Episode Summary: House Representative Francis Underwood speaks with Vice President Jim Matthews about the vice president running for the governorship of Pennsylvania. He presents his proposal to President Garrett Walker and Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez with Linda coming to a realization of Frank’s plan, a plan that depends on Peter Russo’s withdrawal from the gubernatorial race. Regrettably, Peter Russo has remained in seclusion, drowning his shame in liquor. Moreover, he grows a conscience and desires to take responsibility for all his offenses.
House of Cards Chapter 11 Recap: Congressman Francis Underwood speaks with Vice President Jim Matthews about finding a replacement for Peter Russo after his disastrous radio interview. With only seven weeks left until the election, the vice president could not think of anyone with the name recognition and donor base that will win the gubernatorial seat for the Democrats. Francis helps the vice president realize that he fits the bill. He strokes his ego with a declaration that the vice president resigning his position in the White House to save Pennsylvania will make him a hero. Moreover, he insinuates that President Garrett Walker is considering not keeping him as his running mate for the next elections. The only obstacle hindering Vice President Matthews from returning to his passion for state governance is the notion that President Walker will not allow it. Frank volunteers to speak secretly in his behalf.
Frank proposes the idea to President Walker, who is reluctant to accept the proposal, claiming that there is no historical precedent for such a move. Frank offers two vice presidents from centuries ago who had done so, but the President finds the examples unsatisfactory. The President is unwilling to use vice presidents who committed murder and believed in slavery as their reference. More than the unlikely references, the President wants to avoid the appearance of him pushing the Vice President out of office or the appearance of the Vice President abandoning the administration. Frank argues that there are important things at stake if they lose an important swing state. The Democrats could lose the majority of the House and the President could lose the second term of his presidency. Frank suggests that the President and the Vice President come out with a joint statement declaring that the Vice President will only resign his position if he wins the gubernatorial elections in Pennsylvania. Sensing that the President is reluctant to acquiesce, Frank turns Machiavellian and employs the same strategy he used on the Vice President. Frank turns the President against the Vice President. He uses the latter’s supposed criticism of the former as his weapon. Moreover, he presents benefits from agreeing to his proposal. Having the Vice President win the gubernatorial elections in Pennsylvania will secure the swing state for the Democrats. In addition, it presents the President an honorable way to find a more favorable replacement.
Christina Gallagher finds Peter Russo in his trashed apartment with a bottle of hard liquor watching Jeopardy. Peter knows that his career as a politician is over. He plans to remain in seclusion until the ignominy is forgotten. Christina tries to rescue him from self-destruction, but to no avail. She leaves him in his apartment to allow the ruined house representative to collect himself until he is ready to face the public with a statement. Peter does seem to have a desire to return to the world. He asks a staff from his building to purchase liquor for him and pays him significantly more than the cost of the alcohol. The staff rejects the exorbitant payment and even offers to help him recover from inebriation, but Peter refuses his help. Later, a heavily inebriated Peter Russo eludes the press by taking the freight elevator straight to the garage.
Claire Underwood takes a walk in the park with Adam Galloway. They speak of their relationship beginning with Claire’s reason for ending their affair. Claire would not allow herself to fall deeply for Adam. She denies fear as the rationale behind her decision for she believes that fear does not accomplish anything. Adam argues against her belief claiming that rational fear keeps people alive. He confesses that when he is not overseas his fears surround the notion of triviality. He fears of wasting precious moments for frivolities. Claire confesses to have had those fears as well, one she would not dare admit to her husband. She is afraid that her life would not amount to something. Adam believes that Claire is some other person before she met Frank. He likens her to the young woman they see on a bench, alone, reading a book. Claire, to him, was a curious, independent person who absorbs everything. She denies his estimation of her as a young woman. Moreover, Claire claims that she wanted to become more than an observer. She wanted to be significant. Later that night, they print an enlarged photograph of the young woman they saw at the park whom Claire photographed. Adam insists on calling the unknown woman Claire. He maintains that the young woman though not resembling Claire exudes an aura reminiscent of her youth. News about Peter Russo reaches Claire in New York and she finds herself sympathizing for the congressman despite knowledge of her husband’s plan. Adam perceives that Claire is missing the life she escaped and senses that their affair is about to end yet again. He can no longer serve as a mere diversion for Claire. He could not fathom why she gave up a free spirited life for that of sadness. Claire confesses to have chosen a man she could love for more than a week. She chose permanence. Claire has a history and a future with Francis, both of which Adam does not possess. Adam tells her to kill whatever part of her that still loves him, because he will. He returns later that night to find Claire still in his loft, sound asleep.
Zoe Barnes returns to her squalid apartment and cleans it up. She gets a message from Frank asking her to come to his home to talk. Zoe learning that Claire is not at home takes the opportunity to invade her privacy just as she had done to her. She rushes up to the master’s bedroom and goes through her things. She puts on the dress Claire wore at the gala and insists on keeping it to underline her intrusion. She decides later not to steal the dress after undressing and disheveling Claire’s side of the bed. Frank asks Zoe of starting their relationship anew. He wants to simplify things by agreeing to Zoe’s previous request to keep their relationship professional. The two agree to this. Zoe continues to stay at Lucas’ apartment. She confesses to have carried on an affair with an older, married man without revealing his identity. She divulges of the threat the man made against her the first time they engaged in a sexual relationship.
