'House of Cards' episode 9: The Season 1 turning point
Where we are:
When we watched "House of Cards" Season 1, we were definitely interested right from the start. But we weren't obsessed with the show until the events that unfold in "Chapter 9."
There are a lot of moving parts in this episode, and almost all of them revolve around the passing of Peter Russo's Delaware River Watershed Act in the House. Not only are the House Republicans against it because it's too green and liberal, but there are also a few House Democrats against it because it's not liberal enough. Ain't that always the way?
Plus, Remy Denton and his SanCorp money is breathing down everyone's necks. SanCorp is a natural-gas company and doesn't want to see the Watershed Act passed, so it is throwing huge amounts of money around to try to stop the bill from passing.
Frank wants Claire to help with some liberal congressmen who are on the fence about voting yea, while Frank wants her help in getting her CWI water filters freed in Sudan. She thinks Remy can help and Frank loses his mind at the prospect of either of them owing Remy a favor.
Frank also manages, in this little outburst, to put Claire "in her place" and make it very clear that his political dealings always trump her little CWI frivolity. But what it does is just make Claire that much more determined (and that much sneakier).
At Frank's behest, Claire speaks with the two liberal congressmen who are wavering and manages to tell them not to vote for the bill without actually telling them not to vote for the bill. She then approaches Remy anyway about his company helping her in Sudan, which he could not be more pleased about. Because he likes Claire and now she owes him.
Meanwhile, Zoe ends her affair with Frank, with some advice from Janine hitting home that eventually people stop taking you seriously if that's the way you get your news. But Zoe still wants to keep getting scoops from Frank. She doesn't see what the difference is, since that's how their relationship began.
That's not going to work for Frank, because he's kind of crazy when it comes to power and control. It's not so much about the affair ending as it is he will not be told what to do by some stupid little girl.
When Zoe and Janine want to know the watershed bill vote count, Zoe caves and sleeps with Frank again. It's rough and demeaning, with Frank slamming her up against the wall of her apartment, not even bothering to undress. But Zoe's got her vote-count scoop (which, as it will turn out, is incorrect anyway).
In one last bit of moving the chess pieces, Frank frees Linda Vasquez from helping whip votes for the bill because she needs to go to Stanford to meet with the provost (since her son didn't get in and apparently that's the only place he can go to college). Frank says there's no need for the president to know and now Linda owes him. She says she doesn't, but she does.
When the vote finally comes down, the bill doesn't pass, which will more or less tank Peter Russo's Pennsylvania governor campaign. Everyone is shell-shocked, with Frank demanding in the closing frames to know who lied.
Oh, and Rachel gets fired from her waitresses job because she won't have sex with the manager, but Doug rides to her rescue. That's the one bit that has nothing to do with the bill and while we don't mind Rachel and Doug as a side plot in the season, it's a tad distracting from the wheeling and dealing of the episode.
Which, by the way, is masterful. It shows off that perhaps it is Claire, and not Frank, who is the real mastermind in the Underwood household. We certainly weren't expecting her to stray from the Frank-mandated plan. And knowing what we know about the final four episodes, it sets so many things in motion. It's a white-knuckle roller coaster for the next three episodes at least (the finale slows a bit), but it's "Chapter 9" that marks a turning point in the season.
Frank: "I'm not going to lie, I despise children. There, I've said it."
Frank: "As we used to say in Gaffney, never slap a man while he's chewin' tobacca."
Janine: "Piece of advice, as far as career strategies go: It's not worth f***ing your way to the middle."
Frank: "Oh, please. I don't punish people for making adult decisions."
Frank: "Kindness isn't kindness if you expect a reward."