'House of Cards' Season 1 episode 8: Is Frank Underwood gay?
Where we are:
Frank and Claire are back in South Carolina, at Frank's military college, the Sentinel (which is the TV version of real-life South Carolina military college the Citadel). Frank is being honored with his name on the library. There's a cocktail reception the night before and then a dedication ceremony, at which Frank gives a speech.
In between, we get the most likable version of Frank from the entire first season. He reunites with his men's a capella quartet, the Riflemen, and spends the night getting into drunken shenanigans in the old, boarded-up library. In an interesting bit of insight, Frank reminisces with group member Tim Corbet (David Andrews), with whom Frank had some kind of sexual relationship during college.
It's a rather heartbreaking conversation, as Frank more or less confesses his love for Tim while Tim says that, for him, it just made him happy to make Frank happy. Maybe we're reading too much into it, but we get the feeling that perhaps Tim was the love of Frank's life, which is made all the more sad by the fact that Tim obviously really cares for Frank, but he was not in love with him.
It's not a coincidence that, while this is happening, Claire is back at the hotel having an hour-long conversation with Adam Galloway. Claire and Frank are most certainly soulmates, but are they actually in love? We don't think so, though there is obviously great affection there.
Is Frank gay? No. He's not a closeted gay man using Claire as his beard. If that were the case, he wouldn't be enjoying his dalliance with Zoe so much. In fact, the Zoe character might have been made male if Frank was supposed to be secretly gay.
But the fact that Frank says he was "so drawn" to Tim makes us think that Frank is like a lot of people who are somewhere along the sexuality spectrum. He's mostly straight, but he met this one man with whom he fell in love. And Frank has probably never met anyone since who he loves as much as he loves Tim (or at least, the Tim from his time at the Sentinel).
It's a lovely episode and certainly goes a long way in fleshing out the Frank character. The only other real storyline happening is that Peter and Christina are in Philadelphia so that Peter can try to win over the shipyard workers to support his run for governor.
It's no easy feat because they are furious with him for not sticking up for them in Washington, but Russo makes them see that the shipyard was going to close eventually and that he's all they've got fighting for them. We also get to meet Peter's mom, which explains a lot.
Tim: "It made me happy making you happy."
Frank: "It's not about what's lasting or permanent, it's about individual voices coming together for a moment. And that moment lasts the length of a breath."