Caution: Spoilers for House of Cards season four, episode eight ahead.
Thomas Yates (Paul Sparks), the soft-spoken ex-biographer of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), makes his re-appearance into the House of Cards mythos in season four, episode eight. He is being buttered up by Republican Presidential candidate Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman), who is trying to get his hands on the untold Underwood story. Yates doesn’t appear convinced with Conway’s rhetoric, but the guarantee of newfound fame after a decade long literary slump may be too hard for the writer to pass up.
In the White House, Underwood is vetting a new VP possibility, namely NRA-sympathizing Democrat Sen. Dean Austin. Although Frank sees no political zeal in him, he is the safest choice to win the election, especially given his NRA support in the face of Claire Underwood’s (Robin Wright) gun legislation.
Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) moves forward with the Underwood’s covert surveillance tactic, targeting potential gun owners across the country using meta-data analysis. Using an emotional Claire Underwood-recorded robo-call, the nation is inundated with the plea to support gun control legislation.
Using the groundswell of response from this robo-call, the Underwoods strong-arm their new VP candidate into supporting Claire’s bill or otherwise give up his spot on the ticket. Their endgame, however, is to kick Austin to the curb and keep the support.
Former editor-in-chief of the Washington Herald Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) begins his investigation into Zoe Barnes’ (Kate Mara) death in earnest. Slowly, he begins putting pieces together. Not just conjecture as Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus) had, but substantive pieces.
Yates, who has a habit of seeing right through the otherwise opaque Underwoods, returns to the White House and does just that, knowing immediately that Claire was really leaving Frank when she went to visit her ailing mother. Claire offers him a speech writing position in the administration for continued access to the Underwoods, something he finds too tempting to pass up. He abandons the Conway’s and the Vanity Fair article they promised.
The reintroduction of Yates into the series is a pleasant surprise. His cool demeanor and ability to go toe-to-toe with the Underwoods makes for a great dynamic.
As for the rest of the episode, it features characters that will likely slip off the face of the earth in a matter of episodes, their substance lacking as a result. Claire and Frank take a backseat to these characters, so we are left with little to grasp at in terms of narrative intrigue. The small sliver of Hammerschmidt we get is intriguing, but it is an arc that will take episodes to develop.
As always, thanks for reading!
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)