[TV] House of Cards – Chapter 20 (S2E7)

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Things get complicated in Washington D.C. when Raymond Tusk goes on the offensive. Tusk’s attack is two pronged – he doesn’t just want Frank dead politically, he wants him buried personally as well. Politically, Raymond’s billions have the power to create enormous repercussion in Congress and this episode demonstrates exactly how. The withdrawn funding from big-ticket donors that Tusk had in his pockets is making President Walker incredibly antsy, especially when the withdrawn funding is going to the Republicans instead. Of course, what makes Walker antsy is going to, eventually, make everyone else antsy too and the blame, yet again, falls on Frank’s shoulders. Were Frank even marginally more likeable, we would feel some measure of sympathy towards him for always being the President’s punching bag (heh) but Frank has pretty much brought this on himself and now it remains to be seen whether he can find a solution. More and more, we see the various plots and schemes unravel as Remy Danton makes his influence felt and Doug manages to mitigate the damage that Tusk has caused. Throughout all of this, Claire continues her nefarious campaign of undermining the President’s marriage.

On the political front, things are looking rather grim for the Democrats. Tusk’s falling out with the President and the Vice-President has resulted in many million not only been withdrawn from the Democrats’ funds but contributed instead towards the Republicans. The former would have been bad enough, but as is the case with any bad break-up, the latter makes it so much worse. Frank, obviously, deserves the lion’s share of the blame for his part in creating the current situation, but in all fairness, Raymond Tusk is doing everything he possibly can to ensure that he will not be invited back into the fold. Indirectly, he is extorting the entire Democratic Party, not to mention the President and his administration. Frank, being himself, is naturally unwilling to bend towards Tusk and his demands – Frank wants nothing more than to get rid of the man once and for all, but before he effectively cut Raymond out of the matter for good, he must find some way of circumventing him. The answer, surprisingly, lies in Xander Feng who has returned to China after the trade negotiations soured and still has some resentment towards Frank and the current administration. However, Doug is able to hammer out an as yet unclear deal which might see Feng and his superior funds replace Raymond Tusk as the premier Democratic backer. Whether or not that’s possible, from a legal standpoint, is unclear, as is what exactly Doug offered to sway the man’s decision but one thing is certain – Tusk is not going to like this second betrayal, if that is indeed what this constitutes.

Tusk has also fired his shots in the direction of Frank’s person. I mentioned in past reviews that it seemed awfully strange that someone like Seth Grayson would suddenly appear into the picture from nowhere unless he had some sort of hidden purpose. Well, this week we find out exactly what his hidden purpose is – he was employed by Remy Danton for the express purpose of discovering the chinks in Frank’s armour. However, it seems that the double agent has turned into a triple agent – it would seem that he is, in fact, loyal to the Underwoods as he refuses Remy’s money but also doesn’t offer up any of the dirt he’s discovered so far. The question is whether he has really revealed all his cards – he yielded his secrets to Frank with a shocking alacrity and I for one remain unconvinced that Seth’s reasons for joining Team Underwood are what he says they are. If Seth is indeed one of the few people who value power over money then he ought to be all the more sensitive to the fact that Tusk’s influence alone is making Frank and the President shit bricks at the moment. Frank’s isn’t the only personal life under fire – both the Vice-President and his wife have been taking measures to weaken the President’s marriage and potentially weaken his resolve. The first blows to the First Lady’s relatively insecure psyche was a few weeks ago when Claire dragged Christina back into relevance by using her constant proximity to the President as a wedge that would drive the First Lady and her husband apart. Christina’s suffered a great deal over the course of this show but naturally means nothing to Claire who promptly points out Christina’s history of sleeping with bosses to the First Lady. Things reach a head this week when the couple get into an argument on the way to the Underwoods’, an argument that continues indirectly once they arrive. It would be one thing if Claire was doing all this for a purpose but at this point it feels less like she is aiming for something or has a goal in mind and more like she is doing it for the pure, cruel pleasure of it.

It’s a shame really, because there are moments in this show where is genuinely seems like Frank and Walker get along. The two clash rather violently in the beginning of the episode with Frank resenting always being blamed whenever something goes wrong and Walker feeling powerless to influence anything in this current political climate. Even in this scene it’s abundantly clear to the audience that Frank is the one who’s really in charge – Walker is blustering around, raising his voice and generally being cranky, but it’s Frank who’s calm, controlled and not afraid to speak his mind. When both their tempers have cooled a little, they are able to have some fun together, chatting about nothing in particular and showing that despite the conflict surrounding them, they do seem to enjoy each other’s company. At least, Walker enjoys Frank’s; it’s impossible to tell if the Underwoods are even capable of genuine displays of sincerity and affection which ultimately makes the Walkers seems all the more tragic.



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