House Of Cards Recap: Chapter 23, Cashew's Revenge

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ep231Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Instead of spending my weekend interacting with actual humans, I'm watching the entire second season of Netflix's original political melodrama House of Cards and posting one recap per day. Catch the recap for chapter 22 here.

Did you know that not one but three separate guinea pigs play the role of rodent hacker Cashew? Guinea-pig actors get cranky between takes, apparently.

This episode opens on Gavin Orsay, AKA HEROnymous, and one of the many Cashews. They've decided to spend a night in, nesting and pensively staring out the window as something that sounds like a mashup of Crass and Skinny Puppy pounds in the background. (Please chime in if you know what that is; Shazam was useless.) Gavin's computer starts beeping, alerting him that Doug Stamper is on the move. How did he even know about Doug, you ask? Personally, I choose to believe that this is Cashew's contribution to the war for free information, and the logistics don't much matter.

Meanwhile, it's just another awkward night at Rachel's as she reads Bible passages and Doug looks like he wants to do a Sylvia Plath in her oven. (Incidentally, did you know that Sylvia Plath loved to bake?) He tells her that he only likes to hear the sound of her voice, but his expression says "I ran out of refills on my lithium prescription." Rachel confesses that Lisa is now living with her, and Doug storms out in a huff.

Back in D.C., an ex-Marine sneaks up to the Underwood residence with a duffle bag full of explosives. Loyal Meechum, however, comes to the rescue. The would-be bomber is the same man who sent white powder to Jackie Sharp's office, but now he's targeted Claire because his wife had an abortion, and the wife of the vice president is clearly responsible. Meechum offers to stay on to protect her while they continue to investigate.

Elsewhere, Jackie and Remy are cuddling in bed, and things get creepy quickly. He tells her to explain her goth poppy tattoo as he does the two-fingered tango beneath the sheets. She likes the pain, she says, because it helps to null the horrible emptiness she feels after bombing many, many innocent people to death. Even after all the dog-killing, hog-killing, and teachers' union-busting, watching Jackie reluctantly get off while discussing mass murder is definitely the most depraved moment in the history of House of Cards.

Frank, meanwhile, is needed at the White House. An international crisis is brewing as the Chinese have deployed destroyers near Yonaguni Island, the westernmost point of Japan's territory, near Taiwan. The Japanese government wants the U.S. to intervene, but it all feels like a lot of narrative smoke unrelated to the trade summit and Frank's back-channeling.

There are more pressing matters anyway. Still steaming from the Adam Galloway scandal, Frank decides that he wants to leak the story about Tusk's laundered campaign contributions to Ayla Sayyad. He sends her a cryptic note in Chinese, along with a key card for Daniel Lanigan's casino. Ayla, intrepid reporter that she is, cold-calls bus-rental services until she finds the one that trucks in the Chinese bigwigs there each month.

She then calls up Lanigan and discloses what she knows, but her paper, The Wall Street Telegraph, is reluctant to publish her article — at least at first. When Ayla's story does break, it's in the middle of a presidential press conference on the China situation. Reporters start laying into Walker about Tusk and Feng, and he bumbles even more than usual. (Frank might be evil, but at least he's effective. Walker plain sucks.) Frank knows now that his plan could quickly backfire. "Everyone is fair game now," he says, "including me."
ep232Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Considering that she was almost blasted into oblivion, Claire's no one's favorite right now. "Half the country thinks she's a baby-killer or an adulterer or both," Frank tells Walker. "But, she's taking it in stride." The only thing she's got going for her at this point is her sexual assault bill, which is quickly on its way to a floor vote. Jackie, however, refuses to cosponsor it, claiming that civilian oversight is one step too far.

With Seth's help, Frank finds out that Jackie's been burying the bone with Remy, so he heads to her office to whip the Whip. When she still refuses to cosponsor, and Frank tells her to ask him about the campaign money and his allegiance to Tusk. "I'm a bitch to a lot of top dogs; I'm fully aware and willing," Remy later tells her. "But, you're worse. You're Frank's bitch and refuse to believe it." Jackie accuses him of schtupping her for information on Frank, and he's insulted at the notion.

Back at the Underwoods', something's brewing with Meechum. He walks in on Frank watching porn — yes, just watching and asks if he can become a part of Claire's security detail full-time. Later, Frank invites Meechum to sit with him out on his patio, and it quickly turns homoerotic as all get-out. "I didn't realize how much I got used to your company until you were gone," Frank says. "Protecting her is the same as protecting you," says Meechum, who then takes the most awkward sip of beer in the history of television. (I say that as an endorsement of Nathan Darrow's acting chops.) Claire comes out to join the party, and the tension is thick enough to smear on toast. Sexy toast.

Things are tense between Doug and Rachel, too, but it's even creepier than walking in on your boss watching a three-way. He drives to Rachel's and tells her that Lisa can stay, but he asks her to read A Tale of Two Cities on her cell phone in his car, because his mom used to read it to him as a child. Moments later, as Rachel walks back inside, her phone rings. It's Gavin and Cashew, who have been tracking Doug's whereabouts. How they got Rachel's number isn't explained, but it doesn't have to be.

Hack the planet!