'House of Cards' Season 1 episode 2: Frank takes down Michael Kern
Where we are:
It's time for Frank Underwood to set his plan in motion now that he's not the president's nominee for secretary of state. Step one is to hijack the education bill that Donald Blythe is spearheading in Congress. Underwood has already leaked the first draft to Zoe Barnes, which reveals Blythe's far-left-of-center plan, which President Walker cannot be seen as endorsing. Blythe ends up falling on the sword in regards to the leak and Frank takes over the bill. Check.
Step two is to take down the secretary of state nominee, Sen. Michael Kern. Frank's chief of staff, Doug, unearths an op-ed from Kern's college paper that calls Israel's occupation of Palestine illegal, which is incendiary rhetoric even if it was written decades ago. Kern was the editor, so even if he didn't write it, he was in charge when it was published. Zoe, of course, receives this scoop, which isn't so much about saying Kern wrote it as "asking the question."
It creates enough of a firestorm that Kern was probably going to be removed as the nominee, but as some icing on the cake, Frank enlists his new lackey Rep. Russo to meet with Roy Kapeniak, the far-far-far-left-of-center conspiracy theorist who actually wrote the op-ed, and gets Roy to go on record with Zoe saying Kern wrote it.
It's Kern's word against Roy's, but that's all it takes in this day and age. Kern is out. Check and check.
Step three -- get Catherine Durant (an ally of Frank's) nominated as the replacement. How does Frank do this? By drumming up media attention, started by (you guessed it) Zoe Barnes with a "source close to the president" who says Durant is the one. The media storm is what causes President Walker to even consider Durant -- it's a genius move. Check, check, check.
Over at the Washington Herald, Zoe is swiftly climbing the ladder, what with all these magic stories and some kind of hefty source she won't divulge to anyone. The Herald's White House correspondent, Janine (Constance Zimmer), is irritated and jealous, while Barnes' head just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Meanwhile, Claire is firing half of her Clean Water Initiative staff to make room to expand the organization. She wouldn't have had to fire anyone, but when Frank didn't get the secretary of state appointment, SanCorp, a gas corporation whose chief lobbyist is Remy Danton ( Mahershala Ali), Frank's former employee, withdrew its hefty donation to CWI. Claire was then forced to free up money in the budget for the new people by firing 19 of her employees.
It's hard to tell who is more devious and calculating at this point, Claire or Frank. They're certainly a good match.
Oh, and Doug buys the silence of Rep. Russo's hooker and then has sex with her, because he is nothing if not classy.
Frank: "Remember this moment when you resisted me. When you said the words 'There is no story.'"
Doug: "When it comes to your life, Peter, and what I know about it, there's no such thing as a secret."
Janine: "Who are you f***ing? You're a metro scrub and now look at you, you'd have to be f***ing somebody important."
Join us each day until "House of Cards" Season 2 is released as we look back at each episode from Season 1.