Episode Summary: Francis Underwood gains favor when President Garret Walker signs the pivotal Education Reform and Achievement Act. His work on the keystone bill of the new administration becomes his weapon in persuading the President into endorsing, Peter Russo, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict as a candidate for Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race. Frank sets in motion the redemption story that will be the narrative of Peter’s campaign, but Peter begins to have doubts on their strategy afraid to face the consequences of revealing his secrets to his family and the public.
House of Cards Chapter 7 Recap: Everyone gather in the Oval Office to attend the press conference President Garrett Walker called to announce the signing into law of the Education Reform and Achievement Act. Vice President Jim Matthews finds himself relegated off to the side, but decides to stand beside President Garrett Walker taking over the place reserved for Representative Terry Womack. Unwilling to stand on his designated mark despite the urging of one of the President’s staffs, Vice President Matthews soon finds himself standing behind an African American boy who represents the beneficiaries of the bill. He feels even more marginalized as the President publicly expresses his gratitude to Congressman Francis Underwood for spearheading the Education Reform and Achievement Act.
Matthews later speaks to Frank about Peter Russo’s candidacy as governor of his home state. His insecurity for DNC’s decision not to ask for his opinion regarding the candidate overwhelms the legitimacy of his doubt about Peter’s ability to draw in rural voters. Frank tries to persuade Matthews to show his support for Peter in order to help him with his candidacy, but the Vice President is hesitant to endorse a candidate he finds unfit. Matthews later finds himself in a meeting with Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez to convey President Walker’s order for him to take a step back from Pennsylvania. The President has learned that the Vice President has been spending much of his time at his home state as though he is still its governor inadvertently making the White House appear partial to Pennsylvania. Their meeting surfaces Matthews’ insecurities that stems from his marginalization in President Garrett’s administration. His diffidence ultimately manifests with his complaint of not receiving a pen from the bill signing. Later, Matthews sneaks into the Oval Office to sit on the president’s chair and steals a commemorative pen from his desk.
Doug Stamper returns to his office after attending an AA meeting with Peter Russo and finds a letter asking him for more money. He meets with Rachel Posner, who hides a black eye behind dark sunglasses. The young woman who yearns to leave the life of prostitution attempts to extort money from Stamper using the information she has about the cover-up concerning Peter’s arrest as fodder. Stamper warns her about the consequences of blackmailing powerful men. Rachel, at her wits’ end, begs for help from Stamper, who begins to pity the young woman. He gives her cash to help her get a fresh start, but demands that she inform him of her whereabouts. Stamper then extorts Police Commissioner Barney Hull into funneling funds from his mayoral campaign to finance a troubled hooker’s escape from prostitution. Stamper uses the police commissioner’s debt of gratitude towards Frank for helping fund his campaign and the threat of the prostitute divulging the commissioner’s dismissal of Peter Russo’s arrest as ways to persuade the man into agreement. Barney, however, is more afraid of the consequences of playing with campaign finance regulations. After failing to coerce the police commissioner into helping him, Stamper takes the last resort and compels Frank’s secretary, Nancy Kaufberger, to take in Rachel secretly into her home for an indefinite period of time and without asking any questions. Nancy foregoes spending a weekend with her daughter to receive Rachel in her house. The young stranger is to sleep in her daughter’s old bedroom.
Peter arrives at the basement of the Underwoods that currently serves as his campaign headquarters. He sits in silence as he listens to the campaign staff discuss their plan to present his story of redemption given his debauched history of drugs and alcohol. Aside from his personal issues, they also must address the matter of the shipyard closing. Claire Underwood and her staff are working on the Delaware River Watershed Act that will make up for the jobs lost due to the shipyard closing. All are hard at work and progressing with their assignments except Peter whose only tasks are to keep sober, to find co-sponsors for the bill, and to get the support of the shipbuilders. Peter argues that the proposed bill will not do much in getting the support of the shipbuilders given that the jobs it will create will not match the jobs that were lost. His criticism of the bill annoys Claire enough for her to confide her concern to her husband who foregoes their discussion. Frank, however, makes note of Claire’s sudden interest with origami, one she does not deny, but avoids to discuss. In fact, Claire does not disclose the impetus of her new interest probably believing that her husband will find her compassion for the homeless man as a form of weakness. Frank does not dwell on it as well and instead brings up her standing in front of the refrigerator. However, Claire does not want to discuss her menopause either.
Frank arrives at Zoe’s apartment after the young journalist complains of not receiving due attention from him, a complaint that he earlier found annoying for its neediness, but now is more than willing to satiate. Her need is twofold, one that will satiate her ambition and another that will gratify her senses with the former being greater than the latter. Frank satisfies the former with information about an unknown congressional representative, Peter Russo, running for governor of Pennsylvania to fill the seat left open when Governor Matthews became Vice President of the United States. He wants Zoe to write a flattering profile about the little known congressman with a sordid past. Zoe refuses to write the profile arguing that puff pieces are beneath her. Frank suggests that she share the privy information to another journalist and use the supposed generosity to her advantage. Zoe eyes Janine Skorsky as the recipient of her generosity. The former colleague would have been suspicious of the young journalist’s decision to contact her had she not thought of reaching out to her as well. Janine confesses to have considered calling her to apologize for her rude behavior towards her when she was still at The Herald. She shares her dissatisfaction of the new managing editor hired to replace Tom Hammerschmidt, questioning his qualifications given that the man’s primary achievement was managing an online entertainment site. Zoe suggests to Janine about moving to Slugline and flatters her for the impact it will create given her position as Chief Political Correspondent of the more established yet less competitive newspaper, The Herald. Janine shows interest in the unsolicited suggestion, but learns that Carly Heath, the founder of Slugline, favors gritty pieces over conventional journalism. Zoe, however, offers Janine a story that would catch Carly’s attention. Janine must be desperate to leave The Herald for dismissing her suspicion about Zoe’s generosity.
