While Doug’s on the road to recovery (hopefully), Frank is only digging himself into a deeper hole. He’s spearheading a jobs program called America Works, which hopes to create 10 million jobs. The budget for such a surge is $500 billion, a huge cost that no one anticipates getting through Congress. This is Frank Underwood though, and he’s steadfast in his dedication to the program. He wants to cut entitlements and discuss changing Social Security in order to fund the program.
Just as in previous seasons, and as with the Education Bill, Frank is dedicating himself to one big, revolutionary piece of legislation, and anyone who opposes him will be removed from his team. He threatens to remove two staffers from the team for speaking to journalists about disagreements in terms of writing the legislation, and he straight-up fires another when he’s too vocal and vehement about his opposition to the bill.
Frank, in order to get word out about the program, makes an appearance on The Colbert Report. It’s an odd scene in that it feels very out of place within the show. Sure, it serves its purpose fine by making Underwood look unexperienced and really driving home how bad his approval ratings are. For anyone who’s watched Colbert’s show though, the segment rings false. It’s too scathing, boasting a tone that’s incongruous with the real-life Colbert Report (may it rest in peace), and feels like a misguided attempt at verisimilitude, as if the show is saying that real life politicians visit late night shows all the time, and so do our fictional ones! But House of Cards is at its best when it shuns reality, when it turns the mundanity and the viciousness of politics and amps up drama to an absurd level. House of Cards should never feel grounded in reality; it works better as an uncanny fantasy.
Despite Frank’s dwindling popularity, Claire remains vigilant about accomplishing her own goals. She wants to be positioned not just as the First Lady, but as the Ambassador to the United Nations. It’s going to be a tough road ahead. She has the Underwood name behind her, but she’s inexperienced for the job, at least in the eyes of many in the government.
Frank wants her to understand just how hard the battle to get nominated is going to be, and because House of Cards isn’t a subtle show, Frank’s way of showing her what it takes to make it in Washington involves clearing her security access so that she can be present in the war room when Frank makes a call to assassinate an Abdullah in Yemen. There will be other causalities, but this may be the only opportunity the government has to strike. Frank makes the call and Claire witnesses it. As they leave the war room, Claire says, “I still want it.” Frank agrees to push her nomination, and they walk hand-in-hand back to their room. The Underwoods may have a lot of power, but surely they can take even more? When the Underwoods want something, they take it, and that could have a whole lot of consequences as the season gets underway.