'House of Cards' Season 5, Episode 10 recap: Bombshell hearing

For The Baltimore Sun

Will former President Walker testify? Let’s recap Episode 10 of this season of “House of Cards.”

MAJOR PLOT POINTS

All of the key players are dealing with their haunting past, as Chapter 62 begins.

Jackie Sharp is set to testify before the congressional committee investigating the Underwoods, which could prove damaging to Claire and Frank. While that investigation hangs over the first couple, The Washington Herald's investigation of Zoe Barnes' death presents a threat to Stamper, who wants Deputy FBI Director Green to track down Lisa. "She's a loose end and an addict," Doug says. "That's a bad combination." Doug may as well be describing himself, too.

In other news, Claire deals with the remains of the American scientist whose body was recovered from the ocean after the rescue mission involving the Russian ship. Claire makes sure that his remains are lost in transit, ensuring that the Russians don't get their hands on what could be a valuable asset, even in death. She also presses Jane to get Aidan out of his orchestrated political asylum, and back to American soil. Frank wants that as well, but Jane drags her feet, thinking it best to wait until they are able to determine how much he told Petrov about his work.

Stamper heads to Baltimore, and tracks down Lisa himself. He attempts to mimic human behavior and pretends that he's worried about Rachel, and asks Lisa to tell her it's OK to come home if she hears from her. The guy has some gall, I'll give him that. Didn't he murder her with an ax and bury her in a desert? Lisa runs from Stamper, but he doesn't give chase, confident that she no longer poses a threat to him. So confident, in fact, that he empties the syringe he was ready to murder her with on the street. That may be a misstep, as Lisa calls Tom and tells him that Stamper just made contact.

Usher goes to work, again trying to get Romero to stand down, but the the young congressman proves too difficult to handle. He's quickly rising to the top of Claire and Frank's enemy list. Forced to take another tact, Usher plants a media story aimed at discrediting Jackie, exposing her relationship with Remy Danton. The Underwoods disagree with how Usher went about his business, but are pleased with the result. Claire meets with Usher alone, while Frank does the same with Jane, both trying to get a handle on how their new uneasy allies operate.

In meeting with Frank, Jane informs him of an impending chemical weapons attack in Syria. The attack, if left unchecked, would allow Frank to send thousands more troops into the region, both to keep Petrov from making a play for the oil there, and to divert the attention of the committee investigating Frank. The committee is technically one set up to police Frank's declaration of war demand, but has morphed into something else. Frank agrees with Jane, and he and Claire brief Cathy Durant on the matter. When presented with the information, Cathy suggests trying to stop the attack before it happens, but that isn't what's best for Frank. Claire threatens Cathy with her job, making it clear that they expect her to keep her mouth shut and to fall in line.

But that attack hasn't taken place yet, and the committee is still very interested in the past. They arrange for former President Walker to testify, enraging Frank. He meets with Usher and asks him to reign in Romero, and questions his loyalty, after Stamper informs him that Usher was once interested in grooming Romero. It would seem that Usher is playing both sides, and Stamper is eager to take him out.

Stamper has his own troubles, as Sean Jeffries resurfaces. Sean gives Seth what he knows about Stamper bumping Frank up the donor list, which is enough to get Claire's attention. She meets with Sean, who asks for a job in exchange for his silence, but Claire quickly shoots him down, and sends him away.

To prove to us where Usher's loyalties lie, we see him meeting with Romero, where he abruptly tells him to back off the investigation. Romero balks at that, but suggests that he's willing to play ball if Frank resigns. Usher turns on Romero, and threatens to expose the fact that he colluded with Conway in an effort to get Conway in the White House and Frank out of the picture. Romero has overplayed his hand, but Usher isn't going to do anything about it yet. He still might want to work with Romero in the future, and hopes that he can have it both ways, staying loyal to Frank now, and still keeping peace with Romero.

Usher arranges a deal for Walker to plead the fifth, rather than testify. Walker will spare Frank for the good of the party. Against Claire's wishes, Frank meets with Walker even after his silence is secured, and Walker admonishes Frank for stealing his mandate and stealing the presidency. He also cautions him about forming alliances with unsavory people to maintain his position, which seems especially poignant given the uncertainty surrounding Jane and Usher.

Elsewhere, Aidan surprisingly resurfaces, and makes contact with LeAnn. They exchange goodbyes after she passes on his offer to get her out of the country with him, and she gives him a gun to protect himself until he is on his flight out.

Tensions between Claire and Frank bubble up again, as Claire isn't pleased that Frank is operating with autonomy. She cautioned him against meeting with Walker, but he did anyway. She wants Yates to stay, while Frank has decided that he has outlived his usefulness, and that it's time for him to go. Claire's warning about Walker proves prescient, as he goes rogue once in front of the committee, and agrees to answer Romero's questions. He quickly implicates Frank as the architect of the scandal that brought down his presidency, sending Claire and Frank reeling.

The shockers keep coming, as LeAnn receives an encrypted message from Aidan, informing her that if she's hearing his message, it means that he's dead. That's confirmed when we see LeAnn's gun on a bed in Aidan's hotel room, and his body on the floor. It first appears as though he took his own life, but a cut to Jane's office reveals that she apparently staged his release, and his death.

BEST LINE

"It never ceases to astonish me how talented men are at making a mess." — Jane, to Claire

MOST EVIL MOMENT

Stamper whipping out his murder syringe. Is that the same one he used to drink bourbon with?

BIGGEST SHOCKER

Walker jettisoning his deal with Usher, and implicating Frank, and himself in a serious scandal.

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