'House of Cards' Season 5, Episode 4 recap: One nation, Underwood

'House of Cards' Season 5, Episode 4 recap: One nation, Underwood
Michael Kelly and Neve Campbell in "House of Cards." (David Giesbrecht / Netflix)

Episode 4 of this season of "House of Cards" is full of election hacking to the extreme. Let's recap.



Mimosas are flowing at the Conway residence as election returns continue to file in. Conway's team seems confident that their candidate will be delivering a victory speech before long, while Underwood's team is in damage control mode at the White House.

As Doug and LeAnn pursue more traditional tactics for winning an election, Claire and Frank huddle with their national security team in a situation room. Cathy Durant has presented Frank with word of a foreign national whose movements might raise suspicion, and who might be suitable for pinning something on.

And, lo and behold, a search of the man's residence in Tennessee turns up bomb-making materials. The security team calls the state's governor, who finds it somewhat strange that a terror suspect would appear in his state, seemingly out of thin air, but agrees to go along with whatever the team suggests. Intelligence, says Frank, points to the man targeting one of the voting centers in Tennessee, and the FBI will be leading counter-terrorism actions there. Durant sees right through Frank, but isn't so sure that his Hail Mary will work. "It's been a good run," she says.

While Frank pursues the terrorism play, Claire is the subject of all kinds of attention — both from Yates, who remains madly in love with her and hopeful that she will extricate herself from Frank's dealings, and an official from her political party, who gently reminds her that there is another election coming in four short years and that the country trusts her. All of this leaves Claire with plenty to mull over.

Federal agents storm a voting center in Tennessee, and a dozen people are injured in the building's evacuation. Frank sends Deputy Director Green to Tennessee to play bad cop and advocate for the closing of voting centers, while Frank pleads with the governor to keep them open, somehow managing to keep a straight face while doing so. The governor of Tennessee could not come off as more of a gutless, spineless, hapless, dim-witted hick, by the way.

Yates makes what, for him, passes as a strong appeal to Claire. And by that, I mean he mumbles in a register higher than his normal monotone. He's all but given up on playing to her sense of morality, as he knows that morals have always been fluid to the Underwoods. Instead, he attempts to appeal to a desire for a more simple life, one that may or may not exist deep inside her. He sees what's happening in Tennessee and connects the dots, and all but begs Claire to run away with him to a cabin in Maine. Claire politely declines, and suggests he head over to the victory party, ahead of the first couple.

As the evening unfolds, Tennessee's governor calls for a statewide curfew, effectively suspending that state's electoral votes from playing into the results. Even without that likely red state, Claire and Frank don't have enough votes to remain in office by traditional, and probably legal, means.

Instead, they send Doug and LeAnn into action, and set out to buy themselves some time, at best, or outright steal an election, at worst. The Underwoods mobilize their legal team to initiate election challenges in several states, and Doug enlists Aidan's help. With the hacker's reluctant cooperation, Stamper is able to strong-arm Ohio's governor into locking down voting centers there, suspending vote tabulation.

Frank perpetuates a different public tact, ordering Doug and LeAnn to inform the staff that a concession speech will be coming soon. He takes the charade a step further by calling Conway to congratulate him on his victory.

While Will and Hannah celebrate their apparent victory, Conway's top adviser remains skeptical. And sure enough, the adviser's fears come to light quickly, as news of the Ohio polls being closed hits. Soon, stories of voter irregularities and uncertainty of the validity of results in nearly every state leaks, and the result of the election is suspended indefinitely. Lawyers across the country will be fighting interminably, leaving the Underwoods exactly where they want to be, for now. As the news breaks, Aidan messages LeAnn and tells her that he can't be a part of this any longer, saying that he's out.

The next day, the Underwoods gather in the Oval Office, reveling in their misdeeds. Frank refers to the nation as children — the children they never had — and tells Claire that they're lucky to have the two of them to look out for their interests.


"Do you realize we have every intention of winning today?" — Claire, explaining her actions to Yates.

"Underwood. Underwood. 2016. 2020. 2024. 2028. 2032. 2036. One nation... Underwood." — Frank



Preying on the nation's fear of terrorism in order to keep a chokehold on the most powerful political office in the world? Just another day in the life of the Underwood family.