Caution: spoilers from House of Cards season four, episode four ahead.
Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) may have to run with his wife Claire (Robin Wright) as his running mate, or risk further sabotage from her and Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell). He and Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) search for a different way to satisfy Claire’s political desires while also investigating the leak of a racially sensitive image to the press. Stamper heavily suspects Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil), whom we already know leaked the photo of Frank with a Confederate Civil War re-enacter.
The solution for the campaign problem (and by proxy the Claire problem) is to hire Harvey as Frank’s campaign manager, an offer that Harvey immediately suspects as being more political than a simple job offer. The end result is Claire threatening to announce a divorce with Frank on Super Tuesday, something that would certainly end Frank’s bid for the presidency.
Breaking from the political firestorm of his campaign, Frank has an uncharacteristically calm moment with his head of security Edward Meechum (Nathan Barrow) as they discuss the artistic and political merits of one of the White House’s paintings. It is a strange scene in its humanity, which is all the sadder in retrospect.
Meanwhile, Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel) begins her own investigation into Frank’s many illegal activities, contacting the attorney general for any information that she can get.
In the first real earth-shattering moment of the season, Frank is shot at by Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus) in a disorienting series of shots that leave no immediate information on the results, save for a hauntingly still shot on Meechum as he is left to bleed out on the pavement.
With the death of Meechum, perhaps the most human character in Frank’s entire political sphere, the narrative assumption would be to commemorate him in some way. Instead, the series does not waver from its intended callousness. Politics resumes immediately, the episode switching to a news report following the assassination attempt. Meechum’s requiem is only found in that final lingering shot of the man.
With Frank incapacitated, Vice President Donald Blythe (Reed Birney) has to make an important decision about what to do about the man seeking asylum from Russia. Not knowing how to handle the situation, Claire convinces him to send the plane carrying the man to China, bringing the country into the fold against what Frank would have wanted and possibly complicating the foreign affairs issue on a whole new level.
Episode four finally brings us a climactic moment in a season that started with many moving pieces and minor altercations. As unfortunate as it is to see the unceremonious end of Meechum, it is an event handled with great care. The Robin Wright-directed episode shows a lot of careful attention to framing that aids the momentousness of the assassination attempt and its immediate ramifications.
As always, thanks for reading!
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)
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