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'House of Cards' recap, Season 2, Episode 6

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"Any pugilist worth his salt knows when someone's on the ropes, that's when you throw a combination to the gut and a left hook to the jaw." -- Frank Underwood

Rachel loves ice cubes. Rachel loves air conditioning. Rachel loves being cold. 

That's what we learn in Chapter 19's ... wait for it ... cold open. 

Rachel is briefly reintroduced to us, in her Joppa residence. She's sorting the mail and eating ice cubes and standing in front of the air conditioner. This serves as a transition into Tusk and Frank discussing an energy crisis, exacerbated by Frank's failed talks with Feng. Tusk wants to bend President Walker's ear on the crisis, but he hasn't been getting through to him lately, thanks to Frank. Tusk proposes that he and Frank put their differences aside, which Frank agrees to in word, but seems unlikely to consent to in deed. 

The key to the energy crisis is samarium, an element that the Chinese have, and that the Americans need. China is jacking up the price to mess with the American economy, which leaves the United States in a predicament. They can bow to China's demands, or they can counterstrike. One option for a counter would be to toy with various other economic elements, such as inspection fees and tariffs. Another, which Frank advocates for, would be for the president to purchase samarium through a third party, by executive order. Walker agrees to Frank's proposal. 

Lucas and his attorney meet with a prosecutor, who offers a plea deal that would see Lucas eligible for parole in seven years, which sure sounds better than the 35-to-life that he would be facing without a deal. Lucas says he won't cut a deal, but his attorney decides to try to talk some sense into him. 

Claire meets with the First Lady. They're trying to coordinate an opportunity for the president to speak on Claire's issue. Christina interrupts them to try to iron out some details. After she leaves, Claire mentions that she doesn't like Christina because she had slept with Peter Russo when he was her boss. The subtext there, of course, is that Claire thinks Christina might be sleeping with the president. She's now planted that seed in Tricia Walker's mind. 

Remy pays Frank a visit to lobby on Tusk's behalf. Frank bristles at Remy's suggestion that he should try to jettison Walker's executive order plan. "Tell me what you're up to, Frank," Remy says. Oh, Remy. Don't you know better than to ask that by now? "You're on the wrong side, Remy," Frank tells him. 

Rachel is helping out her friend Lisa, working with kids at her church, where, apparently, they don't do background checks on volunteers. Rachel begs out of dinner plans with Lisa when Doug appears. He does not approve of Rachel's work at the church, fearing that it opens him up to risk. Also, it sure seems like ol' Doug is catching feelings for Rachel. 

Frank is practicing for an upcoming event where he'll throw out the first pitch at a baseball game. His delivery leaves a lot to be desired, while Meechum catches for him. Claire appears and reminds him of a first pitch in Greenville years ago, where he somehow managed to hit himself on the head with the pitch. "The whole stadium burst a gut laughing," he says. 

Tom visits Lucas in prison, where Lucas relates all of the information that he has on Frank to him. He wants Tom to continue his investigation, and to write an article that lays everything out in public. Tom wants to help his friend, but he tells him not to expect any special treatment. "Whatever the facts bear. You might not like what I write," he tells him. 

Frank meets with Walker and proposes a legislative plan that will put further pressure on Tusk, and some other companies that are colluding with him, to fall in line with the president's plan to deal with the energy crisis. 

Jackie meets with Remy to inform him of the plan. Remy suggests that they not bother trying to pass the legislation, because it will be overturned quickly. Jackie agrees, but doesn't care. "It might get overturned, but it gets ink along the way," she says. The plan, it seems, is to publicly pressure Tusk's stockholders into forcing him to get on board with the president. Jackie and Remy's meeting goes well. Maybe a little too well. The next morning, we see that they ended up in bed together. 

Later, Remy tells Jackie that Tusk intends to fight Walker's legislation all the way to the Supreme Court, should he go through with it. Jackie  tells Frank, who then meets with Walker. "This is getting out of hand, Frank. We shouldn't be duking it out with Raymond," Walker says. Frank tells Walker to stand his ground, to not allow himself to be bullied by Tusk. Walker won't take at his word, though, and invites Tusk to Washington to iron out their differences. 

