Caution: House of Cards season four, episode 10 (and previous episodes) spoilers ahead!
House of Cards season four episode 10 begins by educating the viewer on some state delegate politics. President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), vying for re-election, entered the DNC with the popular vote majority due to Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel) dropping out of the race. However, the superdelegates can still be pledged anywhere, as well as 24 states that don’t legally have to pledge their delegates to the primary winner.
Long story short, Underwood can still lose the Democratic nomination during the DNC. Hey, it’s an open convention, so anything can happen.
This DNC mix-up gives Frank a reason to deal with ICO, leaving for Washington in order to postpone further voting at the convention.
Meanwhile, in Texas, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) and speech writer Thomas Yates (Paul Sparks) visit Claire’s dying mother Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn), where Yates and Elizabeth get along swimmingly. The return of Burstyn is nice to see, her character fading in and out of prominence this season. In some ways, it feels like Burstyn’s talents are being wasted given the small number of scenes she has appeared in. But she bids farewell with acting prowess all the same.
Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) continues his ongoing power struggle with campaign manager Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell), who appears squeaky clean. However, it is already evident to the audience that, like Stamper with Frank, Leann has an undying allegiance to Claire. Whether or not Stamper finds anything out about Leann is up in the air, but seeing his character be relegated to a minor in-house battle is unfortunate.
This is where Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) comes in. The former editor-in-chief of the Washington Herald is on the hunt for the truth about Frank Underwood, a truth that Stamper has taken great pains to cover up. With this in mind, it seems likely that Stamper will have to pay Hammerschmidt a visit sooner rather than later, as long as he doesn’t succumb to his guilt, hubris, or prior addiction.
Hammerschmidt brings in Dunbar to get any inside help that he can, and she is very ready to get involved, sending the reporter to Remy Danton (Mahershala Ali) for further answers.
In a shocking turn of events, Frank baldly admits to killing Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) and Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) to Secretary of State Catherine Durant (Jayne Atkinson), only to quickly exclaim it to be a joke. Only, the intimidation gets across all the same, as does the message that Durant’s insubordination will not be taken lightly. In action, it is a risky tactic for Frank to employee, but it seems to get the job done for the time being.
This episode is jam-packed with advancing plot arcs. I have yet to mention that Claire and Yates sleep together following the death of Claire’s mother. She goes on to read Yates’ treasured speech that rallies the DNC into renewed Underwood loyalty and a double-Underwood ticket.
The season now in its final third, we are getting close to some promised climactic moments. This episode only inches us towards these moments, but we can see some characters align themselves into places of both benefit and detriment. The only question now is how the fireworks display will be arranged.
As always, thanks for reading!
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)