Headscratchers: House of Cards (US)

Warning: Unmarked spoilers on this page.

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    Death of Zoe Barnes 
  • The subway murder had so many variables, how could Frank know that they would have been followed by the murderee behind the fence out of sight entirely? How would Frank have known the timing for the train, and how did he go through the faregates undetected. Surely a man with sunglasses and a mask appearing when a reporter died would give the police something.
    • The Washington Metro has fairly accurate digital signs that say when the next train is coming. If Frank got on the Metro at a different stop and got off at the stop where the murder occurred, he would just seem like any number of passengers, nothing distinctive about him for the police to zero in on. All this assuming he's caught on camera, which he wasn't.
  • In real life, would Frank so easily be able to get away with this? I have a feeling he wouldn't because one would think the police would get suspicious as to the timing of when Zoe fell in front of the train, or what she was doing at the end of the platform where there was construction and no one would be boarding or exiting.
    • Cops generally don't go out of their way to classify deaths as homicides unless they really have to, otherwise it could turn into an unsolvable crime, waste detectives' time, and hurt the clearance rate. There are weird things about the death, but there's no suspect and no motive and if they could find either (and presumably didn't if Frank was capable of covering his tracks), there's plenty of reasonable doubt. And if even the best cop ever did get a whiff that Frank Underwood, the future vice president of the United States, may have been involved in some way, shape or form, you can bet that they would first inform their superior officer who would promptly advise them to keep their mouth shut.
  • It just occurred to me that Zoe's death, and in turn, Russo's death, would fall under the trope of a Revealing Cover-Up, if they happened in real life. Think about it: most of the biggest political scandals in American history have seen the only indictments or convictions come from the coverup of illegal activity, rather than the illegal activity itself (look at Watergate, for example). Partly, this is because the obstruction of justice laws are so broad that they can be interpreted to cover almost anything. Sometimes it's because the real evidence was destroyed in the coverup, and so the only evidence left is for the coverup. Finally, when confronting a defendant who they feel is guilty but without enough evidence to convict, a jury will search for some lesser charge like obstruction to nail them on.
    I think if the events of the show happened in real life, provided that they could link Frank Underwood to Peter Russo's death, the FBI would investigatenote  and this is what I think would happen: they might not be able to secure any forensic evidence that proves Frank is guilty of murdering Russo, but it's possible that a determined FBI investigator would be able to find evidence he covered up Russo's death: this could include the cover-up of Russo's DUI arrest in the first episode, Frank's involvement in Russo's campaign for the Pennsylvania governorship, Frank's Chief of Staff Doug Stamper taking up a sudden interest and stalker-like obsession with the prostitute that Russo was seen with before that radio interview, and the suspicious death of a freelance journalist named Zoe Barnes, who happened to have an acquaintanceship with Frank, and was investigating Russo's death.
    Like with Russo's death proper, the FBI might not be able to find any evidence to solidly prove that Frank Underwood shoved Zoe Barnes in front of a Washington Metro train or at the very least ordered someone to kill her, but they would probably be able to prove he covered up her death, which could include Janine Skorsky being sent nude photos of Zoe very shortly after Zoe's death (which pretty much any investigator would say was evidence of blackmail). And after that, it's possible that an FBI investigator could prove that the arrest of Zoe's former boyfriend Lucas Goodwin for cyberterrorism charges was all a set-up done to get Lucas out of the way, which would probably result in Gavin Orsay and Nathan Green being indicted.
    • All that is possible if you could find an investigator who could be motivated into doing it. Officials in the federal law enforcement agencies - FBI, ATF, DEA, CIA - investigate what they are ordered to investigate. They have very little spare time to pursue a hunch if their office director tells them, "Sir, we need you to work on this case, not that one". You would need a US District Attorney or the Attorney General himself to have a MAJOR hard-on for a case as major as this one for it to be investigated as thoroughly as described, and it would be impossible to hide such a major investigation from Frank, who would have no trouble shutting it down (to put it another way, the Attorney General would have reason to think Frank was a double-murderer, it's just that he'd be unable to prove it as Frank would pretty much has the authority to silence any investigations into him; if this had been somehow been tied to the money laundering scheme later on, there would be a much different story).
      • I thought about it again, and I think this sort of investigation by the Feds would likely unfold in this way if the politician in question was someone like a governor or a city mayor.
      • In short, the Attorney General and possibly the Feds could assume that Frank is a double-murderer, it's just that he's basically untouchable because he's Vice-President. Now if it were President Walker who thought that Frank was involved in Russo's and Barnes's deaths, I think that he probably could've sanctioned the Attorney General or the Director of the FBI to investigate Frank and they would've probably reported to him.
      • A president ordering his attorney general to investigate members of his own administration would be like playing Russian Roulette with five bullets. There is almost no way that could end with him coming out looking good. It would be impossible to keep quiet and is guaranteed to dig up more dirt than he would like to reveal. But more importantly, while we the audience knows of the connection between Underwood and Barnes, nobody else does besides her two colleagues. Nobody in law enforcement has any reason to suspect that Underwood had anything to do with Barnes' death.
    Alternatives to killing Zoe 
  • Hypothetically, instead of killing Zoe Barnes, couldn't Frank have issued gag orders against her, Lucas, and Janine? Or was murder pretty much the cleanest and most efficient way to silence her?

