R29 Binge Club: House Of Cards Season 4 Recaps

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Now, where were we? Ah, yes. House of Cards’ third season ended with Stamper killing Rachel, Claire walking out on Frank during the primaries, and Remy and Jackie finally realizing that the world is a better place when they’re getting it on.
It can’t be a coincidence that today’s season 4 debut comes right during the primaries — the same week as Super Tuesday, in fact. Will Trump’s alarming rise make President Underwood’s power plays, dirty-dealing, and murderous acts seem underwhelming? Will Hillary Clinton’s run inspire more girls-run-the-world storylines? Should we all just be grateful that Doug Stamper doesn’t work for the GOP?

Settle in. Let’s find out.

Season 4, Episode 1: Chapter 40

“Goddamn, you’re good with words.” Season 4 begins with now-imprisoned journalist Lucas Goodwin lulling his cellmate to orgasm with some kinky sex chat. His new role as an inmate masturbation whisperer doesn’t come from the goodness of his heart; it’s a ploy to eke out a confession from his cellmate. The resulting intel — said cellmate is taking a murder rap for an Armenian crime lord — is enough to earn Goodwin a ticket out of jail and entrance into the Witness Security Program, a.k.a. WITSEC.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Claire Underwood is back at the ranch. That’d be the ghostly Texas ranch occupied (barely) by her mother (Ellen Burstyn), the kind of woman who shuts herself in her room, kills lizards with abandon, and keeps sheets over the furniture so the maid doesn’t have to waste her time cleaning it. Now we know where Claire gets her frostiness.

Claire’s not simply looking for refuge while she figures out her separation from Frank, who is still on the campaign trail and fuming over her absence. She’s got political aspirations and seeks out the services of Dallas political mastermind Leann Harvey, played by Neve Campbell. The first lady shares her intention of running in her home state’s 30th congressional district, but there’s an issue. The seat is currently held by the legendary Doris Jones (Cicely Tyson), who has earmarked it for her daughter, Celia (Lisa Gay Hamilton), when she retires after this term.

Leann wastes no time in warning Claire that she’s too “lily white” for the predominantly Black district. Doug Stamper is also there to discourage the plan, creeping into Leann’s offices and prompting her to grab the gun from her desk. Alas, she doesn’t use it to shoot him in the groin.

Stamper and Frank, calling from the campaign trail, make it clear that they disapprove of Claire’s political ambitions. The chief of staff goes one further by crashing Claire and Leann’s meeting with the Jones family. He beats the ladies to the punch by announcing Frank’s intention to endorse Celia. Claire tries to turn things her way, offering support for Celia down the road, but Doris isn’t having it. She tells Claire that she’s too rich and too white. Is there an echo in here?

Seth Grayson can’t resist accepting the offer that comes his way, however. Heather Dunbar’s campaign manager, Cynthia, convinces him over a game of pool to spill some secrets. In exchange, he’ll be in line for a cushy administration job should Dunbar win the presidency. Before long, news of the Underwoods’ marital troubles make Fox News. Seth is the one fielding questions about it to the press, but the leak has his fingerprints all over it.

Frank, who has been fantasizing about beating up and then being stabbed by his wife, flies to Texas, where things are tense, with a capital T. It seems Claire hasn’t seen or spoken to her mother, Elizabeth, since her father’s funeral. When Frank arrives, Elizabeth makes it clear that she thinks he’s beneath her daughter. “I just happen to be white trash that lives in the White House,” he spits back.

At least Claire has Leann on her side. Harvey tells Frank that she doesn’t “respond to threats.” Later, he and Claire face off, but it’s Elizabeth who loses the fight. Frank tells Claire that her mother has been battling lymphoma for three years. The illness provides a handy excuse for Claire’s escape to Texas. All Claire has to do is attend the State of the Union in two weeks’ time and not get struck down by a lightning bolt when she has the nerve to stage a press conference about her mother’s health and then ask for the press to respect the woman’s privacy and dignity.

Needless to say, Elizabeth is spittin’ mad. Claire sheds some crocodile tears when she sees her mom’s wig, but Elizabeth’s not buying it. She does offer this piece of advice, though: “You’re stronger than he is, but you’ve got to put him in his place.”

Over in New Hampshire, Frank’s place is pretty low. He trails Dunbar by 10 or 11 points in the primary, while the “snot-nosed pretty-boy” Republican hopeful, New York governor Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman), claims a majority.

Frank may have more than votes to worry about. Lucas Goodwin is out of jail and living in WITSEC. Meet John Carlyle, a bus-riding cleaner at a rental car agency. Will that stop him from taking down the president? He doesn’t have a car or an internet connection, but hey, neither did John Wilkes Booth.
Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Robin Wright in House of Cards.
Season 4, Episode 2: Chapter 41

Even the POTUS can have mother-in-law issues. Elizabeth has assembled her fellow ladies who lunch to denounce Frank as a “barbarian” for making her lymphoma battle public. Even though these Dallas gals seem like the type who haven’t voted for a democrat since LBJ, they agree to Elizabeth’s plan of getting back at Frank by funding Heather Dunbar’s campaign.

Mama Hale also has big plans for Claire, namely urging her to run for office with her maiden name and to avoid wearing ivory, as it “accentuates all the wrong places.” Claire, who doesn’t have any wrong places, obviously wears her ivory dress, anyway. “Francis” sends her his mother’s 2-karat diamond earrings for Claire to wear as a peace offering.

Celia Jones is in D.C. on business. She’s pressing Jackie to help pass an appropriations bill for the breast cancer center she and her mother have been working on. To sweeten the deal, Celia suggests funding a $3 million super PAC for Jackie’s campaign.

While Claire and Frank are hammering out their separate motorcades for the State of the Union, Remy and Jackie are talking tattoo removal and whether or not Claire and Leann Harvey, an old acquaintance of Remy’s, are behind the super PAC scheme. Remy offers to suss out the situation, but Jackie stops him with this: “I want to taste you first.” Oh, those two and their oral sex. They’re so sexed up they don’t even realize someone’s photographing their trysts.

It’s SOTU time and Claire comes in with Celia by her side. Remy watches from a bar with Leann, who refuses to spill any details. She turns the tables on the retired lobbyist, making it clear that she knows he and Jackie are an item.

Frank, who is fresh off a discussion about how to handle one of President Petrov’s enemies seeking asylum in the U.S., chooses to focus on Russia for much of his SOTU address. He singles out Claire for her help with working with Petrov, which feels like a setup. Then, he turns his attention to Doris Jones, who is in the audience. He announces his plans to fund her breast cancer clinic (sorry, Jackie) and endorses Celia as her successor (sorry, Claire). That’s what we call the F.U. eff you.

