After some rather questionable decision making last week, this next chapter of House Of Cards was an absolute tour de force, putting Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) front and centre and proving what a magnificent character she is.
The set-up to the episode was promising in itself – the Capitol is put into quarantine after an envelope of white powder is discovered, forcing Frank to sit in a room with a man whose support he is trying to win. Small scale episodes like this, often in a locked room, are a brilliant way to allow your characters to just talk to each other – think of Mad Men‘s The Suitcase, or the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends; they’re always the best. So, as the situation was explained, we settled in, ready for some top-notch repartee. But the focus quickly shifted to Claire, back in the Underwood home, who was preparing to do a live interview solo and who absolutely stole the show.
The interview began with Claire in control as she tactfully answered everything the reporter could throw at her. But the tension ratcheted up when she was pressed for a more definitive answer on why she and Frank had never had children, ending with the direct question, “Have you ever been pregnant?” Sensing an opportunity, or perhaps not wanting to lie, she answered honestly: “Yes”. It was a powerful moment and one where we joined Connor, their press secretary, in open-mouthed surprise, wondering how on earth she was going to salvage the situation. Though there’s a sense that Frank can find a way out of anything, Claire has never been so publicly tested like this before, but she soon got things back under control and proved just how quick-thinking and capable she is.
Robin Wright has long been one of the highlights in a very talented cast, and Claire is a gem of a character; she’s a worthy equal to the Machiavellian Frank. She is both endlessly supportive of her husband, yet utterly ruthless, cold, but never heartless. There is no other female character like her on television.
Whilst this storyline was truly gripping, it was sadly let down by Lukas’ continued attempts to hack into Frank’s phone records, utilising the help of Gavin, whom it was revealed is part of an elaborate FBI sting. But Gavin does seem to be doing all he can to put Lukas off (the man owns a guinea pig called Cashew for goodness sake. Would you trust him?) but all to no avail. If Lukas’ plan does backfire, then I can’t help feeling like he deserved it.
Though it had its problems, this was by the far the strongest episode of the season so far and it was a delight to watch Claire take the limelight for once. Now that she’s made her mark, it will be great to see her more involved in the political sphere and see her and Frank take those final few steps to the Presidency together. What a first couple they might make