    Zoe blackmailing Frank 
  • In the first ep, why was it a humongous gotcha moment that Underwood was checking Zoe Barnes out? That isn't really enough dirt on someone to blackmail them into anything.
    • In real life, it probably would. Any picture of an older, married politician appearing to leer at a young woman who is clearly wearing a thong would get some attention, even if it was only with the more gossipy newspapers. With Frank's ambitions, it's definitely not the kind of headlines he needed at that moment. Plus, Zoe's determination to see Frank likely roused his curiosity and he let Zoe in just to see why she would go to such lengths just to get a private meeting with him outside of Capitol Hill.
      • Speaking of this, Slate.com did a nice analysis of Frank and Claire's marriage, and noted that if the Underwoods lived in the real world and real Washington DC, and news of their double-affair scandal broke (Frank with Zoe Barnes, Claire with Adam Galloway), Frank would be treated by the news media as secretly gay, turned on by women only when he can use them for a pure power play.
    • In the commentary for the episode, David Fincher says that the scene is based on a photo that appeared to show Barack Obama looking at a woman's ass, when in reality he was turning around to help someone down the steps. If that photo got as much attention when nothing untoward was happening, imagine how much time Underwood would have to waste dealing with that.
    Russo, you couldn't tell your girlfriend? 
  • Why didn't Peter Russo confide to Christina Gallagher in Chapter 4 that he was being blackmailed when she was basically on her way out the door. She was on her way out the door anyway.
    • Simple: For Russo to explain to Christina that he was being blackmailed, he would have to explain to her what he was being blackmailed with (driving under the influence with a prostitute) which would be admitting that he lied to her the first time, and explain who is blackmailing him. Even if she forgave him for lying to her and betraying his constituents, he'd be dragging her into his mess and inevitably into Frank Underwood's crosshairs (i.e. Every congressman's worst nightmare), resulting in Christina becoming another pawn for Frank to use in his scheme. Saying anything could only make things worse.
    Licking balls 
  • So... in the first episode, DID SHE lick his balls?
    • I think yes?
    Peter Russo's death 
  • How would Russo's death be thought a suicide if he was sitting in the passenger seat of the car?
    • With all the alcohol in his bloodstream and no sign of anyone else there. The police would probably draw the conclusion that Russo had left his engine running and switched seats to get comfortable. Or had got in the wrong side turned the key from there.
      • Which we saw he could easily do. The car was one of those where you just push a button, and Frank easily forced Peter's hand on to the button.
      • I have that same car, and the engine won't start if you aren't pressing the brake.
      • Frank explained to Zoe that the passenger door was open and that Russo was halfway out, having changed his mind but losing consciousness and dying before he could escape the fumes. Presumably, the cops could have come to the same conclusion.

  • Underwood meticulously wipes away all of his fingerprints from the crime scene, but he's also trying to make it look like a suicide. If the police dusted the car for fingerprints, wouldn't they notice that the door handles and the steering wheel had been wiped? That would be a big indicator for murder.
    • It depends if they even bothered dusting after the autopsy. Plus there's no obvious signs of a struggle or forced entry. You have a drunk and depressed congressman in one hand. In his car, in his garage filled with carbon monoxide in the other. Plus the paramedics probably contaminated the crime scene with their prints trying to get him out too.
    • Wouldn't the death of someone as important as a Congressman at least trigger an automatic investigation, no matter how plausible suicide is?
      • It probably would if it weren't for the fact that the police chief was indirectly linked to his death. The chief has every reason to downplay what happened to Russo as a suicide, because the moment a murder investigation is opened, it's only going to lead back to him releasing Russo from custody. Which of course, could then lead to him being investigated by Internal Affairs, and subsequently cost him his job, if not, him being arrested as an accessory to murder for covering up Russo's previous DUI arrest.
      • It would have to take a lot of pull in higher places than the DC Metropolitan Police Department. I'd imagine that in real life, Russo's death would be investigated by the FBI. Look under the folder pertaining to Zoe Barnes's death for more information.
    Lack of cameras? 
  • Why does Russo's parking garage have no cameras? You know, the better to protect all those shiny luxury BMW cars and Mercedes-Benzes from theft? And to guard against the occasional murderous congressman?
  • The Peachoid subplot. Am I the only one who thinks that Frank getting dragged into it seems off? The teenage girl who died got into that crash because she was texting while driving. I don't mean to sound heartless here, but that's her own damn fault. It's a bit of a stretch for a congressman that just kept it up to be blamed.
    • Take into account Frank's mood throughout this episode: He's frustrated, not angry. He knows he can solve this in the minimum amount of time. His rival and opponent down there in Gaffney is just using this as political ammunition to score cheap points, if he can drag it out long enough. The point isn't the Peachoid. It's showing (and us learning about) Frank in his home constituency and his attitudes and actions whilst there. Aloof, annoyed and viewing it as a step-back from dealing with bigger fish to fry back in Washington like the teachers' union. Like the military school episode, we find out a bit more about how Frank became Frank.
    • Obviously, everyone vaguely sane realizes that trying to blame Frank for that borders on Insane Troll Logic. But there are a lot of manufactured controversies working along similar lines. You only need a handful of "concerned citizens" stupid enough to actually believe it (and even that is optional), after that organizations and news outlets will just pick it up because it hurts a candidate they don't like. That's what happened here. The show uses such a non-issue, because that forces the audience to root for Frank. Between the ridiculousness of the accusation and the smugness of his opponent, you inevitably want Frank to succeed.

