David Giesbrecht/Netflix
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June 07, 2017 at 11:52 AM EDT

“Chapter 65” begins with a whirlwind of activity. I guess it’s to be expected when the president of the United States suddenly resigns, having told absolutely no one about his plans to do so. With the committee adjourned for the day, Frank waits to confront Romero about what just happened. The congressman is wary about Frank’s motives, saying that he’ll continue to work with the committee and send along charges to the DOJ. Then Frank utters a single word: “Rochelle.” We don’t really know anything about her, but bits of a conversation from a previous episode suggest that Romero either witnessed or was part of a group sexual assault on the girl in college. It’s a name that’s meant to keep Romero quiet. So it goes on House of Cards; from Zoe Barnes to Rachel Posner to “Rochelle,” women are used as empty, sexualized storytelling devices and bargaining chips.

Back in the residency, Claire is pissed. She can’t believe Frank would make a sudden decision without running it by her first. But Frank insists that this has been his plan all along. He says that every single thing that’s happened since his visit to Elysian Fields — that retreat for high-powered men — has been part of his plan. At that retreat, he was reminded that there’s immense power in the private sector, and that gave him an idea. He could construct his own downfall while raising Claire up, giving them power in both the public and private sectors.

It’s all a little far fetched and convoluted, and a too-easy way to write off many episodes worth of conflict — “I meant for that to happen” isn’t the most exciting or creative way to resolve story line conflicts — but at least we’re finally past all the nonsense about who will be president. House of Cards follows a similar structure every season, giving us a premiere that’s compelling, followed by 10 or so episodes of those compelling stories being drawn out for way too long, and then finally a finale that sets up the next season’s story lines. It means that most of the season is dull and repetitive — if you look at the character arcs this season, there’s barely a few episodes’ worth of meaningful material there, stretched out over an obligatory 13 episodes, a problem Netflix has with its Marvel shows, too.

Still, Claire Underwood is president now, thanks to Frank bringing about his own downfall. He tells Claire that he was the leak, along with Doug, and that this is what’s best for them. That’s when Claire reveals her own sinister, secretive actions, telling Frank that she killed Tom Yates. Now these two have been completely honest with each other, both understanding what they’ll do to secure power. They’re allies for now, consolidated in their power, but things aren’t exactly going to be easy moving forward. Claire not only needs to pardon Frank for all potential crimes so that he doesn’t go to jail, but she must worry about her own cabinet and policies now that she’s the president.

Behind the scenes, it would seem that Mark Usher and Jane Davis are the ones pulling the strings, working to keep Claire as clean as possible because it keeps them in positions of power. So, Jane is negotiating to have Leann installed as chief of staff because she trusts her, and Mark is working to find suitable candidates for vice president, all while Romero calls for disbanding the Judiciary Committee. Frank’s plan seems to have worked… for now.
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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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