Chaos erupts after an assassination attempt, changing things for Claire, Frank, and everybody else

By Kyle Fowle
March 04, 2016 at 07:01 PM EST
David Giesbrecht/Netflix

House of Cards

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Now we’re talking! I was starting to get worried that House Of Cards had lost some of its spark in its fourth season. After all, the first three episodes of the season basically followed the same structure: Claire figures out a way to compete against Frank, Frank finds a way to stop her, Claire figures out another way to compete against Frank. Wash, rinse, repeat. Thankfully, “Chapter 43” changes everything.

The episode begins with Frank asking Seth and Doug to figure out a way to spin the news about Claire becoming his running mate as something not problematic. Seth is pissed; he thinks it’s a ridiculous move that will totally ruin the campaign. Frank knows that too, but he has no choice, so he instructs Seth to figure it out anyway.

Doug has bigger ideas though. He figures that they can avoid the whole Claire as Vice President thing if they can get Leann on their side. But how do they do that? Well, Doug and Frank presume she just wants money and a high-profile gig, so they come up with a plan. Doug will get in touch with Leann and offer her a position as Frank’s campaign manager. They need a fresh perspective anyway, so why not kill two birds with one stone?

After sharing an intimate, jovial moment in the hallway with Meechum (a bad sign of things to come), which involves a little White House graffiti, Frank heads to the Situation Room to discuss the plan regarding Milkin. Everything is in place to plant Milkin, therefore agitating Russia and hopefully calling their bluff. Karen is very much against the plan, but Frank goes forward with it regardless.

Meanwhile, Dunbar calls the Attorney General to discuss Lucas Goodwin. She tells the AG about how Lucas spoke with her, and she details some of the information he handed over. She’s hoping that the AG can look into the matter, to see if Frank’s administration coordinated with the FBI to take Lucas down. If so, it’s a huge abuse of power and could mean the end for Frank.

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For now though, the campaign moves forward, which means that Doug is calling Leann and offering her the campaign manager position. She seems to take it into serious consideration. After all, it’s a high-profile job and surely will pay her a lot more than what Claire has been paying. Still, Leann is loyal to Claire, for one reason or another. When she tells her about the job offer, Claire writes a note to Frank and asks Leann to hand deliver it to him.

So, Leann flies to Washington and delivers the note personally. Originally, Frank and Doug think they’ve won… until they read the note. It’s a statement that Claire plans on reading on Super Tuesday that announces that she’ll be filing for divorce, that the Underwoods can’t make their marriage work anymore. It’d be a huge blow to Frank’s campaign, and he knows it.

NEXT: MMM WHATCHA SAY

That brings us to the episode’s HUGE moment. After Frank delivers a speech at Hammond University, he heads outside to talk to the group of students protesting against him. He wants to start a dialogue and begins talking to a single student within the group. Then, numerous shots ring out. Frank falls to the ground, blood pouring out of his stomach, as Lucas Goodwin, gun in hand, is taken down.

Frank is carted off to a hospital, barely alive, while Meechum lies dead in a pool of blood. The media frenzy begins. Apparently Meechum shot and killed Lucas before he died, it’s unclear if Frank is going to make it, and Donald Blythe has to be sworn in as acting President.

It’s pure chaos, sending Claire back to Washington. Her mother gives her an appropriate send-off: “I hope he dies” she says before Claire leaves the estate. Once at the hospital, Claire is informed that Frank took a bullet to the liver, and while it’s looking like he’ll survive the surgery, the road to recovery will be long.

That means Donald Blythe is in control now. He’s briefed on the highly classified operations, of which the planting of Milkin is top priority. With the plane in the air, he has to make a decision whether to go forward with the mission or completely abort it. He’s overwhelmed though, and walks out of the meeting so that he can have some time to think about it.

That leads to Doug going to Claire for help. He realizes that Blythe is out of his element, so he need Claire’s calm, steady hand there to guide the acting President toward a decision. Doug makes the mistake of assuming that Claire will just do Frank’s bidding though, and boy is it a big mistake.

Claire does show up at the White House to help Blythe, but it’s clear she has her own motives. She’s ready to prove herself, to essentially run the country through Blythe, who trusts her wholeheartedly. Thus, when she suggests he instead land the plane in China — a third option that goes against everything Frank was gunning for — Blythe goes ahead with it. It took a bullet to the gut to completely derail Frank’s plan, but Claire isn’t going to let the opportunity go to waste. She’s here to play.

After three pretty lackluster episodes starting this season, “Chapter 43” really kicks things into high gear. For the first time all season, I can’t wait to see where the show goes next.

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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  • 6
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  • 73
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