Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chapter 19 Season 2 – House of Cards Episode Summary 2.6

Vice President Frank Underwood pitches at Orioles baseball game
House of Cards Chapter 19 Episode Summary: Raymond Tusk takes advantage of the energy crisis to pressure the President into acceding to China’s demands, but Vice President Francis Underwood remains an obstacle in his plan.  Meanwhile, Lucas Goodwin rejects accepting a plea from the U.S. government and convinces Tom Hammerschmidt to write an article about his conspiracy theory.

House of Cards Chapter 19 Recap: The United States is on the verge of a crippling energy crisis due to the high prices of samarium dictated by China.  President Garrett Walker calls the cabinet members to discuss strategies to combat the crisis and suggests the use of attrition against China.Continue reading...

The retaliation from China as the consequence of such action concerns the members of his cabinet.  China could purposely fail to attend the refunding auction, which would lead to a spike on long-term interest spikes.  Vice President Frank Underwood, instead, recommends going on the offensive.  Members of the committee offer suggestions that will force China’s hand.  One recommended increasing the inspection rates by 20% on foodstuffs and holding the perishable goods in ports to rot.  Another suggests burying the move with increased spot checks further delaying the process.  One of the members, however, asserts that attrition only delays the inevitable, but does not solve the problem.  Frank then advises the President to purchase samarium through a third party by executive order.  This will allow the U.S. to force the Chinese to either raise prices worldwide or lower them in order to maintain a direct trade with the U.S.  With enough supply of samarium for defense, the U.S. can then sell the surplus at a discount to nuclear power companies.  The only consequence is the public outrage at offering the richest of the wealthy government subsidy.  Frank Underwood believes that such outrage is tolerable than allowing the country to go into an energy crisis.  President Walker accepts his Vice President’s recommendation and instructs his team to begin the process of acquiring samarium for defense purposes through India.

Remy Denton meets with Frank Underwood to discuss a better solution than the samarium subsidy he proposed.  Remy’s client, Raymond Tusk, is not interested in the subsidy, but rather on the U.S. ending the conflict with China.  The trade war has put a halt on his refinery project.  Tusk claims that his rare earth refinery in China will solve the energy crisis, but Frank argues that it will take years for his refinery to benefit the American people.  Remy is certain that Frank has another agenda than solving the energy crisis and insists that Frank make the demand, but the Vice President of the United States remains unforthcoming of his requirement.  Frank later speaks with the President about Tusk’s collusion with other nuclear companies and their rejection of the Administration’s solution to the energy crisis.  Frank wants to ban vertical integration in order to end Tusk’s manipulation of the energy market.  He believes that adding an antitrust agreement to the Emergency Energy Bill will consequently break up the regional supply and distribution monopolies of energy companies.  The bill need not pass, but will serve as a threat to Tusk.  The President considers Frank’s proposal and asks of pursuing it in secret.  He does not want to get the ire of the world’s wealthiest.  Frank asks current Whip, House Representative Jackie Sharp, to relay the proposed Emergency Energy Bill to Remy Denton.  They meet over drinks and end up in bed.  Jackie gives an appearance of resentment for having slept with the lobbyist and insists on not receiving special treatment for it.  Remy accepts her request and later sends her a text message relaying Tusk’s refusal to give in to the threat of an antitrust agreement added to the Emergency Energy Bill.  Jackie calls Frank to inform him of Tusk’s response.

Frank speaks with the President and insists on holding their ground.  He suggests further threatening Tusk with the involvement of FERC.  FERC is to conduct a price-fixing review of Tusk’s energy company, which will force him to divulge his company’s accounting.  Frank believes that Tusk will submit to the Administration’s demand just to avoid the disclosure of his books.  President Walker, however, believes that the matter has gotten out of hand.  He decides to resume talks with Raymond Tusk.  Frank argues that doing so implies surrender, but the President has made his decision.  He turns to Tusk.  Frank claims that the President is about to betray him with a FERC investigation.  Nevertheless, Tusk is not intimidated with the threat of an investigation for the energy crisis will continue and worsen before a hearing ensues.  Frank then accuses Tusk of overcharging for electricity, but Tusk can justify the prices to the designs of the free market.  Tusk is perplexed about Frank’s motive for wreaking havoc on the relationship of the U.S. and China.  He begins to wonder if Frank is intentionally trying to ruin the President, but Frank claims to have been working on protecting the President from Tusk.  Tusk begins to believe that Frank is taking revenge for the betrayal done to him on the Secretary of State nomination.  Frank denies the accusation and supports it with the fact that he has made himself the Vice President of the United States.  He demands Tusk to accept the subsidies or suffer the consequences of a FERC investigation.

