House of Cards Season 4 Live Blog!
Before we begin this glorious live blog, let’s start off with a quick recap of the most important things from season 3:
– Underwood is running despite his party’s wishes and his main opponent is Heather Dunbar, who has teamed up with Jackie Sharp making them a formidable duo against Frank.
– Stamper betrayed Dunbar in the effort to prove his loyalty to Frank, but we still don’t know if he’s playing both sides.
– Stamper also killed the girl he was stalking/in love with.
– Claire has left Frank, which is disastrous for his presidential bid.
Also note, this blog post covers episodes 1-6! For Episodes 7 through 10, click here to continue!
Episode 1: Chapter 40
We’re finally getting to see what happened to Lucas, who was imprisoned earlier in the series while trying to find out what happened to Zoey. Just in case you all forgot:
Even with Stamper’s help, Frank cannot get ahold of Claire. In a petty move, he callously cuts her from his speech. However, people are starting to take notice of her missing presence. The atmosphere is pretty tense as Frank demands every single one of Claire’s moves be tracked while he flies to meet up with her.
In the meantime, Claire walks into a Texan home that appears to be empty only to meet with Mrs. Hale (her mother). Seth is barely keep up with the damage while, Dunbar’s team tries to make sense of Claire’s movements.
When we come back to Lucas, we find him comforting his cellmate in a much less sexual way. Inevitably Lucas is able to peel away the layers of his cellmate’s defensive aggression to discover the man did not commit the murder he was being jailed for. As the conversation continues, we find out Lucas is being monitored, most likely by Frank’s subordinates.
Even though Frank seems to be trying to get back to Claire, he does keep removing her from his life. First the speech, and now her clothes which were sent ahead for the campaign.
Frank looks older while talking to Meechum, as if Claire’s lack of presence is aging him already. After asking Meechum about Claire’s last actions before leaving him, he bids Meechum to stay in the room with him. Meechum stares almost longingly at Frank as he goes through his paperwork.
Claire and her mother on the other hand seem to be doing a phenomenal job avoiding each other for the time being.
When we cut back to Frank, he’s having a terrifying nightmare about Claire.
Throughout the dream there are cuts between a sequence of loving acceptance and harsh violence, giving us a glimpse into Frank’s tumultuous feelings towards Claire which are mirrored in his actions during his waking life. As the dream reaches its fevered peak, Frank is awoken by Meechum who offers to stay the night, but is rejected by Frank
Claire meets up with a woman named LeAnn Harvey about her bid for a congressional seat in Texas with the end game of becoming governor in 2020. Claire misleads Harvey about the president’s approval while Harvey points out Claire’s white privilege would make her campaign for Congress difficult.
But Claire convinces LeAnn to give her a shot anyway. Frank quickly figures out Claire’s endgame and sends Stamper after Harvey who collapses under the pressure of Frank’s threat.
We also come to find that Lucas was actually not being monitored by Frank, but by the feds in an attempt to get out under “Rule 35” which would put him into a special witness protection program where even Frank can’t find him.
Seth appears to make a deal with Dunbar’s future chief of staff in an attempt to gain the position for himself, or at least we think that’s what happened.
After Claire’s disastrous meeting with Doris Jones , word of Claire’s separation from Frank has leaked to the media. Stamper and Frank attempt to work out a strategy to get Claire back in line, while leaving Seth out of the conversation (cementing the resentment that might lead Seth to betray Frank). Stamper suggests getting to Claire through her mother, who she finally has a conversation with.
We find out that Claire and her parents have been estranged for several years, and their conversation did not help to bring them together at all. Frank finally makes it to Texas where he and Claire finally face off.
LeAnn joins Claire, in a show of solidarity that LeAnn would not bow down to Frank’s threats. Frank confronts Claire with the fact that her mother was dying and that she must use this to get the media off their backs. Frank and Claire make a deal, Claire shows up to the State of the Union address in return for Frank’s support of Claire’s campaign. Claire agrees and the two appear before the media for the first time since the start of the episode.
Before the episode comes to its conclusion, we find Lucas has successfully negotiated his way out of prison, and is still incredibly fearful. Frank on the other hand is faced with a loss at the polls in which he must concede.
