With Jackie Sharp as his pawn in the House and Zoe Barnes mashed into yesterday's cat food, Frank Underwood is ready to get down to business. We open with President Walker practicing his State of the Union address as Frank's busy sketching a bull, paying close attention to the shading of its balls. His new nemesis, Raymond Tusk, is worried that the president isn't focused on China, which is in a tense place diplomatically, thanks to Frank's conniving.
China can wait, though. Frank's shifted gears to passing a retirement bill that'll help avoid a government shutdown. He gets the Democrats on board, as well as the Republican Senate Majority Leader Hector Mendoza, but Tea Party Senator Curtis Haas decides to make things difficult (ahem) and plans to filibuster the bill (ahem).
Frank is, perhaps for the first time, being pretty generous on policy for the sake of bipartisanship, yielding to all of Haas' demands and building in a safety net that will prohibit Congress from backtracking on the bill for 10 years. Initially, Haas seems willing to bite.
The Democratic House leadership, however, is pissed — the revised bill doesn't look anything like what it sent the Senate. Jackie, as the new majority whip, has to deal with the fallout on top of betraying her longtime friend and mentor, Ted Havemeyer, to secure her new seat. To take her mind off the stress, she goes to a tattoo parlor in the middle of the night to get a little fresh ink because she's emo like that.
Just before the State of the Union, however, Mendoza's pressured to back out of the deal ahead of the Senate vote: "Curtis has me by the tea bags, Frank." (Oy.) Haas controls about a third of his party's senators, and they won't vote for Frank's revised bill.
So, Frank exploits the bizarre rules and regulations of parliamentary procedure. Frank moves all of the Democrats into the Senate chamber so that he then has a majority; the Republicans respond by leaving during the quorum call, so a vote can't take place. Frank then has the minority leader direct the sergeant at arms to arrest all of the absent senators. (This is actual procedure, fellow Americans.) When Mendoza agrees that things have gotten out of hand, he allows himself and some of his senators to be cuffed and physically carried back into the chambers for a vote. Frank gets his bill passed, but now it must go back to the House.
That hacker, HEROnymous Bot (sigh), makes his presence known in true Hackers-style but without any of Angelina Jolie's pout, flashing porn across Lucas' computer screen before chatting with him: "I can get you what you want, darling." (What, no 1337-speak?)
Later that night, Lucas goes to Waffle Nation — one of John Kerry's favorite haunts — for a paint-by-numbers secret rendezvous with HEROnymous. Except HEROnymous wouldn't want to draw any attention to himself, so he sends a courier with an iPad loaded with some kind of iChat version of Second Life. He tells Lucas to prove his seriousness by providing him with access codes to the Herald's servers, which he does.
Lucas also pays a visit to Janine, who's happily teaching undergrads in Ithaca and not being thrown in front of trains. But, she doesn't want anything to do with him — and that's probably a good thing, because it seems like Doug and his contacts in the FBI are on to whatever Lucas has planned.
Lucas shows up at HEROnymous Bot's improbably luxe bachelor pad, and it turns out that he's none other than Liam McPoyle from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which does exactly the opposite of suspending my disbelief. (I just can't look at that guy without thinking of warm milk and inbreeding.) With his shirt casually unbuttoned, he offers Lucas some red wine in a stemless glass, and I'm almost certain that they're going to bang. At least HEROnymous has an awesome hacker guinea pig named Cashew, who is probably the best new character this season.
Elsewhere, clinically depressed ex-hooker Rachel is trudging through her new friendless life, polling jerks at a call center. She won't stay friendless for long, though: A kind, young Christian hipster with flirty eyes meets Rachel on the bus and invites her to listen to music at her local fellowship, where everyone sings along to something that sounds a little like "Seasons of Love."
If this doesn't turn into a torrid Christian sex romp, I will be very, very disappointed.