'House of Cards' recap, Season 2, Episode 3

Kevin Spacey presides over the senate.
Kevin Spacey presides over the senate. (Netflix)

"There are two types of vice presidents: doormats and matadors. Which do you think I intend to be?" --Frank Underwood

The president is working on his State of the Union address, in front of a room filled with staffers and advisers, including Christina, Linda, Frank and Tusk. Christina makes a suggestion that the president likes. 

Tusk is less than thrilled that the speech is mostly focused on domestic issues, and privately voices his concerns to Frank. I don't read other recaps before I do my own, because I don't want to have my opinions influenced, but I assume that everyone is doing Major Dad shtick on Tusk?

None of that here, but only because I can't think of any good Major Dad shtick. Actually, there is no such thing as good Major Dad shtick.

Frank tells Tusk that the key issue facing the government is a pending shutdown, which would happen the day after Walker gives his speech, unless Frank can cut a deal with the Republicans.

Something tells me that Frank will come out on top here. Has he ever lost, even once? Tusk doubts Frank can get a deal done in time, but agrees to help Frank out, by trying to persuade Walker to compromise with the GOP.
While Frank deals with the Republican senate majority leader, Senator Mendoza, Lucas ambushes Christina, asking her to talk to him. He tries to convince her to hear him out, playing on the fact that she loved Peter Russo, telling her that Russo would still be alive if not for Frank. She wants no part of Lucas and his crusade, and warns him that she will turn him in to the Secret Service if he continues to stalk her. 

After a meeting with Linda, Doug talks to a security agent who made him aware of some Deep Web activity related to Frank. Doug demands that they track down the person responsible, who is, of course, Lucas. Doug asks the agent to set up a sting operation to snag the culprit. 

We check in with Rachel, who is working as a telephone pollster in Joppa. She decides to break Doug's rules and make contact with her mother, who works at a nearby children's hospital. She ends the phone call with her mom before speaking to her, but we see that she's getting restless. 

Claire is vetting potential staff members for Frank, and she interviews the terrible, terrible man that walked out on Joan on "Mad Men."

She's impressed that the man that wants to handle media relations for the vice president's office did some homework on her, including a trip to South Carolina to watch old interview footage at a local news affiliate. 

At The Herald, meanwhile, Lucas has his computer hacked by someone who flashes him an image of Zoe and promises to give him the information he's looking for. Seems legit.

Lucas goes to a diner, one that I'm familiar with in real life, to make contact. A courier brings him a tablet, which his mystery informant uses to capture his fingerprints and obtain a digital signature, presumably for protection. Or entrapment.

The contact demands access to The Herald's internal servers. Again, seems legit. 

Lucas agrees.While Frank continues to work on his grand compromise with Republicans, Doug alerts him that Lucas is on to him. Lucas goes to Janine, who is working as a professor now, and asks her to help him in his investigation. He tells her that his contact is solid, but she seems reticent to involve herself in this mess again. 

Jackie has to deal with the fallout from betraying her friend Ted. She fields an angry call from his daughter's mother, who refuses to tell her how the girl is. To deal with the stress, Jackie goes to a tattoo shop to have some work done. We see that she already has some intricate art on her back, and she asks for more. I have no idea what to make of this woman. 

We see Rachel taking the bus home after her work day. She encounters a young lady, Lisa, who asks to listen to her music, before offering her some religious literature to read. Doug pays her a visit and finds the literature. He warns Rachel not to make contact with anyone. Later, Rachel visits Lisa's church anyway. 

Frank and Claire are having lunch and theorizing that perhaps the president and Christina are having an affair, when Doug interrupts to tell Frank that his bipartisan compromise is falling apart because Tea Party loyalist Curtis Haas has cold feet. The president sees the deal failing and gives Frank a verbal thrashing.

"I need to prove what the vice president is capable of," Frank tells Claire, later. "Don't prove it to them, prove it to me," she responds. No wonder he loves her more than sharks love blood. 

When Mendoza tells Frank that he can't wrangle Haas, Frank and his staff start working on ways to bend senate procedures, and start arm-wringing some senators that they'll need to vote their way, and others that they'll need to abstain from voting. 

The Republicans fightback, instituting a quorum call, which is, essentially, a filibuster technique, one that the senate majority party was willing to ride all the way past Frank's deadline. Frank charges in and breaks that up, but the Republicans counter by staging a walkout. 

The Dems respond by proposing a motion that would issue arrest warrants for all of the senators that left the chamber, should they not return. With only three Republican senators left in the chamber, the motion passes, and the rest of the Republicans are brought back to the chamber, forcibly. "It feels good to be back in Congress," Frank smirks. 

Mendoza meets privately with Frank and agrees to force enough of his people to return to the chamber to force a vote, but with some theatrics. Mendoza plays it as though he and five of his colleagues were brought back under protest. It's not exactly true, but it provides him a chance to save face, so Frank goes along with it. 

Frank has his grand compromise, and his victory. 

Tusk calls Frank to congratulate him on his win, and tries to explain that he told Walker that he had faith in Frank. Frank knows that isn't the case, and calls Tusk out for being two-faced. "It's okay, Raymond. Jesus forgives you," Frank tells Tusk. 

Lucas meets his Deep Web contact in person. The contact is played by the guy that I'll always remember for playing Lyle the Intern on "The Late Show with David Letterman". After frisking him, the paranoid contact tells Lucas that he contacted him because Lucas was desperate. "And I'm not fond of authority," he adds. 

The two watch as President Walker delivers his State of the Union, while Frank applauds in the background of the frame. 

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