'House of Cards' recap, Season 3, Episode 5

For The Baltimore Sun
"House of Cards" Season 3, Episode 5 recap: Claire's bathroom diplomacy

Frank resorts to some unconventional methods to get America Works up and running, firing the head of the Department of Homeland Security, temporarily taking over that position himself, essentially, and trying to declare unemployment a national emergency under the Stafford Act, which would allow him to redirect funding for his program in a legal way.

Frank enlists D.C.'s mayor to help him stage a stunt. He goes to the FEMA chief and orders him to drain a disaster relief fund to free up some cash for America Works, which the mayor will formally request after declaring a state of emergency in Washington.

D.C. will be the proving ground for Frank's radical plan. If it works there, Congress will have no choice but to fund the program nationwide.

The campaign trail

Heather Dunbar begins her quest for the presidency ... on "The Meredith Vieira Show"?

The venue might be questionable, but her plan is sound. She enlists John Pasternak, the husband of Michael Corrigan, the American protester jailed in Russia, to campaign with her. That gives her ample ammunition should she need to attack Frank.

Frank has insisted publicly that he isn't running, but we know better.

Frank decides to have Jackie Sharp announce her candidacy, as a way to counter Dunbar's moves. He tells Jackie that the FEMA plan is just something to distract Dunbar, and that he will eventually drop it.

But combined with Jackie announcing, it serves as a formidable attack on Dunbar. Jackie tentatively agrees to run, with the idea being that she will drop out and eventually join Frank's ticket as VP when he announces.

Remy brings up the fact that they want Jackie to have a family when she runs, pressing her to marry her boyfriend, who already has two children. Jackie brings up that they've discussed marriage, and she agrees to get that ball rolling again.

Dunbar, meanwhile, agrees to bring Doug in to work on her campaign. Doug tries to drive a hard financial bargain, which leads Dunbar to believe that he isn't trying to be a mole in her office and that he just wants to get back in the game. They agree to meet again later.

Meet the press

The Telegraph, the "second largest daily in the country," brings in Ayla Sayyad's mentor, Kate Baldwin, to take her White House beat, after Seth had Ayla booted for daring to press Frank in the last episode. Kate promises to be tougher on Frank than Ayla ever was. Seth is smitten, I think.

Baldwin gets word of Frank's fight with the outgoing Homeland Security chief, who points him to the head of FEMA, who clues her in to the potential danger of Frank's plan to drain FEMA's emergency fund. Baldwin goes public, on the front page, threatening Frank's plan in D.C..

Rally the troops

Russia isn't going to take Claire's veto override sitting down, and they decide to fight back. They threaten to sell arms to Iran, which would threaten the Middle East, so Israel and Palestine pull their support for Claire's resolution.

Claire threatens the Russian ambassador with sanctions if Russia sell arms to Iran. The ambassador urges her to withdraw the resolution, and tells her she has no business being an ambassador.

This means war

Frank meets with the congressional leadership, who are upset at his plan to use the Stafford Act. Both parties will fight him if he goes through with the plan, Senator Mendoza tells him.

"Well, at least I'm cultivating bipartisanship," Frank says to us.

"I'm declaring war on atrophy," Frank declares, telling Congress that he'll drop the FEMA charade if they'll put America Works on the floor.

"I love you as much as ever," Claire tells Frank after she returns to Washington. She tells him that she hasn't been sleeping apart from him for any other reason, as they share a cigarette.

Just like old times.

He agrees to issue an executive order, committing troops to help get her U.N. coalition back together. Congress is going to be mad.

Doug is also mad. He's mad at Frank for not bringing him back, and he proves himself to Dunbar, showing her some damning evidence that Claire once asked him to destroy. He kept it. He tells her that he wants to use his skills to get her elected.

They shake hands, and Doug is now in the fold.

Russia is mad, too. Claire tells the Russian ambassador that Frank has committed 5,000 troops to permanent standby for U.N. peacekeeping operations. She tells him this in the ladies room, while she uses the toilet. I don't know, folks. I'm just writing about what I saw.

Claire tells him that the U.S. will use force to destroy any arms shipments to Iran, and that Russia should come back to the table to negotiate, because they can't afford war. She tells Russia to bring Petrov himself back to the table, or else Claire's resolution will go to a vote immediately.

Propaganda

Frank decides that he needs to sell his program to the public with a book. Interesting strategy.

He enlists an author that enticed him to play a video game with a glowing review.

"If you can convince me to be a silent princess with just 100 words, imagine how many millions you can convince with this book," Frank tells him. Frank shows him the tent on the mall in D.C., where thousands of people are registering for America Works. The author is convinced.

Victory

President Petrov calls Frank and invites the Underwoods to visit him in Moscow, where negotiations can begin again. Corrigan will be released once they arrive.

"You made a miracle happen," Frank tells Claire, but they agree to keep the resolution alive, in case the talks fail and they need it anyway. "We did," Claire says. 

As fireworks explode over Washington, we see that Freddy is one of the people lined up to register for Frank's program. 

The best of Frank and Claire

Frank and the D.C. mayor clinking glasses.
Claire revising Frank's speech in roughly 12 seconds.
Frank playing games on his tablet.
Smoking.

WTF moments

Claire's bathroom diplomacy.
Freddy!

Best Frank Underwood quotes

"... I gotta say, I feel good to be on the offensive."
"You kicked out a pit bull and you let in a dragon."

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