Sun TV Critic David Zurawik talks about season 3 of the Netflix series House of Cards on WYPR FM's 'Take on Television.' (Baltimore Sun video)

Russia's President Petrov is visiting Washington for a summit on the Israel/Palestine conflict in the Middle East.

Within minutes of meeting Frank Underwood, Petrov tells him that he rejects his proposal for peace in the Jordan Valley. Oh, this is going to be a long visit.

Undeterred, Frank offers Petrov a surfboard as a gift, noting that he's heard that Petrov took up surfing recently. Petrov is not impressed by the gift, and reiterates that he has no interest in working with the U.S. in a joint peacekeeping effort.

While Frank is hosting Petrov, Claire and Secretary of State Cathy Durant are meeting with Israeli and Palestinian representatives. They are skeptical of Frank's ability to get Russia on board to aid the U.S. in peacekeeping efforts, and Palestine is not pleased with the entire process, feeling that their seat at the table in these discussions was an afterthought.

Claire and Durant then meet with the Russian delegation that has accompanied Petrov on his visit, hoping to twist some arms. While that tough meeting is happening, Petrov is telling Frank that Russia stands to gain nothing from working with America and nothing from peace in the Middle East. Short and sweet.

Frank tries to appeal to Petrov by claiming that he will stick to his word when he promises that this will be presented as a joint plan, not simply an American plan. Frank says he's not running for office again, so he has no reason to go back on his word to Petrov. Petrov calls him on that, telling him that they both know he will run again.

In return, Frank calls Petrov's bluff, telling him that he wouldn't have come to Washington unless he was willing to be wooed. Petrov offers to think of what it might take to get him on board with Frank's plan.

Everybody has a price

Gavin Orsay, former lone wolf hacker, now FBI asset, has been doing a good job for the FBI, it seems. But then they arrest one of his former hacker friends and try to use that as leverage against him. Give up the people that helped you hack AT&T, or else your buddy might turn on you, and tell us about things we haven't pardoned you for, they tell him. Gavin will think about it.

The adventures of Doug Stamper

Seth pays Doug a visit, and Doug tells him that he has a job offer to serve as an adviser to a member of Congress, and for more money than Frank ever paid him. Doug believes that Frank or Seth orchestrated the job offer, a claim that Seth denies. Doug turns down the job, and says that he's ready to work for Frank again right now.

Pussy Riot

With Petrov in town, it's time for a state dinner! A long list of dignitaries line up to meet Petrov and have their photo taken with him. Pussy Riot is there, too, perhaps invited by Frank as a dig at Petrov. This seems confirmed when the members of the band use a toast at the dinner to protest Petrov's actions as president. Petrov plays it off and Frank apologizes, but this isn't over.


After dinner and some exceptionally uncomfortable attempts to flirt with Claire, Petrov brings in some expensive vodka and orders every person in the room to take four shots.


This leads to a round of singing, from both Frank and Petrov. Petrov ends his song by dancing with, then kissing Claire. I cringed every moment that these two were on screen together, because I could feel that coming. It was terrible. Terrible.

Claire, the advocate for sexual assault survivors, once victimized herself, was kissed against her will by an oily president that wasn't her husband.

Frank pulls Petrov away from the dinner for some cigars in a secret room in the White House. I like these secret White House rooms that this show and "24" have invented over the years.

"Do you kiss the wife of every president you meet?" Frank asks Petrov. "I'd push him down the stairs and light his broken body on fire just to watch it burn, if it wouldn't start a world war," Frank tells us.

Petrov demands that the U.S. dismantle the missile defense system in place in Europe, in exchange for partnering with Frank on the Middle East. Frank balks at the suggestion, but agrees to sleep on it.

Later, Gavin meets with Doug. They both can be of use to each other, as Gavin wants out of the country now that the FBI is pressing him again and Doug needs to know where Rachel is and Gavin has some super hacker powers that will help him track her down. They agree to help each other out.

New life goal: Play beer pong with Robin Wright

While Frank deals with Petrov, Claire talks with Cathy, the former college beer pong champion, she lets us know. Claire feels as though she's been stepping on Cathy's toes in meetings and she wants to smooth things over. What better way than beer pong?

After playing and losing to Cathy, Claire tells her that she doesn't trust Petrov, and that she doesn't think Frank should be partnered with him on any Middle East plan. Cathy lays out a plan of her own, one that would use a multinational peacekeeping force, through the U.N.

It would take a lot of work on Claire's part to make that plan happen, Cathy tells her, but Claire is up for the challenge.

What to do?

"Francis, he's a thug. He smart, but he's still a thug. Don't cower to him," Claire counsels Frank, as he struggles with Petrov's suggested deal.

She suggests going though the U.N., as Cathy suggested, but Frank doesn't think that will work.

Frank finally promises Petrov a watered-down scale back of the missile defense system, as long as no public announcement of the deal is made. Petrov declines, insisting on what he asked for. Frank sticks to his guns, and sends Petrov on his way home, without a Middle East deal.

With Petrov gone, Frank holds a press conference, where he praises Pussy Riot for standing up to Petrov, and thanking them for reminding him that he should as well.

"Peace should not have to be bought. Peace should be its own reward, and we will achieve it, with or without him," Frank says.

He then meets with Claire and Cathy, giving their U.N. peace plan the green light.

The best of Frank and Claire
Claire's toast to "Petrov's little pickle".
Frank singing after about a gallon of vodka.
Claire asking Frank to turn out the light.

WTF moments
Petrov kissing Claire, obviously.
Petrov talking about his ex-wife in the Lexus.
The Pussy Riot video over the closing credits.

Best Frank Underwood Quotes
"What about the Pussy Riot girls?"

"What is the face of a coward? The back of his head as he runs from the battle."

"You can't turn a 'no' to a 'yes' without a 'maybe' in between."