“House of Cards” recap (2.4): Claire Strikes

Frank says he can’t imagine life without Claire. Blythe fumes that for every $100 the government spends on Alzheimer’s research, it spends $30,000 on care (which seems to be in the ballpark for accuracy). Blythe tried to push through a bill for more funding, but guess who blocked it? Frank’s old pal Congressman Howard Webb, who wouldn’t even put Blythe’s bill up to a vote. Time to bond over disliking Howard Webb.

Frank asks for the specifics of Blythe’s bill, and it’s a serious misstep — Blythe isn’t drunk enough yet to fall for it. He calls Frank disgusting, and won’t drop his position on entitlements just for more Alzheimer’s funding. Like most sociopaths, Frank gets a little thrown when people stand by their principles. (Remember that when you’re dealing with a sociopath; also remember not to tell a sociopath too much about what your principles are.)

24HoC4Photo by Nathaniel Bell. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Frank’s a good actor, but Blythe’s bullshit detector is better. He’s furious that Frank is selling out real people’s lives with his entitlement bill and furious to be stuck in a room with someone so oily and amoral. Blythe declares the discussion over.

Claire is practicing her “no kids” answer with Connor and can we talk about this dress? The neckline is an asymmetrical variation on a square neckline and it’s such a perfect echo of what she is: Sophisticated and smartly composed and stunning. And yet something is off.

24HoC5Photo by Nathaniel Bell. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Anyway. Claire is practicing how to explain why she and Frank haven’t had children while still being sympathetic to a national audience, which is so much bullshit while being so true to life I can’t even stand it. All the answer to “Why haven’t you had any children?” that anyone should ever need is “None of your business.” We can’t pretend we’re really the Land of Opportunity when getting married and having children are mandatory for simply not being deemed suspicious or deviant, let alone holding or being close to public office. Maybe we could worry about everyone keeping up with their reproductive obligations sometime after the world population stops ballooning toward eight billion like we’re Planet Duggar. No? Fine, whatever.

Anyway, Claire says that Frank is a duke of the lava dragons, but she is the Queen Dragon of Darkness, so you can see how their mixed species — no, wait, start again, she says that she and Frank have chosen to dedicate their lives to public service, and they couldn’t fully do that and be the kinds of parents they would have wanted to be. Good job, Claire.

Lucas tries to leave the Hacking Lair to cover the big lockdown at the Capitol, but Bosch the Parrot says no way, all while stroking Cashew the Guinea Pig like he’s a Bond villain. The Parrot tells Lucas that the reason he has Cashew is to remind him how close he is to being in a cage himself.

Lucas has to stay in the lair so he doesn’t establish more of a pattern of going there than he already has. The Parrot also wants Lucas to see every line of code so that if they get caught they go down together. Lucas isn’t down for this much togetherness, but a sharp slap from The Parrot shuts him up. I think Lucas and Rachel might have a lot to talk about.

The Clone Army is still sweeping the Capitol. Less than an hour to go. Boba Fett comes back to let Frank know that Claire is doing the interview live.

In the interview, Ashley talks about Claire before she met Frank, with childhood photos from Texas. She compares the ranch kid Claire claims to have been to the prep school girl they have documentation of. Which one is the real Claire? Claire says the dirty ranch kid and Ashley calls her on actually living in Dallas, not on a ranch, and then on the fact that her family was really quite wealthy. It’s just a flesh wound; Claire shakes it off.

Ashley asks Claire for her most vivid memory. The tension is amazing. Ashley clearly wants to break Claire down a little, and has no idea how close Claire is to pulling Ashley’s head straight off her body and drinking from the fountain that her neck becomes.

Claire says that her most vivid memory is being taken to Dealey Plaza and being told how Kennedy died, and being too young to understand death, but old enough to understand fairness. Claire says her dad explained that Kennedy made the world a better place, but that sometimes that comes at a price. Off to the side, Connor relaxes. She’s nailing this.

Night. The Capitol is still covered in police and Boba Fetts, and Jackie is still working to get the votes she needs. Two congressnellies aren’t budging, even as they say Jackie is doing a fine job as Whip. Remy pulls her away, telling her they aren’t taking her seriously because she’s not offering candy like Frank used to, and she needs to learn to take advice.

Jackie goes back to the congressnellies and notes that one needs a waste treatment plant in his district and one wants a winery museum in his… and then she turns and goes Full Werewolf in the space of a nanosecond, snarling that Nellie Two’s pisswine belongs in Nellie One’s waste treatment plant and maybe they should stop hovering around for pork truck handouts when the government is in crisis. And then Jackie informs them that in HER caucus, you’ll get rewarded for good behavior, not bribed out of recalcitrance. Jackie walks away, tossing a Zippo over her shoulder and blowing them both up without looking back. Six votes to go. Daaaaaammn.

Frank, his face in half-darkness because it is this show, watches Claire, live on CNN. Ashley has gotten up to Claire going to college, where she met dashing young law student Frank. Claire studies and catalogues Ashley’s pain points while Ashley says that many people think the Underwoods’ marriage is calculated — that Frank needed Claire’s father’s money, which is why they married while she was still in school. Claire brushes it off, and, really, their 27 years together is a not-bad rebuttal. Whatever’s going on (Hint: terrifying panther/dragon love), there’s more to it than money. Claire says that it’s thrilling being a politician’s wife, even as it’s challenging, and neatly caroms Ashley’s insinuation about their marriage being into a political partnership into an answer that makes them seem like a solid, supportive couple. Which, in their own blood-soaked way, they seem to be.