House of Cards – Chapter 3: Frank and the Giant Peach
A few things happened in Chapter 3 of the Netflix series House of Cards. Very few. Okay, that’s not fair. It would have been difficult for the show to keep up the breakneck pace it established in the first two episodes, and this one is about as leisurely as a glass of iced tea on a South Carolina porch on Saturday afternoon.
Frank (Kevin Spacey) spends most of his time back in his home district dealing with a local monstrosity of a water tower called the “Peachoid,” or something like that. Anyway, it’s in the shape of a peach but it tends to also resemble a private part of the human body, although not everyone can agree on exactly which part. Suffice it to say that it’s a part that doesn’t normally see the light of day.
Problem is, a 17-year-old girl saw fit to text her boyfriend with her observation of this anatomical similarity while driving and went off the road, killing herself. Bigger problem is Frank has fought on the side of the peach growers (well, on the side of their money) to keep the peach…thing…when others have tried to eradicate it. Others such as County Administrator Oren Chase, Frank’s old nemesis who has tried to defeat him for his House seat before and is making political hay of this by accusing Frank of being responsible for the girl’s death. There’s even talk of a lawsuit against the town, brought by the girl’s parents with, of course, the encouragement of Chase.
If all this seems like much ado about absolutely zip, Frank Underwood couldn’t agree more. “It’s a peach, for crissake.” However, his chief of staff, Doug Stamper, knows that this peach controversy will not just dry up and go away, and if a lawsuit is filed Frank will be made into a national laughingstock, not to mention getting bogged down with depositions, court appearances, etc. Oh yes, and then there’s that education bill, too.
With the teachers’ union sitting at his negotiating table objecting to almost all the key components of his proposed legislation, and the President, with time running out on that first-100-days promise, due to make a speech in just days touting it, the timing of this “small ball crap” back home couldn’t be worse. Still, Frank realizes he had better make his way to his hometown of Gaffney, South Carolina, and put this fire out before it derails everything he is trying to accomplish that matters.
Claire subplot. Yeah, it’s still there, and Chapter 3 is not the episode where we find out why. She’s trying to hire a woman for the CWI who has actual principles and is reluctant to work for her (good instincts), and who quite obviously is sick but can’t afford to go to a doctor. Claire (Robin Wright) insists that she let her pay to send her to one. And yet, Claire still isn’t likable.
Claire also gets spooked by an old woman chastising her as she jogs through the cemetery. The most interesting thing about that is that she is trying to tell Frank about it on the phone when he gets a text from Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) at the Washington Herald. Young phenom reporter is feeling neglected by him because it’s been almost three whole days since he’s given her a front-page story. He tells her he’s busy with district business, and then she and Frank do the closest thing to flirting that they’ve engaged in yet, without…actually…doing any flirting. A few vaguely suggestive volleys are traded, and that’s it. She promises to blow him a kiss the next day on national TV and does, though directing it at someone else on the air.
Lacking any new bread from her provider, Zoe promotes herself, going on a CNN talk show and discussing the changing role of newspapers in the digital age. She gets called on the carpet by her boss at the Herald for talking about the paper’s business in public, and when she feels he is being condescending, they get into a tit-for-tat about him being sexist. Finally he tells her “No TV for a month!” She’s shocked. “You heard me. No interviews for a month,” he insists. When she protests, he asks, “Do you want to make it no TV indefinitely?” She shuts up. Well that was fun.
But Frank’s having fun of his own down South. He gets told to get lost by the dead girl’s father at a candlelight vigil for her (I have to admit, I enjoyed his aside to us, “Well that went well”) and he’s got Washington on his back with a tableful of negotiators getting antsy to bolt in his absence. But he knows how to solve his Gaffney problems.
Frank goes to the girl’s parents’ church for Sunday services, gives a good, down-home, Bible-thumpin’ sermon/eulogy, most of which was fabricated and all of which was insincere (asides again let us in on that), then makes sandwiches back at his home for a nice little lunch with the parents and the minister. Something about a college scholarship in the girl’s name from the school she was set to attend, and “Will you let me work for you?” and it’s goodbye lawsuit. The people of Gaffney—“humility is their form of pride. If you can humble yourself before them, they will do anything you ask.”
Well, Humble Frank’s got just time enough to head over to his nemesis’s house and play some hardball. If Oren wants the easements to continue that Frank has always fought for in Congress to prevent the local power company from stringing lines right through Oren’s home, he might want to consider forgetting the smear campaign against Frank. And then there’s the fact that Frank has discovered that putting up guardrails on the road—which would have saved the girl’s life—is county jurisdiction. Food for thought, eh, County Administrator Oren? All this and Frank will still make sure Oren wins the House seat in the neighboring district: “Always nice to have friends across the aisle.”
Now, about that flight back to D.C.
Whew! Dispatched that annoyance in the nick of time. The natives at the negotiating table were getting restless, and Stamper was running out of tap dances to perform to make them stay put long enough for Frank to try to hammer out a deal. What a sidetrack that Gaffney thing was. The idea of reminding a representative that he does actually represent something, somewhere, other than his own self-interests in Washington! Terribly inconvenient.
Meantime, what’s Congressman Russo been up to? Pretty quiet on his front too. Oh, he thought about doing some blow in the bathroom with his assistant/girlfriend in the other room, but he dumped it down the sink instead. And the assistant/girlfriend? Christina is seriously considering dumping the first half of that title by accepting a gig in the Speaker’s office—you know, so that their relationship doesn’t have all this “boss/employee” stuff in the way. She seems disappointed that Russo’s willing to let her take the job, then relieved when he later decides he better tell her he really doesn’t want her to, then in the morning tells him that if she decides to stay it’s because it’s what she wants, not because it’s what he wants. Then she dives right back into work with him. Theirs is a strange and wonderful relationship—though I haven’t figured out yet which one of them is stranger.
Content from our partners
ScreenPicks is a subsidiary of AllMediaNY.com