    Walker's pardon offer 
  • Why did Walker rescind his pardon offer from Tusk?
    • Frank convinced Walker that he could whip the votes away from impeachment. Walker was convinced that he had to call off having Tusk confess or he'd lose Frank, and with Frank his only shot at not being impeached and losing his presidency.
    Rachel and her girlfriend 
  • 'Gay girl meets future girlfriend while out recruiting for her cult-ish church.' The first part of that sentence doesn't fit with the last part of that sentence.
    • Whether or not "cult-ish" is a fair description of the church, your Headscratcher assumes all Christians are anti-gay. They are not.
    • I don't think the church was meant to be read as cultish once it was shown. Instead, I think it was meant to come across as a non-denominational liberal church more concerned with teaching "Jesus/God is love" and "acceptance of all." I think it was suppose to be a non-judgmental community environment for Rachel.
    • The part where Rachel's future girlfriend starts talking to her and hands her a flier seems cult-like at first, since she seems to only be talking to her so she can recruit her, but I think it's actually just a plot device to get her involved with Rachel. Or maybe she just recruits Rachel because she has a crush on her, and doesn't usually go around giving fliers to random people on buses. Alternately, it would make sense for a cult-like church to be flexible about things like that so they can recruit people who've been rejected by mainstream churches, but we just never saw much cult-ish-ness — who knows.
    Frank, Claire and Adam 
  • Why wouldn't Frank immediately guess that Claire had gone to Adam Galloway when she got mad at him and left? They were open about their outside dalliances and he had to know that she wouldn't be mad enough to be anything less than discreet and wouldn't cause a scene by completely disappearing. Adam, who knew he had to keep their relationship low profile, would seem like the obvious place for her to go with exception of maybe her parents if they were still alive. Was Frank just testing Meechum's discretion and ability to track down people (or find someone who could)?
    • If Frank was testing Meechum's skills, that would make the most sense.
    The three-way 
  • What was the moment between Frank, Claire, and Meechum about?
    • Claire giving her bisexual / maybe Armored Closet Gay husband a present.
    • Yeah, but what was the point of it plot-wise? It just came off as a Big Lipped Alligator Moment . It wasn't out of nowhere, but it was never mentioned again, didn't really serve anything aside from confirming Frank's bisexuality and the episode could happen without it and no one would notice. And after that Meechum lost any attention the narrative was giving him and just became your standard bodyguard which means getting in Underwood's double bed was the only purpose he was serving (aside from making background). Not that he's that interesting to begin with, but come on.
    • The writers were probably trying to link the Underwoods' moral failing with sexual debauchery. Here are two extremely amoral people who will kill people to get their way. They must also have threesome sex with random bodyguards as well then! Sexual debauchery = moral failing! It is the same with Xander Feng when he was introduced in the show while having asphyxiation sex with random prostitutes. Then again, this is quite a common writing method used by writers
    "Bad, for a greater good" 
  • One of the show's taglines is "Bad, For a Greater Good" (describing Frank). What greater good? Does he actually have any goals other than power for its own sake?
    • Thought of this during the "killing the dog" opening monologue. Clearly meant to establish Underwood who believes he does "unpleasant things" for "necessary" reasons, but as far as I can tell Underwood has no actual reason in mind for anything he does other than "getting more power". What is his ultimate vision?
    • In season 3, the two main bits of actual policy Frank deals with are pretty noble: Peace in the Middle East and a New Deal-like jobs program. While one could argue he's just doing those things to show that he's doing something, those are still pretty laudable goals. Maybe a case of the writers realizing they needed to have him do more actual work like things?
    • Frank is a tyrant. This "greater good" nonsense is just bullshit straight and true. What he wants is what all tyrants want: power, and more power to himself.
    • Thomas Yates illustrated it in his unfinished biography of the Underwoods: they have no offspring other than their legacy. In Chapter 8 of season 1, Frank ponders how much something like a library named after him is worth. For him, a library is so little for so much work. But crafting a lasting legacy like America Works and peace in the Middle East is immeasurably more valuable to him.
    The judge who can see through the fourth wall 
  • In Chapter 30, Justice Jacobs, with his Alzheimer's, appears to be able to hear Frank breaking the fourth wall. Normally time appears to be stopped while he's talking like that, is Frank in fact a low level reality warper?
    Why pardon Walker and Tusk? 
  • In Season 3, we find out Frank went and pardoned the people who took the fall at the end of Season 2—including Raymond Tusk! And it cost him dearly in the polls. So what could've possessed him to pardon his enemies in the first place?
    • There was an implicit agreement that when Tusk implicated Walker in the finale of Season 2, thereby leading to impeachment proceedings and his resignation, that Frank would protect him. To not do so would be foolish since Tusk easily could have done the same thing to Frank. It's better to lose approval ratings, which can be rebuilt, than face impeachment himself.
    • Frank based his decision on what happened the previous time a president stepped down because he was facing impeachment: In 1974, then-Vice President Gerald Ford became President when Richard Nixon resigned due to being implicated in the coverup to the Watergate scandal. One of Ford's first acts as President was to pardon Nixon.Elaboration  Ford pardoned Nixon because he knew that putting Nixon through an impeachment trial would cause the country a great deal of embarrassment, not to mention take up all of the country's attention.

