'House of Cards' recap, Season 3, Episode 4

Frank's bold suggestion that the solicitor general publicly admit responsibility for a drone strike that left an American citizen injured might come back to bite him, we learn. 

Heather Dunbar has designs on the presidency, Jackie Sharp tells Frank, which makes her presenting Frank's argument to the Supreme Court interesting, to say the least.

If she wins, she protects the power of the office she might hold one day. If she loses, she publicly humiliates a potential opponent. This seems like a miscalculation on Frank's part.

Frank tells Remy and Jackie that Dunbar's candidacy needs to end before it begins. "... if we can't knock her out, we have to figure out another way," Frank says.

Frank thinks that way is to offer Dunbar a spot on the Supreme Court, taking over for Justice Jacobs, who has Alzheimer's. Frank gives her roughly ten seconds to consider his offer, and she accepts. Her confirmation will only be a formality, he assures her. That was too easy.

Claire runs the U.N.

Claire presents the plan for a peacekeeping force in the Jordan Valley to the United Nations. The lone dissenting vote on her proposal is Russia's. That was expected, of course, so now she has to work on overriding that veto. She calls the French ambassador and gets his support, quickly.

In retaliation, Russia goes about arresting vocal dissidents that oppose President Petrov, including an American. Claire urges Frank to push forward with her plan, allow her to keep working, and not to give in to Russia, who offers the American's release in exchange for dropping the proposal.

Frank Underwood, people person

Frank invites the man injured in the drone strike, Mr. Mahmoud, to the White House to apologize to him. Mahmoud tells him that he will not forgive him, that the Pentagon is lying about the number of civilian casualties as a result of drone strikes, and that oversight of the drone program needs to be more rigorous.

"I won't forgive you," he says. "I don't want to make it any easier for you to sleep at night. Only you have the power to stop what happened to me. The next time you wield it, I hope you'll think twice."

Frank meets with Justice Jacobs, and tells him that he has reconsidered his offer to step down and that he thinks he should retire. Jacobs tells Frank that he has decided to stay on as long as his health will allow him to.


Frank begs him to retire, framing it as a way to protect his legacy. Jacobs senses that there is an ulterior motive at work, but offers to give it more thought before he decides.

Run, Heather, run

After a presidential press conference leaves Seth scrambling to control Frank's message, he's blindsided by word that Heather Dunbar is announcing her candidacy on the steps of the Supreme Court.

Frank calls a meeting with her, where she reveals that she knew about Jacobs all along and that she knew what Frank was up to. "You wanted to sideline me," she says. Yup.

"someone needs to scrub the stink from this office," she tells Frank. "See you in Iowa."

Doug turns?

Doug watches Dunbar's announcement on television, and decides he wants in on her campaign. He's tired of being frozen out by Frank and Seth and he wants back in the game. He finds out where Heather is going to be that evening, and tells her that he can be valuable to her. "Think about it, Ms. Dunbar. That's all I ask," he says.

Gone girl

Gavin is still looking for Rachel. He tries using the FBI's resources to track her down, but he almost gets caught. He decides that getting close to her old friend, Lisa, is the key to finding her. Doug doesn't like that plan, but he relents. Gavin meets Lisa at a sobriety meeting, and begins his social engineering plan.

Take me to church

Frank calls Claire, furious with how Heather Dunbar outplayed him, and that he let Jacobs off the hook, rather than going for the kill. He decides that he felt guilty after his meeting with Mr. Mahmoud, and after visiting Arlington and seeing all of the headstones there. He calls for a meeting with the bishop that presided over that military funeral that Frank attended the other day. They meet at a church in the middle of the night.

"I want to understand what justice is," Frank tells the bishop. The bishop tells Frank that there is no such thing as absolute power in this realm, and that it's not Frank's job to determine what is just. "Two rules: Love God. Love each other," the bishop says.

"Love? That's what you're selling? Well, I don't buy it," Frank says to a Jesus statue, after the bishop leaves the church. He spits on the statue, then reaches up to wipe it off, before the thing crashes to the ground.

The best of Frank and Claire


Claire speaking French.
Oh, those phone calls.
Frank climbing the altar in church to get in Jesus' face.

WTF moments

The entire church sequence. Frank has seemed small enough this season, and there is no shortage of material to fill the episodes. Now we want to explore his power in relation to God's absolute power? Maybe God is Frank's only worthy adversary, in the end.

Best Frank Underwood quotes

"Must I destroy this man?"

"You got Walker, but you couldn't get me."

"Why did I hold back? Why did I show Jacobs any mercy?"

"You can't love the people you kill."

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