When Jackie calls Remy about losing out on the super PAC, he acts distant and doesn’t mention the chat with Leann. Cold shoulder time is back.

Claire is ordered to return to the White House instead of flying back to Dallas. Frank admonishes her for “looking out for yourself, not us.” She agrees to think about things and potentially hold off on running for office. At least that’s what she tells him. She tells Leann that she definitely wants to run this cycle. Guess Frank hasn’t told her his story about Walter Ryson, the childhood friend who hid in Frank’s tree until Frank decided to take an axe to it.

Later, Frank and President Petrov discuss the fate of the Russian “traitor” now on U.S. soil. After a tense debate, Frank determines that the Russian will stay in the U.S., mostly just to piss off Petrov.

Finally, Claire heads back to the ranch with a modest proposal for her mother. She needs $1.5 million to pay Leann’s salary and get her political career up and running. Elizabeth refuses, so Claire threatens to sell the land she inherited from her father. This, it seems, is the Texan equivalent of poking the bear.

“I am the mother! I am the mother!” Elizabeth bellows while whipping her wig off.

These two must be a riot at Christmas.
Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Ellen Burstyn as Elizabeth Hale.
Season 4, Episode 3: Chapter 42

Well, it didn’t take long to find the artist formerly known as Lucas Goodwin’s whereabouts. He’s cleaning out rental cars in Ohio as part of WITSEC. We know this because someone left a newspaper in their car and the disgraced journalist seems very interested in an article about Heather Dunbar being in town.

Frank Underwood is not in town. He’s in a Black church in his hometown of Gaffney, South Carolina. Doris and Celia Jones are singing his praises, he’s clapping along to gospel music, and everyone is eating it up.

That enthusiasm will be short-lived. As Leann’s secret polling expert tells her, Americans are pissed off about rising gas prices. Cut to Frank’s motorcade passing a gas station where angry protestors are waving empty gas jugs and shooting the bird. Maybe his talks with Petrov can help the situation?

Despite Elizabeth’s attempt to abscond with them, Frank’s mother’s diamond earrings find their way to Leann. She uses a fake name to gain access to a safety deposit box. She photographs the contents with her smartphone and then slips the earrings inside.

Her next stop is the home of Frank’s hometown nemesis, Oren Chase. She hands him a case of money to print the photos she’s taken. He accepts, and then asks if she’d like some fries with that shake. What decade does he think this is?

Meanwhile, Lucas/John manages to get his shift covered. He also gets blackmailed into having sex with his male coworker in exchange for the use of a car.

Claire meets Frank in South Carolina and offers to join him at his event at Limestone College. She and Doris have a rendezvous in the ladies’ room, with the latter expressing awe at the stunt Frank pulled. Celia addresses the woman’s college and welcomes Claire to the stage.

Frank is still fretting about gas prices and still dreaming about fighting with Claire. His master plan is to scare Russia by propping up Petrov’s enemy, Igor, unfreezing his assets and transporting him to a friendly country. He then pours himself a glass of blood (another vision) and finds Claire in his bed. They reminisce about their salad days and all seems well.

And then, everyone wakes up to discover a billboard that shows Frank’s father, Calvin, shaking a hooded KKK member’s hand way back when. It’s not the sort of thing you want lying around on primary day.

Frank and Stamper are beyond pissed. They send Meechum to check the security deposit box, but can’t trace it to Leann. Stamper suspects Seth, and Dunbar tells the media it’s a “troubling” stunt while gloating inside.

The photo marks the end of the Jones’ support for Frank. Celia and Doris tell him they’re better off without him and head back to Texas.

Lucas has taken his ill-gotten car to a Dunbar campaign event. Posing as a volunteer, he manages to get access to Cynthia. She hears him out and brings him to Dunbar herself. When he expresses his theories about the president and the murders of Zoe Barnes and Peter Russo, she shuts him down. He breaks down and she scolds Cynthia in the car.

Back in Gaffney, the search for the KKK culprit continues. Oren Chase is brought in to confess to his role in the matter and makes it sound like Dunbar was the one to pay him off. Frank taps the town’s mayor, who happens to be Black, to vouch for him at the church from the day before. This time, there is no singing or clapping. Frank explains that his father took the photo as a way to get a $5,000 loan to save his peach farm from a banker who happened to be in the KKK.

It’s harder to explain the photos of Frank posing with a Confederate soldier during the Civil War reenactment he once attended. Seth, who sends the photos, points the finger at Meechum. Frank tries to confront his favorite Secret Service agent, but ends up apologizing and pouring him a drink after staring into those dreamy eyes.

Meechum has brought the safety deposit box to the Gaffney house. Frank finally opens it, sees the earrings, and puts two and two together. Claire walks in right then, prompting another furious battle. She’s quick to level with him about her approval ratings being higher than his, then gets down to brass tacks: She wants to be his running mate.

Frank does not take this well, arguing that she has no political experience and has had everything handed to her.

She gets in the final word, though: “I can be a part of your campaign, or I can end it.” Boom.
Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood.
Season 4, Episode 4: Chapter 43

As much as we love the power plays and scheming inherent in House of Cards, it’s the what-the-fuck-just-happened moments that really get fans going. As such, this episode, directed by none other than Robin Wright, pretty much dropped the mic.

We begin with Frank back in the Oval Office with Seth and Stamper. He hasn’t necessarily had a change of heart about taking Claire on as VP, but he’s taken her threat to unravel his campaign seriously. Seth is furiously shooting down the idea, citing any number of polls. Frank and Stamper decide the best route may be to undermine Claire by offering Leann a cushy campaign job. She passes.

Frank at least has Meechum on his team. The two of them stop to admire a new painting hanging on the wall, just like Ben and Leslie in Parks & Recreation. Given his recent KKK scandal, Frank wisely decides that a painting of a Rebel flag should be removed. To replace it, he takes a marker and traces Meechum’s right hand on the wall. “Draw me like one of your French girls,” Meechum coos, in our fantasy cut.

Back to business. Despite Secretary of State Durant’s objections, Frank moves to transfer his Russian refugee Igor Milkin to supporters in Estonia and unfreeze his assets. That shouldn’t piss Russia off, right? Frank signs the order, and Milkin’s plane takes off.

Dunbar has had second thoughts about Lucas Goodwin’s claims. She calls the Attorney General, a friend, and shares his story. When she learns that Dunbar met with Goodwin in person, the AG shuts her down and says she won’t touch it. Meanwhile, a still-under-suspicion Seth meets with Dunbar aide Cynthia, and she confides in him about Goodwin.

