When a hostage situation threatens the lives of three Americans, Frank and Conway must work together while also trying to gain the upper hand in the election
Credit: Netflix

House of Cards has done a pretty good job this season of bringing some stakes back to Washington and the story of the Underwoods. A lot of season 3 was a slog, but ever since Meechum was shot in “Chapter 43,” season 4 has upped the ante time and again, bringing the Underwoods back together in their rightful place as a sinister, cutthroat, probably sociopathic power couple. Underwoods 2016!

Anyway, the Underwoods are sitting pretty at the start of “Chapter 51” because the U.S. Special Forces that Frank deployed in Syria managed to capture the head of ICO. Claire and Frank are sitting on TV, having a debate with Conway and Brockhart, reminding them again and again that they’re the more experienced, reliable ticket, even if Conway and Brockhart both have military experience.

The debate turns a bit nasty when Frank accuses Conway of influencing the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee to go against his ICO plan. Of course Conway bobs and weaves, denying any involvement other than the fact that he has “friends” on the committee. He tries to turn it back on Frank but it’s not working. The capture of the ICO head is undoubtedly a win for the Underwoods.

Things go south almost immediately though as Frank and Claire are pulled from the TV debate during a commercial and shown a recently-released video from ICO followers who have captured and plan to kill an American family of three, the Millers. Frank’s military advisers have analyzed the video and have determined that the ICO followers are likely in the U.S.

The video states that the terrorists will only speak to Will Conway and that could work to Frank’s advantage. Brockhart isn’t happy though. When Will tries to record a video with his running mate that publicly states they’ll help the president in any way they can, Brockhart gets mad that they’re essentially making it look like they’ll negotiate with terrorists, which is a tad hypocritical coming on the heels of their “tough on ICO” stance. Conway goes ahead with the video anyway, though Brockhart storms out of the room, which means trouble in GOP paradise.

Meanwhile, Frank realizes that he has to bring Conway into the mix if he wants to buy some time and allow the FBI and CIA to find the terrorists. He’s not exactly thrilled to have to work with Conway, but it’s clear he also thinks he can use the opportunity to once again put the Underwoods in a power position.

Before that can happen, the terrorists need to be tracked down. Doug gives the FBI and CIA clearance to work with Aidan and all of his tracking devices. It’s a risky move, considering that both organizations could potentially uncover the illegal tracking Aidan has been doing for the Underwood campaign, but what choice do they have? Ultimately, the lives of the Millers are more important — knowing Doug and the Underwoods though, just barely more important.

NEXT: Welcome back Walker

Other than the hostage crisis, the other big plotline in this episode involves Tom gathering on-the-record evidence for his article detailing the crimes of Frank Underwood and his administration. And boy does he have a big plan: He lies and snags a meeting with ex-President Walker. He wants him to make a statement, on the record, including everything he knows about how his impeachment happened.

Walker seems hesitant at first, but later on we learn that he’s officially on-record from Jackie Sharp. She meets with Remy and says she wants to go on the record as well. She’s told Alan about their affair, they’ve agreed to a divorce, and she’s ready to go public with her allegations against Underwood and her relationship with Remy, as the Underwoods would likely release the pictures of the two of them.

Back in the Situation Room, Conway is about to take a call from the terrorists. The White House has learned their names, but the military advisers suggest not using them as it could lead to the terrorists doing something drastic. The call is intense, with the terrorists refusing to back down from their demands. Then, Conway nails it after improvising and using their names. He talks about his military past and how he’s ashamed of what he did, of how he killed innocent people. He details the nightmares he has, and tells the terrorists — they’re young, by the way, based on their photos — that if they’ve never killed before, they have no idea what it will do to them.

He urges them to reconsider, to give the White House more time to meet all of their demands, and it works. The terrorists give them until 9 a.m. to figure everything out. The audio of the call becomes a hit, with Conway looking like a hero (for now). As Yates tells Claire, there was no way Conway was going to mess up the situation; he’s too smart, too savvy.

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Still, it would seem that Frank has something else up his sleeve; something involving a whistleblower and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If Frank has a plan he better execute it quickly, because the Washington Herald is getting damn close to publishing Tom’s article. An editor suggests waiting until after the hostage crisis is over to publish, but Tom pushes back, saying it’s the perfect opportunity. Margaret Tilden, the owner of the Herald, agrees, saying that it’s best to catch the President while he’s distracted.

While Doug is off having his dinner cooked by Laura Moretti — not an innuendo, by the way — Frank is back in the situation room and ready to make the final call to the terrorists. Conway is there and ready to go, but apparently that’s not the plan. Conway is looking for his notes but he doesn’t have any. Frank has decided he’ll talk. “Start the call” he says as the episode cuts to black with operatives closing in on a cabin in the woods where they think the terrorists are hiding out.

It’s looking like we’re in for a seriously explosive season 4 finale.

Episode Recaps

House of Cards

Ballots, betrayal, and barbecue combine in Netflix’s original drama, which stars Kevin Spacey as cunning congressman Frank Underwood and Robin Wright as his equally ruthless Lady Macbeth. Based on a 1990 BBC serial of the same name.

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