Claire brings Christina in for a meeting, to encourage her to offer Tricia Walker a hand in any way she can. Christina wisely thinks that maybe that wouldn't be the best move, but she also probably isn't aware that Claire is an absolute shark. Christina takes her advice, but Tricia seems less than receptive. 

Tom starts digging and uncovers some of the same unusual links to Frank that Lucas did, which stands to complicate Doug's life. Doug tells the FBI liaison, Agent Green, that he needs to make sure that Lucas takes the plea deal that he was offered. When Green states that Lucas isn't scared by the prospect of a lengthy jail sentence, Doug hammers back. "Then, don't try to scare him," he says. "Remove hope from the equation."

Doug tells Frank that Tom is digging, and that he can't control him. Frank tells him to get him a meeting with Tom. "We can't avoid the battle, but we can choose the battlefield," Frank says. The dialogue on this show is mostly good, but there are some lines, like that one, that feel as though they came from some random cliche generator. 

Frank meets with Tom and stonewalls him, even after Tom gives him a copy of the article that he's working on, complete with a list of questions about Russo's death that he'd like Frank to answer. Frank refuses to engage, even as Tom outright asks him whether or not he killed Russo or Zoe. "I did my part, now put it to bed, Doug. I won't submit myself to this sort of exposure again," Frank tells Doug after Tom leaves. 

Green goes to Janine's house in Ithaca to attempt to intimidate her, at Doug's behest. Green demands that Janine sign a statement that will debunk Tom's story, and also put an end to Lucas as a potential threat. Janine balks, and orders him to leave. She won't turn on Lucas. 

Frank invites Tusk to his home for a meeting, before Tusk goes to see Walker. Their discourse quickly turns confrontational. "Do not try and spin me, Frank! I am too old to tango!" Tusk shouts. No, sir, we're never too old to tango. "I'm trying to protect the president... from you," Frank counters.

He asks Tusk to stop trying to fix energy prices, and not to fight Walker's legislation, or face the risk of an investigation. Tusk has 24 hours to decide what to do. On his way out, he meets Claire, Frank's ace. Tusk immediately softens his voice after meeting Claire, and gives Frank a very civil goodbye. 

Oriole Park at Camden Yards makes an appearance, as the site of Frank's first pitch, later that night. Jim Johnson and Nate McLouth make cameos. "We're at Camden Yards. Go Orioles!" Frank shouts before climbing the mound to throw. Before he can wind up, the lights go out in the stadium. 

The blackout was a result of a failure at BAPCO, one of Tusk's companies, and extended across three states. Walker calls Tusk and asks whether or not this was an intentional ploy, designed to get back at him. Tusk denies it, but his warning that the same sort of thing could happen all over the country in the next few days seems to contradict that. 

Frank suggests to Walker that Tusk is playing both of the, when in reality, Frank is the one playing both men. He tells the president that the government should seize control of Tusk's power plants, to ensure that the same sort of blackout doesn't happen again, as Tusk threatened. 

Tom and Janine visit Lucas in prison. Tom shares a draft of the story he's written, after talking to Frank. Lucas isn't pleased with it, as it seems to paint him as something of a lunatic. Janine tells Lucas that she lied the FBI and signed the statement that they asked her to, because she was threatened. "I'm trying to save the both of us," she tells Lucas. "Take the plea. Be good. Get out early," she advises. "He's gonna get away with it, isn't he?" Lucas asks. "Yes. He is," she answers. 

Tusk meets Frank at Freddy's, to try to broker a deal. "We agreed to a mutually beneficial partnership, that's all," Tusk says, when Frank details all the times he tried to use him. "Yes, and what's become very clear to me is that I benefit in no way from this partnership," Frank counters. Frank tells Tusk that their alliance is over, and that Tusk will bend, and accept the president's legislative plan without any further fight. "You may have all the money, Raymond, but I have all the men with guns," Frank tells him. 

Doug goes to see Rachel. He tells her that Lucas accepted the plea deal after all, and that the heat is off her, for the moment. Doug insists that nothing is changed, though, and that she needs to stay hidden. I'm beginning to suspect that the heat would be off for good, but Doug wants to have a reason to keep visiting Rachel. She thinks so too. "If there's one thing I know, it's when a man wants me," she tells him. 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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