Back in Texas, Leann and Claire watch Stamper’s polling research about the First Lady, which is overwhelmingly negative. Claire accuses Frank of wanting her to doubt herself, and tasks Leann with taking a note to him in D.C.

Not surprisingly, Frank’s not happy when he reads the letter. It’s a statement from Claire announcing that she’s filing for divorce. Girl knows how to play hardball, but so does her husband. Suddenly the house in Dallas is under lockdown, cutting out cell reception. Claire is sidelined for the time being.

Frank’s off to speak at Hammond University in D.C. The students inside are lapping it up, but outside protestors are screaming their heads off. Frank makes a point of greeting the angry demonstrators anyway, which seems like a bad idea. It is: Shots are fired.

Though it takes the media awhile to figure it out, we see right away that Lucas Goodwin is the shooter. He’s shot dead by Meechum, who is killed in the process. Frank takes a shot to the abdomen, shattering his liver. Another bullet grazes his torso.

Claire is of course stunned when she’s informed of the shooting. If she’s looking for sympathy, she’s not going to get it from Mama Hale. “I hope he dies,” her mother says.

Frank’s shooting means that VP Donald Blythe, lame duck extraordinaire, is now in charge. He becomes the acting president, and Claire rushes to D.C. She stops by the hospital, where Frank is in surgery. Three quarters of his liver has to be removed, but the good news is that it can regenerate.

Dunbar, meanwhile, is stunned to hear Wolf Blitzer report that Goodwin was the gunman.

All this time, Milkin is still on a plane bound for Talinn. Secretary of State Durant, never a fan of Frank’s Russia plan, pushes Blythe to call off the operation while he still can. Stamper demands that everything proceed as Frank intended. Blythe snaps and says he needs more time.

Stamper seeks out Claire at the hospital. They have a tense encounter, but she agrees to go to the White House to help persuade Blythe. Milkin’s plane is circling over the North Sea, and a decision must be made before it runs out of fuel.

Claire doesn’t follow Stamper’s advice. Instead, she tells Blythe to make his own plan. He comes back and announces to the room that he wants Milkin’s plane to land in China, which will pit the Chinese and Russians against each other. He also demands that they turn over the Russian’s assets.
Stamper is fuming with this development, but Claire is unapologetic. She’s back in First Lady mode, only this time it’s with Blythe by her side.

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Robin Wright and Neve Campbell.

Season 4, Episode 5: Chapter 44

Things aren’t looking too hot for Frank. He’s still unconscious, his liver isn’t regenerating like his doctors hoped, and he’s picturing Confederate soldiers shooting at him. His doctor tells Stamper and Blythe that he’ll need a liver transplant OR ELSE.

Stamper is also busy demanding answers from his evil agent pal about how Lucas Goodwin got into WITSEC without his knowledge. Goodwin also left behind a suicide note outlining his claims about Zoe Barnes and Frank’s other underhanded dealings. The note will of course hit the media, so Stamper is forced to figure out how to play it.

Claire certainly knows how to play Blythe. The two bond over late-night salads in the residence. He expresses his concerns over his upcoming call with President Petrov, so she suggests that she secretly listen in on the conversation so she can type him notes. Imagine Cyrano de Bergerac with a better wardrobe.

The conversation with Petrov, overseen by Durant and Stamper, gets off to a rocky start when the Russian president uses Blythe’s own visualization exercise technique on him. Petrov thinks Blythe is in over his head and sees no point in negotiating with anyone but Frank. At Claire’s urging, Blythe reveals Frank’s need for a transplant. Petrov is stunned, and agrees to Blythe’s offer to send over a proposal.

Durant and Stamper are predictably angry about the transplant reveal, and Claire does a good job of feigning annoyance that word got out. She’ll tell the press herself. Stamper shows her Goodwin’s note, and she agrees to get him access to Frank’s hospital room. There, doctors explain that Frank’s brain is swimming in ammonia, hence his many hallucinations.

The Goodwin situation continues to unravel. His old editor at the Herald, Tom Hammerschmidt, is asked to hand over his notes on a past interview with Frank. Team Dunbar wants to resume campaigning despite Frank’s precarious health, but Dunbar is worried that she’ll be linked to Goodwin. The Attorney General is being forced to resign in response to the shooting, and Seth is out of a job because Stamper caught him sending that Confederate soldier photo. “I know things,” Seth threatens, not realizing that Stamper is a psycho killer, not merely an asshole boss.

Down in Florida, Remy is visiting his Haitian parents (yes, he speaks French, swoon) and trying to get gas even though it’s $6.34 a gallon and the stations are packed. He fields a booty text from Jackie, but the mystery brunette who pulls up to his folks’ house isn’t her; it’s Leann. She blackmails him with photos of him and Jackie. If he doesn’t go to Claire and do her bidding, the photos will be leaked and Jackie will surely lose her election. What’s a guy to do?

So Remy meets up with Claire. Even though he’s out of the business, she wants him to act as a liaison with Raymond Tusk, last seen getting a pardon in a scandal that forced President Walker out of office. Remy is not enthused.

Secretary of State is also having issues. She’s venting to Stamper about Blythe’s involvement of China in the Milkin situation, but is interrupted by Seth. He wants to save his job by stopping Dunbar in her tracks. Using his intel from Cynthia, Seth has Stamper call in the Attorney General for questioning. If she tells them about Dunbar’s meeting with Goodwin, she won’t have to resign. If she doesn’t, they’ll prosecute her. Sorry, Heather.

Claire holds her press conference announcing Frank’s need for a liver transplant, going so far as to choke up and ask for prayers. For her final trick, she shares Goodwin’s note and brands him “troubled” and “mentally ill.” She asks the media not to sensationalize the note’s contents out of respect for the dead. Also, y’know, because it makes her husband out to be a murderer.

Evil agent Nathan Green then tells the press that Dunbar and Goodwin met in person. Hammerschmidt gets a visit from Kate Baldwin (Kim Dickens), who is skeptical about the official story about Goodwin’s mental collapse. They both shrug it off, but when Hammerschmidt receives his notes back from the agents, it’s clear that something is nagging at him.

Remy tracks down Raymond Tusk on a bird-watching expedition. Tusk passes on the offer to be Remy’s new client, but his hands are tied when Remy threatens jail over his past perjury. Tusk’s relationship with China will help ease the oil crisis, thus making Claire look like a miracle worker.

Stamper is at home researching living donations (aww) when Seth stops by. The press secretary gets to keep his job, but he’s lucky to still be breathing. Something inside Stamper snaps, and he nearly suffocates Seth with a water glass. “You’re fucked up, man,” Seth yells when he is finally freed. Oh, Seth. You have no idea.

