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

The Underwoods are in crisis mode.

Frank is meeting with the top Democrats in congress. He thinks that they're meeting to talk about his jobs program, America Works. In reality, they're confronting him, telling him that it's in the best interests of the party for him not to run for election in 2016.

They cite the fact that he was never elected, and the fact that he issued some controversial pardons in cleaning up the campaign finance scandal at the end of Season 2, as reasons that he is hurting the party.

"They're nervous. They're being impulsive," Frank tells us.


"...if you do run, sir, you won't have our support," the party leaders tell Frank. We've seen what this guy does when his back is against the wall. Uh oh.

Claire Underwood, meanwhile, is in a confirmation hearing. She deftly handles some questions from the congressional panel, chaired by Senator Mendoza.

Despite promising her that he would not actively block her appointment as the United States ambassador to the United Nations, he talks over and bullies her. Claire, verbally stumbling, remarks that the "military is irrelevant."


Mendoza seizes on that line and takes her to task for it. The hearing does not go well.

"I'm a target now. That's the price of admission," Claire tells Frank on the phone. "We both are," he replies.

Damage Control

Claire goes to work on repairing the damage done to her chances of being appointed, working the phones and calling senators. Mendoza calls her, making sure to slip in that he's been talking to the media. He offers no support, and tells her that if she wants to fix her reputation with the senators, it's all on her.

"He's a son of a bitch," Claire says, after hanging up.

"I've always said that power is more important than money. But when it comes to elections, money gives power, well, a run for its money," Frank says, explaining his strategy to us.

He's going to call the top donors to the party in an effort to influence them that he's the right candidate in 2016.

He also dispatches Remy to try to enlist Jackie Sharp's help. Jackie is not content with her role as a whip, and demands to be placed on the ticket with Frank as vice president in exchange for her efforts.

"I whipped the votes for impeachment. I should get to cash in on that," Jackie says.


When Remy gives her push-back, she leaks word to the reporter, Ayla Sayyad, that perhaps the party is not in harmony.

Frank and Claire, meanwhile, are not having much success working the phones. The next day, Claire's nomination is voted down, by a 52-48 margin.

Fighting Back

Frank decides that the best way to convince the Democratic leadership to allow him to run is to tell them that he won't be running, that he's yielding to their demands.

In a meeting with them, he says that he would rather spend the next 18 months governing rather than campaigning.

He says that he's willing to give up running, provided they help him pass America Works. "Present my program to Congress. If it dies there, so be it. But I want us to f---ing try!" Frank tells the assembled leadership.

"Let me be clear. You are entitled to nothing," Frank says as he addresses the nation later that night. "You are entitled to nothing."

He tells the country that Washington has been lying to them for too long, that entitlements have crippled the economy, that America Works will put every unemployed American to work. He says that he can put forward such a bold plan, because he has decided not to run for election in 2016.

Frank says that he's willing to experiment, and that the Democrats in Congress will present his plan in coming weeks. If he's going to go down, he's going down swinging.

The Adventures of Doug Stamper

After Frank's blunt speech to the nation, Seth checks in on Doug, at Frank's request. Doug sent Seth an email with ideas for America Works, and asked him to pass it on to Frank, which he did.

"I know him better than you ever will, Seth. There's no way he doesn't run," Doug says, not buying Frank's words to the public. He knows this is all an elaborate plan, and he wants back on the inside for its execution. Seth is unwilling, though, given Doug's track record.

He tells him that he'll keep checking on him in person. Doug is a loose end that Frank and Claire can't afford to have going rogue, after all. Doug resents the mistrust, and turns to his bourbon syringe.

The truth

After postponing the meeting several times, Frank finally sits down with Heather Dunbar, the solicitor general, regarding some litigation involving an American citizen being injured in an American drone strike.

Rather than invoking state secrets privilege, Frank urges her to make the classified information surrounding the strike public, and to admit fault. She protests, but agrees to work on the argument that Frank suggests.

Later, Claire asks Frank to appoint her to the ambassador position when Congress recesses in a couple of weeks. There is precedent for such an appointment, Claire says, so Frank wouldn't be going too far out on a limb for her. Frank quickly agrees, and the Underwoods are officially in Giving Zero F---s mode.

Claire briefly lets her mask slip after receiving the news, vomiting in the sink, and shedding a tear or two, before quickly getting it together again and making an omelet. Robin Wright is awesome.

The Best of Frank and Claire: Claire's double tap on the door as Frank sits down to make phone calls. Claire reviewing Frank's speech. Frank singing while making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

WTF moments: The Frank and Claire sex scene on the floor in the White House was strangely uncomfortable. Maybe it was the orchestra music? I don't know.

Legendary voice-over guy Dude Walker playing a senator? I saw you, Dude. I saw you.

Best Frank Underwood quotes: "Bob Birch has been trying to do me in since I forced the education bill down his throat."

"I don't need the leadership if I can get the money."

"When the wind's blowing at gale force, there's no point in sailing against it."

"Tonight, I give you the truth. And the truth is this: The American dream has failed you."

"Hey. You want a peanut butter and jelly?"