Caution: Spoilers for House of Cards season four, episode five ahead.
The cold open of House of Cards episode five is yet another nightmarish vision from Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), this time depicting a Confederate Civil War soldier shooting him in his hospital bed. The assassination attempt on his life may prove to be politically beneficial, but this scene shows that it will only help in heightening his already troubled mind.
Frank’s Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), now returning to the forefront of the show, is working furiously to keep the evidence of the administration’s illegal dealings under wraps. It seems the more hot water Frank is in, the more we get to see from Kelly, and this is never a bad thing.
As Frank remains hospitalized and in need of a new liver, the acting president Donald Blythe (Reed Birne) is coached through a conversation with Russian President Viktor Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen) by Claire Underwood (Robin Wright). Blythe, knowing that he is in over his head, takes Claire’s advice word-for-word, to the dismay of Stamper.
Stamper, of course, already has a full plate, so Blythe’s faux pas is momentarily brushed over, which allows for Claire to get more political leverage from inside the White House.
Stamper learns of Seth Grayson’s (Derek Cecil) involvement in Frank’s PR scandal. When Stamper confronts him and demands for his resignation, Grayson threatens that he knows a lot about the wrongdoings in the administration. Later, he returns with a last ditch effort to save his career: a way to end Heather Dunbar’s (Elizabeth Marvel) presidential campaign, in the form of interrogating the attorney general for information about Dunbar’s talks with Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus) prior to the assassination attempt.
As interesting as Frank Underwood’s hallucinations are, episode five fails to reach the heights of its immediate predecessor. The Goodwin subplot only slightly develops, mainly in the form of minor characters continuing to remain skeptical of his allegations. Thankfully, we get more access to Doug Stamper, whose moral undoing has led to bitter resignation and a furious need for control. The scene between him and Grayson near the end of the episode is extraordinary.
As always, thanks for reading!
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)