Stamper’s people skills haven’t improved by the next day. He and Blythe argue about whether or not Frank will survive, then he loses his shit when he discovers Tusk and Remy’s meeting with Blythe. Claire tells him off at the hospital, at which point Frank has an arrhythmia. Stamper decides to stay with his boss, then tells the doctor that he wants to donate his liver. The doctor shuts him down. Frank needs a full liver, not a partial one. They’ll just have to wait.

Claire returns to the White House to hear Remy and Tusk lay out their plan for Russia, proposing a partnership between Chinese and American energy companies. Back at the hospital, Frank and his ammonia-soaked brain are experiencing more violent hallucinations, and he starts to seize.

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper.

Season 4, Episode 6: Chapter 45

Frank hallucinations are back in full force, because what are they going to do? Have Kevin Spacey lie in bed doing nothing for a full episode? This time he’s seeing a woman’s leg stepping out of a limo.

Blythe, Tusk, Remy, Durant, and the whole crew have a meeting to discuss their Russia/China plan. China and the IMF will split the majority of the costs for Russia’s bailout, with the U.S. chipping in drilling rights. Blythe intends to go to the G7 Summit in Germany himself, and everyone is acting like Frank is all but a goner.

Not if Stamper has his way. He bullies the Secretary of Health and Human Services to push the president up the liver transplant list. She can let the guy ahead of him — Anthony Moretti — die, or she can resign.

Leann gets a hot tip from her polling guy. According to him, Conway, the Republican nominee, is using the Pollyhop search engine for his own purposes, giving him access to voter data. Guess he’s not so perfect after all.

Secretary of State Durant has had it with her former beer pong pal Claire. She wants the First Lady to butt out. Jackie is also against the Russia/China plan, and she’s not happy that Remy is working with Claire on it. The not-quite-a-couple meet up in California. A night of potential skinny-dipping is ruined when Jackie learns that Remy’s been protecting her from those scandalous photos. She freaks out and tells him to take her home. She does not deserve that man.

Frank’s hallucinations have taken an interesting turn. We assume the woman he’s following is Claire, but it’s actually Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), sporting a white dress and a pixie cut. She lures him into the Oval Office and climbs onto his lap, but the nooky takes a turn when she begins pushing his eyes in. There’s a tap on the desk, and Frank looks up to see his other murder victim, Peter Russo (Corey Stoll), doing his knuckle trick. Now Peter and Zoe are kissing. Then they pin Frank up against the wall and rub their heads into his. Next, he finds himself sitting in the Oval Office opposite Claire. Real-world Frank is seizing.

Back to reality. Leann tells Claire about Conway and Pollyhop, but all she can think about is crashing the G7 Summit. After bumping into Jackie and warning her that she’s got nothing to worry about so long as they work on the same side, Claire convinces Blythe to green-light her trip to Germany. Durant knows this will undermine her own authority, but Blythe just can’t say no to Claire.

Team Dunbar is drafting a game plan for responding to questions about Dunbar’s meeting with Goodwin. Cynthia tells her to lie, but Dunbar can’t stomach the thought of breaking the law like Frank would. In the end, she splits the difference. She first denies the Attorney General’s claims that a meeting took place, then ’fesses up. She admits the truth, but accuses Frank, who is in the hospital, of using the investigation to take down his political opponents. The interview is videotaped, and it doesn’t play well. The press is having a field day, and Seth hangs up on his old pal Cynthia.
Everyone’s on the plane headed to the G7 when they learn that a liver has become available (viewers even get to see its owner, a teen boy named Danny, shoot his brains out). Claire declines to turn the plane around (“Honestly, Claire,” snaps Durant) but does give Seth a statement saying she can best help Frank by being in Germany for the G7.

In Germany, talks between China and Russia get under way. In D.C., Frank’s transplant is completed and Blythe and Stamper are by his side.

Petrov asks to meet with Claire privately and wastes no time in scooting Cathy Durant out of the room. He’s bitter and slimy, complimenting her on her lips one second, demanding an apology the next, and then grilling her about Frank. She tries to stay on task.

Frank is finally conscious and tells Stamper he wants to leave the hospital. Where’s Claire?

At the moment, she’s dealing with a stubborn Petrov. Tusk says the Chinese may back out of their deal if Petrov keeps refusing to give up access to Russian regions. Not even notification that Frank is out of surgery and eager to speak to her can sway her. She gets tough with Petrov and tells him the deal is his way of getting his dignity back. The argument works: Petrov offers joint control of two zones, and the bailout deal is reached.

Jackie hears about it on the news and immediately sends Remy a sarcastic “congratulations” text, then ignores his calls.

Stamper gets a call from the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The patient Frank leap-frogged on the transplant list was a loving father who just died. As if Stamper would care.

Claire heads home, not bothering to stop at the hospital first. It’s just as well, as the medical team is setting up a hospital bed in the residence. After a power nap on the couch, she wakes up to find her husband home. They take a strained walk down the hall, discussing Meechum and what’s happened since the shooting. He wants Claire to stay by his side, “not just as First Lady.”

And there the two are, Claire in her white dress, Frank looking a little weak, being welcomed back into the White House to reclaim the presidency.

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Derek Cecil as Seth Grayson.
Season 4, Episode 7: Chapter 46

We begin with a major development: Heather Dunbar has withdrawn from the race after the fallout from her interview about Lucas Goodwin. This allows us to get to know Frank Underwood’s new main competitor, Republican Will Conway, a bit better. Conway (played by the dreamy Joel Kinnaman) celebrates Dunbar’s exit by shagging his beautiful British wife against the bathroom sink. They’re interrupted by one of their precious moppets and spend the rest of the morning making adorable home videos.

Claire and Frank, not so much. She eyeballs Frank taking his many pills. He addresses the tension between them while cutting apple slices for his breakfast. He needs Claire to “find her steel.” Maybe he’s forgotten that it wasn’t so long ago that he was hallucinating about her stabbing him in the gut?

Now that Russia is under control, there’s a new issue Frank needs to handle. ICO (a fictional version of Isis) is occupying Syrian land and recruiting American citizens. The military, lead by General Brockhart (Colm Feore) want strikes, unaware that Frank already has a lawyer getting a surveillance order on the case.

Claire has found a new pet cause: background checks on guns. She plans to introduce a bill with a coalition of senators. Meanwhile, Frank is popping the big question to Blythe during a photo op at Meechum’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery. He asks Blythe to run as his vice president, but Blythe says his heart’s not in it. Frank pretends to be disappointed. Later, in a meeting with Bob Birch and the Democratic leadership, he fails to mention Blythe’s refusal. They’re not into Blythe at all and offer to send other VP ideas over.

