House of Cards Live Blog Part 3!
Welcome back to the final installment of the House of Cards Live Blog!
We’re in the home stretch guys, so here’s the recap of what’s currently important:
– Hammerschmidt finally gets the evidence to prove Lucas’ story has some plausibility. He secretly meets with Dunbar who gives Hammerschmidt Remy Denton as a potential lead.
– Stamper has begun to lose it again, he endangers himself and the campaign by donating to the man who died in Frank’s place.
– Despite Catherine Durant’s reign of terror upon Frank and Claire, the Underwoods win the Democratic nomination for President and Vice President. The real fight for the Presidency begins.
Episode 11: Chapter 50
Claire and Frank are aboard Air Force One working hard on their campaign. They trail Conway by 12 – 14 points in every national poll. Frank is still heavily affected by his liver, and its recommended that his air travel be limited in fears of sudden organ rejection.
Claire refuses to allow Frank to continue to travel, and tells him to show his strength somewhere else. Frank chooses to focus on ICO even further to kill off the threat before the election ends by sending ground troops to Syria. After the meeting we find Cathy more subservient than ever.
Tom joins Claire on the campaign trail and creates variations of Claire’s speeches to match Conway’s. Stamper receives an email from Laura Moretti, the wife of the man who died because he didn’t receive the liver that went to Frank. The situation feels eerily similar to Rachel Posner as Stamper seems to stare longingly at the widow whenever he peruses the donation site (by longingly, I mean creepily, the man is becoming obsessed again). Her voicemail is meant to simply thank Stamper and perhaps meet him to thank him in person.
Claire prepares to give a speech in which she has cut a paragraph about love. It’s clear that her night with Tom is supposed to be just one night.
We come back to Hammerschmidt finally reaching Remy and they meet, fatefully, at Freddie’s BBQ. It’s closed because of Frank’s influence, something Remy laments. He refuses to go on record with Hammerschmidt, who reveals he knows about the money laundering and Tusk. He tells Remy he won’t stop digging, but doesn’t manage to intimidate him. However, Remy does give Hammerschmidt a small hint.
We find Freddie is working in the White House, and it turns out he’s doing well as the gardener and has been promoted. Frank stops him to converse, and Freddit reveals he’ll be leaving the White House staff to work in a flower shop Helen plans on starting.
During the conversation, he offends Freddie by asking him to cook one last set of ribs. The fight escalates until Freddie calls Frank a motherf*cker. Not gonna lie, it’s very intense.
This fight could spell trouble for the campaign, should Freddie decide to speak out on it.
While reviewing a speech, Tom wants Claire to take the chance to show the voters a real look into Claire as a person. Their opinions differ, and while Claire lauds Tom for his kindness and gets a dose of reality with it. She tells Tom that saying she loves Frank makes her uncomfortable because she doesn’t want to say it in front of Tom. The two share a kiss, and kind of in an awesome way, Tom gets Claire’s consent before sleeping with her once again.
Leann visits a grungy jazz (if you could call it that?) club to meet Aidan. She finds out Claire is not doing well with voters and says he needs something to work with. Brockhart discovers the use of Russian troops in place of American troops to remove ICO and discovers Conway is just like Frank when Conway wants to prevent ICO from being removed from the equation.
Hammerschmidt visits Freddie of all people, and Freddie beats the hell out of Hammerschmidt. He states even if he hates Frank, and he does hate Frank, that he doesn’t snitch to anyone.
Sorry for the delay folks! Internet outtages can be a real pain! Anyway from where we left off!
Conway continues to drive home Frank’s inefficacy while in office, and while on the plane to their next stop Tom decides to distance himself from Claire. Claire meets with a singular family who supports herself and Frank. For the first time, she is able to do Tom’s speech on love.
Frank speaks with Conway about blocking Russian troops in Syria. Conway doesn’t care about his sense of duty, only about winning and continues with his plan to sink Frank’s mission. Frank decides to go forward with their own ground operation. Stamper believes that extra attention is being brought to their surveillance set up, and recommends ending its use.
Remy meets with Hammerschmidt again, and plays a game of never have I ever in which he reveals Frank’s secrets. Perjury in front of the special prosecutor, striking a deal with Raymond Tusk to perjure himself in exchange for a presidential pardon, Walker’s impeachment, Remy reveals it all.
At the White House, Frank works out with the rowing machine when Claire calls to catch up. She tells Frank that Tom has left the campaign. For a moment, she seems that she might confess the affair but decides not to. It seems as though Frank already knows.
Hammerschmidt reveals to Margaret, his former boss, that Remy has confirmed everything. Together they decide to form a team to investigate Frank.