      Frank is in a slightly different situation, since he bribed, schemed, and murdered, to get to the Oval Office: he is aware that his first term is running on borrowed time, as it's merely the remainder of Walker's term. Since he doesn't have the widespread popular support that he would have gotten if he'd gone the normal way and ran for office on the Democratics' ticket in 2012, Frank doesn't stand a good chance of getting re-elected. That's why Frank and Claire are so adamant on getting America Works and the UN ambassadorship off the ground so early. They want to leave a legacy, and they want America Works to be successful so that Frank will have stable ground to stand on for re-election. All that, on top of dealing with talks with Petrov and Russia, would be almost impossible if the country was preoccupied by Walker's impeachment trial.
    Zoe Barnes's career before joining The Washington Herald 
  • Yes, I know this fictional, but, in real life, wouldn't Zoe Barnes need to have a very decent reporting career with no blackmarks before she could even go to work at a major Washington newspaper like The Washington Post (which the Herald is a stand-in for)? As far as I am aware, I don't think the Post would be hiring someone like her. Or does The Washington Herald have different hiring standards compared to The Washington Post?
    • Papers throughout the country have been struggling to stay above water for the last few decades, especially since having to play catch-up with the latest online news sources. One of the ways they've been doing that is buying out veteran reporters and hiring fresh twenty-somethings who cost less. Throughout the first season, Margaret Tilden, the Herald's owner, is seen to be well aware of this and more than willing to give in to the times, unlike Tom Hammerschmidt. We don't know much about what Zoe Barnes did before she joined the Herald, but a reasonable route is that she probably went to a well-respected local journalism school in the DC area (Georgetown, Maryland, GW, etc), interned at the Herald, wrote some interesting enough (or at the very least, very well-written) articles in her school paper, got some contacts with people in the Herald (Lucas Goodwin would be a good bet. Zoe could have even had a contact in the form of Janine Skorsky, given Janine's agenote ), which was enough to eek her way into the paper at the right time.

    Stamper's killing of Rachel Posner 
  • In real life, wouldn't Stamper show up on someone's radar by taking a leave of absence to travel to the west coast to kill Rachel Posner? Someone on Quora said, "The president's Chief of Staff would never be able to sneak away to straight-up murder someone without ending up on someone's radar."
    • At this point, he isn't officially Chief of Staff. They only want it to announce it after the Iowa caucus, so that media speculation about his sudden re-appearance in Frank's service can't distract from that election (which is the reason Doug can't attend the press briefings). Also, right before an important caucus it's unlikely that any media outlet would spend too much time wondering where the Chief of Staff went for a day or two, or even expend resources to track and follow him. It's not a position that gets much scrutiny. And if some other agency, like the FBI, tracked him remains to be seen.
  • However, is it possible someone could eventually pull two-and-two together if someone saw Doug with Rachel?

    About Frank and the previous VP 
  • The scheme of season 1 is: Frank manipulates Russo's campaign for the Pennsylvania governorship, then manipulates him into dropping out of the race and kills him, while also convincing the VP to run for his old office, which he'd done so by having Matthews accompany Russo's campaign tour. My question is: was Frank aware that Matthews resented being Vice-President before the events of the series or not?
    • Matthews was a "tell it like it is" politician and really didn't do much to hide his feelings. It wouldn't take a master of manipulation like Frank Underwood to see that Matthews would rather be back in Pennsylvania.
    Presidential term limits and Frank Underwood 
  • I am aware that the 22nd Amendment to the Bill of Rights - passed in wake of FDR's four term presidency (the result of World War II breaking out) - limits a sitting President to two terms in office. Now, Frank ascended to the Presidency partway through Walker's term. My question is: Frank obviously is able to run for reelection in 2016. Would he still be able to run in 2020 as well or would the 22nd Amendment stop him from doing so? (The question is: would the 22nd Amendment interpret the remaining years on Walker's term in office as Frank's first term or not?)
    • I think that Frank probably could run in 2020 if he wins in 2016. Like the fact that Frank's reasons for pardoning Walker and Raymond Tusk may have been based on the reasons Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon after Nixon's resignation, you have to look at the history books. Specifically, Lyndon B. Johnson could have ended up as President for just over nine years if he'd not withdrawn from the campaign in 1968.

