House of Cards Series 3 Review: Chapter 34

Series 3 Episode 8 - Lies and the lying liars who tell them: a fair and balanced look at the Underwood White House


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


“Imagination is its own form of courage.”

Never bull**** a bull*******, Frank. This episode, the President steps back from narrating his life and lets two other writers take up the pen.

One is Tom Yates, Frank’s biographer, who’s firmly of the ‘print the legend’ school. He might or might not have been gigolo as a young man, he might or might not have written his most famous book, and he doesn’t really care if young Frank really did kick manfully for the shore as long as he can write it up in cod Hemingway prose.

The other is newspaper reporter Kate Baldwin, who knows a hurricane is about to make land and that, without the FEMA funding Frank nicked for AmWorks, people will die. “There’s a storm on the way and its name is Frank Underwood,” she writes, quoting Terminator.

Her story gets spiked when the hurricane unexpectedly moves off, freeing up Frank to publicly re-enter the election campaign and proving that God doesn’t hold a grudge.

Life is all stories, Frank suggests. There are the stories we tell about ourselves – Meechum the Secret Service agent/toy boy plays the gallant hero, warning Tom that he better not break Frank’s heart– and there are the stories we tell each other, called lies. Doug never betrayed Frank, he was a double agent. Seth doesn’t tell Frank.

Then there are the oldest stories, the ones that run deepest, like that a young black boy with no background could one day sit in the Oval Office. Freddy (formerly of Freddy’s Ribs but now groundskeeper at the White House) has no time for such stories: “Listen up boy. He lied to you. You ain’t never going to be President.”

That’s the thing. The only difference between stories and lies is whether you believe them. 


The Quotable Underwood

“I think often people are afraid of upsetting me.”