Elizabeth Ward, a prosecutor from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has come to offer a deal with incarcerated Lucas Goodwin in exchange for a plea, but the journalist refuses to accept the deal.  Notwithstanding his defense lawyer’s advice, Lucas rejects and deal and insists on going to court where he can expose the crimes of Frank Underwood.  The U.S. Attorney, however, presents the lewd photographs of Zoe Barnes found in his apartment as evidence of his obsession on the deceased journalist.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office will present that his obsession led him to concoct a conspiracy theory that explains her unexpected death.  The U.S. Attorney offers a twenty-year sentence for breaking into a data center and for fraud with eligibility for parole in seven.  Although Lucas is not in the position to make demands, he insists on rejecting the deal unless he is allowed to speak to Tom Hammerschmidt.  Lucas gets his request and relays to Tom the same story he already told him before.  He wants Tom to write the article exposing Frank Underwood, going against the advice of his lawyer.  Tom suggests taking the plea and foregoing the article, but Lucas remains determined to expose the crimes of Frank Underwood.  He agrees to write the article, but warns his friend of tackling it professionally and without bias.

Tom Hammerschmidt begins his research.  His persistence concerns Doug Stamper.  He asks Agent Nathan Green to handle it, but the First Amendment hinders the FBI Agent from burying the story.  Moreover, U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Ward is looking to indict Gavin Orsay, a criminal that had been on the FBI Most Wanted list for six years, instead of Lucas Goodwin.  Stamper decides to deal with Hammerschmidt himself, but orders Agent Green to coerce Lucas into taking the plea.  Stamper is at his wit’s end causing him to apprise Frank of the situation.  Frank decides to speak to Hammerschmidt in person at the White House to deny all of the claims without alienating the journalist.  The status of Frank Underwood does not intimidate the seasoned journalist who asks him forthrightly about the murder of Peter Russo.  Frank vehemently denies his involvement.  More importantly, he insists that the late congressman committed suicide.  Hammerschmidt, however, divulges the identities of the people who could corroborate the theory and provide evidence of Frank’s guilt.  He intimidates the Vice President with the facts that Rachel Posner and Roy Kapeniak do exist despite their unknown whereabouts.  Frank asks Stamper to take charge of putting the article to bed after sensing the futility of convincing the journalist to see the preposterousness of the claims.

FBI Agent Green and his partner pay a visit to Janine Skorsky to speak to her about Lucas Goodwin.  She informs them of his visit and of the numerous calls he placed.  Janine did not return any of his calls.  The FBI continues to question her and begins to ask about Gavin Orsay.  The line of questioning prompts Janine to end the interrogation and to ask for a lawyer.  Agent Green, however, informs her that she is not currently suspected of aiding Lucas in cyber terrorism, but they might if she insists on speaking to them in the presence of her lawyer.  Janine agrees to sit through the inquiry without legal counsel, but becomes agitated after the FBI Agent intimidates her into testifying against Lucas.  She is to sign a testimony that proves her friend’s guilt.  Janine asks the FBI agents to leave and makes them aware of her rights.  Agent Green, however, threatens her with the charge of abetting a criminal in cyber terrorism.  Fighting the charge will take years and will keep her from taking care of her ill mother.  Janine agrees to sign the testimony that proves Lucas’ guilt in front of the U.S. Attorney.  She and Tom visit Lucas in prison.  Tom shows him the article he wrote that provided no evidence to the claims inadvertently making the incarcerated journalist appear insane.  Lucas reproaches Janine for her dishonesty.  Janine admits guilt, but justifies her actions with self-preservation.  She begs him to take the plea and to forget about putting Frank Underwood to justice.

