'House of Cards' Season 5, Episode 7 recap: Terror alert

For The Baltimore Sun

Potential terror attacks, a new character to be wary of and, oh yeah, Aidan’s still in Russia — let’s recap Episode 7 of this season of “House of Cards.”

MAJOR PLOT POINTS

The discontent between Claire and Frank remains front and center, as the episode opens with them still debating the revote agreement. Frank doesn't like that they gave Usher his choice of a Supreme Court appointee in exchange for pushing the re-vote through.

Their disconnect doesn't extend to other matters, though. When presented with an opportunity to strike at a key ICO target, they both go against the advice of top advisers and order the strike — though warned that doing so could weaken the country's efforts to erode ICO's infrastructure in the long term. Claire and Frank both agree that the here and now is all that they are concerning themselves with.

The Conway campaign continues to crumble from within, as Hannah and Usher continue to fret over Will's stability, while their running mate, General Brockhart, makes a speaking gaffe that will allow the Underwood campaign to hit them at what seems to be the ticket's great strength: their strong military record.

The Russia situation, and Aidan's connection to the White House, threatens to explode, as an unwitting Cathy Durant tips off the NSA to Aidan's capture. LeAnn looks to close ranks, and while not revealing Aidan's full involvement to Cathy, she drives home the point that he knows enough to be a danger to the administration and that they need to get him out of Russia as soon as possible. To that end, Patricia Clarkson shows up, playing Jane Davis, a diplomat.

The reason for Jane's introduction remains a mystery for now, as a crisis unfolds. The Underwoods and all of the key members of their staff in the White House are shuttled to an underground bunker, where word is delivered that a truck carrying three nuclear weapons has gone missing en route to Baltimore (shout out!). A general in the room speculates that ICO may be the cause of the disappearance, and any political machinations underway halt as the White House prepares for the worst.

The Underwoods are wary of Jane's sudden involvement as well, and her being ushered to the bunker with them does little to alleviate that. While Stamper does his best to keep business as usual with LeAnn and Seth, who remain on the main levels of the White House, Jane has Cathy secure her a line to begin negotiating with ICO through back channels. It appears as though ICO was tipped off to the potential airstrike, and that the truck is a reactionary, precautionary measure on their part. If there is no airstrike, then maybe there is no dirty bomb attack.

Tired of speculating as to what Jane might be up to, Claire confronts her, and leaves the conversation with the distinct impression that she has the power to hand over their ICO target, if she desires. She could make for a powerful ally, but Claire is wary of getting in even deeper with people that they don't know or trust just to keep their presidency.

Stamper plays the incriminating audio from Brockhart to Claire and Frank, which emboldens the now-former president, who demands to be released from the bunker. Frank connects some dots, and decides that the general in the bunker, Braugher, who was elevated to a four-star position at the same time as Brockhart, over-inflated the potential danger of the attack and the potential benefit of the ICO strike to distract the Underwoods from Brockhart's gaffe. Oh, these people should know better than to try to out-maneuver Claire and Frank.

In wrapping up dealing with the false threat, Claire orchestrates Braugher's resignation, and agrees to a meeting with Jane later in the week. LeAnn alerts Claire of Cathy's interest in the Aidan situation, but Claire warns her that Cathy isn't the problem — Aidan and LeAnn, by association, are.

Elsewhere, the Herald team continues to dig in to Stamper's life. Tom is able to connect him to Rachel and Lisa's apartment, and Sean tracks down Laura Moretti for an interview. Their conversation begins with a discussion of her foundation, but Sean's purpose is to tie Stamper to having her husband bumped off the donor list to save Frank last season. While Sean shares what he learned with Seth, Laura tells Stamper that a Herald reporter asked her some questions about the foundation, grabbing his attention.

As the day ends, Claire and Frank agree that Frank should go to a men’s retreat with Usher, and that they should do all they can to get him to abandon Conway and join their camp. While Claire retires to the bedroom with Yates, Frank looks over some photos of Yates having sex with a tour guide, captured in the press room earlier that day.

Before the retreat, Claire and Frank call Usher in for a meeting and play him the Brockhart audio. They've got him.

BEST LINE

"Did we bring this on ourselves?" Claire,to Frank, on the potential terror attack.

MOST EVIL MOMENT

Frank tipping over the Jefferson bust in the White House, just because he wanted to do something a little bit bad.

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