Conway’s preaching small government, less taxes, and more freedom at a campaign rally in his home state of New York. He accuses the White House of ignoring the threat of ICO’s Muslim extremists and touts his own military background, having enlisted the day after 9/11. Only, one thing goes wrong: An unidentified reporter asks him about the Pollyhop search engine and the clip goes viral.

Leann, of course, is ready to pounce. She’s pushing Frank and Stamper to allow her polling guy, Aidan MacAllan, to conduct their domestic data surveillance. As Frank explains in a duel metaphor, that data would allow him to “rig this election” by allowing him to “tap into every single home in America.” It’s risky, so he’d rather focus on exposing Conway’s connection to Pollyhop first.

Nonetheless, MacAllan is dropped off at a strange, deserted warehouse at night to meet with Leann and a very reluctant Stamper. MacAllan himself is resistant, given the scope of the project, but eventually comes on board.

Pollyhop is all anyone can talk about at a Conway fundraiser. The governor calls Frank and accuses him of planting the reporter at his rally. He warns the president against getting the Department of Justice to intervene. His threat to tell everyone Frank is corrupt doesn’t even raise Frank’s blood pressure. FYI, it’s 110 over 80.

Frank then finds Claire in her office, prepping for the next day’s meetings on gun control. His advice to be “tougher and stronger” comes through, and results in her telling an NRA representative that she’ll die in hospice care feeling ashamed about supporting gun rights. Harsh.

Conway is now trying to get General Brockhart on his team, once again milking that military connection. Brockhart tries to give Frank his resignation, but Frank won’t accept it. Brockhart protests that ICO is a serious threat and Frank needs to do more about it. Frank responds by accusing the general of leaking information to Conway. Brockhart denies it, but Frank knows enough liars to spot one. Still, he keeps the general on board by allowing him to move in on ICO.

Now, it’s Leann who’s not happy. She would rather push the court order and surveillance plan than have a military strike. Frank orders the strike anyway.

Claire and Frank rehearse yet another meeting. This time, they’re playing “bad cop and worse cop” against the Democratic leadership in a discussion over running mates. All of the leadership’s suggestions are supportive of gun rights, which conflicts with Claire’s bill. They manage to finagle a deal in which Frank accepts a gun supporter on his ticket in exchange for the leadership supporting Claire’s bill. He ups the ante by insisting upon nominating a new Supreme Court justice who is against guns. A new justice in an election year?! Everyone looks shocked. Don’t sweat it, Obama.

That nagging feeling about Lucas Goodwin’s death has prompted Tom Hammerschmidt to seek out his former colleague, Janine (Constance Zimmer). Once an ambitious and acerbic journalist, she’s now a weepy, Xanax-popping college student thanks to the Underwood trauma. She confirms that Lucas’ claims were all true, but can’t help with the investigation as she signed an affidavit.

Now that he’s got his strike orders, General Brockhart isn’t inclined to help Conway. The social media-savvy candidate decides to come clean about his relationship with Pollyhop by posting a live webcast featuring his wife and their two cute kids from his Albany house. He and Benjamin Grant, the founder of Pollyhop, admit that they are working together, but deny that they are tracking individual activity. In exchange, he offers up access to his emails, texts, videos, and photos (he’s got to have another phone, right?). It’s a big hit for both him and Pollyhop.

Team Underwood isn’t sure how to respond. Ultimately, Claire encourages Frank to pursue the data surveillance. Conway may have the adorable kids, but the Underwoods are “willing to go one step farther.” That’s putting it mildly.

Thus, Frank cancels the military strike order, much to Brockhart and Stamper’s dismay. He and Claire retire to their separate beds, where they chat on the phone and watch an old Conway video dating back to December 31, 2012.

Walker is president-elect, Frank and Conway meet for the first time and are mutually charmed, and he and Claire seem genuinely happy. Frank hangs up and walks into Claire’s bedroom.

“We’re going to destroy them.”

“Yes, we are.”

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Dominique McElligott and Joel Kinnaman as Hannah and Will Conway.

Season 4, Episode 8: Chapter 47

The Conways have invited novelist Tom Yates (Paul Sparks) to their Albany home, and just not because Hannah Conway is a big reader. They know his new book takes inspiration from the Underwoods and that it’s not terribly flattering. Wouldn’t it be great if he could publish the book before the election? In exchange, he’d get a Vanity Fair feature and support from Pollyhop. He says he’ll think about it.

Frank may have found another running mate, though we’re not buying it. Ohio senator Dean Austen is yet another “underwhelming, middle-aged white guy” — and he’s an NRA supporter, to boot. Austen says yes, but makes it clear that he won’t offer support for Claire’s gun bill.

Kate Baldwin is back to interview Claire. Even though Austen and the Democratic leadership have agreed to keep their meetings secret, Frank manages to leave the door open and Claire manages to swing right by the meeting room so that Kate gets a good look inside.

While the Conways are posing like supermodels for Vanity Fair and pitching Tom Yates as a potential story, Aidan MacAllan is meeting with the NSA and unleashing his crazy surveillance techniques. Through this, he can track down gun owners and their habits, allowing him to ID people who might want to get guns, but aren’t registered. It’s a pretty big deal and everyone’s excited to find reams of callers they can target. But nobody is as excited as Aidan when he’s bizarrely dancing shirtless in his office. We don’t want that GIF. We need that GIF.

Tom Yates meets up with Stamper to hand off an excerpt, and nothing else, of his Underwood-inspired book. Claire, who has spent the day fake-crying for the purposes of her gun bill robo-call, shares a cigarette with Frank while they pore over what Yates has written. The bit about their marriage being a “30 years’ war that left them dead inside” doesn’t go down too well, but they agree that they had a bond with Tom. With Meechum gone and his hand tracing painted over, they miss that kind of connection.

Hammerschmidt ends the night with a drunken phone call from Zoe Barnes’ dad. He can’t offer anything about Frank, but his regrets about not trying harder with his daughter seem to nudge the journalist to keep pursuing the case.

The next day, news breaks that Austen is linked to the gun bill. The NRA is pissed. Claire arranges it so that Austen must support her bill if he wants to be on the ticket. She then tells Julia from the NRA that the bill can pass in the House, but not in the Senate. In exchange, the NRA can threaten to pull support from Austen. It’s all so the Underwoods can get Catherine Durant on the ticket in his place. These people love a good bait-and-switch.

Conway’s search for a running mate is much more straightforward. He offers the ticket to General Brockhart on the condition that he resigns.