      To elaborate, Johnson became President in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He basically served out the remaining 14 months of Kennedy's term, then he won reelection in 1964. Thus, Johnson's first term as an elected president did not begin until January 20, 1965. Thus, he could have run for reelection in 1968 had he not chosen to drop out in response to controversy over the Vietnam War. Thus, officially, those remaining 14 months of Kennedy's term did not count against Johnson, so Johnson could have served two full four year terms.

      This means, Frank Underwood theoretically could end up being President from October 2014 to January 20, 2025. Walker's first term in office was almost halfway complete, so in theory, those last approximately 26 months on Walker's term theoretically might not count against him in regards to the two-term limit. I say theoretically because of another real life case: Nixon stepped down less than halfway through his second term in office. Thus, Gerald Ford served out the last 29 months of Nixon's term, and thus he would have been eligible to be elected in his own right only once - in 1976, which he lost to Jimmy Carter. So, unless Underwood has some manipulation tactics up his sleeve, it could be possible that he will only be eligible to be elected in his own right for 2016, and will have to leave office in 2021.
    • If Underwood served 26 months of Walker's term, he's only eligible for one term of his own. That's more than two years of the original president's term which automatically disqualifies Frank from seeking another under the 22nd Amendment. Pretty cut and dry.
      • So Frank should have perhaps waited until Walker's original term was halfway done before he manipulated Walker's downfall?
      • If he was looking to serve two full terms of his own, yes. But whether that was practical is something he would have to take into consideration. Orchestrating the resignation of the U.S. President isn't exactly easy and once the ball got rolling it would be hard to determine when exactly Walker would resign.
    Doug Stamper's obsession with Rachel Posner 
  • Is it just me, or am I missing something about why Doug Stamper develops stalkerish tendencies towards Rachel Posner? I get it that it's partially because she was used as a pawn in orchestrating Peter Russo's fall from grace and Stamper doesn't want her to spill to anyone. But why does he keep Frank in the dark about this? Is he concerned that Frank would probably not be happy with him if he found out?
    • Doug's relationship with Rachel started out as him telling a whore to keep silent. But he eventually became a much bigger part of her life: getting her a respectable job, a new apartment, and some semblance of a normal life. It's more than he would have given any other person. Rachel greatly appreciated it in a much more human way than Frank would have. She saw him almost as family, something that Doug hasn't really felt in a very long time (it's not clear if he's been in contact much with his brother Gary or Gary's children). The reason Doug keeps his obsession with Rachel a secret is because it's just that: an obsession. It's something that is beyond Doug's control and when Doug is beyond control, he is a danger to himself (i.e. his alcoholism) and to Underwood.

    Weird Donald Blythe question 
  • Is Blythe somehow related to Bill Clinton? Or is that just a freak coincidence that his last name happens to be the same as Clinton's birth name (William Blythe)?

    Another Zoe Barnes death question 
  • I don't know if this is plausible, but would Zoe still be alive if she'd kept mum to Frank about what she knew of his shady business deals?
    • Zoe had gotten out of Frank's control before. Who's to say she wouldn't again? The only good Zoe could do for Frank was to shut up, so it was safer for him to make that permanent.

