'House of Cards' Season 1 episode 1: 'Welcome to Washington'
Where we are:
Episode one introduces the major players -- Frank Underwood ( Kevin Spacey) and wife Claire ( Robin Wright), who are angered and irritated to learn that Frank is not president-elect Walker's ( Michael Gill) nominee for secretary of state; Underwood's chief of staff and right-hand man Doug Stamper ( Michael Kelly); reporter Zoe Barnes ( Kate Mara), who is tired of covering city council business and is looking for a whale of a source to catapult her into the big leagues; Rep. Peter Russo ( Corey Stoll), a congressman from Pennsylvania who gets arrested for drunk driving and solicitation; and Russo's secretary and lover Christina Gallagher ( Kristen Connolly).
In the wake of being snubbed as secretary of state, the Underwoods begin to plot their next move (or 20 next moves, as it were). While Claire may put on a good front, running a charity called the Clean Water Initiative, she is actually a steely-eyed, Lady MacBeth-esque spouse, whose intelligence and ambition is only matched by Machiavellian Frank. The snub on the part of Walker and his Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez ( Sakina Jeffrey) sets the entire season in motion.
In the first episode, Frank's ultimate plan is not readily apparent, but he starts to line up the players he needs, first by giving Zoe a huge scoop about Walker's legislative agenda and then by bailing Rep. Russo out of jail and making the arrest record disappear. Underwood now owns Russo. To what end, we do not yet know. As for Zoe, we love the way Frank almost tutors her on politics, it's very Socratic Method and lays a great foundation for the weird relationship the two of them form.
Frank: "There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that's only suffering. I have no patience for useless things."
Frank: "For some, it's simply the size of the chair. ... Give and take. Welcome to Washington."
Frank: "The nature of promises, Linda, is that they remain immune to changing circumstances."
Claire: "It's not the money I'm upset about. It's that we do things together. When you don't involve me, we're in free fall. ... My husband doesn't apologize, even to me."
Join us each day until "House of Cards" Season 2 is released as we look back at each episode from Season 1.