Claire and her mother finally reconcile at the end of the episode with her haunting words: “You’re stronger than he is, but you gotta put him in his place.”
Episode 2: Chapter 41
We start off this episode with Mrs. Hall being hen-pecked by her socialite friends, who she encourages to support Heather Dunbar in order to force Frank’s loss in the presidential race. Celia Jones reaches out to Jackie Sharp to get a breast cancer center for her district. It appears Claire has won over the Jones’ support for her congressional bid.
Claire returns to the White House long enough to receive a pair of earrings from Frank for the State of the Union Address.
Frank finds out Petrov has been killing several powerful people in his country over what appears to be an attempted coup. One of the men responsible is attempting to gain political asylum in the United States, but Frank is unwilling to take the man in regardless of the consequences it may have in Russia. Frank leaves his team to figure out the best strategy while he prepares for the State of the Union.
Shortly before Frank and Claire see each other again, Congresswoman Jones reaches out to Frank. The meeting between Frank and Claire is frigid. Claire is unwilling to be warm with Frank, although Frank does appear to attempt to reconcile with his wife, offering to assist with persuading Congresswoman Jones to endorse Claire. The sudden support seems off-putting and almost heavy handed of Frank, and doesn’t appear to pay off
Frank begins last minute revisions to his SOTU speech and asks for space for one more guest.
When we come back to Jackie Sharp, she’s meeting with Remy to determine the viability of Celia Jones’ offer. After hearing rumors of Claire and Harvey meeting with Jones, Remy offers to check in with Harvey as the two embrace each other. Afterwards we see that Sharp is being tailed and photographed but we do not know as of yet who it might be.
Claire’s mother watched the SOTU address to find Claire wearing a white dress she previously advised her daughter against wearing. Frank’s special guest as it turns out is Celia Jones, and we see Jackie Sharp meeting with the elder Jones just before Frank arrives to shake their hands.
Remy meets with LeAnn, backing her into a corner until she tells him to stay out of her busines. At the State of the Union Frank implodes Claire’s campaign with a single blow, backing Jones’ clinic without the assistance of Claire effectively disabling the support she was trying to garner from Jones. He then took it a step further, announcing his and Claire’s support of Celia’s candidacy ending Claire’s bid for congress with a single speech.
Remy denies meeting with LeAnn and puts the brakes on his relationship with Sharp after being confronted with Harvey’s knowledge of their relationship. Frank has Claire’s motorcade turned around and attempts to get Claire underfoot by offering her a Senate seat. Claire dictates that she will need more time and when she leaves Frank addresses the audience for the first time.
Frank regales us with a story about a boy in Gaffney who ran away from home and hid in a tree overnight. In it, Frank tells us he eventually became angry at the boy who had a good home, and good family and he decided to force the boy from the tree by chopping the tree down. He adds Claire best leave her own tree before taking at ax to it himself. Claire meets Harvey on a plane to Texas and instructs Harvey to think bigger this cycle.
Frank contacts Petrov to tell him to cool off on killing high profile businessman and in exchange for returning Igor Milkin (the man who was part of the coup) Frank asks for Milkin to receive a fair trail. Petrov accuses Frank of orchestrating the coup and demands Milkin’s return with no terms. Frank chooses to keep Milkin in the US, after the negotiation with Petrov fails.
Claire returns home and in a highly emotional conversation with her mother, reminds us just how twisted she can be when trying to attain her own goals. The episode closes with a threat from Claire to Elisabeth, help me with more money or I sell your home out from under you.
Episode 3: Chapter 42
Lucas is working in a shop cleaning cars when he takes notice of Dunbar’s upcoming arrival in Ohio. He tears the section out of the paper to read on later.
Frank is attending a jubilant church service with Doris Jones and her daughter Celia in his hometown of Gaffney, securing the black vote in his county. We then see Harvey once more receiving the results of a poll put out on how angry people in the country are regarding the price hike in gas. In this fictional world, the prices of gas have exceeded well over 5 dollars a gallon and are approaching the 6-7 dollar range. Claire catches her mother attempting to steal the earrings Frank gave to her before boarding a plane to Gaffney. While on the plane it’s implied she plans on meeting with an old nemesis of Frank’s: Oren Chase.
