CHAPTER 15 – Sounds of War
by Yo Frank
So that was a shocker, huh? After the sudden and brutal casualty of last episode, can we just go on? Of course we can. We are addicted and hey, Frank is back to Southern-drawling into the depths of our souls.
We open to the heavy rain as the capital hill players, sans POTUS, gather to the Underwood residence for Frank’s private swearing in as a Vice President with “no wow factor” as Rachel Maddow puts it. And it’s so loud guys, like they are in a war zone (hint hint) as the townhouse is installed with all the security requirements. As he puts his hand on a Bible, he quips to us “A heart beat away from the presidency and not a single vote cast in my name. Democracy is so overrated.” This is a wartime and there is no peace and quiet in his mind and, as his “confidante,” ours. Not in Congress as the race for the new Majority Whip rages on (as well as immature spitting battle between Webb and Buchwalter), not in poor disheveled and Zoe-less Lucas’ head or hair, nor in White House when – through Christina’s info – Frank learns that Raymond Tusk, the bird-watching billionaire and the presidential puppeteer is in Capital Hill to discuss the Chinese.
After the awkward “hey I didn’t know you were in town” reunite-cute of the tenuous allies, Frank and Raymond joins the Secretary of State Catherine Durant in the ritual of Wait Outside the Oval Office. There is a great God Father reference here as Frank closes the door looking directly at us. Welcome to the West Wing. No, you are not allowed in the inner circle, his eyes tell us.
At the congressional lunch room, Jackie Sharpe meets up with Representative Ted Havemeyer, a longtime family friend and a mentor who “hears” (through her future Chief Deputy hopeful) about her interest in the Whip position and offers to back her up, monetary and otherwise. After feigning surprise – she thought they were to talk about “Emily,” a crippled nineteen year old he has been asking her to take care of – she gracefully accepts the offer. Jackie is playing the game pretty well already.
Claire, meanwhile, goes through lists of Second Lady activities with her aid Willa, and is shaken when she stumbles upon a name of the Marine general Frank is to pin a medal on, who she knew in college. Or is there more to this?
Back in the Oval Office: What transpires is the conflict of interests between Ray and Cat over how to deal with the Chinese. Tusk got a business interest there over a rare earth refinery deal so he does not want to ruffle feathers but Durant wants to bring up the issues of Chinese government conducted “cyber terrorism,” i.e. corporate espionage (Reminds you of a certain white cream incident recently? HOC is topical and prophetic y’all). On the surface, Frank is agreeing with Tusk as he senses the wind is still blowing strongly from his way, which of course means he will conspire to undermine Tusk’s influence on the dashing Prez Walker (not to be confused with the one sleeping with the super fixer) despite claiming “Last thing I want to do is rock the boat” – wink wink, nudge nudge. After the meeting Catherine questions Frank about Raymond and his relationship with the POTUS and Frank advises her to make an “unintentional” splash by having delegation bring up cyber-terrorism. “If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table.”
At the Washington Herald office, poor Lucas Goodwin disheveled and distraught from losing more than just sleep – Janine jumped town right after Zoe’s death and revealing pictures (clearly taken during Zoe’s affair with Frank) slipped under her doorstep. – and seeing the replay of his former girlfriend’s “accidental” trip to death, is not up to covering the Cyber-Terrorism mishap with the Chinese delegation. He calls in his old boss and now part time “absolute shit” writer Tom Hammerschmidt to get advise on whether his theory is crazy or not. Echoing Frank’s signature ring –tap, Tom tells when his wife died young from cancer he was really angry and tried to find blame in doctors. “Grief demands an answer but sometime there isn’t one.” Two unwashed men drinking Stella and talking dead girlfriends. Boy, is it getting hot in here or what? This show got so much sexy y’all.
Speaking of sexy men, Wes Buchwalter and Frank…just kidding. I just liked how his face was revealed behind the bust Frank moves (he loves decorating his new office, that Frank). Wes complains of the appearance of dark horse candidate Jackie for the Whip race, backed by the man who he got a long time grudge against, Ted Havemeyer. And Frank won’t officially back him up either, which hints to Wes maybe Frank is on her side, as he relates to his rival Howard Webb. But the alternative is withdrawing his name backing up the smug asshole who sees little to no value in what he can offer. No attractive option for minor characters.