Meanwhile, Frank meets with Tom. Claire is unaware of the meeting, and Frank is direct. He knows Tom is in love with Claire, but Tom declines to detail the affair. He asked if Tom makes Claire laugh. Tom responds that he feels Claire and he have a connection, that he makes her feel comfortable in her own skin. Frank recounts the tale of his falling out with Freddie, and Tom tells Frank he decided to leave. He also adds that his book will remain unpublished, and then departs. The conversation is probably the most honest one in the whole series.
Frank signs the executive order to begin the operation to seal the fate of ICO. Afterwards, he secretly meets with Aidan to discuss the security issues and is informed Claire’s beyond speech has had an effect on voters.
Claire does a radio interview and discusses the possibility of Claire becoming president. Her inexperience is brought up, and she uses her experiences with Frank as his wife that she would be able to continue his plan for America. Hammerschmidt briefs his new team and tells them to get every fact on record, he plans on nailing Frank to the wall but success lies in complete secrecy.
Frank speaks to Claire about making their marriage open and include Tom in order to make Claire more formidable. He wants both of them to think beyond a traditional marriage. It’s a surprising move, considering how possessive he had been of Claire in the past. It seems near-death really has changed him.
Stamper on the other hand can’t seem to let bad habits go. He decides to call Laura Moretti and meet with her in the same diner he used to meet with Rachel. He gives her flowers, and the interaction seems like an awkward date. Stamper offers a shoulder to cry on and wants to know more about Laura’s husband Tony.
Tom returns to the White House, and Claire informs Tom she wants them to be together. She tells him they have Frank’s blessing and the relief between the two of them is palpable. The couple spends hours happy together and join Frank for breakfast. At first Tom is a bit awkward, but he quickly settles in with the poly-amorous couple.
Episode 12: Chapter 51
Aidan is tracking everything Conway to the tune of “Do it Again” by Galactic (which is phenomenal by the way). He watches a panel featuring all of the candidates, and we find out the ICO leaders have been captured. Conway points out Frank did send American troops without the permission of Syria. Doug meets with a military man who seems to have a dark secret he wants kept.
Doug asks his friend to become a whistleblower for Frank, and call out Conway and Brockhart on their attempt to prevent Russian support on the ICO mission. Conway lies on air and Stamper delivers an ultimatum: Expose Conway’s lies, or your own.
Conway questions Claire’s experience as Frank defends her they’re interrupted by military personnel who whisk Claire and Frank away. ICO has taken American hostages, and demands the US leave Syria, pay ten billion dollars to the caliphate, and the release of their leader. They also demand to speak with “Frank’s successor” William Conway.
The hostages are revealed to be a family from Knoxville. It seems that they are being held prisoner in the United States. From my standpoint, it seems the Conway is behind this. Speaking of Conway, he and Brockhart disagree with their handling of the hostage crisis.
Will wants to take advantage of the situation while Brockhart sees it as antagonizing the enemy. Will creates his video message anyway despite the protests of both Brockhard and his campaign manager.
In the situation room, every detail of the video is analyzed. Frank tells the audience why ICO wants Conway instead of Frank, and the answer is to undermine anything Frank would do as sitting President.
He comes up with a strategy, but we don’t get to hear what it is just yet. Seth announces to the media that all progress will be kept under wraps until the President deems otherwise.
Frank speaks to Conway about conversing with the terrorists in order to buy enough time to find the hostages. He is reluctant and states he will let Frank know within the hour. Frank admits he’s baiting Conway to fail since he “craves the spotlight.” Should any operation to save the family fail, both Frank and Conway will be responsible. Since ICO demanded for Conway specifically a failure will fall more on Conway than Frank.
Conway and his campaign manager argue over the fact the he must now involve himself in the situation. He’s boxed himself in.
Hammerschmidt visits former-President Walker and presents him with the truth of his resignation. Stamper is briefed on the surveillance program that he already knows about and that the campaign has been using to track voter’s activity with. The agent in charge wants to involve other agencies, which threatens to expose Aidan. Conway moves into the White House for the duration of the hostage crisis. For a moment Claire catches a glimpse of the family life she has been missing.
Despite Hammerschmidt’s brief, Walker is hesitant to put a Republican in the White House. Hammerschmidt attempts to convince Walker and appears to be successful. Frank and Conway discuss their plan for the ICO call. Frank denies Conway’s request to actually be on the call, saying Conway cannot speak for the White House. Conway insists much to Frank’s happiness.
Aidan meets with Stamper regarding the other agencies. He checks in with Aidan and is assured the involvement of other agencies would not expose the President.
In a press conference, Frank announces Will’s involvement in the hostage negotiation and Will reaches out to the terrorists himself to contact him via a hostage’s social security number. In order to assure all three hostages are alive, they must speak into the phone, state their names and the time they are calling in.
Ibrahim Halabi, the executive director of American-Muslim relations, asks the American people to not blame all of Islam for the actions of ICO.