If you don’t remember Chase, he was the center point of a political battle regarding the Peachoid tower located in Gaffney.
LeAnn opens a safety deposit box in Gaffney to get to a different box, Frank’s box. She takes a photo of something she later approaches Oren to print on the Peachoid itself, and leaves Claire’s earrings in the box as a signature.
Frank has his hands tied with Russia attempting to raise the price of gas even further, advising Cathy to go to China a move she was advising against until Claire arrives at the house in Gaffney. Claire offers to attend an event with Frank in an apparent show of solidarity.
Cutting back to Lucas, he plans on taking a car from the shop he’s working in overnight, and the price he pays for this is a damn steep one.
At Limestone College, Celia speaks strong happy words about Frank while Doris Jones questions Claire about her return. Claire coyly keeps the conversation light, insisting she chose to come back rather than having to be convinced. Frank expresses his worry about Claire’s seamless return to the audience and in the meantime, LeAnn’s crew arrives.
Frank speaks with Cathy regarding Petrov and continues to have the vivid hallucination of choking Claire. The more we see it, the less it becomes a dream and more a prediction of the future. That night Claire invites Frank to sleep in the same bed as her for the first time this season.
The next day we find out that the it wasn’t the Peachoid that was painted (whoops) but a canvas that was put up on a random billboard with a photograph of Frank’s father shaking hands with a member of the KKK.
Meechum confirmed the photograph was still in the bank vault while Stamper confronts Seth about the multiple scandals he’s failed to catch. Both Stamper and Frank suspect Seth of revealing details to the press and Frank orders Stamper to keep a close eye on Seth.
Lucas reaches the Dunbar campaign and tricks a staffer to leave the door unattended, steals a press pass, and then arranges to meet with Cynthia Driscoll, Dunbar’s future Chief of Staff. Frank loses the support of the Jones, and Claire expertly leads Frank to Chase.
Lucas approaches Dunbar with the story about Frank and Zoe, he begs to be heard but Dunbar holds no interest. He breaks down as Dunbar leaves. In the car, Dunbar decides to let Lucas’ story go rather than pursue it.
Frank confronts Oren about the billboard, and gets him to admit his guilt publicly. He does so, casting the blame on the Dunbar campaign. Frank stands again before the same congregation and attempts to smooth over the damage caused by the photograph.
The attempt fails, and Frank loses his home state to Dunbar. Seth, in an attempt to save his job, appears to send a photo to Driscoll of Frank standing with a confederate Civil War Re-enactor. Dunbar, also decides to reconsider Lucas’ story as an attempt to push the slander created by Oren away from her campaign.
Seth accuses Meechum of being the leak, which makes Stamper even more suspicious. After a conversation with Meechum, Frank decides he’s innocent of the accusation, and going through the safety deposit box reveals the true leak of the photograph: Claire.
It’s in this moment, he confronts her and it’s in this moment Claire reveals her plan. Her demand, a real partnership, a race won with Frank as President and Claire as Vice-President. Franks reaction is to not indulge Claire, and Claire’s response is an ultimatum that Frank cannot refuse.
If Frank’s earlier threat is real, he’s about to get out his ax.
Episode 4: Chapter 43
This episode starts off with Frank actually indulging Claire. Frank and Stamper try to work out a plan to steal Harvey from Claire while Frank deals with more Petrov nonsense in the situation room. On the way to the room, he stops Meechum in the hallway to admire a painting. He asks Meechum what to hang in place of a painting of the confederate flag, and Franks response is to trace Meechum’s hand on the wall.
Stamper confronts Seth once more about the leaks, and Seth nearly quits. Seth still attempts to place the blame on Meechum but fails. Back in the situation room, Frank enables the plans to place Milikin in with dissidents to frighten Petrov into cooperation, and play on the Russian president’s fears.
Stamper offers the job of campaign manager to Harvey, who strikes a bargain with Stamper: her research for the president’s research.
