‘House of Cards’ recap Season 2, Episode 8: ‘Why does everything have to be a struggle?’


Frank and Claire Underwood on “House of Cards” (Nathaniel Bell/Netflix)

Oh boy, there’s a reason shady lobbyist Remy Danton makes the big bucks. Where do you go when you want to dig up dirt on your enemies Frank and Claire Underwood? To the last person Claire fired, of course.

I have to admit, I cheered when Evelyn came on the screen and was soon in cahoots with Remy (who, we may remind you, is working with billionaire Raymond Tusk to bring Frank down). What delicious revenge after Claire unceremoniously fired her last year from the water non-profit, with no regard that Evelyn was pushing 60 and employment would be difficult. And Evelyn, always so sweet, gives Remy the dirt on Claire in such a low-key, classy way: It’s delightful.

Read previous recaps

Season 2, Episode 7: ‘Your out of line, Frank!’

Season 2, Episode 6: ‘He’s going to get away with it, isn’t he?’

Season 2, Episode 5: ‘‘If you try to bite my hand, I will put you to sleep’

Season 2, Episode 4: ‘I won’t feel ashamed’

Season 2, Episode 3: ‘Whatever faith I have is quickly evaporating’

Season 2, Episode 2: ‘I hate myself for it. But I’ll get over that.’

Season 2, Episode 1: ‘Hunt or be hunted’

After Remy treats her to some Starbucks coffee (a luxury these days on her temp-worker salary), Evelyn starts to open up. At first, she declines to say anything bad about her former boss. But when Remy dangles the idea of a cushy new job at his firm, Evelyn remembers one tiny detail — that maybe Claire isn’t exactly the loyal wife that she seems she is. “Spend a decade working for someone…” Evenlyn trails off, making it obvious she knows more. Go Evelyn!

Next thing you know, Remy’s at an art studio and does a terrible job of pretending to be interested in art. It’s okay though, because he’s just there to ask about the artist’s friend, photographer Adam Galloway. You know, the one that Claire’s been having a torrid affair with for years? Yeah, that guy.

Remy’s visit will come back to haunt the Underwoods, but they don’t know it at the beginning of the episode. Claire and Frank are both having bad days.

To back up a bit: Last episode, Frank discovered that Raymond Tusk is behind those attack ads against President Walker’s administration. And just in time for midterms so Republicans can take over the House! More specifically, Chinese billionaire Xander Feng was funneling millions of dollars to the Republicans/Tusk for the attack ads. Missouri casino owner Daniel Lanagin was also involved in this Feng money-to-Republicans scheme. We’re not sure how. But he was. This is “House of Cards.” Just go with it.

Anyway, Frank goes into battle against Team Tusk-Feng-Lanagin the only way he knows how: An insane, unnecessarily complicated plan. It has two parts. PART ONE: Xander Feng has agreed to stop giving the Republicans money for their attack ads if Frank reinstates the Port Jefferson Bridge project. You know, the one that was the president’s dream until Frank crushed in during a power plan maneuver with Feng? Well now, Feng wants to fund the bridge. PART TWO: Chief Whitehall, the leader of the Ugaya tribe, wants to be nationally recognized. If he is, then he can start his own casino, and would directly compete with Lanagin’s casino, making Lanagin suffer.

Frank is convinced he can easily pull off those two demands because who’s going to stop him? In this episode, almost everyone. First, he gets into a heated battle with the president’s chief of staff, Linda, who cannot figure out why Frank is so determined to put the bridge project back on the table. It doesn’t make sense anymore, given that thanks to Frank, the U.S. and the Chinese are in a trade war. Frank can’t figure out why she can’t just say yes: “Why does everything have to be a struggle?” he vents.

Poor Linda, bested by Frank. (Nathaniel Bell/Netflix)
Poor Linda, bested by Frank. (Nathaniel Bell/Netflix)

She demands that Frank drop it: Which means he’ll take it directly to the president himself. He makes a visit to President Walker and goes on and on about how the president promised in his campaign to promote critical infrastructures. The president isn’t interested. “Linda says you seem obsessed with this bridge,” he comments. Oops: “That back-stabbing, vomit-inducing b****!” fumes Frank — but just to the audience.

To the president, he smiles a pained smile and says that he didn’t want to bring it up but because of that jerk Linda he has to: There are some, um, behind the scenes machinations going on that the president shouldn’t know about. Frank assures the president he’s totally got it under control, don’t even worry about it, but maybe he could just do him a tiny favor and approve the bridge project? That would realllly help these shady dealings along, thanks.

President Walker is furious. “How much danger are we in, Frank?” he rages. Frank assures him that anything that’s going on is only to protect the administration. Now can he just approve the dumb bridge already? The president promises to mull it over.

Naturally, Linda finds out this is going on behind her back and cancels a meeting between Frank and the president. They get in a HUGE fight and say the kind of really mean things that people usually regret the next day. Linda says the administration, currently in chaos, used to run just fine before Frank came along. Frank calls Linda a glorified scheduler, and that he got her this job. Linda reminds Frank that she’s the reason he’s VP. Frank suggests they go ask the president who he would rather have by his side.

