Caution: Spoilers from House of Cards season four, episode three ahead.
The third episode of the new season of House of Cards shows the continued efforts of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) to salvage his struggling presidential campaign. Returning to his hometown of Gaffney, South Carolina, he speaks in a church. The scene is great, cross-cutting between the speech itself and Underwood preparing for the speech. The lighting contrast and his mumbling recitation show the reality of his feelings for the people that he is claiming to be working for, that they are merely votes that he desperately needs.
On the other end of the political totem pole, Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus), aka John Carlyle, is working on parole, cleaning cars. In order to secure a car, he engages in sexual favors with a co-worker. He uses this to infiltrate the Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel) campaign headquarters and meet with Dunbar herself. He makes a plea for help in uncovering the depths of Frank’s scandals, which Dunbar initially refuses.
Frank appears to be suffering something akin to a mental break, although he wouldn’t ever let it show outwardly. Violent images of assaulting his wife Claire (Robin Wright) and getting stabbed by a shard of glass recurs in this episode, and it is accompanied by an image of a sink running with blood. He seems unsettled by Claire’s sudden return to his life, perhaps even frightened.
Fanning the flames of Frank’s problems is the surfacing of a photo of his father and a member of the Ku Klux Klan, which was found and released to the press by Claire’s new second in command Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell). This wrinkle compromises the political relationship between Frank and the Jones’ (Cicely Tyson and LisaGay Hamilton).
This scandal also comes with a surprising addition, as one of Frank’s cronies Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) leaks a photo of Frank posing with a Confederate Civil War re-enacter to sully Frank’s image even more on the day of the South Carolina primary, an act that he then blames on Frank’s head of security Edward Meechum (Nathan Darrow).
For the moment, this reveal is overshadowed by Frank finding out about Claire’s involvement in the KKK scandal. But it is certainly another crack in Frank’s ranks that will continue to fester as the season progresses.
Again, this episode of House of Cards continues to move the chess pieces in the merciless political game that is afoot, each move seemingly foreshadowing a cascading effect that will have tremendous implications on Frank and Claire. Of course, it is most fun to see the results that come with moving and sacrificing pawns, the climactic moments when Kings and Queens get cornered. However, these smaller moments have an electricity of their own that is increasingly fascinating.
As always, thanks for reading!
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)
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