Dunbar reaches out to the Attorney General who refuses to touch Lucas’ story. Claire watches the research Frank had done on her, and believes Frank is trying to force her to doubt herself. She writes a note to Frank and instructs LeAnn to deliver it personally. Seth finds out Dunbar has spoken with Lucas Goodwin.
Frank signs the official order to send Milikin in despite Cathy’s insistence. LeAnn arrives and delivers the note to Frank, who clearly does not like what he’s read. Frank hands the note to Stamper, which contains Claire’s speech in which she divorces Frank.
Frank has Claire put on lockdown. Her cell phone and landline are scrambled and she is unable to leave her mother’s home in Texas.
In a shocking twist, during a campaign speech at a college while Underwood attempted to speak to some of the students who opposed his campaign, Lucas Goodwin attempted to kill Frank and in the attempt killed Meechum.
I’ll be honest here, I did think that the Frank was going to undertake an attempt at his own life to garner support and keep Claire from divorcing him, but I can’t see him getting Lucas to do it. This is something that genuinely surprised me. Poor Meechum!
The world moves quickly from here. Claire has a short conversation with her mother who tells Claire she hopes Frank dies before Claire leaves for the hospital. Vice President Donald Blythe is sworn in as acting president while Frank is in critical condition at the hospital. A news report tells us that Lucas is also dead.
While at the hospital, Claire gets an update on Frank’s condition. The bullet hit Frank directly in the liver, and he requires extensive surgery that he would survive but the recovery would be difficult. During this time, Cathy makes her move to have the Russian military operation reversed.
Frank goes through the surgery and is stabilized. Most of his liver is removed with hopes it would regenerate. Goodwin is revealed as the assassin much to the fear of Dunbar and her associates.
In the hospital, Stamper reaches out to Claire in order to convince her to help Blythe stick with the Russian operation. Claire meets with Blythe, but does attempt to convince Blythe to proceed with the mission. Instead, she assists Blythe in changing the nature of the operation.
Blythe chooses to send Milkin to China in order to move the crisis between the two countries. Stamper does not agree with the move, and the cabinet even less so, but it’s clear that Blythe is Claire’s puppet now and she will run the country as she sees fit.
Episode 5: Chapter 44
We’re in the hospital with a barely conscious Frank as he hallucinates the Civil War re-enactor he had posed with the photo we saw very long ago. The actor approaches Frank, and shoots him point blank with his rifle as the credits roll.
We come back to Stamper questioning a WITSEC agent about Goodwin’s release. Goodwin left behind a suicide note outlining everything that happened both to Zoe Barnes and Rachel Posner. At this point there’s no way to keep the note from the press.
Claire watches over Frank as he fades in and out of consciousness. Blythe visits Claire who suggests she could listen in on his call with Petrov and advise him via a note. We then see Remy running out of gas at a gas station, and continuing to turn down Jackie Sharp’s advances.
While on the call with Petrov, Petrov refuses to negotiate with anyone other than Frank and reveals Frank’s condition to Petrov in an attempt to reel him in. It doesn’t take Petrov long to realize he’s not dealing with Blythe, but Claire.
WITSEC continues its investigation of Goodwin’s suicide note, contacting his former Editor in Chief in the process. Meanwhile, Stamper briefs Claire on Blythe’s unwise decision to inform Petrov of Frank’s impending liver transplant. He also shows her Goodwin’s suicide note, which cannot be suppressed.
Stamper is finally allowed into the room with Frank, who we find is having more intense hallucinations.
This time he is on the rowing machine from season’s past. In the room with him is a man who turns into Stamper as he sits. The doctor informs Stamper that Frank’s brain is “swimming in a pool of unprocessed ammonia,” and that Frank is third on the transplant list despite being the President of the United States. As he’s exiting the hospital, he receives a text confirming Seth’s involvement in the leak of the Civil War soldier photo.
Stamper goes into Seth’s office to have him announce the resignation of the Attorney General, and Seth himself. Seth attempts to threaten Stamper with his extensive knowledge, and that goes about as well as you’d think it would.
Sidenote: Seth’s face has always looked very punchable to me, and this exact moment is it’s peak of punchability.