Vanity Fair hires Kate to write their profile on her former lover, Tom Yates. He’s got his own plans. He meets with Claire, who offers him access under the guise of him writing speeches for the campaign. He needs an ending for his book, and reading the one he currently has, he agrees. The Conways are disappointed, but not for long. Brockhart is in.

Frank holds a press conference at the scene of his shooting. After paying tribute to Meechum, he introduces Dean Austen, who offers support for his bill, fulfilling his end of the deal. Julia from the NRA fulfils her deal by storming into Austen’s office and threatening to yank his funding and his wife’s legal clients. He has no choice but to turn down the ticket and Frank feigns annoyance.

Austen’s departure allows Frank to push Durant to the leadership. They buy it, but there’s a catch. Frank wants the party to choose her at the convention as opposed to straight-out tapping her himself.

The Underwoods have gained Tom Yates, but have lost Brockhart, who is now posing for Vanity Fair. Stamper blames Leann and asks Seth to get some dirt on her. Seth remembers gasping for air on Stamper’s carpet and agrees.

Little do they know that the real threat might be Hammerschmidt. A tour of Zoe’s old block turns up a homeless woman who calls the late reporter a “whore.” His big break comes when a local pizza shop owner casually mentions seeing Meechum, whose death coverage is on the news, several times in the shop. Hammerschmidt drops his slice and races home. By episode’s end, he’s set up his own Carrie Mathison wall o’ research and is digging into Meechum’s travel records. Dun dun dun.

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Kim Dickens as Kate Baldwin.

Season 4, Episode 9: Chapter 48

The Democratic National Convention has kicked off in Atlanta — and the energy is palpable. The vice presidential nominations are turning it into a very festive affair. Before long, even Claire has a single vote for VP, courtesy of Kentucky senator Scott Sheer (yes, he’s a stooge for Frank).

Claire acts flattered, but reiterates her support for Durant and announces that her gun bill has passed in the House.

Meanwhile, Tom is getting flak from his fellow speechwriters (probably because he calls them mediocre) and Frank is introducing the mother of Danny, the teen boy whose suicide paved the way for his liver transplant, to the people her son’s organs helped. Either Stamper has something in his eye, or he’s feeling a twinge of guilt about bumping poor Mr. Moretti off the list.

The DNC coverage is beating Ellen’s ratings and Conway is angry. He wants to steal Frank’s thunder, so Hannah tells him to go where the thunder is. That'd be Atlanta, FYI.

A Politico journalist is interviewing Donald Blythe. He goes on the record as supporting Durant as VP, but lets it slip that she was fairly useless at the G7. It was Claire who did the real heavy lifting, he says.

That same reporter wastes no time in cornering Durant, who’s been rounding up delegates with Frank, and asking her to address rumors that Claire did all the work with Petrov. She responds that it was a “team effort,” but the inference leaves her shaken.

It wasn’t just something in his eye. Stamper takes time to look up Mr. Moretti’s memorial website. He seems to have a thing for Moretti’s pretty widow, which means she should run for her life, NOW.

The DNC throws out another surprise. Texas casts all of its 237 votes to its “native daughter,” Claire. She can thank Celia Jones, who helped secure the votes in exchange for getting access to donors from Leann.

Tom’s quick to call out Frank on obviously wanting Claire to get the VP nod, and offers his speechwriting services. For her part, Claire is continuing the “aw shucks” routine while Durant quizzes her about the G7 rumors.

Despite assuring Durant that she has her full support, Claire meets with another VP contender, Senator Baker. He hates Durant, so it’s not a terribly hard sell for Claire to persuade him to give her his votes in exchange for taking over as secretary of state next term.

That’ll be tricky, as Frank has just promised Durant that she’ll keep her job if the DNC swings Claire’s way. She’s even gracious about it.

Conway and Brockhart have now arrived in Atlanta. They want to talk about ICO and accuse Frank of insulting the general. They won’t leave until he apologizes.

Urged by Claire, Frank calls his opponent’s bluff and agrees to apologize. He speaks to the media and invites Conway in for a private conversation. The two get in some potshots, Frank nearly chokes on a turkey sandwich while laughing over a joke, and they bond over a video game. Then Conway excuses himself to take a phone call. Frank can’t eavesdrop and Leann won’t tap the call, but all becomes clear when the two candidates begin watching the ballot count.

Claire is continuing to pick up steam, thanks to the G7 leak. She’s now in third place and delegates have somehow procured “We Love Claire” placards. Then, it’s Louisiana’s turn and all hell breaks loose. Catherine Durant’s home state wants to nominate her for president, not just vice president. Frank now has some competition and it dawns on him that it was Durant who was on the phone with Conway.

Meanwhile, Seth warns Leann about Stamper’s dislike of her. Either she needs to give him something to share with Stamper or he’ll get fired.

With Durant refusing to meet with Frank and his position as the Democrat nominee on shaky ground, Frank decides it’s best for Claire to head to Texas with Tom on the pretense of helping her mother. En route, they rehearse her acceptance speech. Will she, or Frank, even need one?

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Kevin Spacey and Joel Kinnaman.

Season 4, Episode 10: Chapter 49

It’s another episode directed by Robin Wright. She taps two familiar faces to talk us through this convention-voting process: CNN’s John King and Wolf Blitzer. The newsmen explain that Dunbar is still technically on the ballot, which means Frank doesn’t actually have enough delegates at the moment to claim the nomination. Time to pull out the FU cufflinks.

Claire and Tom arrive in Dallas to find Elizabeth weak. She’s in hospice care and has moved to a ground-floor bedroom to be more comfortable. She’s charmed by Tom, who reads her fortune while wearing a turban, but remains brittle with her daughter.

Frank’s down, but he’s not out. He presses the head of the convention to postpone all voting, so that he can meet with the National Security Council in D.C. to discuss the latest ICO threat. How convenient. Durant is on the plane with him and the two finally have it out. She accuses him of stabbing her in the back. Either she gets Claire’s votes or she’ll be coming for the presidential nomination. Jackie, it seems, has been warning the California delegates about Frank, and that could swing things her way.

Leann confronts Stamper about getting Seth to search her past. He reacts by slamming a bathroom door over and over.

Frank continues to work on Durant, but she’s resisting. The conventioneers are itching to vote. Over the phone, Claire suggests that maybe she’s not ready to run. Frank reassures her.

In the meantime, Claire is confronted with her mother’s fading health. The nurse says Elizabeth has possibly two weeks, or even days, left. Steps can be taken to make her more comfortable. Elizabeth makes it clear that’s what she wants and that it will help Claire win. Claire invites Tom into the room and they both hold Elizabeth’s hand as Claire feeds her morphine from a dropper. Afterwards, Tom tries to console Claire, which leads to her taking him upstairs and into her bed.

