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'House of Cards' Season 4, Episode 5 recap: Two years too late

Prepare for some serious hallucinations, get out in front of that story tying you to a reporter's murder, and call in Major Dad to fix your energy crisis, because it's time to recap Episode 5 of Season 4 of "House of Cards!"

The big news

While Frank fights for his life, Claire uses Donald Blythe as her presidential ventriloquist's dummy, and tries to solve the country's oil problem. Doug takes his anxiety over the president's condition out on Seth, and just when Remy thinks he's out, Claire pulls him back in again. Also, some reporters try to connect Frank to Zoe's murder, about two years too late.

Episode recap

With Frank out of commission, Donald Blythe's unsteady hand continues to lead the nation. More accurately, Claire Underwood's steady hand continues to lead Donald Blythe. With a big teleconference with Petrov looming, Donald looks to Claire to tell him what to do and say. "I feel good about my understanding of the plan," he tells her in confidence. False. Claire surreptitiously listens in on the call with Petrov, and uses a messenger app to feed Donald lines throughout.

Later, Donald and Claire huddle in the White House residence to discuss the Russia plan. Claire lights up a cig, to which Donald replies, "Ah, still smells delicious." That was hilarious and incredibly well-delivered. As the two talk, Claire steers the conversation to her mother and Frank, both staring death in the face. "When I think about my mother, I feel nothing," Claire says. "And I feel the same about Francis. Nothing." Ouch. Claire asks Donald if he'll trust her to enact her plan to solve the energy crisis. "I'd trust you with my goddamn life, Claire," he says.

We catch up with Remy, who is visiting his parents in Florida. With gas near $7 a gallon, Claire has Leann pay him a visit to lay out her plan. The details involve Remy positioning himself as an outsider, even though he's in Claire's back pocket. He will bring in Raymond Tusk, who will use his connections to bring in oil from China. "This needs to seem like your idea, not mine. And you'll make a killing, too," Claire tells Remy later. He seems reluctant to play along, but with Leann holding photos of his rendezvous with Jackie over his head, Remy has little choice in the matter. "Which is why you'll make this happen," Claire says. Now back in Washington, Remy and Jackie fire up their fling again.

Much to Doug's chagrin, Goodwin left a suicide note/manifesto in his residence, which detailed all of Frank and Doug's dirty laundry relating to Zoe, Rachel and Peter Russo. Director Green meets with Doug and shows him the note, and alerts him that there is no way to cover this one up. Green also alerts Doug that it was Seth who leaked the photo of Frank with the rebel soldier. Doug tells Seth to resign, but Seth tries to fight for his job. "I know things, Doug," he says. "Nothing you can prove. Now, threaten me again," Doug replies. Oh, snap.

As Doug continues to go through some stuff, emotionally speaking, Seth makes a last-ditch effort to save his job. He reveals that Cynthia and Dunbar met with Goodwin before the shooting, which could be enough to end Dunbar's challenge to Frank's nomination. Doug decides that Seth has done enough to save himself, but decides to toy with him first. And by toy with him, I mean that he invites him over for a soda, then holds him down and acts as though he will suffocate him by pinching his nose and holding a glass over his mouth. Charming. "If I can't get your loyalty, I will have your obedience," Doug says. "You're [expltive] up, man," Seth says.

With the old Zoe/Rachel/Russo story rearing its head again, the FBI pays a visit to Tom Hammerschmidt. Tom seems reluctant to get dragged back into anything to do with the Underwoods, but a visit from a persuasive Kate Baldwin is enough to make Tom start digging through old files and reviewing his old notes again. This feels about two years too late, and like it won't lead to anything substantial. The acting between Tom and Kim's characters was fun, though, so I'm OK with this. For now.

Frank's hallucinations are a recurring theme throughout the episode. While he lies in bed, waiting for a life-saving liver transplant, with only days to live if he doesn't get it, he has several visions. First, he sees a rebel soldier cleaning his gun, before finishing Frank off with it. Later, he imagines himself on a rowing machine, while a man in a suit comes to visit. Lastly, Frank imagines himself, shooting himself. Oh, the symbolism.


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