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'House of Cards' recap, Season 3, Episode 12

Heather Dunbar is doing well in the polls in Iowa, and Frank has his hands full, so his team insists on giving Claire a bigger role at campaign events.

She agrees, of course, but if she's so more well-liked than Frank, why isn't she the candidate?

Heather Dunbar is a candidate, at least for now. Despite being the front-runner in the Iowa caucuses, Justice Jacobs meets with her and asks her to take his place on the Supreme Court. It's time, he tells her, and even if she wins the primary, the Republicans will tear her apart in the general election.

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"His motivations were atrocious, yes, but his logic was sound," Jacobs says of Frank. "...I am meant to be president of the United States," Heather says. She's all-in.

"You were wonderful today. They just adore you," Frank tells Claire later. But they're back to separate bedrooms, again. At least while staying the night in Iowa.

The manuscript

"Together, they rule an empire without heirs. Legacy is their only child," reads the first chapter of Tom's book on Frank and Claire. He's sent it to Frank for review and declines to speak to him until he's read the entire thing.

"A cold fusion of two universal elements, identical in weight, equal in force ... The un-splittable atom of American politics," it continues.

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"Well, he was right about some things," Frank says to Claire. This whole thing gets Claire thinking.

Frank flies back to Washington to tell Tom that the book he's interested in writing, one on Frank and Claire's marriage, is not needed and that he'll be paid in full and let go. This was supposed to be a book about America Works, in Frank's mind.

"Are you afraid of what I wrote?" Tom asks. "It's just no one's business," Frank responds.

Tom says that he won't allow his work to be buried, which Frank bristles at. He mentions Tom's relationship with Kate Baldwin and threatens her job.

"Before you get any reckless ideas, why don't you just remember one thing: I own this material," Frank tells him.

Recruiting Remy, digging up dirt

With Claire campaigning, Frank narrows the gap with Heather, who becomes desperate. She has Jackie try to bring Remy on board, or at least to give them some dirt on Claire. That turns out to be a dead end, as Remy says he's done with politics.

So, Heather calls Doug and asks him to name his price for Claire's diary.

"Betrayal doesn't come cheap," Doug tells her.

"Name a figure," Heather says.

Maneuvering

After being fired, Tom visits Kate, who is digging into the covert operation in the Jordan Valley where an American troop was killed. She is all but able to confirm that it was an American operation, authorized by Frank. Tom adds fuel to the fire, giving Kate the first chapter of his book on Frank and Claire.

Elsewhere, Heather Dunbar calls Seth and wants a meeting with Frank. Jacobs' resignation has gone public, and she tells Seth that she wants to fill the seat herself. Frank is intrigued.

He meets with Heather in his secret cigar dungeon, where she reveals that she lied just to get in the door.

"I know Claire lied about the abortion and I have the journal to prove it," she says. "I'm giving you an opportunity to bow out gracefully, just like Robert (Jacobs)," she says.

"So, you're finally one of us. The men. In their smoky back rooms," Frank replies.

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He denies the existence of the journal, but Heather reveals her source. "And even if there was a journal, you don't have it in you," Frank tells her. "Three days, Mr. President," Heather says. That's his timeline.

Claire in Iowa

While Frank is dealing with Claire's past, Claire is thinking of her future. She ends up alone in a house in Iowa with a Dunbar supporter. The woman goes on about how she would leave her husband if she could.

As little sense as this woman is actually making, Claire sees her point, in a way. Why should she go on living her life for Frank? It's her life. She has aspirations.
Frank calls Claire and tells her of Dunbar's threat.

"Whatever you have to do. Just fix it, Francis," Claire tells him.

We fight, we break up. We kiss, we make up

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While Tom and Kate's relationship crashes, after Kate refuses to write anything about Tom's book, Jackie goes to Remy's house and tells him that she can't stop thinking about him.

"You're married, Jackie," he says. "For the wrong reasons," she replies.

Remy asks her to go, to put this behind her. That resolve lasts all of ten seconds, before they start doing it.

Frank has Doug brought to the White House, where Doug destroys the diary in front of him. He says he kept it in case he might need to prove his loyalty, one day. He says he's ready to come back to work, as Frank's chief of staff.

"It's not Remy. It's not Seth. It's me, Frank," Doug says.

Disagreeing about Doug

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Frank tells Claire that he's hired Doug back and Claire isn't happy. "Doug is the only person we've ever been able to trust," Frank explains.

"I'm starting to question all of it, Francis," Claire says. "What any of it is worth. What ... what are we doing this for?"

Loose ends

Kate hammers Frank in a press conference, pressing him on the letter, and on why Claire stepped down as ambassador. Frank handles the questions deftly, but Kate isn't going to back down any time soon.

Doug has some loose ends of his own, and meets with the FBI's deputy director, demanding Gavin be brought back to the United States.

Claire approaches Frank and tells him of her visit in Iowa. She questions Frank on how he handled Kate in the press conference earlier, as well.

"We've been lying for a long time, Francis," she says. "To each other."

Ruh roh.

The best of Frank and Claire
Presidential pajamas.
Claire's reaction to the Iowa woman talking about her affairs.

WTF moments
Every time the woman in Iowa said something. Every time.

Best Frank Underwood quotes
"Hello, Heather. How's Robert?"
"She can go after me all she wants, but she goes after Claire, I'll slit her f---ing throat in broad daylight."
"I have only one thing to say: Go f--- yourself."


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