Anyway, Claire meets with Blythe yet again in the kitchen where they discuss death and Claire’s feelings regarding both the impending deaths of Frank and her mother. After their little heart to heart, their conversation returns to China and the reveal that Blythe trusts Claire with his life (something tells me this is a terrible idea).
Remy finally gets some gas into his vehicle when LeAnn approaches Remy on behalf of Claire who refuses at first until LeAnn shows Remy the photos of his “meetings” with Sharp.
^ This is the face of a very unhappy man.
Dunbar has decided to continue campaigning despite Frank being incapacitated. Driscoll tells Dunbar that there were no witnesses to her meeting with Goodwin. Remy meets with Claire in an attempt to secure Raymond Tusk’s assistance with China. Remy at this point is painted into a corner, if only to prevent Jackie’s campaign from falling apart.
Cathy voices her concern regarding Blythe’s obsessions with China when they’re interrupted by Seth who demands Stamper’s attention. His promise is to end Dunbar’s campaign. Stamper meets with the soon-to-be former Attorney General who he chooses to keep on so long as she testifies Dunbar met with Goodwin prior to the assassination attempt.
Claire meets with the press to update on Frank’s liver transplant. During the press conference, she reveals Goodwin’s suicide note as a document of a demented mind, additionally it’s revealed Dunbar spoke to Goodwin prior to the assassination attempt.
Kate Baldwin, who had previously written about Frank’s “tyrannical” White House, starts to dig in on Lucas’ accusations in his suicide note, starting with reaching out to his former editor.
Remy reaches out to Tusk, whose relationship to China has grown strained. Tusk quickly figures out Remy is working for the White House and will have nothing to do with Remy’s plans. However, Remy chooses to blackmail Tusk with a potential perjury charge with an upside of restoring of Tusk’s reputation. Reluctantly, Tusk seems to agree.
Lucas’ editor reveals he doesn’t believe in Lucas’ story, pointing out the lack of evidence and advises Kate against following up with the story. Seth meets with Stamper in his home, and shows Seth just what he’s made of.
Who doesn’t enjoy some good old fashioned suffocation?
Back to Lucas’ editor Hammerschmidt who is getting his notes back from his meeting with the president. In his morning paper there’s a story regarding Lucas’ story, and how it was discounted. Stamper pushes Blythe on the negotiations with Russia and oversteps his boundaries, when he overhears Raymond Tusk and Remy Denton have arrived in the White House. Stamper confronts Claire on her deception, Frank’s heart suffers as the conversation continues. Claire attempts to reconcile with Stamper, who chooses to stay by Frank’s side.
Tusk, Blythe, Denton, and Claire meet regarding Russia, China, and the gas crisis. Their plan is to propose a partnership between American and Chinese energy companies, but we’re cut away from the plan to Remy and Jackie meeting together once more. As the elevator door closes they are holding hands.
Stamper speaks to an unconscious Frank, begging for his help, before offering his liver. He finds out that Frank is too ill for a partial liver.
Frank continues to hallucinate. The last thing he sees is himself loading a Civil War era rifle, and then walking through the woods with the man from before. As gunfire goes off around them, Frank’s heart begins to fail and we watch as he seizes.
Episode 6: Chapter 45
We start this nail biting episode with Tusk presenting the plan to save the US from the gas crisis. Blythe states he’ll propose the plan to Petrov at a summit which makes the congressional panel nervous. They make plans to draft an appropriation in case Frank passes away.
At the hospital, Frank continues to hallucinate. As he’s walking through the woods he sees a limousine with Claire’s legs inside. Stamper approaches the woman in charge of the transplant list and forces her to move Frank’s name up the list.
LeAnn discusses a search engine with gentlemen who does her poll research, Aidan. He suggests LeAnn go with a candidate who is more viable than the Underwoods: William Conway.
Cathy meets with Claire to discuss the situation with China, and asks Claire to allow her to do her job. Cathy decides to threaten Claire with Jackie, a terrible move on her part since Claire has Remy in her pocket. Remy meets with Jackie to discuss the bill, and tells Jackie about the photographs. She shuts down when she hears the news.