As Durant becomes more defiant with Frank, Hammerschmidt has had a breakthrough in his research. He sneaks Heather Dunbar in to assess his research. She urges him to write the story and identifies Remy Danton as Frank’s weak link. Uh-oh.

Seth finds Stamper in his hotel room, staring at the open mini-bar. He explains why he told Leann and it seems like he’s about to get murdered when Stamper finally snaps out of it. Instead of drinking or choking someone to death, he decides to make a $5,000 donation to the Moretti family. He then drafts an email to Frank, but we don’t see the contents.

Durant visits the Oval Office and is confronted by a news story in which Petrov admits she had little to do with the Russian deal at the G7. She reacts by threatening to endorse Dunbar. Something in Frank snaps and he begins telling her about his hallucinations about Peter and Zoe. “It’s all true. I killed them, but nobody believes it,” he crows. “That’s how good we are.” He closes in on her with a sharp letter opener in one hand, then backs off and laughs.

The threat is still there, though. Durant must hand over her delegates and stay in the Cabinet, or “I will never, ever forget it.” A terrified Durant gets the message.

Now, she’s in Atlanta. She takes the convention stage to offer her condolences to Claire. She also announces that she’ll be stepping away from the race so that she can focus on being secretary of state. She then introduces Claire, who pays tribute to “mending old wounds” with her mother and speaks openly about her marital struggles as a seemingly smitten Tom watches. The crowd loves it and instantly nominate Claire and Frank to the ticket. Underwood and Underwood ’16 is a go.

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Robin Wright.
Season 4, Episode 11: Chapter 50

Now that they’ve secured their joint nominations, the Underwoods are busy hitting the campaign trail, though they're still behind Conway by 12 to 14 points. Frank’s health is a complication and doctors warn him that too much air travel could cause a sudden organ rejection. Claire offers to take on the responsibility of traveling. She’s got Tom with her, which could cause a sudden organ reception.

Frank’s got more pressing issues. He needs more results in tackling ICO and a plan bringing Russia into the mix is proposed. He doesn’t really bother asking for Durant’s opinion. Plus, she’s too fearful of him to speak up.

Stamper is surprised to get a voicemail from Laura Moretti thanking him for his generous $5,000 donation. She invites him to coffee and he replays her message over and over while drooling over her photos. Run, Laura, run.

Hammerschmidt has set up a meeting with Frank’s “weak link,” Remy Danton. They meet outside a ramshackle building that used to be Freddy’s BBQ (RIP). Remy refuses to talk on the record.

Speaking of Freddy (Emmy-winner Reg E. Cathey), he happens to be right there in the White House residence. He’s moved on to the White House flower shop and Frank is delighted to see him. He’s less delighted when Freddy informs him that he’s quitting to take a new job in a Georgetown flower shop. Frank says he should come over to cook ribs before he goes — and Freddy snaps. “I’m just the help, ain’t I,” he snarls, pointing out that cooking ribs is not his idea of a send-off. “I don’t know how Claire does it,” he mutters on the way out, prompting Frank to call him ungrateful and insist upon being called Mr. President. Cue epic meltdown.

“You a mothafucka,” Freddy responds on his way out the door. “My bad, my bad. You a mothafucka, Mr. President.”

Freddy follows that up with beating up Hammerschmidt, telling him to leave him alone, and smashing a recorder when a reporter tries to get him on the record about Frank. Watch out, world.

Meanwhile, Claire and Tom’s initial post-sex awkwardness has melted into more sexy time. Unfortunately, it goes back to being a bit awkward and he decides he should leave the campaign.

All is not well in the Republican camp. Conway and Brockhart disagree about Frank’s plan to handle ICO. The general wants it taken care of, but Conway is happy to see ICO flourish until the election to improve his chances of winning. He tells his disgruntled running mate to make sure Frank’s plan to bring in Russia doesn’t get any Republican support.

Conway and Claire both have big speeches in South Dakota. His is a huge rally at Mount Rushmore. Hers is with a lone couple who are getting produce thrown at their house for supporting the Underwoods. Claire busts out a speech about love and partnership that Tom wrote. It goes over well.

Frank’s wise to Conway’s involvement in getting his fellow Republicans to hold back on his Russia plans. He threatens to send in American ground troops, instead, but Conway thinks he’s bluffing.

A bruised Hammerschmidt gets another shot at Remy in a local bar. Remy has a creative solution for not overtly spilling his guts. He grabs the reporter’s half-empty glass of beer and they play the “Never Have I Ever” drinking game. Remy’s taking a lot of sips and Hammerschmidt’s linked Frank to perjury and an impeachment conspiracy before he needs to order another beer.

The intel gives Hammerschmidt the boost to approach the Washington Herald for help with staffing. He swears his team to secrecy, but may be in over his head. He knows Frank’s a crook, but doesn’t think he’s a killer. If a reporter is found floating in the Potomac, will anyone be surprised?

Claire tells Frank about Tom leaving and he puts two and two together. He and Tom meet and the writer opens up about his feelings for Claire. Better yet, he won’t betray her by writing about her in a book.

Afterwards, Frank takes a moment to play with his toy soldiers. The next day, he’s signing an executive order to send actual soldiers to fight ICO.

Claire’s speech about love and partnership has emerged as a turning point for the campaign. Aidan reveals the speech’s success (he calls it “beyond”) in a secret meeting with Stamper and Frank, who are dubious about his surveillance. As Aidan puts it, Frank and Claire are “everything everyone wants to become.”

Stamper finally meets the Widow Moretti for coffee. She’s clearly still distraught by her husband’s death (which he helped along) and Stamper's flowers were probably a bad idea, but somehow, they seem to hit it off.

In the spirit of going “beyond marriage,” Frank invites Claire to keep romancing Tom. To prove how comfortable he is, he doesn’t bat an eyelid when Tom comes into the kitchen the next morning after sleeping over. Then again, this crew always did like their threesomes.

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Kevin Spacey.
Season 4, Episode 12: Chapter 51

Frank’s ground operation has panned out; U.S. troops have captured ICO leader Yusuf al Ahmadi. Yet, Conway is still hitting him hard on his military expertise during a PBS debate featuring both the presidential and vice presidential candidates. This gives Frank the opportunity to reveal how Brockhart and Conway intervened in his initial plan to bring in Russian troops, which they deny, the little liars. Little do they know that Stamper’s currently meeting with a congressman on the House Intelligence Committee who owes him some dirt.

Conway’s just laying into Claire over her lack of experience when a military official shows up. The debate is put on hold and Frank is informed of a breaking hostage situation. U.S. terrorists loyal to ICO have taken an American father, mother, and teen daughter hostage. What’s more, they’ll only speak to Conway.

