So, Frank Underwood is now the Vice President.
You know that’s not his final objective. That position is hardly anyone’s final objective.
But I want to take a minute to discuss Claire. Now, Claire is herself a rather strong character, a good match and partner for Frank, the sort of better half that Frank needs and deserves. She’s every bit as ambitious and conniving as he is. Robin Wright has a good role on her hands considering most actresses play love interests in their youth and mothers as they get older, and Claire is neither of those things for Frank.
Why, then, do her subplots feel like they only exist to give Wright something to do?
Let’s take a look at this new development. Apparently, Claire was raped by an ex-boyfriend in college. Hearing her describe it, the action could be interpreted as nothing else for even the densest fans of the show. What happened to the guy? Well, he joined the marines and Frank’s first official act as Vice President is to pin a medal on the guy, now a general, one Dalton McGinnis. Now, part of me also hopes this subplot wasn’t added just to show Frank’s angry reaction. He really wants to hurt this man, but he can’t. Claire knows this, and just seeing McGinnis again and his casual kissing of her cheek is too much for her. We learn Frank knew of the rape but not who did it until Claire told him during the award dinner.
I understand the impulse to keep things moving, but for a show like this, or any show like this, subplots that have little or nothing to do with the main action often feel tacked on. And rape is a serious subject that deserves time and attention. But using Claire’s rape as an impulse for Frank to do things that may or may not be related to this marine general isn’t right. It’s like Claire’s abuse only matters in what it means for Frank, or as an excuse to give Frank cause to react. That’s taking away from Claire’s own trauma. I have to wonder if House of Cards is the right vehicle for something like this, even taking into consideration some of Claire’s past quirks like origami swans and avoiding running through a graveyard for a full episode. I’ll have to wait and see.
Contrast that with the journalist subplot. Lucas is missing Zoe and is convinced she was murdered by Frank. He has no proof. He’s even shown the security footage of Zoe dying. It looks like she fell or tripped in front of the train. No sign of foul play. Lucas knows there’s stuff going on with Frank thanks to Zoe, but he has no proof. He even asks his old editor, Tom, for advice, and Tom suggests there’s nothing there but a man in mourning looking to find logical answers where there really aren’t any. And then Lucas hears about the Deep Web and a chance to maybe get Frank’s phone records. This plot, like the Zoe stuff when all was said and done, like the Peter Russo stuff, eventually tied back to Frank. Claire’s subplots seem more adrift than these.
As for Frank himself, he’s set his sights on Raymond Tusk, President Walker’s longtime friend and mentor. Frank is perturbed by how Tusk is using Walker’s first name, considering that disrespectful. That’s, like, super-hypocritical coming from Frank, considering how much respect he really feels for, oh, anybody that isn’t Claire, and even Claire is debatable sometimes. Frank seems to have his eye on the presidency. But first, he needs to do something about Tusk. Tusk has trade interests with China, and so Frank makes suggestions to both Walker and the secretary of state to, essentially, ruin some trade talks with the Chinese. That does wonders for Walker’s domestic popularity, but all it does for Tusk is anger and confuse him.
Methinks Tusk won’t know what hit him really soon.