House of Cards Season 1: Full Recap Script
Before you start “House of Cards” Season 2 on Netflix, be sure to check out our quick recap of everything that happened in Season 1.
In the comments, many people have asked us to post the full script, but we’re going to do one better. Here’s EVERYTHING we wrote for our first season “House of Cards” summary, including some details and info that were left on the cutting room floor. Enjoy!
The show opens with US Representative Frank Underwood, a Democrat and the House Majority Whip, celebrating the election of Garrett Walker to the presidency. Though Frank was a key ally during the campaign, and had been promised the position of Secretary of State, he is informed by new Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez that he’s being passed over for the job in favor of Senator Michael Kern.
Frank, angry about the betrayal, makes plans with his wife Claire – who runs an environmental non-profit – to ruin Kern, and by extension seek revenge on President-Elect Walker.
But Frank needs help! He aligns himself with hungry young political reporter Zoe Barnes and troubled fellow Representative Peter Russo, an addict who has just been arrested for drunk driving. He also takes over an education bill from another Representative and starts pushing it to the president’s desk.
Frank is visited by Remy Danton, a lobbyist who represents natural gas company SanCorp. Meanwhile, he discovers an anti-Israeli newspaper op-ed that was published while Michael Kern was editor-in-chief, and gets Zoe to publish an article about it. This eliminates Kern from the race for Secretary of State, and makes way for Catherine Durant – over whom Underwood has considerable influence – to take his place. It also earns Zoe her first appearance on CNN. LUCKY!
Back when he was running for office, Frank fought to contract a water tower in Gaffney, South Carolina, that looks like a peach, called The Peachoid. After a 16-year-old girl crashes her car while texting a joke about the Peachoid and dies, Frank faces criticism, and must return to the small town to put out the fire. Which he does, in part by giving an impassioned sermon at the local church.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, Frank’s missing early discussions about his new education bill, and Claire is working on bringing in a bright new activist – Gillian Cole – to help her with her clean water charity.
Remy Danton – the gas lobbyist – offers a $1.5 million donation to Claire’s charity, which obviously has strings attached for Frank, who is very against her taking the deal. Claire reluctantly passes on the money. She also has an encounter with an old flame, photographer Adam Galloway, but leaves before things get too serious.
Frank also blackmails Peter Russo into allowing a shipyard in his district to close, even though keeping the jobs local was one of the reasons he ran for office to begin with. Peter’s so depressed, he leaves his kids alone at his apartment to go get drunk. This causes Christina, Peter’s assistant who he’s also been sleeping with, to quit her job and leave him.
Zoe gets offered a new position as White House Correspondent, but turns it down, fearing it will impact her relationship with Frank. This decision gets her fired, so she gets drunk and has sex with Frank. You know, like you do.
She ends up taking a job with the real-time news site Slugline.
We meet Marty Spinella, a lobbyist for the teacher’s union who’s very opposed to Frank’s bill and its stance on collective bargaining. Marty threatens a benefit being organized by Claire for her clean water project with protests, and the union employees of the hotel may block the entire gala from happening.
Claire and Frank respond by holding the benefit in front of the hotel, and even win over the union protesters with some free BBQ provided by Frank’s buddy, Freddy.
Peter, meanwhile, has a mental breakdown after reading angry emails from fired shipyard workers, gets drunk and heads to Frank’s house to vent. Frank gives him a choice – commit suicide now or run for governor of Pennsylvania with Frank’s help. Peter agrees to get sober, and Frank ropes Claire into hooking him up with a clean water project, to make him look good.
Teachers are now striking in opposition to Frank’s bill. Frank throws a brick through his own window and blames the teacher’s union for taking things too far. This leads to Marty and Frank having a debate on CNN, which Frank screws up epically, making him a viral YouTube star!
Back behind closed doors, Frank eggs Marty on into punching him, then blackmails him into ending the teacher strike.
Meanwhile, Claire goes to visit Steve, an officer who used to protect Frank but is now dying of pancreatic cancer. He confesses that he’s always been in love with her, and she gives him the world’s creepiest, most unfortunate hand job.
