Sunday, December 28, 2014

Chapter 15 Season 2 – House of Cards Episode Summary 2.2

Frank Underwood becomes Vice President of the United States
House of Cards Chapter 15 Episode Summary: House Representative Francis Underwood becomes the Vice President of the United States and immediately wreaks havoc in the White House after scheming with State Secretary Cathy Durant into forcing the issue of the Chinese cyber warfare in the Joint Commission talks.  This caused the ire of Raymond Tusk, mentor and long-time advisor to President Garrett Walker, because it damages his business relationship with China.  Meanwhile, House Representative Jackie Sharp makes her run in the Whip’s race known after receiving the financial support of her good friend, Congressman Ted Havemeyer.

House of Cards Chapter 15 Recap: House Representative Francis Underwood is sworn in as the Vice President of the United States without a single vote cast in his name.  His first order of business is to bring order to the race for the position he left vacant.  The Whip’s race has become reprehensible enough for the President to consider it as his current biggest disappointment.  Frank Underwood along with Speaker of the House Bob Birch speaks with the two frontrunners, Howard Webb and Wes Buchwalter, about the virulent backbiting between them.Continue reading...

In exchange for her loyalty, Christina Gallagher manages to secure a position in President Garrett Walker’s staff with the help of Frank Underwood.  She shows gratitude to Frank by feeding him information about the President beginning with his meeting with Raymond Tusk to discuss the Joint Commission talks.  Frank entrenches the meeting with Tusk and brings along Secretary of State Cathy Durant.  He knew that Cathy would recommend using the Joint Commission talks to present the issue of corporate cyberattacks by the Chinese.  Tusk would rather avoid the issue given the damage it will cause to his business relationship with China and the setback it will cost his co-venture refinery project in Fujian.  Much to Cathy’s surprise, Frank agrees with Tusk arguing that antagonizing the Chinese could undo years of progress.  Nonetheless, President Walker acquiesces to Cathy’s plea and allows her to lay out an agenda surrounding the cyberattacks without making demands so as not to alienate the Chinese.  With his meeting with Tusk encroached, President Walker decides to speak to Tusk over lunch.  Cathy and Frank, on the other hand, discuss the relationship of the President with Tusk.  She learns that the President sees Tusk as a mentor and advisor.  Frank taking his side was part of his strategy believing that opposing him will only prompt Tusk to repel further the cyber warfare issue.  Nonetheless, he believes that Tusk will continue to convince the President to exclude the cyber warfare issue from the agenda of the Joint Commission talks.  He recommends Cathy to force the Chinese to confront the issue immediately despite her promise not to make demands.  The usually uneventful Joint Commission talks made the news after the Chinese walked out to express their resentment for the US delegation’s demand to include the Chinese government-sanctioned cyberattacks on the agenda.  To make matters worse, the Secretary of State made a statement to the press that will further ire the Chinese government.

Lucas Goodwin speaks to the police about the involvement of the newly installed Vice President of the United States in the death of Zoe Barnes.  He persuades them to obtain the data history from Zoe’s phone carrier that will prove that the two were in contact with each other.  Exasperated with Goodwin’s incessant claim, the detective who handled the case shows him the security video from the subway platform that caught Zoe tripping or jumping into the train tracks.  The video did not show evidence of another person pushing her into the tracks.  However, Lucas has not given up on the conspiracy theory and it has affected his work so much so that it caught the attention of his superior.  Concerned about his friend and former subordinate Lucas, Tom Hammerschmidt agrees to meet him at The Washington Herald, the newspaper he once run before Zoe Barnes caused a scandal that led to his termination.  Lucas confides his conspiracy theory to Tom, who patiently listens.  Tom does not find Lucas insane, but he does find the theory implausible.  He supposes that Lucas is grieving for the unexpected loss of his lover.  His grief prompts him to demand an explanation for Zoe’s sudden death and accepts one no matter how incredible it may seem.  Lucas preoccupied with troubles of his own sends a writer from the tech beat to cover the Joint Commission talk’s fiasco believing that the man’s knowledge of technology will be useful in understanding the much-contended Chinese cyber warfare.  The section about the phone companies catches the interest of Lucas Goodwin.  He learns from the tech beat writer that phone carriers keep the data history of their customers including the names of the people they contacted and the contents of their correspondence.  The writer then introduces him to The Deep Web, the 96% of the Internet that is inaccessible to search engines.  It is a place of illegal activity and a part of the Internet where one can hire hackers.  Lucas enters The Deep Web and seeks help in hacking the phone records of the Vice President of the United States.