    About the Michael Corrigan subplot 
  • Chapter 32 has Frank travel to Moscow to deal with the imprisoned gay rights activist Michael Corrigan, who hangs himself rather than be released. Obviously, the situation clearly wasn't handled well, but is Frank more responsible for the United States' mishandling of the incident or is Claire?
    • Was it mishandled? If one thinks that it's best to get Corrigan home under any circumstances, even if the humiliating statement has to be read, both Frank and Claire handled it as well as it could be handled. Even when Corrigan refused the easy way out, Frank successfully negotiates with Petrov to have him released anyway, and Claire did reason with him pretty well. That he would commit suicide was fairly obvious for the audience, but only because we know to expect Rule of Drama, you can't really blame Claire for not anticipating that. And if you were talking about the press conference afterward, then the biggest mistake was them not coordinating with each other (which was the whole point of that scene). The way it played out, they watered each other's statement down. Whether you think Claire or Frank were right really depends on what issue you consider to be most important at this point.
    • So, both President and First Lady pretty much handled it as well as they possibly could, and the only issue was a lack of coordination that caused the subsequent issue post-Corrigan's death? I'm just trying to interpret if Frank was onto something with his remark, "You wanna know what takes courage? Keeping your mouth shut, no matter what you may be feeling. Holding it all together when the stakes are this high."
    • The mishandling of Michael Corrigan is really manifested in one specific spot: Claire's public and poorly-judged criticism of President Petrov. Right in front of him, no less. That is not how a good diplomat should behave (remember what Mendoza said when he rejected Claire's nomination? "The position you're being considered for requires calm, cool diplomacy. What concerns me even more than the military comment is your demeanor. Is this what we're to expect from our ambassador? A hothead?"). If anything, her admonishment of Petrov in public is not only a big foot-in-mouth moment for Claire, but it probably has the opposite effect of whatever she and/or Frank were trying to achieve: it strengthens Petrov's influence within Russia, because if he can play his cards right, he can spin the aftermath of Corrigangate and make himself look like a pillar of dignity while simultaneously depicting Claire as a hysterical First Lady who doesn't know what she's talking about, and depicting Frank as unable to keep his wife on a leash. If there was anything that Frank could have salvaged from Corrigan's death, Claire killed it big-time, further straining relations between Russia and the US, which pretty much starts a chain of events that causes the First Couple's marriage to in time, crumble.
    • I think Melissa James Gibson (the writer of "Chapter 32") wanted us to sympathize with Claire and Michael Corrigan but there really isn't any reason to. In the first episode of season 3, Claire watched potentially dozens of innocent bystanders get killed by a drone strike and she seemed fine. Corrigan commits suicide, and Claire suddenly finds her morality. With such a selective morality, I see no reason to sympathize with Claire whatsoever as much as I find no reason to sympathize with Corrigan. Says quite a lot about the writers of the series, really. On Michael Corrigan's side of things, he was just delusional so there was no reason to sympathize with him there. He died as a martyr achieving absolutely nothing. As for ruining Middle East peace, everyone else already talked about it so no point discussing it. One interesting point is how Claire squarely placed the blame of the homosexuality law on Petrov. However, Petrov passed the law simply because it was popular in Russia (that in fact is true, both in the show and in real life). Thus, Claire didn't just insult Petrov. She insulted the whole of the Russian populace and anyone who supports Russia's anti-homosexual laws. Even if Russia was a democracy (it's not), the law still probably would have passed. So apart from a selective self serving morality and complete diplomatic stupidity, Claire also had quite a self serving selective view of democracy and dictatorship. Frank was right, "I should never have made you ambassador".
      • If Claire had kept her mouth shut, and waited until they were back in the United States before criticizing Petrov, things wouldn't have taken such a fiery nosedive?
      • Of course it wouldn't. It was stated quite clearly quite a few times that Petrov was pandering to the domestic audience with the whole homosexuality law and to not look weak. Why would it matter to him if he gets denounced outside the country? He still looks good because he forced Claire to say something she didn't want to in Russia and he still gets the deal he and Frank worked on. Claire was just being an idiot.
      • So, the only thing she proved was: Mendoza was right to question whether a hothead like Claire should be a US ambassador.
      • If anything, it just occurred to me, Frank also kinda had some mishandling of that press conference too because he sided with her, saying "I need to be with my wife" as opposed to trying to say something to soften the blow.
  • This might be related to Corrigan, but it might not, but thinking about Corrigan made me think about events that happen a few episodes after the Corrigan episode: does Frank or Claire even think that Claire is the wrong choice for an ambassador? In Chapter 35, the next time the Underwoods were dealing with a crisis involving Russia, Claire basically allowed the Russians to dupe her into sending special forces into an ambush. That episode and the Corrigan episode, pretty much all solidify Mendoza's opinion that Claire isn't a worthy UN ambassador and certainly not ready for higher office, and yet at the same time, Claire can't take an objective view of herself and she's blinded by her own ambitions (almost as much as Frank is). And, I don't know if anyone realizes it, but Frank spent almost the entirety of Season 3 bending over backwards trying to keep her happy— eventually leading to the deaths of the Special Forces operators and possibly another button that destroyed their marriage.
    No anti-nepotism laws? 
  • So, I get it that in real life, Frank could never appoint Claire as ambassador because Claire is his wife and the laws passed in the wake of JFK appointing Bobby to the attorney general prohibit a sitting president from appointing a family member to public office. In the House of Cards universe, though, could it be reasonable to assume that that part of the Postal Revenue and Federal Salary Act of 1967 didn't pass?
    Lucas, you couldn't go out and buy another computer? 
  • This MarketWatch article said that it was probably not a smart move for Lucas Goodwin to launch an online hacking campaign against the VEEP from his computer at work, with firewall and all (then again, I know he's not thinking straight ever since Zoe Barnes died). It posited: wouldn't it have made more sense to Lucas to buy a new laptop from an electronics store in cash and then hack Frank's records while operating on public Wi-Fi somewhere, so it would be harder to trace him?
    • Lucas had to be told what the deep web is. He's a desk reporter, not a hacker. The most sophisticated thing he's probably ever done with a computer is use a dropbox. I doubt he'd have the foresight to use what computer experts would consider common sense security measures. On the other hand, if it were Gavin going after Frank, this would be different.
    "I did not have sexual relations with that journalist....Zoe Barnes" 
  • So, Chapter 22 deals with Frank and Claire each having to deal with the press after Raymond Tusk strikes back at Frank by leaking to the press Claire's affair with Adam Galloway, and Freddy's criminal past. Obviously, the Second Couple is able to resolve the issues, albeit at great cost. But then I thought about the entire affair Frank had with Zoe Barnes during season 1. And, this is admittedly hypothetical, but if the press, or Tusk, ever managed to find out about Frank's affair with Zoe, either during the affair or after her death, what would Frank's response tactic be?
    Was Russo's death really necessary? 
  • As great as it was from a narrative point of view, why did Russo have to die? I get that he needed VP Matthews out of the way but Russo's campaign was completely in the toilet by that point. He was not going to be get elected. Frank could just do exactly what he did with a disgraced and jobless Russo as he could with a dead one.
    • Possibly. But remember what Russo was doing when Frank picked him up? He was at the police station confessing that he had been drinking and driving a few months ago. Russo was trying to absolve himself of his wrongdoings and accept his punishment. If left alive, the moment he sobered up, Russo would have probably been all too glad to go to every mainstream media network and late night talk show to say that Frank was a blackmailer and a liar, which would have rendered Frank politically impotent in both the public eye and in Congress. This could have possibly led to Frank being impeached (can they even impeach Congressmen for being duplicitous like this or not?) or at the very least being basically being voted out of office through losing the next set of elections. It would be even worse for Frank because, as you said, he wants Matthews out of the way, and I think Walker certainly wouldn't even remotely consider Frank as a replacement Vice-President if he knew that Frank wasn't trustworthy.
      • Russo would probably need some extra witnesses to support his claims that Frank had blackmailed him into being loyal to him in exchange for not going public on the DUI business, like Rachel Posner, (since I think she'd be able to testify that she was sent on Doug Stamper's orders) and possibly Christina Gallagher. But, yeah, Frank's rationale for killing Russo is so that he wouldn't talk.
  • Weird question, which someone actually mentioned in a Facebook group, "why couldn't Team Underwood try doing what the Corleones did in The Godfather Part II to get Senator Geary in their pocket (trick the person they want on their side into thinking he's killed a prostitute while on drugs, then blackmail them to keep the incident covered up, maybe with some assistance from Olivia Pope)?" It's not my question, since, I think it's a bit too ludicrous to be possible, there are too many problems that would arise.
    Was Rachel's death really necessary? 
  • Since the question has already been asked regarding both Peter Russo and Zoe Barnes, I might as well ask if Rachel Posner really had to die or not. I get it that she was involved in Russo's downfall and death, but it just seemed to me like her death was kinda unnecessary.
    • However small of a chance there was that she would talk about Russo and her involvement with Underwood's plans, there was still a chance. But more importantly, she was the target of Doug's obsession for coming on two years now. Her murder was a personal matter for Doug. Since he could never possess her and he couldn't function with the knowledge that she was out in the world somewhere, he decided to get rid of her once and for all.
      • Of course, even though I ask this, I'm one who kept thinking that Rachel at points was like a "Trapped by Mountain Lions" subplot and the writers killed her off so we could firmly focus on Washington.
    How far Frank's scheming would get him in real life 
  • I know that this is a show and sometimes breaks from reality are necessary to create an entertaining plot or advance it, but how far would Frank's scheming get him if reality existed? I mean, one Washington Post op-ed pointed this out, but I don't know if its merits are true.
    • In real life, in order for Frank's scheming to get him as far as it did, there would have to be absolutely zero room for error, and the odds of that being the case are a million to one. Note how many politicians have had their careers ruined by mistakes smaller than any of the hazards Frank faces with his plans. Additionally, his manhandling of legislators and other political figures, while effective, would start to rub even his allies the wrong way as eventually this tactic would come up against someone immune to his threats (and that does happen in season 3). Not to mention, Frank has an insatiable ambition from the start, so in real life, it would be impossible not to see that. Maybe not early on in his career, but eventually the party leadership would probably start to tire of Frank and engineer their own strategy to place him in a sinecure position where he wouldn't be a bother to anybody. Frank may not be happy about it, but he's not going to burn the house down if it doesn't further his goals.