With that, poor Linda knows she’s no match for Frank, especially when she tries to give the president her opinion about the bridge project, and he basically tells her to shut up and go away. Linda submits her resignation, and after consulting with Frank (because he’s physically incapable of making a decision for himself), the president accepts it. The president, after triple-checking with Frank that’s not actually condoning something blatantly illegal, signs off on the bridge project.

Linda visits Frank and says no hard feelings. They shake hands. “I don’t plan on making a fuss in the press,” Linda promises, which is weird because didn’t Frank just sort of force her to resign? She gives him a gift, and they leave on a tender note.  Frank smiles. “I’ve never thought higher of her than I do at this moment,” he reflects. “She lost, but she played to win.”

Okay, part one down: Now, to get Chief Whitehall his tribal federal recognition so he can break ground on a casino that can take down Lanagin. Whitehall goes to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The bureau is not impressed by Whitehall’s offer of money to speed along the tribe approval process and said the Ugaya tribe can get on the waiting list: Should take about, oh, a year or so, because there are more than 300 applications ahead of them.

Undeterred, Frank decides to reach out to Lanagin and see if there’s a way they can still work together. He even devises a fake job-related reason to go to Missouri so he can have a private lunch meeting at Lanagin’s house without raising any eyebrows.

Except there’s an unpleasant surprise waiting along with Lanagin: Raymond Tusk is at the table as well. This isn’t going to go well for Frank: Both Lanagin and Tusk have those cat-that-ate-the-canary grins, obviously scheming ahead of Frank’s arrival. Turns out, Whitehall actually turned to his enemy, Lanagin, after the Indian Affairs meeting didn’t go well — and Lanagin offered the tribe re-enrollment into his own tribe, so that takes care of that. Whitehall won’t be building that competing casino after tall.

Tusk and Lanagin jeer that Frank has no leverage over either of them. When lunch arrives ($200/pound steak) and they make fun of Frank’s usual lunch of Freddy’s ribs, and that’s the last straw: Frank storms out, but not before throwing the steak in the pool, to the delight of Lanagin’s dog who jumps in after it.

One silver lining: Feng agrees top stop funneling money to Tusk and the Republicans for attack ads. In return for making the bridge deal happen, Feng also says he’ll kill his refinery deal with Tusk, meaning Tusk will lose out on billions of dollars. So at least Frank got to him that way.


Megan Hennessey telling Claire Underwood she’s about to bail on the event. (Nathaniel Bell/Netflix)

Meanwhile, things aren’t going well for Claire. She and the first lady, Tricia Walker, are going full-speed ahead with their bill to prevent sexual assault in the armed forces, and set up a public event where Megan Hennessey (the woman who said she was also assaulted by Claire’s attacker Gen. Dalton McGinnis) can tell her story to the press. Except at the event, a distraught Megan starts having a panic attack. Claire gets angry and tries to (literally) shake some sense into her, but Megan can’t take the pressure and bails, so Claire has to cancel the event.

However, some light scheming cheers up Claire, as she deftly lays a trap for the president and Tricia, who are having some marital problems — thanks to seeds of doubt Claire planted about the president having an affair with his aide Christina. Claire says she and Frank once had similar problems, so they saw  a reverend for some spiritual counseling. Tricia balks at first: The president and first lady in marriage counseling? Imagine the headlines! But after another fight with her husband, she agrees it may be a good idea. We see the first couple head into the reverend’s office, where we can imagine any private info will be spilled directly to Frank and Claire.

Well, they should enjoy any victory while they can. Remember how Remy paid a visit to photographer Adam Galloway, Claire’s former lover? Remy’s having a great day —  he also pays a visit to his former one-night stand Rep. Jackie Sharp, and they agree to give a real “relationship” a try. That’s probably going to end in disaster, but Remy’s on cloud nine, and things get even better when he discovers some particularly damning photos of Adam and Claire.

Should he send them to the press? Shouldn’t he? He consults with Tusk, who just found out that Frank sunk his refinery deal with Feng. Plus, Remy’s asset, Seth Grayson, has decided to switch sides and not betray the Underwoods as their new spokesperson. The decision seems obvious.

Next thing we know, Claire and Frank get a call from Seth: A tabloid just published a story that Claire’s been having an affair, and they have the photos to prove it. No, things aren’t looking good for the Underwoods.

Oh, and between all of this, we see former prostitute Rachel (the one stuck in Joppa, Md., since she still has info about Rep. Russo’s murder) starts making out with her new friend Lisa. Since it’s been established Frank’s right-hand man Doug Stamper has fallen in love for Rachel, look for Stamper to have a meltdown any day now.

RELATED READING

How well do you know Washington? Take the “House of Cards” map quiz.

Season 2 review: ‘House of Cards’ returns, darker than ever and with quite an opening jolt

‘House of Cards’ shocker: Should we have seen it coming?

Kate Mara makes her mark with breakout role in Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’

‘House of Cards’ creator Beau Willimon looks back at show’s wild ride, teases Season 2

Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter and pop culture blogger for the Style section. She joined the Post in May 2008, a week before she graduated from the University of Maryland, and worked on Lisa de Moraes' TV Column and blog.
SECTION: {section=lifestyle, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=lifestyle, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments
Most Read Lifestyle
Next Story
Bethonie Butler · March 21