Conway jumps on the situation by forcing Brockhart to film a video offering their prayers for the Miller family. Brockhart is uncomfortable and wants to let the government do its job to rescue the hostages. He’s also fuming that Conway forced him to lie about his interference with the Russia plan during the live debate. He storms off and we see Conway’s true colors. Though his campaign manager agrees with Brockhart that the video is a bad idea, Conway insists that the family will be killed anyway, so they might as well milk some coverage out of it.

Frank has a plan for bringing Conway into help with the hostage situation. He knows his opponent loves the spotlight, which presents an opportunity for him to fail. Conway agrees to help, once again going against his campaign manager’s wishes.

Under the pretense of writing a puff piece about a scholarship fund, Hammerschmidt scores a meeting with the artist formerly known as President Walker. He’s now a walking Old Spice ad, wearing turtleneck sweaters and collecting guitars. Hammerschmidt presses him to talk about his dealings with Tusk and Frank, which Walker gives up. At last, someone is going on the record.

Everyone is working furiously to resolve the hostage situation. The NSA reveals that it has intel on potential ICO recruits, so Stamper brings the various law enforcement agencies to work with Aidan. Conway brings his family to the residence for a very awkward sleepover. Little Charlie Conway won’t shake Frank’s hand, because he’s been told he’s a vampire. He will, however, jump up and down on the beds.

Frank is secretly pleased by Conway’s insistence in taking part in the call, certain that he’ll blow it. Together, they send a message to the terrorists via a press briefing.

Our two former lovebirds finally reunite. Jackie tells Remy that she knows Walker has spoken to Hammerschmidt — and she plans to follow suit. Oh, and she’s also told her husband about their affair and will get divorced. Will Remy go on the record with her?

While their husbands are waiting in the situation room, Hannah and Claire form a tentative bond. That’s soon broken when Hannah asks if Claire regrets not having children. Claire responds by asking if Hannah regrets having children. Ha.

Frank and Conway get the terrorists on the phone and they rip into the New York governor for killing innocent people and dropping bombs, which they say makes him worse than the president. They’re playing hardball. When proof of life is demanded, they threaten to cut out the Miller girl’s tongue. Conway distracts them by going off script and admitting to being ashamed of his role in the deaths of innocent people. It works and he’s able to buy more time. It’s congratulations all around.

Frank, of course, isn’t happy about Conway playing the hero. He and Conway bicker in the kitchen back at the residence, where Conway helps himself to a beer and then pushes Frank’s buttons by saying he’ll be forgotten. Frank responds by calling him a pretender who will be a fraud as president.

He’s got a plan, though. He enlists Claire’s help and she notifies Stamper of the details. Stamper then rushes home so Laura Moretti can make him dinner. Sigh.

Hammerschmidt plans to take advantage of Frank’s distraction by releasing his story the next day. Morning comes and the suspects have been traced to Georgia. Frank takes control in the situation room and orders his team to start the call. What’s he got up his sleeve now?

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Joel Kinnaman and Finn Douglas.
Season 4, Episode 13: Chapter 52

It’s the final episode of the season — thankfully, it doesn’t waste any time in revealing Frank’s plan. ICO terrorist Yusuf al Ahmadi is secretly transported out of Guantanamo Bay and into a government safe house in Virginia. There, Claire personally greets him and offers lunch, a shower, and some fresh clothes.

The plan, Frank announces when he gets the terrorists on the phone, is to bring Ahmadi into the conversation. They’ll have to speak to Frank, not Conway, and they’ll have to release the mother and daughter in exchange for speaking to their leader. They hang up and everyone, especially Conway, freaks out.

Then, Frank turns the tables on Conway by informing him that George Wellock, a congressman on the House Intelligence Committee, has exposed Conway’s lie about intervening in the Russia vote. It’s all over the news and Conway can only deny, deny, deny and be an asshole to his family.

While Seth is telling the press that Ahmadi is still in Guantanamo Bay, Claire is pressing the terrorist to admit he’s actually Iraqi, not Syrian, and doesn’t really care about radical Islam. He may not be religious, but he’s still not willing to help the Americans with their hostage situation.

Soon, Seth has another fire to put out: Tom Hammerschmidt has requested an interview with the president. He reads Hammerschmidt’s long list of charges against Frank and nearly faints. He and Stamper inform Frank about the story and he predictably loses his shit. He agrees to meet with the reporter, however. When Hammerschmidt arrives, he merely downplays the allegations.

News that the Miller mother and daughter have been found alive in the woods interrupts the meeting, but Frank tells Hammerschmidt not to go anywhere. Conway, meanwhile, is annoyed that he won’t get any credit for helping rescue the hostages. His wife looks like she might throttle him.

At last, Yusuf relents under Claire’s threat of war and agrees to make a video. Frank’s still tied up with Hammerschmidt. The reporter accuses him of being ruthless. Frank admits feeding Zoe stories, but denies everything else. He then looks Hammerschmidt straight in the eye. When the journalist responds that he doesn’t believe him at all, Frank flinches and refuses to speak on the record. Later, he calls Claire to tell he’s frightened of the story’s fallout.

Everyone heads back to the situation room, where the terrorists are connected to Ahmadi via a video link. They exchange a few pleasantries before Ahmadi gives up trying to save the remaining hostage, James Miller. He reverts to Arabic and commands the men to kill Miller. On top of that, officers have stormed a building in the woods, only to discover that it’s empty.

Hammerschmidt’s story breaks and everyone (except for a gloating Conway) is miserable. Seth’s too scared to answer his calls or face the press. Frank’s weary and in pain. Claire’s numb. On the bright side, Remy and Jackie are back together and — having made their affair public — are able to drive off into the sunset. Finally.

Frank and Claire are in the White House considering their options. The way Frank sees it, they have three weeks until the election, which they’ll probably lose. Claire has a stroke of (evil) genius. “I’m done trying to win over people’s hearts...we can work with fear.”

About an hour later, Frank is addressing the nation live from the White House. He’s using fear to get everyone's attention. The U.S. will never release Ahmadi, nor speak to James Miller’s captors. The U.S. is at war.

The terrorists respond by announcing that they will execute Miller that night during a live video feed. For the first time, Stamper chooses love over Frank and goes to be with Laura. “Have you ever watched someone die?” she asks as they chat in his car. Well, just the once...

As promised, James Miller is killed. Everyone in the situation room is visibly anguished, but Claire and Frank’s faces remain placid. They turn to face the camera. “We don’t submit to terror,” Frank says. “We make the terror.”

Roll on, season 5.

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
Pictured: Kevin Spacey.

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