House of Cards Series 3 Review: Chapter 31

Series 3 Episode 5 - Frank plays to win, Claire ascends to the throne


Jonathan is watching and reviewing every episode of House of Cards series three in one epic binge. Follow his progress here.


Frank loves playing games, from chess to Monument Valley. His grand plan for full employment depends on one of those obscure, absurd hypothetical loopholes that boring people like me love so much. The President depends on Congress for funding, but can use FEMA funding in the case of a declared emergency. Solution? Declare unemployment a natural disaster and use FEMA to fund AmWorks. Central to the plan is the mayor of DC. Because didn’t you know? The District of Columbia doesn’t have a governor, only a mayor.

That sound you hear is political trivia buffs squealing and clapping their hands like pigs in top hats. That other sound is global warming campaigners hammering their heads against the wall.

The only thing standing in Frank’s way (besides the fact his plan is a crazy-wacky-cuckoo Carbon Monoxide fantasy) is a new ass-kicking journalist. My fellow journos were often ashamed of Zoe and her friends. When they weren’t taking naughty pictures for Frank, they were falling into obvious FBI stings. With Kate Baldwin we at last have a reporter brave enough to hold the president to account, or spend all day in her pyjamas watching a boxset.

It was an especially flattering episode for online journalists. It’s well known that Frank is a gamer (maybe he could swap Fruit Ninja tips with David Cameron), but the idea that he would employ a video game critic for his personal propaganda/hagiography is a step too far. Frank, if you’re reading this, I would make a great Secretary for Transport.

Meanwhile Heather Dunbar is on the campaign trail, using a gay activist arrested by the Russians to may political hay. Her new adviser, Doug Stamper, looks on significantly as a physiotherapist palpitates his region.

Claire is forced to make her own powerplay to shutdown Russia’s sexist ambassador Alexi. Bringing him into her domain –the First Lady in the ladies toilet– is a stroke of genius, both a neat subversion of misogyny and a reference to an old Francis Urquhart tactic.

You’re never more powerful than when you’re sitting on the throne.

The Quotable Underwood

“I spat in one eye, I might as well spit in the other.”


“I have a certain skillset Miss Dunbar.” (Doug doing his Liam Neeson impression.)