Make yourself a PB&J, wear the white dress — not the taupe — and go ahead and get that tattoo removed, it's time to recap "House of Cards" Season 4, Episode 2!

The big news


Frank does his best to sabotage Claire's congressional aspirations. After playing nice, Frank uses the State of the Union to endorse Celia Jones for the congressional seat, and later tells Claire that she will be better served if she helps him win his bid to reclaim the White House before striking out on her own. Claire decides not to take this betrayal lying down — instead, she'll aim higher. Jackie Sharp has surgery to remove her tattoo, and unwittingly ends up a pawn in the Frank/Claire chess game. Claire does her damnedest to make smoking cigarettes cool again.

Episode recap

"He is a classless, graceless, shameless barbarian," Mrs. Hale says of Frank, as she addresses a group of her wealthy friends. She urges them to support Heather Dunbar in her bid for the presidency, instead of her son-in-law. This is significant, as it means that Claire's mother may be reticent to ask her friends to support her own daughter's political campaign later on.

Celia Jones meets with Jackie Sharp, urging Jackie to help push for funding for the new breast cancer clinic in her district. This is Claire's doing, as through Celia, she promises $3 million for Jackie's congressional campaign in exchange for pushing for federal funding to build the clinic. So Claire has co-opted Celia in her quest for power, playing on the altruistic nature of Celia's mother, Doris, and is attempting to wheel and deal in Washington without Frank's help, or knowledge. Leann assures Claire that Jackie will gladly accept the money, but should she get cold feet, Leann has arranged to blackmail Jackie — using photos of her rendezvous with Remy Danton for leverage. "They always use the same hotel. I've got a guy set up across the street," Leann tells Claire.

Claire visits the White House to meet with Frank and finds a pair of his mother's earrings laid out for her, to wear at the State of the Union later. Over the phone, Claire consults with her mother as to what color her wardrobe should be for the address that night. Frank and Claire talk about the speech that night, with each poker face-ing the other about what their next move might be. Frank offers to help Claire persuade Doris, but Claire  says she'll let Frank know if she wants his help.

Frank sees his wife's reluctance to accept his help as a betrayal, and goes on the offensive. In the State of the Union, Frank reveals that he will work with Congress to make sure that the clinic in Doris's district receives federal funding. He goes one step further and endorses Celia for her mother's open seat. Frank promises to support Celia's candidacy, "And I know Claire will as well," he adds, sticking the knife in his wife's back. Claire puts on a good show, cheering for Celia, while showing us just enough of her anger bubbling beneath the surface. Robin Wright was tremendous here.

Claire returns to the White House after the speech at Frank's behest. "You think I'm giving up?" Claire asks. "I will not allow you to become dangerous," Frank counters. He tells Claire that she needs to put her aspirations aside until he wins the general election. "We are fighting for our lives here," he says.

Claire says that perhaps Frank is right, but that she needs time away to think, so she returns to Texas. Frank celebrates his win over his wife by making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and breaking the fourth wall to regale us with a story from his childhood. I'm not sure what the story was about, but I've never seen anyone spread peanut butter with such anger and precision.

Claire huddles with Leann and assures her that their partnership is only beginning. "Oh, no. It's not over," she says. "Forget the 30th [District]. We need to think bigger. This cycle," Claire says.

She returns to Texas to a warm reception from her mother. Mrs. Hale's tune changes, though, when Claire asks for millions of dollars to pad her campaign's war chest. She tells Claire that she won't just hand over the money without a clear reason, and with Claire's campaign seemingly dead in the water there is no clear reason. Claire responds by threatening to sell her mother's home out from under her to get the money that way. "You wouldn't dare," Mrs. Hale says. "But I will," Claire counters. After her mother's angry reaction, Claire takes a walk on the ranch and lights up a cigarette. Smoking has never looked so cool.

Russia and the complicated relationship between Frank and Russian President Petrov made up the episode's key subplot. Frank meets with his military leaders, where he is briefed on the arrival of a Russian traitor to the country. The man was involved in a plot to overthrow Petrov (that flipping guy), and is seeking asylum. Frank has no sympathy for the man. "He tried to slay a dragon and he missed the mark," Frank says, urging his people to deport the traitor.

The man's arrival is the symptom of a larger global problem, which is Petrov's penchant for seizing companies he doesn't like and killing anyone that poses a threat to his power. Frank's aides urge him to grant the man asylum for fear that should Petrov remain unchecked, he will tank the Russian economy.

Instead, Frank tries to use him as a bargaining chip. On a call with Petrov, he offers him the man back in exchange for coming to the table to discuss fixing economic relations between their countries. Petrov balks, and claims that the traitor was an American plant and that Frank is trying to overthrow him. The discussion ends, and relations between Frank and Petrov are still strained. This is my second favorite subplot. All of the others are tied for first.

Elsewhere, Remy meets with Leann, trying to prove his hunch that she is working for Claire. Leann refuses to tip her hand and urges Remy to stay out of her business. Remy takes the warning to heart and tells Jackie they might need to cool things off for a while. The interplay between these two characters was strong, and I hope to see more of it.