Sunday, March 9, 2014

Chapter 3 Season 1 – House of Cards Episode Summary 1.3

Francis Underwood eulogy
Episode Summary: Representative Francis Underwood leaves the Education Reform Act negotiating table to deal with matters in his home district.  The reason for his absence at the vital meeting with the teachers unions is the tragic death of a teenager that is blamed on The Peachoid that he fought to keep.  Francis is left to deal remotely with the teachers unions’ disapproval of performance testing on teachers and the use of federal funds on charter schools.  Meanwhile, Zoe Barnes’ prediction of Catherine Durant’s nomination pushed her straight into the limelight as she appears on CNN for an interview with Soledad O’Brien.

House of Cards Chapter 3 Recap: Congressman Francis Underwood and the team that wrote the new draft of the Education Reform Act meet with the heads of the teachers unions.  Just as one of his staff members predicted, the section that imposes performance evaluation on teachers becomes the subject of contention.  Francis argues that it is the intention of the Administration to have performance testing and comes up with a compromise of decreasing the frequency of the evaluation.  The heads of the unions are adamant about not having any kind of performance evaluation imposed upon the teachers.  However, the AFT spokesperson, Marty Spinella, shows willingness to accept the new requirement given that veteran teachers are exempt from testing if they have a proven record of excellence with the students.  Regrettably, a matter far removed from the education bill he is trying to pass has called the attention of Francis leading him to excuse himself from the vital meeting with the teachers unions.Continue reading...

Francis learns that Oren Chase, the county administrator of his home district has made a public statement blaming him for the tragic death of a teen.  Jessica Masters, a 17-year-old girl ran off the road, after sending a vulgar text about The Peachoid to her boyfriend.  The teenager lost control of the car leading to her death.  To make matters worse, Oren has been importuning the parents of the teen to sue Gaffney with the personal goal of dragging Francis into the mud.  The county administrator has his eye on Francis’ congressional seat and finds the tragedy his way to steal it from him.  Francis finds the smear campaign ludicrous that he plans to ignore it.  Doug Stamper, however, advises that despite the foolishness of the threat, it is something that they have to pacify before it spins out of control.  Francis cannot afford to lose an ounce of his credibility for he needs it to get the education bill passed in congress.  Doug advises that the only way to contain the potentially dangerous smear campaign is for Francis to fly down to Gaffney to speak to the parents of the teenager.  Francis must now make a decision to leave the negotiation table of a high profile bill to deal with a small town tragedy.  Doug explains that if the parents pursue the lawsuit against Gaffney, Francis will have to attend the trial and even testify leaving him no time or credibility to be at the forefront of the groundbreaking education bill.  The Peachoid wins.  Francis prepares to leave for Gaffney and he is to fly there with Ed Meechum, a new bodyguard, since his longtime bodyguard has become ill.

Zoe Barnes’ rise to fame has caught the attention of Margaret Tilden, the owner of The Washington Herald.  Mrs. Tilden is friends with Catherine Durant, and she found Zoe’s profile on her friend in-depth and uncompromising.  The woman has become curious of how Zoe knew of her nomination before the nominee even did.  Zoe, however, would not divulge her source not even to Mrs. Tilden.  The young journalist’s steadfastness impresses the woman even more that she asks Tom Hammerschmidt to move Zoe’s article to the front page of the Sunday edition.

Claire Underwood meets with Gillian Cole, the founder of World Well.  It was Claire’s intention to absorb World Well, and is in fact the reason why she fired half of her staff.  She needed the money to make room for Gillian’s organization.  Yet, the action Claire took is the same one that is making the woman apprehensive about accepting the merger.  Another issue the founder of World Well brought about is her supposition that Claire has commissioned Adam Galloway, a famous photographer, to take striking photographs for her organization.  As it turns out, Claire did not have to commission Adam for those photographs for she is friends with the man.  In fact, it was Claire, who made it possible for an art gallery in Chelsea to represent Adam; in return, the gallery donates thousands of dollars to CWI.  Claire makes a case that CWI’s funding can help World Well, while Gillian’s expertise will benefit CWI.  Later, Claire jogs through the cemetery where an old woman reproaches her for her lack of respect for the dead.  The encounter disconcerted the stern and insensitive founder of the charitable organization.

