Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is deep in election strategizing as he fights ICO, giving a speech to state governors as a way of getting five of them on his side. Five that just so happen to be from key swing states.
The end game is voter suppression. We wouldn’t expect anything less from the Underwood administration. Central to this coup is former Vice President James Matthews (Dan Ziske), who is grilled in a congressional hearing about his relationship to Frank during the former administration.
On the even more covert front, hired hand Aidan Macallan (Damien Young), in the midst of an NSA infiltration, is caught in the middle of an NSA audit. Needing to do some sneaky hacking in order to cover his tracks…well, he significantly screws up the cyber-structure of Washington D.C. This is used by Underwood to further the fear-mongering over ICO.
Then there’s the revelation of the missing status of one of Frank Underwood’s former lovers. An unsettling snag in the affair between Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) and her biographer/speech writer Thomas Yates (Paul Sparks). Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) engaging in blackmail while also being manipulated conversely by former style writer for the Washington Herald Sean Jeffries (Korey Jackson).
Many many moving parts already bog down season five of House of Cards, and we’re only two episodes in. As usual, some of these throughlines are more potent than others. The NSA hack that is central to the episode is the most intriguing by far. The romantic entanglements of Claire and Yates: more overbearing than it is compelling.
And Frank illustrating the perfect way to craft a fire as a means of suppressing his grief over the death of his friend: merely confusing.
The episode is inevitably setting up pieces for season-spanning arcs (the idea of using the declaration of war as a means of investigating Frank Underwood should prove fruitful over time), but for now they mostly read stagnant.
As always, thanks for reading!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)