House of Cards recap: 'Chapter 63'
With talks of impeachment on the table, the White House is in complete disarray
With the sluggishness of the election story line out of the way and the Conways nowhere to be found, it would seem that House of Cards is finally building some momentum. Things are moving quickly now. With Walker’s testimony implicating the president in a massive scandal involving Chinese money influencing elections, there are already talks of impeachment. Seth may be on MSNBC arguing that it’s too soon for such drastic measures, but back at the White House, everyone is preparing for the worst. Well, almost everyone. Frank seems to think he can still get out of this — I mean, he’s done it literally every other time in the past, so it’s hard to blame him for his optimism — but those thoughts are running contrary to pretty much everyone around him.
While Frank can handle everyday dissenters, there’s one person he certainly can’t handle losing: Claire. As the season approaches its end, it’s becoming clear that Claire and Frank are at a crossroads of sorts. While Frank wants to fight impeachment and do everything he can to stay on as president, Claire is looking ahead. She sees an inevitable downfall for Frank and wants him to begin to accept it so she can perhaps escape this mess unscathed. At least then an Underwood would still be in power.
And in case you had any doubts that such a shift in power is taking place, Claire Underwood finally breaks the fourth wall here, turning to the camera and delivering a brief monologue about how she’s “wary” of us and how she doesn’t need the constant attention the way Frank does. The table is being set for Claire to take over as the driving force behind House of Cards‘ larger narrative, and this moment is the most obvious sign yet that we’re on our way to a power struggle between Claire and Frank.
Of course, there’s also that whole murder investigation thing to worry about. While Tom continues to dig into that — all while one of his team members is sleeping with Sean Jeffries, which could lead to some problems down the road — he gets an unmarked flash drive in the mail. It’s a leak from inside the White House containing information about the Underwoods wrongfully arresting a Muslim man by the name of Kalabi in order to trump up terror fears and throw the election into chaos.
The Herald can’t run the unconfirmed story, so Tom gets it sent over to Slugline. Once the news breaks, it’s all-out panic at the White House, with the obvious real-life parallel being Donald Trump’s hysterical calls for his own leaks to be plugged. Remember, if you’re a terrible president doing terrible things, you have to admonish the leaks rather than the damning information they contain. That’s just policy!
Anyways, with the Underwoods panicking about more potential leaks, they bring in ADCT Greene to fight back. The White House is already set up for complete surveillance, so they have him activate everything; every phone, laptop, and tablet becomes a piece of surveillance equipment in the hopes of finding the person responsible for the leak.
Also at the heart of all of this mess is Aidan MacAllan. His death in the previous episode doesn’t mean that he’s no longer important. In fact, we know that Leann has something from him, and it must be big. Doug watches her express shock and surprise as he surveils her, but we still don’t know what’s in that file. All we know is that the FBI is looking into Aidan’s death, and that Doug and Leann sleep together for some reason, probably because these people are all immensely messed up. (Recap continues on page 2)
As “Chapter 63” unfolds, it becomes clear that this moment in time is a turning point for the Underwood administration. They’ve always had problems in the past, but this time, with articles of impeachment being filed in a few days and leaks finding their way to the media, things are different. It’s beginning to show in the relationships too. Frank dismisses Eric from the White House, and Claire tells Yates to leave. Add to that the fraying relationship between Doug and Seth, as well as Doug cutting ties with Laura Moretti, and you get the sense that everyone is scrambling.
The Democrats see at least one way forward that would avoid a lot of mess: Frank resigning. Terry Womack and Bob Birch approach him with the idea, telling him that he shouldn’t be so confident the Senate will stop impeachment. It feels like a big moment for Frank, one where he suddenly realizes that this is happening, that his presidency is in question and there may be no way to get back to a place where he’s in control.
So, while Frank tries to come up with ways to save his presidency, Claire is preparing for the worst. In her statements she’s standing by the president, but in secret she’s weighing all of her options. Here, she meets with Jane Davis, away from the surveillance cameras, and Davis tells her that she needs to be doing everything she can to distance herself from Frank.
This meeting comes after Claire tells Frank that she’s heading to the gym to run off some stress, only for Frank to then try to track her movements. For a whole 45 minutes, he can’t account for her whereabouts, and he’s growing paranoid about his own wife’s motivations. Later, when Doug tells the President the truth about Laura and Anthony Moretti and reveals that Claire knew about it, it only stokes his suspicions. Doesn’t Claire tell him everything? Apparently not, and now he’s realizing it.
In essence, “Chapter 63” is all about setting up the Underwoods for a downfall, though whether that involves both Frank and Claire or just the former is still up in the air. Late in the episode, there’s another leak implicating the president in acting on bad evidence in order to shut down voting centers and tamper with the election. Frank asks Catherine to fabricate documents to make it look like they were justified in their actions, and in arresting Kalabi, and that may be the move that ultimately secures Frank’s fate.
That’s because Catherine goes straight to Romero and agrees to testify before the committee. As the episode comes to an end, Catherine is set to testify, Claire is practicing her deniability skills in the mirror, and another flash drive is sitting on Tom’s desk. The house of cards is about to come tumbling down.