At the Marine’s Ball, which Claire told Frank over an e-cig – “addiction without consequences” she wished not to attend but was told it was a duty came with their new position – we meet Dalton McGinnis, the above mentioned Marine general and Claire’s “five minutes” boyfriend back in the day. Claire, visibly upset tells Frank he was “the One.” Uh-oh. No. Not that kind of “the One” but the rapey kind that induces lamp-throwing rage in Frank. See, this is why we can’t totally hate Frank: even though he is a power-hungry murdering schemer, he has a strong and loving relationship with his wife and he is not a racist nor moron. Claire begs him not to make a scene, so he just resorts to just giving a death glare to the general as he pins the medal. I half expected him to pin the damn thing in the rapist’s throat.
Later Claire tells Frank, post rage smoking helplessly in his own backyard but not alone –hey Meechum, that she knows what that anger is and how to use the hate (but not for revenge). “Whenever I think of ‘her’ pinned down like that, I strangle ‘her’ Francis so she doesn’t strangle me. I have to. We have to. Alternative is…unlivable.” Now we see who is truly the tough one in this relationship.
Next morning, with Prez present and Raymond on the speaker phone, direction for damage control with the Chinese situation is discussed; Exhibit of strength or lose face. Tusk obviously suggests throwing Durant under the bus, despite the risk of looking like President not having control of his staff, and Frank, again, agrees with this. The shade of surprise and disturbance on Raymond’s face as he senses Frank getting closer to the president’s ear, figuratively and literally, is palpable. After Tusk gets off the phone with Garret, president’s given name – Frank notes it’s a sign of disrespect – Frank makes “observance” about President’s doubt over the decision and suggests he does what he thinks is best, which obviously leads President to what Frank orchestrated him to do. President officially backs Durant and announces taking strong stance against Chinese double standard mentality on cyber terrorism. Frank denies to Raymond that he had any influence on President going against him –something he’d never done without first informing Tusk. Frank clarifies that he is working with Tusk, not for him and persuade him to back president up in having a strong stance and rating bump, though agreeing to talk farther about working with Chinese. Note that Tusk calls him Mr. Vice President and not by his given name. Frank is one step closer to pushing him out from president’s heart. He is a romantic after all. And isn’t it nice to see the Underwoods finally get the peace and quiet they worked so hard for?
But you know who’s not in peace? Jackie, as she is confronted by the decision of betraying her mentor and surrogate father Ted Havemeyer and bringing political death upon him – the condition for Wes dropping out. “Not revenge. Equity,” the bitch yaps – and Frank won’t just “pull the rabbit out of a hat” and help her win with her hands clean. She informs Ted that she let the information on his illegitimate daughter out, someone only two of them knew about and she cared for and took care of. They argue over the moral implication of the situation – she knows the girl more than he, the father, who never visited her and just sent money – and Ted, while commending her “unstoppable” nature and noting she will be a good whip, nevertheless asks her “if you are going to put my neck on noose, please look me in eyes while you do it.” It’s a bitter break up for this “family.”
We finish the episode on Lucas, another one in the world of pain –deeep pain – discovering “Deep Web” where 96% of the net is lies while researching the story on cyber terrorism. While the Underwoods enjoy their new fortress, away from his empty bed, the alias Data Crusader taps into the nasty and dangerous water of deep web seeking truth in the Vice President’s phone data.
Will he slay the dragon or will the dragon find him first?
Fourth Wall Breaking Moments: 8
Wine, Dine and Smoke Moments: 6
Teaching Moments: 0
POWER TO PAIN RANKING (Top to Bottom):
President Garret Walker (King of Heart)
Raymond Tusk (King of Diamond)
Vice President Frank Underwood (King of Spade)
Secretary of State Catherine Durant (Ace of Spade)
Claire Underwood (Queen of Spade)
Jackie Sharpe (Queen of Clubs)
Wes Buchwalter (Nine of Clubs)
Howard Webb (Eight of Clubs)
Tom Hammerschmidt (Four of Heart)
Ted Havemeyer (Ten of Clubs, dropped)
Lucas Goodwin (Ace of Heart)
Yo Frank is a writer/stand up comic originally from Japan, with 15 years experience of living Californian. He likes to write about cannibalism, loneliness, outcasts, sex and other cuddly things in life that gets you out of your comfort zones. You may find him on set of Comedy Store and Flappers, attempting to split your sides, not with scalpel but with jokes, mind. Contact Yo at : 213 446 3973 or [email protected] Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Yoletsbefrank Twitter: @yocean14