Francis arrives in Gaffney, a town he hated when he was a kid, but one he had come to appreciate for it reminds him of how far up in the world he had gone.  He meets with Gene Clancy, the mayor, at the scene of the accident.  They stare at the object that has taken the blame, The Peachoid. The mayor tells him that the town does not have the money for the lawsuit.  Francis very much aware of the reason why Gaffney is in danger of facing a lawsuit confronts the man who proposed it, Oren Chase.  It appears that the unprepossessing water tower did have a hand on the quagmire.  The Peachoid was the one that helped Francis win against Oren in the last elections.  Francis turned the Peach Farmers against Oren when he proposed tearing The Peachoid down.  The same water tower that kept his seat in congress can be his undoing, because Oren is adamant about putting the blame on Francis for the simple fact that he fought to keep The Peachoid standing.  Aware of Oren’s main goal, Francis offers him a seat in congress eyeing the seat of a retiring congressman, but Oren refuses to make a deal.  Francis meets with Gaffney’s government officials to discuss their options.  They, however, are split with half wanting Gaffney to go to court, while the other unwilling to accept the blame.  The fact of the matter is that the negligence of the teenager caused her death, but Francis knows that the jury will sympathize with the victim despite her texting while driving.  With no solution at hand, Francis takes charge and comes up with settlement money to appease the grieving parents.  He instructs one of the officials to build two billboards beside The Peachoid warning drivers about texting behind the wheel.  Moreover, he instructs them not to light the water tower at night, and to use the money for its electric bill to start a scholarship fund in the victim’s name instead.  Given the large electric bill The Peachoid incurs, Francis is certain that the peach farmers will agree to its remaining unlit at night when the town officials have them pay the bill.

Miles away from the negotiating table, Francis finds himself explaining the statutes of the education bill over the phone.  The performance evaluation remains to be the subject of contention.  Although the teachers unions have agreed to keep it in the bill, they demand to be part of the selection of the council of experts that will determine the criteria for evaluation.  With the teachers unions agreeing to the performance evaluation, they move on to another disputable topic that is charter schools.  As expected, the unions reject charter schools.  The teachers unions have threatened to go on strike if the bill supports charter schools.  They oppose the idea of using public funds for non-public spending.  Francis, however, makes it clear that the creation of charter schools is the cornerstone of the bill.  Marty appears willing to accept charter schools, but he would like to discuss ways to reduce non-public spending.

A sober Peter Russo has dinner with Christina Gallagher at a fancy restaurant where his girlfriend and staff member informs him that she was offered a job as Deputy L.D. at the Speaker’s office.  Although Peter was saddened at the idea of losing Christina, he gives his full support to his girlfriend.  They return to the apartment and Peter’s mind is still preoccupied with Christina’s news at dinner.  Peter finds a small bag of cocaine in his toiletries bag, but he throws it down the drain instead of using it.  He then tells his girlfriend how he really feels about her taking the job at the Speaker’s office.  Peter admits that it is selfish of him to prevent her from taking the step to further her career, but he nonetheless pleads her not to take it.  The next day, Christina is alarmed to find Peter out of bed.  She finds him at the dining table uncharacteristically hard at work on a weekend with the BRAC Commission.  Christina finds that her potential departure is still looming over their heads.  She makes it clear to Peter that her decision will be based on what she wants and not on what he wants.  Peter understands her desire and they put the issue to rest.

Francis attends the vigil in memoriam of the deceased teenager to express his condolences.  Mr. Masters receives Francis rudely making it clear that he finds him to blame, and the reason why he does so becomes clear when Oren appears to advise the Masters against speaking to Francis given their pending lawsuit.  With the head of the household unwilling to accept Francis’ thoughtful gesture, Francis is left to accept his dismissal.  He, however, sees the Reverend among the crowd and asks him a favor.  The hours Francis spent away from the negotiating table gave the teachers unions time to put forth a case against charter schools and performance evaluation.  They argue that charter schools jeopardize their ability to organize.  The unions would like a more demanding performance evaluation of charter schools afraid that their success will highlight the failure of regular public schools.  Marty tries to hide the ulterior motive that the unions have inadvertently made clear with a statement that federal funds should only go to public union school districts.  Francis argues that they had already agreed to increase non-charter funding making the issue of charter schools getting federal funds negligible.  Marty contends that even a trivial amount will set a precedent and that is the cause of their discontent.

Tired with negotiating, Francis asks one of the representatives to walk them through the process of determining the amount of funding and then he puts them on mute that he may speak with his wife.  He found his wife’s call a welcome distraction.  Having admired the tulips in their front yard, he asks his wife about them and becomes even more pleased to hear that Claire had planted them last fall when he was in Spartanburg for a fundraiser.  The thought of his urbane wife on her knees in the dirt thrilled him.  Meanwhile, the incident with the woman at the cemetery continues to bother Claire and she was in the middle of imparting the episode to her husband when Francis receives a text from Zoe.  Francis informing his wife of the text made Claire forego her sharing in spite of Francis’ insistence that she go on with her story.  Zoe explains her cryptic text as the number of hours that elapsed since they last spoke.  She flirts with the man that feeds her information desperately trying to please him.