For the first time in a few episodes, Remy and Jacki Sharp meet once more. She wants to discuss Tom Hammerschmidt, and how Walker went on record with Tom. Jackie is considering doing the same, and recommends Remy do the same, and she manages to convince him.
In the situation room, the terrorists have been identified. Frank decides to allow Conway to take the call once the phone rings, and has the pre-written script reworked for Conway. Claire and Hannah sit together and discuss the campaign trail. For the first time we see that Hannah actually has ambition similar to Claire. The conversation turns to children, and Claire grows cold.
The call comes in, and is unfortunately untraceable. The call is tense, and accusations are hurled directly at Conway who asks yet again if he can call the terrorists by their names. He is denied and continues the call, saying he cannot speak for the White House and will need time to communicate their demands. Frank jumps in and reminds the terrorists that nothing can be done without him. The money is being gathered, and the military is preparing to pull out but nothing can be done in a day. Frank says he needs time and proof of life.
Conway chooses to use the terrorist’s names when they threaten to cut the tongue out of the Miller’s daughter. He gets proof of life, and admits to killing innocent people. He admits having nightmares of his family dying the way he’s killed others. He claims he’s ashamed of what he did when he was in the military.
He gets more time and appears to be the hero of the call.
Frank meets with George, the man who can reveal Conway’s lies, and forces him to help with Conway.
Claire meets with Tom who remarks on the intense tension at the White House. He calls it dread rather than terror, and inquires how Claire is hold up. She asks if anything Conway says in genuine, and he responds that Conway is a narcissist and when given the right tools is dangerous. He adds that he knew Conway would not fuck up.
Conway and Frank share the kitchen in the White House, one the news is Conway’s call. When Frank turns it off Conway taunts Frank but finds himself on the receiving end of Frank’s sharp tongue.
As Conway puts his children to bed, Claire asks Frank what she can do to help. Next thing we know, Stamper and Claire are meeting and the Joint Chiefs are called. Things are moving quickly now, Hammerschmidt and his team are prepared to present their story and decide to do so while Frank is distracted with the crisis. Stamper meets with Laura again, and has her over at his home for dinner. She and Stamper grow closer.
The next morning a general location of the terrorists is found, Claire meets with the joint chiefs. Frank calls the terrorists and insists on handling the call himself despite the protests of the negotiator and Conway. The call starts and the episode Abruptly ends.
Episode 13: Chapter 52
Ah the season finale! Exciting!
The episode opens on the leader of ICO being moved from the detention center. We don’t know where he’s being taken.
Frank starts the call and the terrorist Josh demands to speak to Conway. Frank tells him he will speak to no one other than himself. He tells Josh they will be found, and that two of their three demands will not be met. However he does keep their leader Ahmadi on the table, offering to allow Josh and his fellow terrorist Zach a chance to speak with Ahmadi in return for the release of the hostages. Frank is hard with the terrorists and nearly gains the release of one hostage, but his demand for two results in the terrorists disconnecting the call.
Ahmadi is led into a room to meet with Claire. She offers him, of all things, hospitality.
Conway attempts to push Frank’s buttons yet again only to find his words being turned back on him and that he is being removed from the White House. Frank’s attempt to get George to speak seems to have worked.
Ahmadi has showered and changed and is led to Claire once again. She offers him food which he refuses fearing whatever upcoming torture the administration has in store for him. However, Claire assures him that no torture awaits him.
We find out Ahmadi has been moved to a government safe house in Virginia. He considers Claire’s presence a humiliation. Claire is quick to give him a dressing down in which we find out Ahmadi is neither a fundamentalist nor Syrian for that matter. He is from Iraq and was heavily involved in politics. He admits to using Islam to radicalize soldiers placing him and Claire on a level playing field.
Seth discusses Frank’s plan to allow the terrorists contact with Ahmadi. He is, of course, asked about Conway’s lie and directs the press to ask Conway. Conway is already dealing with the press and saying George has misrepresented the situation. He attempts to shift focus to the hostage situation.
Conway is furious and snaps at his family and campaign manager. In the meantime, Tom Hammerschmidt sends his story to Seth, showing who has gone on record and the story that is about to publish. He immediately calls Hammerschmidt.
Aidan is forced to focus on cellphone tower data something he wished to avoid. Frank is pulled away to deal with Hammerschmidt’s impending shitstorm. It’s surprising to see Hammerschmidt’s story pushed so early in the episode. It certainly gives the illusion that this line will be wrapped up by the end of the finale.
Seth doesn’t know how to spin the story, and Stamper has no idea how this has happened. Frank demands to see Hammerschmidt.
Claire continues to speak with Ahmadi, and attempts to broker a deal to get Ahmadi to get the hostages released. The idea is to neutralize ICO quietly by working with them to attain the power they so desperately seek. Tom sees the stress in the White House and sees that he cannot locate Claire. Leann finally asks what’s going on between Tom and Claire and points out he’s being too obvious.
