  For a few extra bucks, she performs her services to Stamper.

Francis checks on the team working on the draft of the Education Reform Act, finds them toiling over it, and still wearing the same clothes they had the day he assigned them the task.  The team has not left the room in half a week, but they have made significant progress.  They, however, are unsure about including performance standards in the bill certain that the teachers unions will disapprove of it.  Francis instructs the team to leave it in the bill and assures them that he will handle the unions.  He later joins Stamper in watching Michael Kern’s undoing on a video posted on CNN’s web site that showed the State Secretary nominee laughing at the issue of Israel’s supposed illegal occupation of Palestine.  Dennis Mendel, the president of the Anti-Defamation League, whom Francis called soon after Michael’s interview, labels Michael Kern an anti-Semite and expresses his concern of having him appointed as Secretary of State.  Meanwhile, Peter speaks with Roy over alcohol and illegal drugs about the article that started Michael’s undoing.  Roy, however, states that Michael had no hand in the controversial article for he wrote every word of it.  He, however, did say that Michael used to share the same opinions as his, but all those he put behind him when he saw that he has a future in political office.  Peter wants Roy to make a statement that Michael wrote the college article calling Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank illegal.

Evelyn Baxter speaks to Claire Underwood about the termination of a majority of their employees and her continued reluctance to proceed with it.  Evelyn expresses her regret at Claire’s decision to change the direction of the organization they spent ten years building.  Moreover, she conveys her disapproval of the terminations believing the act to be cruel, but Claire is only interested in knowing whether there are legal repercussions to the dismissals and is relieved to know that there is none.  Evelyn following her superior’s orders proceeds with the terminations only to learn that she too is to leave the organization.  Claire made the decision after hearing of Evelyn’s disapproval of her direction, but only decided to dismiss her after Evelyn has done the grueling task of terminating eighteen employees.  Evelyn now experiences self-pity after letting herself be used and begins to worry about her future.  She believes that there is not a company that will hire a woman of her age.  Claire decides to address the remaining employees to explain the demoralizing recent events in their organization.  She acknowledges that those who were asked to leave helped build CWI from the ground up, but she makes it clear that their organization has to evolve and in order to do that she had to make way for new people.  The remaining employees despite their silence did not receive the address well.  Later, Claire buys a medium decaf latte.  She is reminded of Evelyn after a cashier around the same age as Evelyn struggles with her order.  The woman’s manager who could be the cashier’s daughter helps the poor woman with the order.

Tom Hammerschmidt meets with his senior journalists and asks Janine Skorsky about the Michael Kern story, but learns that the White House has been avoiding questions regarding the State Secretary nominee.  Zoe, very much aware of the lack of links between the college article and Michael Kern, interrupts the meeting with news of having found a direct link from Kern to the editorial.  She names Roy Kapeniak, Kern’s classmate, saying on record that Michael Kern wrote every word of the editorial.  Her news caused the editor-in-chief to dismiss abruptly his meeting with the senior journalists so that he, Zoe, Lucas, and Janine can discuss the new development.  Michael Kern speaks to the press to state definitively that he did not author the controversial editorial.  He did this in response to the news of Roy Kapeniak’s claim that Michael was the author of the anti-Israel editorial.  Michael struggling to appease angry Israelis inadvertently upset Palestinians after stating that there cannot be a Palestine without Israel.  CNN wasted no time to get a comment from the Jordanian ambassador incensed with Kern’s statement reminding the senator that there was a Palestine long before there was an Israel.  Having watched Michael Kern’s downfall, Francis calls Cathy to prepare her for her rise as the new Secretary of State nominee.  Meanwhile, Peter Russo, the man that made all of this possible arrives at his office undeniably intoxicated much to the horror of her senior staff and girlfriend, Christina Gallagher.

Francis meets Zoe to feed her the news of Kern’s withdrawal as a candidate for Secretary of State.  Conversely, the story he wants her to write is Senator Catherine Durant’s nomination as State Secretary in place of Michael Kern.  Zoe comes to a realization that it was Francis, who found the Roy Kapeniak that eventually led to Kern’s immediate downfall.  Francis wants Zoe to make a stir over her prediction of Catherine Durant’s appointment believing that the kerfuffle will lead the President of the United States to consider seriously nominating her as Secretary of State.  True enough, her prediction has caught the attention of the media and the nation as a Zogby poll found wide support for Durant across party lines.  Durant’s ten-year tenure on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and diplomatic experience make her a distinguished candidate for the position.  The media and politicians alike agree that Catherine Durant is the right choice so much so that they have already begun to criticize the President’s dillydallying of her nomination.

While the news is clogged with stories surrounding the appointment of a Secretary of State, Francis’ team is hard at work producing the first draft of the Education Reform Act.  After days of ceaseless work, the team has produced a draft that will make history impressing the President’s Chief of Staff tremendously.  With Linda eating out of Francis’ hand, he redirects their meeting to the Secretary of State nomination.  Linda confesses that Catherine was not even being considered as a nominee until the media was led to believe that she has been tapped for the job.  The news surrounding her nomination led the President to consider her as a candidate, but Linda has reservations about Catherine knowing that the woman campaigned against the President in the last elections.  Francis, however, believes that the moment the woman shows herself to be above party politics is the time she would work all the harder for it.  This and her unquestionable experience in foreign policy make her a candidate worth considering.

Janine begins to wonder about Zoe’s luck enough to make her believe that the young journalist is sleeping with somebody important to have had this much good fortune.  Her controversial articles had in fact led Zoe into the limelight turning her from an unknown Metro scrub into a sought after journalist giving a TV interview about her success as a newsmaker.  Francis sees her interview and he could not contain a smile for his hand at her rise to stardom.  Having followed the turbulent events surrounding the appointment of a new Secretary of State, Remy Danton waits for him outside.  He only has one question in mind.  Will Catherine Durant favor SanCorp Industries? Francis is very confident that she will.  Outside, the police try to pacify a disheveled man who began to scream and tear off his clothes after being denied entrance to the Capitol.  Francis walks over to the still screaming man who is now handcuffed to a streetlamp.  He tells the man that nobody can hear his screams and nobody cares about him so he might as well surrender to the police and let them take him home.  Francis too makes his way home and his wife finds him in the basement breaking in the rowing machine Claire bought him.  Claire is pleased to see that her husband has finally used the machine that had infuriated him before feeling that his wife has overstepped her boundary.

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