Frank requests a meeting with Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez to ask about the proposal he presented. Linda admits that President Walker is torn. She confesses that she finds acceding to it a mistake. Frank’s plan has become clear to her. She realizes that Frank expects her support as payment for his part in getting her son into Stanford. Moreover, she has come to a realization that Frank has been aiming for the vice presidency all along with a more ultimate goal of running for president in 2020. Linda confronts Frank with these conjectures, but he avoids the admission of guilt. After careful consideration, Frank decides that honesty will win Linda’s support and concurs to her accusations. Frank states plainly his desire to become Vice President of the United States and his hope that Linda will return the favor after he got her son into college. Moreover, he instills seeds of ambition in Linda expressing that the two of them make a formidable team. The success of his plan, however, remains in the hands of Peter Russo. Peter needs to withdraw officially in order to put pressure on Walker. Regrettably, Peter Russo has gone missing. Unknown to them, Peter is parked merely a few meters away from the Capitol. He listens to news of his disappearance and the consequences of his disastrous radio interview, one that seemingly secured his opponent the gubernatorial seat in Pennsylvania. That night, Peter parks across her former wife’s house and calls her children on the phone. He asks to speak to his son, but his son refuses to speak to him knowing very well the dishonor he brought to them. Guilt overcomes him at this realization and the awareness that his children have witnessed his self-destruction. Her daughter senses that her father is intoxicated and politely ends their conversation much to Peter’s dismay. Peter calls Christina, the one person who is still willing to speak to him. He tells her his whereabouts and she asks that he stay where he is. Peter, however, throws his cellphone on the sidewalk and drives away. He drives to a police station and turns himself in for a previous criminal offense that was expunged from police records. The desk sergeant refuses to arrest him for an exonerated crime he committed. Peter desires to be imprisoned and confesses to have driven to the police station while under the influence. He identifies himself as Congressman Peter Russo and presents valid proof of identification. Doug arrives at the neighborhood of the former wife of Peter, but does not find him there. He, however, finds his cellphone on the gutter. Soon he learns from Police Commissioner Barney Hull that Peter has surrendered to the police. Peter is now being held in an interrogation room by himself. The commissioner worries of Peter divulging the purging of his criminal offense, one he had made possible as a favor for Frank. Doug fetches Peter through a back exit at the police station, but Frank meets them and offers to drive Peter home.
Frank learns that Peter had thrown himself in jail as an act of taking responsibility for his actions. Peter divulges his plan of making a statement of pulling out of the race, but also of confessing all his offenses. Moreover, he refuses help from Frank in writing the statement. This worries Frank, who had a part in Peter’s troubles. They arrive in the private garage in Peter’s building. Peter refuses Frank helping him up to his apartment. Frank sees a bottle of liquor and offers it to the heavily intoxicated alcoholic. He drinks with him in his car and shares his dislike of fathering children due to his unhappy childhood whom he believes Peter had too. Frank, however, realizes that it was a coward’s excuse. Peter succumbs to fatigue and falls asleep on the passenger seat of the car. Frank wipes his fingerprints off the car and the bottle of liquor. He uses Peter’s finger to turn on the engine of the car. He leaves Peter inside the car and closes the garage door while the engine is still running. Frank puts on a baseball cap and sneaks out of the building. He returns to his house and finds Doug waiting for him. He tells Doug that they will never speak of the events that will surface in the next few hours. This shocks Doug, but he accedes to the order.
Frank has an early meeting with President Walker, Chief of Staff Vasquez, and Vice President Matthews. He learns that his strategy to use honesty won him Linda’s support. President Walker explains that Linda managed to convince him of the benefits of agreeing to his proposal. Moreover, he has spoken to Vice President Matthews and convinced him of agreeing to run for governor. All agree that the President and the Vice President will make a joint statement of their decision for the vice president to run for governor. Moreover, the President will make it clear that he will only accept the vice president’s resignation if he wins the election. They are, however, confident that Vice President Matthews will win so much so that the President has already asked Linda to put together a list of candidates for the vice presidency. All now rests on Peter Russo officially withdrawing from the gubernatorial race. With the rest of their plans depending on Peter’s withdrawal, the President sends his people to go look for him. Secret Service informs President Walker of the suicide of Peter Russo. The President announces the news to Linda, Matthews, and Frank. Peter was found in his garage with the car still running. Frank feigns shock and sends a text message to his wife informing her of Peter Russo’s suicide. Peter’s suicide soon fills every news headline except Slugline’s who is learning about it from other news outfits. Zoe only learns of it from Lucas who receives a text message prompting him to leave for the office immediately. Peter’s campaign staff including Christina only learns of his fate on the news as well.
Claire resumes communication with Frank and tells him that she is coming home. She leaves Adam’s loft without a goodbye except for a large origami of a swan made from one of the pieces of the young woman’s enlarged photograph that Claire had rearranged. Claire arrives home and finds Frank waiting for her in the living room where they reconcile. Later, husband and wife stand side-by-side to address the press with their sympathies for the loss of the ruined house representative, Peter Russo.
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