Claire Underwood and First Lady Tricia Walker discuss the event they are to attend as part of the campaign for the awareness of the endemic nationwide problem of sexual assault.  The President is supposed to attend the event if his schedule allows him.  Claire agrees to avoid mentioning the sexual assault problem in the military in the presence of the President.  Christina Gallagher’s arrival upon the First Lady’s request interrupts their meeting.  Seeing Christina allowed Claire to bring up her affair with her now deceased boss, Peter Russo.  The insinuation did not go amiss with the First Lady.  Meanwhile, Claire intimates to Christina of having perceived the First Lady’s lack of confidence.  She advises that Christina reach out to the First Lady to express her gratitude for the opportunity to work with the President and to offer her services to the First Lady as well.  Christina finds the move brash, but follows Claire’s advice against her better judgment.  True enough, her approach did unnerve the First Lady.

Francis practices throwing a baseball with his bodyguard Ed Meechum and seeing him do so remind Claire of the first pitch he threw in Greenville.  Francis would rather forget the event.  It was the Greenville Drive, Single-A team for the Red Sox home game.  Francis had the honor of throwing the first pitch.  Wanting to throw a real pitch, he decides to throw from the mound.  The ball slipped out of his hand just before he released it.  It went straight up in the air and hit the top of his head on its return.  The episode caused an uproarious laughter from the crowd of spectators.  The time of the first pitch for the Orioles baseball game at the Camden Yards arrives.  Frank could not contain his anxiety of bringing shame upon himself with another failed pitch.  He takes issue with the Kevlar bulletproof vest and assigns blame on Meechum if he fails.  Frank addresses the crowd with a brief speech and walks to the mound.  He prepares to throw the ball when all of the stadium lights go off.  Secret Service men run towards the Vice President to whisk him to safety.  Later, they learn that the city has experienced a massive power outage.

President Walker calls Raymond Tusk after learning that one of his companies caused the outage.  He suspects Tusk of intentionally causing the blackout and candidly asks the mogul about it.  Tusk denies the accusation and insists that the heat wave pushed the power grid to its limits.  The President continues to doubt Tusk after the man informs him of taking two of his power plants in Georgia and Tennessee offline for an unscheduled maintenance on the southeast grid.  Tusk claims that the blackout in Washington D.C. strained the two power plants in the southeast.  The maintenance is a precaution against a dangerous breakdown.  The President tries to convince himself to accept Tusk’s explanations, but Frank contends that the outages were done deliberately to pressure the President into accepting Tusk’s terms.  President Garrett ponders the stimulus for Tusk’s drastic action and learns that Frank had spoken to him about the possible FERC investigation arguing that Tusk claimed to have accepted the subsidy deal.  Frank feigns having been deceived and suggests of Tusk’s playing him and the President.  He supposes that Tusk is trying to ascertain the Administration’s next move.  Frank continues to assert the notion of the superfluity of shutting down the southeast power plants, but the President needs assurance that the power plants are indeed safe from distress.  Frank states that the power outage that left essential institutions without power constitute an emergency and suggests the creation of an executive order that permits the government to take over the power plants allowing them to assess the risk.  He later secretly meets with Raymond Tusk at Freddy’s BBQ to coerce complicity.  Tusk is to accept the subsidies or face a government takeover of his power plants.  Frank dissolves the deal they agreed on before.  They are no longer bound to work together, because Tusk had numerous times worked against Frank to realize his self-interests.

Rachel Posner is enjoying her volunteer work at the Christian fellowship.  She has become friends with the young woman who introduced her to the fellowship, Lisa Williams.  Unfortunately, Doug Stamper has come to learn of her new affiliation.  He waits for Rachel in the parking lot and makes his presence known with a blast of the headlights as Rachel and Lisa were walking to Lisa’s car.  Rachel makes an excuse and manages to evade questions from Lisa with whom she was to have dinner.  Stamper drives her home and reproaches the young woman for attending the fellowship arguing that Rachel risks exposure with every person she meets.  He informs her that Lucas Goodwin took the plea, but insists that she must remain in hiding despite of it.  Rachel wonders if Stamper keeps her hidden for his pleasure.  She senses the man’s desire to be with her in spite of Stamper’s struggle to suppress having carnal relations with her.

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