'House of Cards' Season 5, Episode 13 recap: The mole's revealed

For The Baltimore Sun

Who is the mole? Will Claire pardon Frank? Let’s find out — and recap the final episode of this season of “House of Cards.”

MAJOR PLOT POINTS

Before stepping out of the committee meeting room, Frank confronts Romero. He orders him to dismantle the investigation or else he'll go to the press with Usher's dirt. Romero has no choice, and Frank rushes off to meet with Claire. He tells her that he designed this scheme months ago, and that their power will be even greater with him working from the private sector, while Claire rules the White House. All of Frank's dealings for months have been to that end, and he tells Claire that with Stamper's help, he was the one feeding Tom Hammerschmidt information. Frank was the mole. Who better to serve as the architect of your own downfall than yourself, Frank says. Claire isn't pleased to have been left out of the loop, and the necessary pardons for Stamper and Frank could derail her presidency, but what choice does she have but to go along with this?

With the biggest domino now fallen, Frank's scheme is reaching its final phase. Stamper meets with Tom, and refers questions about Zoe's death to his attorneys, laying the groundwork for him to cop to her murder. This doesn't sit well with Tom, who isn't ready to close the book on his investigation just yet. LeAnn agrees to hand over what she has from Aidan, in exchange for a position as Claire's chief of staff. Claire meets with Seth and tells him that he'll need to go away for a while, but that she'll bring him back when the time is right. Now, about that pardon for Frank. Claire has yet to formally agree to it, incensing Frank. He threatens to renege on his resignation unless she agrees to the pardon. Frank plays to Claire's desire for power and tells her that because of his actions, she'll finally have the power she's always desired. So, in spite of what it may do to her presidency, Claire agrees, and Frank signs his resignation letter.

Claire is only president for hours before the Syrian government uses chemical weapons against its own people, just as Jane assured her would happen. This is the opportunity that the Underwoods had been waiting for, and that Jane has been pushing for. But now that it's here, the circumstances are all different. Claire isn't ready to put boots on the ground in Syria when she barely has her infrastructure in place. And she also isn't willing to give in to Jane when she hasn't delivered on her biggest promise, the capture of Ahmadi. As she drags her feet, Jane goes to Frank, who promises to advise Claire to stick to their original plan. Claire agrees to consider Frank's advice, but says that she needs him to leave. In order for her presidency to have a chance, they need to appear estranged. Frank reluctantly agrees, but professes his love for Claire, and his knowledge that no one will ever love him the way she does. Aw, that's so sweet.

Jane continues to exert the influence she has, finally extracting Aidan's information from LeAnn. She now has full knowledge of the lengths that the Underwoods went to in their attempt to steal the election, and she isn't shy about letting Claire know that. She tells Claire that she is willing to follow her lead on how to deal with Frank, but that her loyalty lies with Claire, the first woman president.

After Claire's hesitation, Jane relents and gives up Ahmadi's location. She also turns on LeAnn, who gave up all of her leverage when she handed over Aidan's information. Jane had promised her a seat at the table as long as she was in the administration, but now that she has what she was instructed to get by Frank, Jane allows Usher to replace LeAnn, all of which was signed off on by Frank. In a phone call, Frank tells Jane that "LeAnn's job is done." Uh oh.

While Claire prepares to announce the invasion, and Frank's pardon, Stamper takes another meeting with Tom. After Tom shows him the surveillance video of the figure on the train platform, Stamper asks what Tom thinks happened. Tom says that he doesn't believe that Stamper killed Zoe. Doug coyly says that the man in the video looks like him, but refuses to directly address Tom's doubts.

Now on the outs, LeAnn gets scared and starts aimlessly driving, with her gun in tow. She calls Stamper and asks if she can come see him, and Doug agrees. After she hangs up, headlights appear in LeAnn's rear-view mirror. They get closer and closer, approaching her car. The camera cuts to Frank, who is watching all of this from the comfort of a hotel room. He shuts off the video before we see what happens to LeAnn, but "sometimes you don't have to watch the whole movie to know how it ends," Frank tells us.

Claire is about to speak to the nation, when Usher drops in to discuss her Cabinet. He firmly suggests that he should be Claire's vice president, in exchange for keeping her secrets. With that shocker top of mind, Claire addresses the country, announcing the killing of Ahmadi. She also outlines how China and Russia conspired to try to exploit Antarctica's oil supply, and how Russian forces are assisting the Syrian government, which has now turned on its own people. Claire makes a strong case for war, but neglects to announce a pardon for Frank, and ends the speech with a veiled threat to Frank. "If she doesn't pardon me, I'll kill her," Frank says.

After her speech, and after a brief shot of LeAnn's overturned vehicle, we see Claire in the Oval Office. She ignores several calls from Frank and looks at the hole he burned in the flag. Claire stands behind the desk and proudly states, "My turn."

BEST LINE

"How did we get here, Francis?" — Claire

MOST EVIL MOMENT

Frank burning a hole in the American flag in the Oval Office with a cigarette.

BIGGEST SHOCKER

I suppose death should never be a shocker, but I really didn't see LeAnn's end coming.

Ethan Renner has been a TV Lust contributor since 2013.

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