Frank tells Claire about Hammerschmidt, and urges her to continue working with Ahmadi. Claire threatens the lives of Ahmadi’s family, and fails.
Frank finally meets with Tom, and is surprisingly jovial. The two battle back and forth and the words become more and more serious until Tom makes his point about Frank’s lack of conscience. However, they are interrupted by the release of the mother and daughter. Now one hostage remains, and Frank must deliver on his promise regarding Ahmadi.
Conway watches angrily knowing he would get no credit. He pushes Hannah away even further.
Aidan’s algorithms are being stolen by the NSA which does not sit well with him. In the meantime, Claire tells Ahmadi about the hostage’s release. She urges Ahmadi to bend to her will, and they agree to create a video.
Catherine Durant approaches Frank, she’s been emailed by the Herald. Frank asks her to trust him and goes back to Hammerschmidt. Tom stands unwavering calling Frank ruthless, corrupt and destructive. Frank tells Tom he was Zoe’s source, not for his own political gain, but to help Walker. As they play quid pro quo, Frank asks Tom if he believes him. His disbelief loses him Frank’s on-the-record comment, and the loss of the comment means Frank has lost Tom. On a phone call with Claire, Frank admits he has no plan for this, and he is scared.
Claire does her best to reassure Frank but the call is interrupted by the terrorists. He reported to the situation room to find they’ve located the building. They connect the call and tell Josh if any of the call is released to the media all deals are off. Ahmadi is put on the line. They converse in Arabic, but Claire corrects them to English.
Ahmadi betrays them and barks instructions in Arabic. The instructions are to have the terrorists release the video and Seth begins to lose control of himself. Stamper brings him back in line as they try to figure out a new plan.
Aidan shows up in Stamper’s office. Something else has happened.
Troops move on the location where they believe the last hostage is being held. The door is breached, the rooms are cleared, they have the wrong house.
The failure causes pain to Frank’s liver. Seth sits at his desk, letting all phones ring off the hook. Hammerschmidt’s article has released. Conway celebrates its release and cools his wife’s temper with the knowledge that she will be the next first lady of the United States.
We find out Aidan’s program is being expanded without his knowledge exposing Frank even further. He sits in despair, he gives it three weeks before everything they have is taken away from them. Claire rouses Frank to create an even bigger show. Frank declares to use war, brutality, and set fear in the hearts of the people.
Claire has Tom write a speech for Frank to address the nation.
My fellow Americans, over the past two years, certainly within the last several days and hours, I have asked myself, “What does it mean to be president? What does true leadership look like?”
It’s a question many of you have asked yourselves as November approaches. Right now, as I sit in this chair, in this office, where so many of my predecessors have steered our nation through turbulent times I realize that this job is one that transcends politics and rhetoric.
Entrusted to anyone that sits behind this desk is something far more elemental, the very survival of our nation. And I, as your president, must confront the storm before us. That storm is terror. More dangerous and unpredictable than any hurricane.
It has endangered us abroad.
It has endangered us at home.
And right now, it has placed James Miller in the gravest of dangers. We attempted to communicate with his captors. We hoped for a peaceful solution. We’re relieved that Caroline and Melissa Miller are safe and sound.
But terror is blind to reason. Given the opportunity to renounce terror, Yusuf Al Ahmadi chose to encourage it. So unfortunately, we must now move beyond reason. We must respond with force.
(At this moment we watch as Ahmadi is moved again. Frank continues.)
Because there is no scenario in which we will release him. He will remain in United States custody until his dying breath.
If the captors call again, we will not answer. The time for conversation is over, no matter the consequences. Regardless of whether James Miller is released or not, rescued or not, killed or not, ICO will be destroyed.
We are at war.
It will be a war more total than anything we have waged thus far in the fight against extremism. Soldiers will die. Civilians may die. There will be pain. There will be suffering. We will be confronted with the most horrific aspects of humanity. We will confront the inhuman. Evil itself.
But we will triumph. It is not a war we will lose. And if the worst happens to James Miller, we must remember: To mourn is not to fear. To grieve is not to admit defeat.
God bless America, and all of those who believe in freedom and democracy.
The speech ends, but the episode does not. We find that ICO plans on posting a video of James Miller’s execution at 9 sharp. There is no time to save Miller, the nation must stand and watch.
In the situation room, Frank tells Durant they are really at war. He tells the agent in charge to kill the terrorists when they’re found.
Stamper leaves Frank to meet with Laura one last time. Laura kisses Stamper’s hand and invites him to stay with her when the day ends.
At 9 pm, James Miller is executed.
This time when Frank addresses the audience, Claire does as well through her body language. Frank’s parting words as the season ends:
“That’s right. We don’t submit to terror. We make the terror.”
The end! Thanks to everyone who joined me on this adventure. Til next time!