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House of Cards: Chapter Seventeen

“If we never did anything we shouldn’t do, we’d never feel good about doing the things we should.”

It says a lot that when that poor girl opened up an envelope filled with white powder, I assumed that Frank had sent it to himself to delay the vote. That he hadn’t was surprising, but even more surprising was the fact that we finally meet someone who cannot be manipulated. Or, at least, can no longer be manipulated. Both these events show us that Frank is not the unstoppable force he, and sometimes we, think he is.

You will remember Donald Blythe from last season’s education bill. I liked him then (I compared him to Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith), but I loved him here. This is a man who truly believes in working for the good of the American public, who loves his wife and mourns what is happening to her, who is smart enough to realize that Frank is toxic. Frank brings out all his guns, from falsely apologizing to falsely promising more money for Alzheimer’s research, but it is in vain. Donald is one of those people who simply cannot be bought — at any price. I do hope there is a Donald Blythe or two in our Washington.

Although Frank tells us that he is going to manipulate Donald through his wife, he does show flashes of true compassion. While I believe that Frank was trying to buy Donald’s vote with greater funding for research, I also believe that there was a part of him who was genuinely concerned about the man.

In direct contrast with Frank’s one-on-one with Donald, Claire gave an interview to Ashleigh Banfield. What a performance. From the canned sound bite about why she chose not to have a child to her baldfaced lie about her abortion, Claire was masterful. Throughout this series, we have seen Claire prove worthy of the Underwood name. This interview, however, put her in her husband’s league. No wonder they have been married for as long as they have.

Watching Frank watch the interview was another example of flashes of his humanity. He was stunned watching his wife, yet so proud. Watching him run back to Claire instead of staying to drum up votes was an interesting character beat. Even better was his refusing to join her on camera. Claire, in this instance, is stronger alone. Having said that, they have never been closer than the final shot of them smoking and Frank singing. What a lovely moment.

Unsurprisingly, Jackie is now the Whip. Watching her wrangle the necessary votes was political gold. She tells Donald that she is not Frank Underwood, but she has learned a thing or two from the master. I loved her speech to the two senators on the street. Her turning the tables so completely made me grin.

Jackie’s later grand entrance with reams of paper was pure theater, but it left me wondering. Was it that stunt that convinced Donald to send four people to the other side, or was it his admiration for Claire’s interview, which clearly impressed him? We may never know, but we must credit Jackie with the win.

Poor Lucas. He is so intent on getting to the truth that he is missing it. Continuing to trust his new friend is an odd reaction, especially from a reporter whom we are meant to believe is pretty good at his job. And, now we know that Gavin is an FBI informant. This will not end well.

A much better episode than the last one, among the best of the series. Four out of four manipulative glasses of scotch.

Trump Cards:

— “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” Winston Churchill

— Gavin slapping Lucas shocked me. He is a scary guy.

Ashleigh Banfield is a reporter for CNN. I am not familiar enough with her work to comment on her performance, but it struck me as Barbara Walters Lite.

— Robin Wright is a beautiful woman and, wow, did she look magnificent in that LBD. Her performance in this episode alone is worthy of all the praise she has received.

— Claire’s backstory was very interesting and I would like to learn more. What made the little girl who preferred dirt and horses transform into the woman we know today? Did Frank marry her for the money? The hints given were tantalizing. More, please.

— All I could think about while Megan was talking about her rape was the documentary, The Invisible War. If you have not yet seen it, do so.

— Remy and Jackie have great chemistry. I hope we see them continue to work together.

Speaking Frankly:

Frank: “This sort of stubbornness makes you no better than the Tea Party.”
Donald: “Except for the fact that we happen to be right.”

Frank: “I know you think I’m fundamentally deceptive, but I am capable of a genuine compliment.”
Donald: “Then, I will take it as one, but it won’t soften my resolve.”
Frank: “If it did, you wouldn’t deserve the compliment in the first place.”

Gavin: “The FBI likes patterns and we do not give the FBI what the FBI likes.”
Ironic the second time through the episode.

Claire’s Dad: “He made the world a better place, but sometimes that comes at a price.”

Donald: “You have a brave wife, Frank.”
Frank: “So do you, Donald.”

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.


  1. I loved Claire's interview! As far as Lucas goes, I wonder wouldn't any case the FBI is making against him be entrapment? I'm not a lawyer or anything, but I don't think an FBI informant tricking someone into doing something illegal makes the person guilty.

  2. I remember my jaw dropping when Claire revealed the abortion and then said the general's name. What a great scene. Like Francis, Claire is masterful in her choice of words.


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