Putin On The Ritz
When the Russians come to Washington, they bring their vodka and rude party manners with them.
Alert Type: Impending Putin Surrogate Alert.
Issue: Russian President Viktor Petrov has arrived at the White House for the State Dinner.
Complicating Factors: Frank hopes to whip out his diplomacy skills and establish new foreign policies with the fictional Vladimir Putin; but like the real Vladimir Putin, Petrov does not have the best record on LGBT rights, and has drawn a sea of protestors.
Resolution: Petrov informs Frank within ten seconds of meeting him that he won't be accepting his proposals for...something. We're not actually told what yet, but that's not the point: this guy is not up for playing Frank's war games.
Spoiler: Pussy Riot is here! (Pussy Riot is here?)
What A Birch
Who called the meeting? Frank.
What's it about? Franks wants Bob Birch to pass AmWorks through the blah blah AmWorks blah blah.
How'd it go? Birch is in and out in twenty seconds, using the bustle of the day to avoid granting Frank's wishes. Doesn’t really matter; AmWorks is not what this episode is about.
Situation: Newly minted U.N. Ambassador Claire joins Secretary of State Catherine Durant in meeting with the Israeli and Jordanian ambassadors to discuss a possible Russian/American joint peacekeeping mission in the Jordan Valley.
What makes it awkward? While the idea of all of the above named parties cooperating together in the real world is certainly far-fetched, the real awkwardness is between Cathy and Claire, who step all over each other in the meeting. Cathy clearly doesn't think much of Claire's recess appointment and isn't afraid to admit as much on the plane ride home.
How is order restored? Claire tries to mollify Cathy's skepticism, but the HoC's SoS seems committed to her displeasure. At least while sober....
Doug Leaves The House!
Doug's taking a break from getting Johnny Walker syringed down his throat by prostitutes to interview for an exciting new job opportunity! A Hawaiian junior Congressman offers Doug a substantial sum of money -- $50,000 more than Frank ever paid him -- to get back in the game and help run his senatorial campaign. How does the interview go?
We Made A List
Things Frank Might Be Thinking In This Picture
Russian To Judgment
Name: Viktor Petrov. Age: Based on an average of real world Russian presidents, let's say 62. Occupation: President of Russia/Surf Bro. Goal: To continue being the president of Russia, I suppose. And to make his American counterpart look like a real jackass. Sample Dialogue: "Bring [Claire] along. The Black Sea is crawling with artists. I'm sure she'll find something she likes."Enhance!
FBI Deputy Director Green stops by the office to say hi to Gavin and ask him to give up the identities of some of his fellow hackers. They just caught one of Gavin's friends whom he entrusted with the AT&T data he stole last season, and even though Gavin can't be charged with crimes for which he was already cleared, Green compels him under a veiled threat of charges for other crimes they still might unearth. But is Green the one really calling the shots?
Get The Look: Presidential Sweet Digs
The Underwoods are getting ready for the big state dinner in their most brilliant Washington eleganza. What will the President and First Lady wear to greet foreign leaders?
Frank's tuxedo: Complete with "crooked" bowtie, apropos on an evening during which he'll go head to head with one of the few world leaders more crooked than he is.
Claire's gown: A silvery slinky number to distract certain villainous Russians; comes with a wrap-around cape/scarf thing to be used on said villainous Russians lest they become too villainous.Party!
The State Dinner From Hell (Or Siberia)
What's the occasion? It's the State Dinner, thrown in honor of the Russian president's visit.
What are the refreshments? Lots and lots and LOTS of vodka. And pumpernickel bread and pickles, which I guess is a thing. In a power move, Petrov kinda forces everyone at the state dinner to do a bunch of shots of his fancy golden-bottled booze. Also served: a hot dish of side eye from Claire to President Petrov. While Frank is busy trying to persuade Mendoza to help pass AmWorks through the House, Claire is assigned Petrov-sitting duties. What starts off as harmless flirtation eventually turns a little colder when Petrov tells Claire that she "makes a better First Lady than an ambassador." Russian prick!
Whose embarrassing public scene will everyone be talking about tomorrow? After being toasted by Petrov, the members of Pussy Riot stand up and return the favor, toasting Petrov's hatred of gay rights and passion for imprisoning those who disagree with him. It's unclear whether the members of the House Of Cards universe version of Pussy Riot were imprisoned by Petrov; for his part, Petrov only seems to view them as slightly rowdy children.Hell No!
From Russia With Lust
The vodka has hit the heads of the heads of state, which can only mean two things: obnoxious singing and cross-country kissing. Peter Cincotti -- also a real musician, albeit one decidedly less cool than Pussy Riot -- is in the middle of one of those songs about the blues that you know is only sung by white dudes at charity functions and political fundraisers, when he "spontaneously" invites up Frank to sing with him. Frank pulls a Kristin Wiig ("Don't make me sing!") before unpleasantly growling through the rest of the number. I'm in hell.
