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'House of Cards' recap, Season 2, Episode 12

"Exile. I've managed to isolate the president from everyone, including myself." -- Frank Underwood

Special Prosecutor Dunbar visits with Dr. Larkin, the reverend who served as the Walker's marriage counselor, and threatens him with a subpoena, but the minister refuses to divulge anything that the Walkers discussed with him.

In the Oval Office, President Walker meets with Frank. Frank comments on the punching bag that he gave Walker as a gift. The president mentions that Floyd Mayweather had recently been in for a visit, and explained that the key to his success was his calculated ability to counter. Well, he's right. Mayweather is a tremendous counter fighter.

"When I look at this now, I don't see friendship," Walker says of the gift Frank gave him. "I see calculation. You set me up, Frank," the president says. He's finally on to him. Frank denies Walker's accusations, but the president is ready for a fight. He accuses Frank of having his eyes on the presidency in 2016. Actually, sir, I think he's thinking a little sooner than that.

The president rightly states that it was Frank's idea to turn over the travel logs that has placed him in the crosshairs, and that without Frank's back channel work, no one would have ever been able to tie the White House to China or the casino. "You can't dodge and duck like Floyd," Walker tells Frank. "I've learned your moves now." Walker tells Frank that he's going to freeze him out from this point forward, and that he doesn't want to hear from him again.

Claire starts doing some back channel work of her own, working Tricia. She tries to convince her to talk some sense into her husband, but Tricia is too preoccupied to help. Claire and Frank are left to scheme on how they could leak to the press that the president is taking medication to battle anxiety. The Underwoods are ready to go to war.

Claire's life is about to get more complicated as well, after Jackie reads the hit piece that Claire planted against her in the New York Times. Jackie vows to bury Claire.

Frank tries to round up some allies in case of a showdown with Walker, so he turns to Cathy Durant. After some typical truth-bending, he virtually comes clean with her and admits that he's been plotting Walker's downfall. He tells her that she stands to benefit should he end up as president, and coerces her into helping him one last time.

Durant arranges to have Feng transported to the United States for a meeting with Dunbar. Feng is hiding out from his government, fearing that corruption charges would lead to his permanent disappearance. Durant and Dunbar offer him immunity from prosecution and a permanent safe haven in America, should he provide his testimony.

"You want your freedom and fortune. We want information," Durant tells him. Feng folds, giving Durant and Dunbar what they need. Tusk is going to be forced to testify before Dunbar as well, and he huddles with his lawyer army to determine a strategy.
 
Doug travels to Joppa and arranges for Lisa to have some car trouble. He gives her a fake name, and goes back to the apartment with her, where he sees Rachel. Doug speaks to Rachel privately and tells her that he needs Lisa gone. It seems Doug wants to regain his grip on Rachel.

Frank meets with the chief White House counsel, who accuses him of orchestrating Feng's immunity deal. Frank denies that, of course. The counsel also wants to know whether or not there might be any more surprises coming, specifically related to the Walker's marriage counseling. Frank denies that as well.

Megan is making a live television appearance, serving in her role as Claire's mouthpiece, when Jackie calls in to ambush her. Look, I'm just sitting behind a keyboard here. I know very little about how live television works. But would any of the events that have taken place on live television on this show ever be allowed to happen in real life? I doubt it.

Anyway, Jackie schools Megan in a debate, and goes on the offensive against Claire. She calls Claire a disgrace and a coward, and accuses her of hiding from the press. Claire tells Seth that she's going to the Capitol to face off with Jackie.
 
"I'm not here to pick a fight, Jackie. I'm here to end one," Claire tells her. Claire tells Jackie that she will withdraw her bill, for the sake of peace with Jackie. Jackie remains skeptical as Claire apologizes for what she and Frank have done to her, and asks for a clean slate.

While in town, Claire visits Tricia as well, and tells her that the bill has been pulled. Her real reason for meeting her, though, was to get Tricia to make mention of the president's anxiety medication in a somewhat public area. That way, when the Underwoods leak that information, they'll have plausible deniability.

Claire is worried that perhaps she and Frank have made too powerful of an enemy in the president, something that Frank tries to convince her isn't true. "I promise you, of all the sacrifices that you've had to make, divorcing a convict will not be one of them," he tells her.

The Walkers believe they're faced with a decision, thanks to Frank and Claire. They can either waive their confidentiality privilege and make all of the details about the counseling and the prescription medication public, or wait for someone, probably the Underwoods, to leak that information. In reality, they're already a step behind.

The FBI shows up at Gavin's lair to arrest him for failing to live up to his end of their deal. Gavin has an ace in the hole, though. He's gained access to AT&T's data centers, thanks to the bureau. He demands to speak to Agent Green.

Gavin meets with Green and talks about the implications of what the FBI did in their sting operation on Lucas. They provided Gavin, and themselves, access to all of AT&T's data, a serious breach, one that the FBI wouldn't want to be made public. "So you tell me, how much is making that disappear worth?" Gavin asks Green.

"You're thinking about where we are instead of where we're headed," Frank tells an angry Cathy. Walker has decided to freeze her out as well, suspecting that she's working with Frank to undermine him. China responded to Feng's asylum deal by ramping up their military presence in the conflict in Japanese territory, a matter that further complicates Walker's life. Frank talks Cathy off the ledge and gets her to consent to continuing to work with him. 

Dr. Larkin testifies in front of Dunbar , where the matter of prescription medication comes up. Larkin is evasive with is answers, which only serves to make Dunbar suspicious that he had been coached by White House counsel. This was a loss for the Walkers and a win for the Underwoods. There sure are a lot of those, aren't there?

Frank and Claire's grand scheme continues to work, as the news that Larkin might have been tampered with by the White House leaks. Senate Republicans hold a press conference and throw around the idea of impeachment.

Claire meets with Megan, where she informs her that she'll be working with Jackie going forward. Megan is upset, because Jackie ambushed her on live television, and because she knows that with Jackie involved, any real chance at meaningful progress on the advocacy fron will be lost. "I thought we were doing something real, changing people's lives. How naive, right?" she asks Claire. "There were political realities we could not ignore," Claire tells her.

With Tusk in Washington to prepare to testify, Remy pays him a visit at his hotel. When he arrives, he's surprised to find Seth there with Tusk. Seth tells him that he's made Tusk aware that he met with Frank. So, Seth is a triple agent? Do I have that right? Tusk informs Remy that he made a bad choice, and that their arrangement is over. Well, clearly. Tusk appears before Dunbar, where he pleads the Fifth.

Rachel tells Lisa that she needs to break up with her, and that she needs her to leave. "I was using you because it felt good to have you around, but it was selfish," she tells her. "I said the words because I knew you wanted to hear them, but I didn't mean them and I don't want to keep saying them," she says. Ouch. Rachel texts Doug and tells him that she's done as he asked.

Frank sits down for an interview with Ayla Sayyad. He needs to play the part of the good soldier, publicly, so he gives her a series of statements supporting the president. "I have never known anyone more honest, ethical, and patriotic than Garrett Walker," Frank says. That might actually be true, but he's still trying to ruin the guy and his wife. The Walkers hold a joint press conference, where they publicly acknowledge that they had sought counseling. They're still a step behind.

Frank and Claire meet with Jackie, where they confide to her that they want the talk of Walker's impeachment to become a reality. Jackie is confused, but soon puts the pieces together. Claire dropped the assault bill because she knew she would need Jackie for this down the line. "In the long run, we have a lot more to gain by working together," Frank tells Jackie. "We want you to do what you do so well: whip the votes," Frank tells her. "What we offer is progress, with a promise of more to come."

"Jackie ... help us finish it."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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