"I've always loathed the necessity of sleep. Like death, it puts even the most powerful men on their backs." -- Frank Underwood
While Gavin strokes Cashew and tracks someone by GPS from his secret lair, Doug is in Joppa, having Rachel read scripture to him. She breaks from her reading to tell Doug that she's moved Lisa in. Doug does not approve, but has to rush back to Washington to help Frank handle a crisis before anything is settled.
Doug arrives in Washington, but Frank has already had Seth Grayson handle the tasks that he wanted Doug to do. Seth has made himself rather valuable lately, hasn't he? Doug seems like a good candidate to turn on the Underwoods. At least he would be an adversary with enough real ammunition to prove dangerous to them.
The president and his team are being briefed on a developing situation between China and Japan. China is encroaching on sovereign Japanese territory, using its navy to block Japanese shipping routes. This is a ploy designed to strike back at the United States in the trade war between the two.
"They can't pick on the big kids, so they're picking on the little one," Frank explains. The president wants to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis first, but is also considering a military showdown.
While this is going on, a shadowy figure stalks around, close to the Underwood residence, carrying an explosive device in a gym bag. The security detail at the house sees the figure and dispatches police to handle him. The man drops the bag and takes off, while police give chase. Frank leaves the meeting to check on Claire.
When he arrives home, Frank learns that the man with the device was a former Marine, and was also claiming responsibility for the white powder false alarm at the Capitol, earlier in the season. The man has been apprehended. In questioning him, authorities learned that Claire had been his intended target. He was upset with her for her stance on the sexual assault issue. Frank tasks Meechum with staying by Claire's side, while he returns to the White House.
Remy and Jackie are in bed and Remy uses some sexual wizardry to get Jackie to explain her tattoo. "I like the pain... It hurt a lot," she explains. "I killed a lot of people," she continues. "In the Army. The pain ... it helped."
That certainly helps explain this woman, but not entirely.
Frank meets with Seth and Doug. He wants them to keep digging for anything he can use to combat Tusk. Frank decides to expose the link between Tusk and the casino, which Doug doesn't agree with. "If we launch that missile, it could blow us up too," he warns. Seth disagrees and suggests that they use Ayla Sayyad to hit back at Tusk. Doug gets word to her, telling her to "pursue currency", or, follow the money.
Claire pays Jackie a visit, where Jackie informs her that she won't be cosponsoring Claire's assault legislation after all. She explains that she sees civilian oversight over military justice to be too extreme a measure. "So, you lied to us?" Claire asks rhetorically. She accuses Jackie of not wanting to link herself to Claire because of Claire's scandal, a fact that Jackie denies, but, could you really blame her if that were the case? "If the bill goes to the floor as is, I won't just bow out. I'll actively fight it," Jackie warns.
Frank and the president manage to find rime to have a friendly chat, in the midst of the China crisis. The president tells Frank that the matter is far less stressful than his personal life. He says that he fired Christina and that counseling has helped somewhat, but that there's still work to do to save his marriage.
"No more runs until the death threats die down. That's the new rule," Claire tells Frank as they share a moment in their smoking nook. Seems like a solid rule. Meechum checks in on them before heading home. Frank refers to him by his first name, Edward, which Claire notes. Foreshadowing, here. But, foreshadowing what? Elsewhere, Seth does some digging and begins to suspect that Jackie and Remy might have a relationship that isn't entirely personal.
Ayla continues to connect dots, as she calls Lanagin and questions him as to whether or not he's hosted Feng at his casino. When her line of questioning becomes more directly about Tusk, and money, Lanagin ends the call. Ayla is able to convince her editors that there is enough evidence to support a link between Tusk, Feng and political contributions, to run a story in some form.
Frank takes a break from his work to view some pornography. You read that correctly. Meechum walks in on him, but Frank makes no effort to conceal his viewing. Meechum asks to be placed on Claire's security detail full-time, which Frank agrees to. Frank tells Claire of this encounter, which she finds amusing. Frank asks Claire whether or not she misses being with Adam. Claire asks Frank whether or not he's unsatisfied. "There's just too much at stake now. No one we can trust," Frank tells her. Oh. I see now. Foreshadowing.
Frank decides to try to pressure Jackie into going along with Claire's legislation. "I'm not trying to pull strings, but you could show a little gratitude," he tells Jackie. "All you're doing is making the inevitable more difficult... Cosponsor the bill, whip the damn votes, I'm no longer asking." "Then I'm no longer listening," Jackie replies. Frank works in a jab about Remy, before leaving.
While Frank is maneuvering, the president makes a military move, moving some ships around to rattle his sabre, and Ayla's story hits the web, turning up the heat on Tusk. The timing of the article makes Walker's press briefing rather uncomfortable, a necessary move in Frank's eyes. "It's not beginning the story that I fear, it's not knowing how it will end. Everyone is fair game now, including me," Frank tells us.
"Your friendship with Tusk implies guilt by association," the chief White House counsel informs the president, when Ayla's story goes mainstream. Walker confronts Frank and asks him to give him details about the money trail. Frank does, and Walker learns that everyone, himself included, is in the crosshairs on this. "Nobody walks away from something like this without bruises," Walker says.
"I make this solemn promise to you, Mr. President. I will take the fall if it comes to that, but it won't," Frank tells Walker. The two of them debate whether or not to involve a special prosecutor, a move that could accelerate their downfall if the investigation goes poorly, but one that could clear the issue before the midterm election as well.
Remy and Jackie meet. Jackie feels blindisded by the campaign donations story, and blasts him for keeping his knowledge from her. He reminds her that they have agreed not to discuss business and defends himself. This is why blurred lines are a bad idea, kids. "You can't have it both ways," Remy reminds her. He denies her accusation that he only slept with her to try to get dirt on Frank.
Frank gets home after his long day and decides to unwind with a beer in the yard. A beer and Meechum. "I just didn't realize how much I got used to your company until you were gone," Frank tells Meechum. "Protecting her is the same as protecting you, in my mind," Meechum says. You can cut the sexual tension with a knife. Frank passes Meechum his beer and he takes a sip. Claire joins them. "Haven't you gotten sick of seeing my face yet?" she asks Meechum. "Never, ma'am," he replies. Oh.
Tusk calls Remy to discuss how they plan to handle the story. Tusk says that he doesn't mind being vilified, as long as his company remains profitable. Frank doesn't have the same luxury, he says. "Public opinion can demolish him. You need to make sure that happens," he says. Tusk suggests that Remy go after Jackie, to ensure that she'll turn on Frank. "Especially Jackie Sharp. She's his chosen one," he says.
Walker decides to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the campaign money. "The only thing more satisfying than convincing someone to do what I want is failing to persuade them on purpose," Frank tells us.
Seth and Doug meet with Frank to discuss how to spin the special prosecutor angle. Frank chooses to follow Seth's advice more than Doug's, which rubs Doug the wrong way. "I'm your fail-safe, sir," he pleads to Frank, privately. "Are you, Doug?" Frank asks. This is not the guy I would be trying to intimidate, Frank.
Doug visits Rachel. He tells her that Lisa can stay with her, after all. "I trust you to be smart," he tells her. "Will you read to me?" he asks.
In the closing scene, we see Gavin, calling Rachel. He's managed to connect her to Doug, an extremely bad bit of news for the Underwoods.