Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) presses the flesh on the campaign trail.
Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) presses the flesh on the campaign trail. (David Giesbrecht/Netflix /)

Prepare for a wide-ranging investigation, think about exploring an open marriage, and then let's play "Never Have I Ever." Or, if you prefer, let's just talk about Chapter 50.

The big news

Claire has a boyfriend, Tom's investigation might finally have some legs and Frank and Conway are playing political footsie over ICO and whether or not to take them out. Also, Doug Stamper tries to start dating the widow of the guy he practically killed. Normal.

Aside from the open marriage stuff, this felt like a filler episode, especially after the emotional heft of Chapter 49.

Episode recap

As the campaign kicks into high gear, Claire and Frank criss-cross the country, but are still trailing Mr. and Mrs. Sexypants in national polls. Frank wants to do more traveling, but his doctors advise him not to. "I won't risk losing you," Claire says, and offers to amp up her travel schedule, on her own.

Well, not EXACTLY on her own. Yates is there. Before an event, he asks why she made changes to one of the stump speeches he wrote for. "I took out the part about love. It was too soft," she says. Actually, she caught feelings and she knows that Yates caught feelings, too, and there's no way that this is going to end well. Claire admits as much later, and she and Yates get passionate with each other.

Yates gets cold feet, and perhaps sensing that there was no future with Claire, fires himself. He catches a flight back to Washington, while Claire campaigns in South Dakota. When Yates goes, though, Claire goes back to the part about love and adds it into her speech.

Claire alerts Frank that Yates has left the campaign. "We both decided it was for the best," she says. Frank, unconvinced, decides to bring Yates in and have a chat of his own with him. Yates admits to sleeping with Claire. "It was more than just a fling, wasn't it?" Frank asks. "We have a connection. Yeah, I make her laugh. I make her feel desired. I think she feels comfortable being vulnerable around me," Yates says.

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This guy is a writer? That's "Bachelorette"-esque dialogue.

"He should stay on," Frank tells Claire, later. "He can give you things that I can't ... I don't keep you warm at night. I don't see you the way he sees you," he continues. And that's how the president of the United States and the first lady decide to bring a third person into their marriage. Yates shares a bed with Claire, and then the three of them have breakfast together in the White House in the morning. The end.

Tom's investigation is broader than we were lead to believe, as he is apparently going to try to connect Frank to his shady deal with Tusk and having President Walker impeached. What happened to Zoe? Wasn't this all about connecting the dots and giving her dad closure? Was that in a different series? Is this all some kind of weird fever dream I'm having?

So, Tom meets with Remy, who directs him to Freddy. Freddy seems ripe for the picking, fresh off an argument with Frank at the White House. The "m-----f-----s" in that scene were fun ("What's my big send-off? I get to cook you ribs?!"). He pulls Tom into an alley, then promptly beats him up. "Even if I hated him, and I do hate him, I don't snitch," Freddy says, leaving Remy as Tom's last, best chance to make anything stick.

They meet in a bar, and Remy, perhaps motivated by guilt, perhaps by conscience, perhaps by revenge, decides to help Tom out. He tells him that he'll play "Never Have I Ever" with him, as Tom asks questions about Frank's corruption. "We're going to need more beer," Tom says.

This is enough to convince the Washington Herald editor to give Tom a small team of reporters and legal protection in hopes that he'll break a big story and bring down Frank. I'm not optimistic. And what the heck happened that the focus of this investigation changed?

While Claire is off doing stuff and Tom is planning to end his political life, Frank deals with the ICO threat in Washington. "I will not be satisfied by blocking the serpent's path, gentlemen. I want to cut off it's goddamn head," he says in a meeting with top military advisers. He cooks up a plan that will enlist Russia's help in taking out ICO, in exchange for oil drilling zones."The Russians do the dirty work, we take all the credit,"  he says.

Thanks to his guy on the intelligence committee, Conway gets wind of Frank's plan, and does his best to derail it in congress. Frank finds out about it, and gives Gov. Sexypants a call. "Fifty times a day, you say we should destroy ICO, and now you're deliberately preventing us from doing it," Frank charges. "Put politics aside and do the right thing," he says. Conway declines, leaving Frank scrambling, and he chooses the undesirable option of sending in American forces on the ground.

Doug also brings up a key point to Frank. If Conway has a guy on the intelligence committee, he's just a step or two away from finding out about the surveillance operation. He brings in LeAnn's analytics guy, to make sure, I don't know, that he has a firewall or something? "I've got everything masked," the guy says. Well, good. I'm glad we spent time on that. All this was so Frank could hear the word "beyond", which opened him up to the idea of going "beyond" marriage.

Doug gets a voicemail from Laura Moretti, thanking him for his generation to her husband's memorial fund. Doug plays the voicemail over and over, then calls the woman and sets up, like, a date. Laura seemed kind of into it, but this was one more first date with Doug Stamper than I ever wanted to be a part of. No, no, no, no, no.

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