Although I'm better off than Claire, who is forced to make nice and dance with the Russian president. Petrov circles Claire like a gross hawk before swooping down and mashing his thin pinko lips into hers.
Well, that ends the party! Frank embarrassedly hurries everyone out but grabs Petrov and tells him that he wants to show him something. Frank is always showing people stuff!That Happened
Once More, With Pie Filling
I'm pretty sure this exact scene has happened before, but whatever: Doug meets Gavin at the diner to ask for help in locating Rachel in exchange for a lift on Gavin's passport. I'm assuming Gavin ate a gyro and afterward Doug paid a Craigslist hooker to feed him mashed potatoes and gravy in the bathroom before reading him Oliver Twist off his Blackberry.That Quote"I'd push him down the stairs and light his broken body on fire just to watch it burn if it wouldn't start a world war."- Frank Underwood, American President -Playing Games
Beer Pong Diplomacy
What's the game? Beer pong. Or, I guess, scotch pong. Harvard rules -- which apparently does not include grab-backs because Claire missed a real opportunity when the ball rolled back to her side of the table. I suppose it would be uncouth for the First Lady to dive over her glasses to grab a ping-pong ball.
Who's playing? Claire and Cathy Durant.
What's at stake? At first, just pride. Claire suggests that they play when Cathy reveals herself as the beer pong champion of her Tulane sorority. But when the game wraps up, Claire smoothly switches the conversation to Petrov and the Jordan Valley situation and starts playing her real game. Whether it's because she's trying to impress her new boss or because she's peeved at Petrov or because she actually believes that it's poor diplomacy (or a combination of all three), Claire tells Cathy that Frank's plan for a joint peacekeeping force with Russia doesn't sit well with her. She doesn't trust Petrov, and working with Russia will only further anger Israel and Palestine. Cathy looks around nervously like a middle-schooler hiding a Playboy before agreeing.
Who wins? Cathy wins scotch pong, but Claire finally wins some respect from the Secretary of State.Place Of Interest
Rats In The Walls
The something Frank wanted to show Petrov was not his fisticuffs unfortunately but rather some secret basement staircase where they smoke Cuban cigars and sigh over what powerful white dudes they are. Frank clearly sees a lot of himself in Petrov -- which is exactly his problem. Petrov is the unchecked monarch Frank aspires to be. Because he doesn't have to answer to fair elections, Petrov will always hold more power over Russia than Frank does of the U.S., which gives him a distinct advantage in their negotiations.
Petrov tells Frank that if he wants his peacekeeping mission, he'll have to force the scale-back of NATO's Eastern Europe's missile defense system. (According to every "What House of Cards Gets Wrong About Stuff" think piece, the idea that the U.S. would even consider Petrov's proposal is ludicrous. But the people writing those articles don't know what fiction is.) Frank is hesitant, protesting that what Petrov is asking is disproportionate to the few hundred troops that he's requesting. But Petrov lets know Frank know that he's not the Russian dictator to fuck with. He sees Frank's mission for what it is: an excuse to establish a foothold in the region and further isolate Russia from the Eastern Bloc countries. "Russia has nothing to gain from peace in the Middle East," declares Petrov before stamping out his stogie on the wall. Sick burn, bro!Wrap It Up
My dream is to one day have a bed with so many pillows that I too can discuss the nuances of foreign policy with my husband while I remove them one by one in preparation for bedtime. (Really, my dream is just to be Claire Underwood, minus the married-to-Kevin Spacey part.) Claire slyly mentions to Francis what she and Cathy discussed, but he's obstinate. On his way out to his bedroom, Claire takes a more direct approach and tells Frank not to give in to a "thug" like Petrov.
Frank drips some drops in his hangover eyes the next morning and confirms what Doug had guessed: he was behind the job offer from the Hawaiian congressman.
Look at that dude's healthy lunch! Carrot and celery sticks AND a Diet Coke? Man is a saint. He's also one of Gavin's monitors. When he steps away from his desk, Gavin takes the opportunity to search the FBI's files for information on Rachel. It's a tense scene, with Mr. Veggie Sticks returning to his desk just milliseconds after Gavin finishes his search. Clearly, Gavin was helped out by all the sugar in his real Coke, bought for him by Buddy.
The presidents meet once more in the Oval Office to discuss strategies, but Frank ends up taking advice and does not back down to Petrov's demands. Petrov tells some story about cars during the fall of the Soviet Union that is supposed to convince Frank, but he's all, "fuck off, brah."
Frank stands in front of the media and informs the public that there will be no deal made with Russia. He praises the only three honorable Russians at the state dinner: Pussy Riot. He doesn't say "Pussy Riot," though; that would be undignified.
Speaking of Pussy Riot, here's a music video to end your House Of Cards viewing experience! I can't say that I'd heard Pussy Riot's music before, but now I know that it's definitely a thing that exists.