With Marty out of the way, Frank’s Education Reform and Achievement Act is signed in to law, and he gets to keep one of the pens from the president’s desk. Yes!
Frank’s Chief of Staff, Doug Stamper, also receives a letter from a hooker they had bribed to stay quiet about servicing Peter Russo, now working closely with Claire to push forward a Delaware clean water bill. The prostitute – Rachel – is trying to blackmail them now that Russo is running for Governor. Stamper finds her a place to live so he can keep an eye on her.
Frank tries to get Zoe to write a glowing piece on Russo, but she pawns it off to a colleague. Frank shows up at Zoe’s apartment and goes down on her while she places a call to her father. Not cool, House of Cards. Not cool.
Frank heads back to South Carolina again, this time to visit the military college he attended, The Sentinel, which is building a library in his name. This gives him a chance to meet up with some of his old buddies, and together they get drunk and trash the school’s old library. There are hints that Frank may have a romantic history with a male classmate named Tim, but who knows?
Peter also his the road, visiting Philadelphia to meet with all the fired shipyard workers, which doesn’t go well. He also visits his aging mother in a retirement home, which somehow goes even worse. But on the plus side, Christina shows up, has sex with him on his childhood bed and agrees to support his campaign for Governor.
One obstacle is that Vice President Matthews – a former Governor of Pennsylvania – doesn’t really like Peter and knows about his addiction problems and fondness for hookers. Matthews goes on a bus tour with Peter and tries to sabotage him, and Peter eventually turns him around and into a supporter. Go Russo!
Zoe, worried about fallout from her relationship with Frank, tells him she just wants to keep things professional, so he starts ignoring her calls.
Eventually, she agrees to sleep with him again, but tells him that she’s not really into it and is just using him for information.
Claire has a bunch of water filters stuck in the Sudan, but Frank won’t go to Remy or SanCorp for help. But she goes behind Frank’s back to Remy herself and agrees to tank Russo’s watershed bill in exchange for help with the filters. Her plan works, but Zoe puts the pieces together and tells Frank what happened.
Frank and Claire have a huge argument, and Claire kicks Frank out of her office. She then goes to tell off Zoe before high-tailing it to Adam’s. Peter – whose campaign for Governor now seems DOA – also tells Frank that he’s had enough, finishing with:
Frank works out a deal with Remy – if Peter supports SanCorp drilling initiatives, the company will back Peter’s run for Governor and open up thousands of new jobs for the newly-unemployed shipyard workers. But Frank also plots Peter’s downfall, arranging for Rachel the hooker to knock him back off the wagon. It works, and Peter does a radio interview intoxicated. His career’s done.
Frank reveals to Linda, the President’s Chief of Staff, that he wants Matthews to step down and run for Governor of Pennsylvania in Peter’s place, thus opening up the VP spot for Frank.
But Peter puts everything in jeopardy by threatening to make a public statement revealing everything. So Frank MURDERS PETER and makes it look like a suicide. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?
Frank also convinces Claire to come back home and help him deal with the Russo fallout. Which is going to become more important, as Zoe and her colleague, Janine, are starting to suspect Frank was somehow involved in the shipyard closing, and eventually uncover some major revelations.
Claire’s facing a problem of her own in the form of Gillian, who has ethical problems with the non-profit’s support of the environmentally-damanging SanCorp plans. Claire sends Gillian on a leave of absence, and Gillian sues her for wrongful termination, saying she was let go because she’s pregnant.
But even further complications come in the form of billionaire Raymond Tusk (played by Major Dad!), who the president is now considering for the VP role. Frank agrees to help vet Tusk for the president, secretly hoping to undermine him, but it turns out that Tusk is actually vetting Frank for the job, not the other way around. PLUS, it turns out Tusk was the one who advised against making Frank Secretary of State to begin with!
Tusk wants Frank’s help in altering US trade policy with China before he’ll approve him for the vice-presidency. Frank agrees, and accepts the position from the President.
And that’s everything! Whew. Hope you were taking notes.