Back with more House of Cards watching! Claire and Frank are on their way to Moscow to meet with Petrov, and are bringing Tom-the-writer along for the ride. Haha, ride. Honestly, if this season doesn’t deliver us with another threesome I will be very surprised. After a short interview between Tom and Frank (in which we find out Frank’s first job was helping out a pot farmer, because of course it was), Claire and Frank share a sweet moment looking out their plane window at the Northern Lights. They’re both very confident that this trip will end well — with a partnership with Russia, peacekeeping troops allowed in the Jordan Valley, and Michael Corrigan the activist released — which naturally makes me think it’s all going to explode in their faces.
Gavin, masquerading as Max of the Tragically Broken Heart, is still helping out at the church trying to weasel information out of Lisa. He’s really really good at this “hacking people” thing, playing into Lisa’s nurturing side with just enough similarities in his Tragically Broken Heart story for her to empathize. Gavin invents a story about spiraling after the girl he loved left him and having a lot of unsafe sex, so Lisa tells him to get tested. His tests are negative, but he leaves the clinic telling Lisa that he’s positive for HIV. They grow closer, and Lisa starts opening up about Rachel. Gavin uses Lisa’s information to track Rachel down on the Jimenez trail.
Claire goes to meet with Michael to inform him of his upcoming release. Michael isn’t very happy with the terms of the release, which require him to read a statement apologizing for “exposing minors to nontraditional sexual attitudes” and thanking Petrov for releasing him. His values won’t allow him to participate in such a press conference, just like his values didn’t let him accept favored treatment over the other prisoners.
“You can’t parse this. It’s all or nothing.”
“That’s not how politics works.”
“But it’s how revolution works!”
Claire orders the Russians in the room out so she can have privacy with Michael to try and convince him to make the statement. “It’s just words, words you can disown the moment you’re back on U.S. soil.” “Petrov’s gay propaganda law? That’s just words, too,” replies Michael. He refuses to abandon the Russian protesters when America negotiated his release with a speech full of lies.
Frank’s talk with Petrov goes slightly better, as they agree on most of the terms of the Jordan plan. An assistant comes in with a note for Petrov, informing him that Claire is speaking privately with Michael. Petrov begins suspecting the Underwoods of treachery — of telling Michael not to make the statement in order to embarrass him — and says that if Michael doesn’t make the statement then both deals with Frank are off.
Claire lets Michael know that if he doesn’t make the statement he will be tried, sentence, and likely executed. They have a few loaded conversations about marriage, which I foresee will affect Claire a lot as the season goes on.
“If he thinks I’m being selfish, so what? Either he accepts it or he doesn’t. Isn’t that what marriage is about? Accepting your partner’s selfishness? You of all people should understand.”
I love their scenes together, guys. I love them a lot. The Russians reenter the cell to take Claire away, but she refuses to leave unless Michael comes with her. On the other side of the negotiations, Frank is doing his best to get Petrov to change his terms. Petrov reveals that he doesn’t believe in the gay propaganda laws himself, but he maintains that image to look good to his religious and traditional people. “Revolution sneaks up on you, one small step at a time. I don’t take chances, even with the smallest of steps.”
Petrov finally agrees to let Frank make the statement and release Michael that way, but it doesn’t matter. Claire falls asleep in the cell with Michael and wakes up to find that he’s killed himself. When Claire goes to Frank in Petrov’s office, she is visibly affected by them talking about how to spin Michael’s suicide in their favor. The press conference is held, and Claire starts off making a very general “we offer our condolences” statement before going off script saying she was there when Michael killed himself, that he did it to protest the unjust propaganda laws, and finishing up with a “shame on you, President Petrov.”
See what I said about it all exploding in their faces? The Jordan Valley deal is so off the table. Claire and Frank return to the plane and have an explosive fight.
“I should have never made you Ambassador.”
“I should have never made you President.”