At the hospital we find out Frank is dangerously close to death. His liver might fail at any moment. In his mind, Frank’s hallucinations taking him through a hallway in the White House. Lights flicker like those on a train as Claire leads him through the hallway, transforming into Zoe along the way.
We return to the real world for just a moment while Claire and Blythe’s decision to stay in Washington before we’re back in the hallucination. Zoe seductively climbs onto Frank, her thumbs threaten to gouge his eyes just as Claire’s did in his nightmares. He is interrupted by the hard knocks on his desk emanating from the fist of Peter Russo.
Back in the real world, Frank is dying. The stark contrast of the alarms versus the silence of Frank’s hallucination is jarring and sharp. When we return to the silence, Zoe is on top of Russo. Frank stands nearby trying to escape the oval office, but finding every door locked and all doorknobs loose.
Snap back to reality as Claire is approached by LeAnn regarding the search engine Conway is able to steer in his direction. However Claire won’t hear LeAnn until Frank stabilizes. Meanwhile, Dunbar must choose between her ethics and telling the truth. Driscoll offers herself as a virtual sacrifice for Dunbar’s sake.
Claire pays Jackie a visit and reminds her that she will remain under Claire’s thumb as long as they continue to work together. She interrupts as Cathy is briefing the plan for the G7 summit, and manages to get Blythe to send her with Cathy in order to secure the deal. Cathy is clearly very unhappy about Claire’s presence.
Back in Frank’s hallucinations Russo speaks to Frank breaking the silence saying, “You tried, Frank, which is more than most people ever do. Right now, it’s just us. Rest your eyes. We have all the time in the world.”
The next thing we see is a young man named Danny who breaks into his parents gun case and commits suicide. Frank finally has the liver he needs.
Claire gets the call while traveling to Brandenburg. Seth announces to the press Frank will be undergoing a 12-13 hour surgery. Claire decides to continue her travel to Brandenburg despite the surgery, she has Seth announce her presence at the G7 summit. He reads a statement from Claire expounding upon her decision to continue the course.
Heather Dunbar enters her interrogation as Claire enters the G7 summit. In her interrogation, Dunbar waives the right to keep her tape hidden and admits to meeting with Lucas Goodwin. She then takes this moment to accuse Frank of being corrupt. In the hospital, Frank’s hallucinations continue to cause him great pain until the new liver is in place. Then finally, his hallucination meets peace and it becomes just Claire and himself. Dunbar’s move blows up in her face, and her staff begins to bail out on her.
Back at the Summit, Petrov insists on meeting with Claire alone despite Cathy’s protests. As usual, Petrov dredges up the past demanding an apology of Claire who refuses. He then attempts to throw Claire off by questioning the stability of her marriage to Francis and finds himself surprised that she does not take his bait. However Claire does slip telling Petrov the plan is important to her.
At the hospital Frank wakes up to Stamper at his side. He asks for Claire only to find she’s in Germany. At the G7 summit, Claire is finding it difficult to convince Petrov when Frank calls. Instead of taking the call, Claire continues the meeting with Petrov and calls him out for what he is: a beggar. The deal is made and the US is pulled from its energy crisis.
The win permanently damages the relationship between Remy and Jackie. In the end, Claire gets what she needs, the political experience to prove herself a viable vice president.
Stamper begins the damage control on Claire’s presence at the G7 summit when he gets a call from the Secretary of Health. She’s sent him an email containing a photo of the man who died when he was bumped from the transplant list.
Claire and Frank finally speak and when they do he expresses his pain at the loss of Meechum. He has Claire help him walk a bit despite his immense pain. He looks as though he’s aged an extra ten years. As they sit for a rest, Frank tells Claire he will approve her plan. Frank asks her to stay with him, when Claire says she can’t go back to being first lady, stops her. He finally admits that without Claire, he is nothing and that things will be different.
The episode closes with the two reconciled, a single unit once again, and with Frank signing the approval for the plan.
Those of you kind enough to still be with me will be glad to know this is my stopping point for this evening. Don’t fret though, as I’ll be continuing this madness tomorrow morning bright and early. Stay tuned for part two! Same bat time, same bat channel. Goodnight!