Francis watches Starting Point on CNN following Zoe’s suggestion and sees her discussing sexism with Soledad O’Brien having brought up the issue in her profile of Catherine Durant.  He finds a gracious Zoe Barnes acknowledging her colleague Janine Skorsky for being the first woman at The Washington Herald to become chief political correspondent.  She somehow alludes to the newspaper’s non-progressive management despite her insistence that The Herald is in fact progressive.  The allusion to The Herald’s traditional management led Soledad O’Brien to point out that the newspaper’s model may not be suitable to the Internet age, which has become apparent in its declining readership.  Zoe well known for criticizing The Herald for its traditional journalism seems to have purposely directed Soledad O’Brien to a path that would lead her to agree that The Washington Herald has not done enough to adapt to the current demand.  Tom is aghast at the interview Zoe gave at CNN.  He reproaches her for being the news when her job is to report the news.  Moreover, he disapproves of Zoe oversharing the activities and personalities in their newspaper.  Having been imposed upon rules, Zoe quickly feels denigrated, because of her age and gender.  Tom unafraid of accusations of sexism adds to the rules he wants Zoe to abide by and he prohibits her from doing TV interviews for a month.

The favor Frank had asked of the Reverend becomes known when the Reverend calls him to speak a few words during Sunday service.  The Masters are part of the congregation and are in the front row.  Francis makes a show of foregoing his plan to read from the Bible to talk instead about hate.  He speaks of the anger that must be consuming the Masters given the terrible loss of their child.  He then offers a personal story of his father dying young of a heart attack and the hatred he directed towards God for having taken his father before his time.  In reality, Francis did not think much of his father neither did his mother and he did not find his passing a loss.  Francis, in his eulogy, was able to direct the blame to God and away from him.  Given the Masters’ faith in God, they sure are not going to question Him and they would then accept that their daughter’s death is part of God’s plan.  Little did they know that the eulogy is part of Francis’ plan.  The Masters find themselves at Francis’ home waiting for him to bring out refreshments unaware that Francis is on the phone with Marty convincing him to prevent the teachers unions from walking out of the negotiations with a promise of leniency on the performance standards.  With Marty and Stamper holding the fort, Francis attends to the Masters.  He had invited them to his home to offer them a sizeable settlement with the pretense of helping them avoid years of court battles that will only dredge up painful feelings surrounding their loss.  Moreover, Francis informs them of having spoken with the president of the university where Jessica was supposed to study and having agreed to create a new scholarship program in her name.  He also informs the Masters of having put up safety measures to prevent another tragedy from happening.  This, however, only incensed Mr. Masters stating that the safety measures should have been put in place long before the tragic accident of his daughter.  Francis then offers him his resignation if it will appease Mr. Masters.  He makes a display of wanting to work for them.  He knows his people as those that take pride in their humility, and it is through this that Francis had the Masters accept his generous offers.  Francis and the Mayor of Gaffney return to Oren Chase’s house with the findings that Jessica Masters would have survived the car crash if her car did not roll over three times down a 20-foot ditch.  Regrettably, there were no guardrails on the road, because Oren, the county administrator, did not build them.  To add to his misfortune for coming against Francis, he is now on the verge of losing his house, because Francis and the mayor will no longer fight Piedmont Electric when they apply to bring power lines through Gaffney.  The power lines will go through Oren’s lot.  Francis, however, is willing to put everything behind them and let Oren keep his house if he agrees to accept the seat in the fourth district allowing Francis to keep the fifth congressional district.

Not having heard back from Gillian, Claire takes it upon herself to drop by the woman’s apartment.  Gillian’s illness is in fact a Giardia infection.  Claire guessed that the woman does not have health insurance and insisted that Gillian see her doctor.  The truth of the matter is Gillian has become accustomed to being sick and she finds Giardia as the least concerning of all the illnesses she sustained from the trips to destitute towns.  Claire finds that the woman is willing to make sacrifices knowing that Gillian turned down a six-figure salary at Google to start her own non-profit organization.  Gillian confesses the real reason for her turning the profitable job.  She would have hated herself for being a corporate sellout.  She finds that her Stanford degree is worth more than allowing Google fill its diversity quota.  Claire does not see Gillian as just any Asian girl with a Stanford degree.  She finds her a woman with a clear goal and she wants to enable her to reach this goal on Gillian’s terms.  It was this assurance that made Gillian accept Claire’s offer to work together.

Having succeeded in pacifying the Masters, Francis makes his way home without forgetting to pick tulips to bring home to his wife.  He receives a call from Zoe on his drive to the airport.  The young woman wants his advice on whether to accept the interview with Nightline after her superior prohibited her from doing TV interviews for a month.  He need not give her advice, because Zoe truly wants to appear on Nightline and would do so despite Tom’s orders.  Francis goes directly to the negotiating table upon his return leaving Ed to bring the tulips to Claire, but the woman is not home.  Claire went on a stroll at the cemetery where she finds a couple making out on top of a grave, an act that is much more disrespectful than her jog through the graveyard.  The sight made her smile.

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