    Remy Danton getting pulled over 
  • There's a scene in what I think is Chapter 35 where Remy is pulled over by the police. Am I the only one to think it's kinda odd that the cop doesn't recognize Remy, or is the job of White House Chief of Staff so low-key that no one puts a face to the person in that job?
    • If you ask the average American to name off the top of their head who the current White House Chief of Staff is, most likely no one would be able to, let alone recognize their face.

    Dunbar's Dirt on Claire 
  • This is a question that someone asked in a Facebook group for the show, which I'm reposting here: in season 3, Heather Dunbar's campaign cannot find any dirt on Claire, other than that journal with the information about her abortions. The question is, if Dunbar's campaign could dig up that journal, why couldn't they dig up the former staff members of Claire's non-profit from season 1 that she had fired, including Gillian Cole, the pregnant staff member? I would think that would somehow come up given how recently that happened.
    • In exchange for dropping the lawsuit and reinstating Cole's health insurance, Claire gave her complete control of the non-profit. But it certainly would be realistic that handing over the non-profit would include signing an ironclad nondisclosure agreement. Barring that, Cole also is a true believer in the mission of the nonprofit, so slinging any dirt about its founder and former director would jeopardize its future.
      • She might not speak ill, but in theory could Dunbar's campaign just take her words out of context? I think that there've been quite a number of real attack ads that were nabbed by fact checkers for taking quotes out of context.
  • Related question: in theory, why didn't Dunbar consider using the stuff that Raymond Tusk had used in his battles against Frank in "Chapter 22"? I mean, I sometimes think that in real life, if a presidential candidate's wife slept with another man, that might be material that would show up in an attack ad.
    • Because all of that is old news. If Dunbar started bringing up an already stale scandal from over a year ago, it would be obvious what she's doing, even to the viewer and it would seem like a petty and clumsy attack by a desperate candidate. Not to mention, Underwood weathered those blows before. There's no reason to think he wouldn't weather them again.
      • Frank did hire Freddy as a groundskeeper. I imagine that must have been kept very quiet so that none of Frank's rivals would notice?