House Representative Jackie Sharp has lunch with House Representative Ted Havemeyer believing that the man wanted to speak about his illegitimate child suffering from cerebral palsy.  Jackie is one of a few people who know his secret.  She soon learns that Ted wanted to have lunch with her, because he heard about her interest in the position of Whip.  Jackie informs him that her interest in the position is benign given her lack of experience and funding.  Ted offers to funnel his PAC money to gain her supporters.  Jackie refuses the largesse Ted is offering, but Ted makes it clear that he too will benefit from her rise as Whip.  He finds it advantageous to be the benefactor and friend of the Whip.  The man is unaware that Jackie Sharp’s modesty was an act.  She had asked her friend, Lorrie Tate, to inform him of her interest in the Whip race certain that Ted will offer to help her with the campaign.  In exchange, Jackie is to make Lorrie Chief Deputy.  Rumors of Jackie Sharp entering the Whip race begin to fly around Congress prompting Wes Buchwalter to reach out to Frank Underwood for help unaware that he had enticed Jackie to campaign for his position.  Wes, however, senses an inkling of Frank’s hand in Jackie’s campaign for Whip.  He conspires with the enemy, Howard Webb, in the hope of eliminating the third candidate. Webb’s solution, however, is for Wes to drop out.  In exchange, Webb will give Wes the Chairmanship on Appropriations.  Jackie learns of the trade and speaks to Ted, who offers his Chairmanship on Ways and Means to get Wes on their side.  Ted finds it an appropriate sacrifice, one he is willing to make, because the benefit of having the Whip as an ally outweighs any Chairmanship.  Regrettably, Wes Buchwalter’s deep-seated loathing for Ted Havemeyer causes him to refuse the offer unless it comes with the death of Ted’s political career.  Ted ensured Wes’ loss in the Senate race twelve years ago after he financed his primary opponent.  Wes considers his political death at his demand retribution.  Jackie, disinclined to betray the friend who treated her as his own daughter, reaches out to Frank for help, but he can only offer her one solution, betrayal.  Frank offers dirt that will destroy the political career of Ted Havemeyer, but it is information Jackie knows very well.  In fact, Jackie has been checking on Ted’s illegitimate daughter with the nanny of her children on his behalf.  She is reluctant to betray the man who supported her for many years and in some ways gave her career.  Frank becomes disappointed with Jackie after uncovering her weakness, because he chose her to be his replacement for her ruthlessness.  His instincts, however, were right.  Jackie Sharp speaks to Ted Havemeyer of having bought the support of Wes Buchwalter with the death of his political career.  The story of the illegitimate daughter he supports, but never visits will soon make the news marking the end of his career as a politician.

Claire Underwood assumes the role of the wife of the Vice President of the United States and begins the search for her Chief of Staff.  Her other duties include appearances in events and one of them is attending the pinning of stars to two newly commissioned Marine generals, Alicia Hampton and Dalton McGinnis.  Claire would rather not attend the event, but she acquiesces because it is the first event her husband will attend as Vice President.  General McGinnis introduces himself to Frank and informs him of having dated Claire in Harvard.  The encounter disturbed Claire enough for Frank to notice it.  He finds her in the women's room in tears.  Soon he learns that McGinnis was the man who raped Claire during her freshman year in Harvard.  Frank becomes livid and refuses to pin stars on the General, but Claire begs him not to make a scene.  Vice President Frank Underwood does his duty and pins the stars on General Dalton McGinnis with immense displeasure.  Husband and wife return home somber with the remembrance of the violation done to Claire.  Frank tries to dispel the hatred coursing through his blood at the shame of honoring the man who raped his wife.  Claire lies in bed reliving the horrifying ordeal she received from McGinnis.  She confides to Frank her struggle to destroy the person who had been the victim of a heinous violation.  She informs him that the hatred will persist, but he must harness it and use it on someone else.

President Walker returns to the White House enraged at the news of the failed Joint Commission talks with China.  He reproofs the Secretary of State for the direct ultimatum the US delegation demanded of the Chinese and her decision not to recant it.  Secretary Durant chose to exhibit strength instead of losing face.  The President dismisses Durant then immediately calls Tusk on the phone and includes Frank in the call.  Tusk advises the President to apologize to the Chinese, which Frank supports arguing that the goal is to resume the talks without further delay.  President Walker, however, worries that opposing his Secretary of State will be perceived as a miscommunication between him and his Cabinet.  Following the advice of Frank and Tusk, the President agrees to apologize personally to the Chinese government.  However, Frank speaks of the concern the President raised earlier and the insight from the Secretary of State about the Chinese.  Frank imparts his belief that intransigence might earn the respect of the Chinese as it displays his strength and resolve as the President of the United States.  President Walker follows the advice of his Vice President and takes full responsibility for the direct ultimatum the State Department imposed on the Chinese delegation of the Joint Commission.  Moreover, he shows his resolve to deal with the issue of Chinese cyber warfare in a press conference where he expresses his intolerance for China’s theft of the intellectual property of American corporations and the threat to the government’s online infrastructure.  His press statement caused indignation from the Chinese prompting its Ministry of Foreign Affairs to speak of the injustice of the false accusation and defamation of the People’s Republic of China.  The issue caused China to refuse bilateral trade talks with the United States.  Tusk calls Frank to speak to him of the President’s unexpected statement that wreaked havoc on the trade talks with China.  More troubling to Tusk is the President’s unprecedented decision to oppose his advice without fair warning.  He sees Frank’s handiwork in the President’s press statement.  Frank argues that opposing China benefits the President’s approval rating, which will prove advantageous to all concerned.  They must support the President in the decision he made publicly and instead work on mending the relationship with China through backchannels.


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