Peter agrees to divulge his deepest secrets to Walter Doyle as part of the vetting of the potential future governor of Pennsylvania. Peter confesses to have engaged in prostitution while also under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The gravity of his licentious activities becomes too much to bear that Peter walks out of the interrogation. Walter finds him an amateur who does not have the temerity to endure probing questions from the press. Peter begins to have doubts about the strategy of his campaign believing that he does not have the courage to disclose the details of his sordid past or the strength to face the consequences of doing so. Stamper is unlike him for the man had just shared to a group of strangers his fear of returning to alcoholism when he has not had a drop of alcohol since April 4, 1999. However, his disclosure has another motive and that is to convey to Peter that failure is not an option. Moreover, Stamper emphasizes that he finds strength in his fear thus making him ruthless. Peter seems to sense that his words are directed at him that he walks out of the meeting and cuts communication with anyone including Frank Underwood. Frank urges Peter’s former girlfriend, Christina Gallagher, to provide Peter support. He informs Christina of having spoken to her boss, Speaker of the House Bob Birch, about giving her a six-month leave that she may assume the role of deputy campaign manager in Peter’s campaign. The lure of the offered position makes Christina more amenable to the idea of becoming Peter’s crutch once again that she agrees to speak to the troubled congressman in order to lift his spirits. Peter arrives at the Underwoods’ house and finds Christina waiting for him. Peter confides his decision to forego the gubernatorial race afraid of the consequences of exposing his sordid past, worried of what it will do to his children. Christina advises that he should not run if he does not want to be governor, but Peter claims that he indeed wants to be in the race. Hearing this, Christina believes that divulging the truth might be the best recourse not just for his campaign, but also for Peter and his family’s well-being. Peter learns that Christina truly believes in his ability to become a great governor and with this knowledge, he decides to get back in the race. He begins to get sponsors for the watershed act that will be the keystone of his campaign, while Frank begins to gain the support of the President first by asking him to keep the Vice President from disrupting the campaign. Linda, however, unexpectedly sides with the Vice President for his doubts in the choice of the candidate. She and the President become aghast at learning that Peter is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. Frank, however, makes them believe that Peter’s redemption story will appeal to the public. Lucky for him, President Walker only cares for a win enough to allow his administration to endorse a man with a known history of alcoholism and drug abuse. Linda attempts to dissuade the President from agreeing, but Frank uses the success of the education bill as his weapon. With that, Frank receives approval from the President.
Zoe speaks to Carly about Janine’s desire to be part of Slugline and with the young journalist’s recommendation agrees to consider the award-winning veteran journalist. Accepting Zoe’s suggestion that will secure her a job at Slugline, Janine interviews Peter to discuss his alcoholism and drug abuse. Peter, already coached for the interview, only divulges some truths and sweeps under the rug all the rest. Moreover, he declares that the reasons for his redemption are his children and his renewed faith in God. These are two reasons that made Janine question Peter’s sincerity. The opposite is true with Christina whose desire for Peter rekindles after their conversation earlier that day that she drops by Peter’s house unannounced and resumes their passionate relationship.
Frank decides to come see Zoe, but sees her outside her apartment building with a man. The man is a drunken Lucas Goodwin, who kisses her passionately revealing the desire he had kept hidden while she was under her employ. Sympathetic of Lucas, Zoe receives the kiss without reciprocating, but politely rejects him. Frank delightfully watches in his car the event that has transpired and comes up Zoe’s apartment soon after Lucas woefully leaves. Zoe is in her nightgown waiting for him in a pest-infested hovel of an apartment. Frank amusingly watches her trap a spider in a wine glass and learns that she has been catching pests to leave in front of her superintendent’s apartment after the man refused to hire an exterminator. He then learns that Zoe would rather live in a scrapheap than borrow money from her parents. Remembering that it is Father’s Day, Frank urges Zoe to call her father and she obliges. He observes that Zoe speaks an octave higher when speaking to her father and believes that the young woman would share everything but the truth to her father. He finds that Zoe is much like him and Claire. All of them feed on their secrets. On the other hand, there is Peter, who suffocates in his secrets. Frank believes that the ordeal he is subjecting Peter is his way of setting him free. Zoe watches as Frank upturns the wine glass presenting the spider hope of deliverance without actually giving it. Meanwhile, Zoe continues to speak to his father and blatantly lies to him about not seeing anyone. Frank arouses her while she is still on the phone with her father barely managing to end the call before she reaches orgasm. While they elate in sexual bliss, the spider struggles to make its way out of the wine glass.
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