    Rachel burning through money 
  • In Season 1, and I think it's after Russo's death, Doug Stamper gives Rachel $10,000 (plus an extra "tip"), then within weeks, she is out of cash and demanding more money from him and a place to stay. From what we see of her, she doesn't look like an addict or anything. What did she do with that money? I know some of it would have to be used to purchase food and other necessities, but it seems odd that she'd burn through $10,000 in a few weeks.
    • DC isn't a cheap city to live in, and the life of a prostitute (even a "classy" one) is not one that is conducive to financial security. If she had a pimp, I'd be surprised that she held on to that ten grand for as long as she did.

    You couldn't use a shell corporation, Mr. Tusk? 
  • The thing about the money laundering scheme in season 2 is that it seems kinda off: I mean, did Tusk really need to enlist the help of casino owner Daniel Lanagin to get foreign money into the elections? In the show, Chinese stooges working for Tusk and Xander Feng gamble at Lanagin’s casino. They throw away millions at the tables, and Lanagin then moves their money to the super PAC as a political donation. Isn't that the worst possible way to do it? 'Cause that's leaving a lengthy paper trail of airline flight itineraries, security camera footage, and casino employees in on the scam. Why not just use a shell corporation established in the United States to launder foreign money?
    • The scheme seemed to aim more for opacity rather than complete clandestinity. You can have paper trails for the flight itinerary and surveillance video, but under light scrutiny, all of this could be explained away as tourists legally spending their money at the casino. Losing money at a casino doesn't leave a receipt (or if it did, one would have to already know who the stooges are to prove that their loss was intentional) so there wouldn't be any one-to-one correlation between the alleged income and the money spent. The flaw in the plan came when someone who knew of the plan tipped off the media, who shone enough of a spotlight on it that it would eventually collapse. But in a court of law, if everyone stuck to their stories, it is doubtful that the state would be able to definitively prove that anything illegal was going on.
      • Yeah, it's like the scheme was dying to be discovered. And whoever tipped off the media really needed a tougher nondisclosure agreement.

    The Pussy Riot cameo 
  • In Chapter 29, real members of Pussy Riot, specifically Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, along with Tolokonnikova's husband Pyotr Verzilov, make cameo appearances as guests at a White House state dinner in Russian President Viktor Petrov's honor. Now, in real life, I know that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina served 18 months in prison for performing a song that criticized Vladimir Putin. I know it's just a cameo and whatnot (and points to the series creators for putting that music video of theirs in the credits), but am I the only one who thinks that in real life, Miss Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina probably wouldn't be allowed to attend a White House state dinner with Putin, partly because they might be inclined to make a toast similar to the one they make in the showYou know, like ?
    • There are three ways the Pussy Riot cameo could be interpreted: 1) it shows any opposition in Russia that Frank is amenable to all forces in Russia, not just Petrov. 2) It also panders to liberal interests in the United States, assuring them that the US is not completely soft on Russia. 3) Barring everything else, it's Frank's subtle way of keeping Petrov on his toes. Petrov is used to being able to do whatever he wants because everyone in the room is intimidated by him. With Pussy Riot being brave enough to openly criticize him such as they did, Petrov has to squirm to keep a straight face knowing he can't control them.

    Frank and Tusk question 
  • In Chapter 12, when Frank is told that Walker is considering Raymond Tusk to replace Matthews as VP, he seems to react with disgust and incredulity at the decision, and he points out that Tusk would alienate the public if he held a public office. Is his concern that Tusk would alienate voters genuine or is it Frank acting stunned that he's not Walker's first choice?
    • Probably a little of both. Tusk is a businessman, not a politician, so he is not the ideal candidate for being vice president. But more importantly, Underwood just found himself a step behind for once in this series. It's a hit to both his political ambitions and ego.
      • I asked this question, curiously enough, because I keep thinking for some odd reason that you could substitute "Donald Trump" in Tusk's place and leave Frank's remarks unchanged, and it would still sound effective, because Frank's concern sounds very similar to things I've heard some real people say are the reason that Donald Trump is the least ideal candidate for President in the real-world 2016 race (that's even under Hilarious in Hindsight on the YMMV page).

    The feasibility of America Works 
  • Having watched all of season 3, I've wondered, would legislation similar to America Works be even remotely plausible in real life?
    • Assuming that America Works could be drafted in a form that would sustainably provide jobs to a sizable portion of the underemployed, the only way to fund it would be to completely reconfigure social security. Because social security has been something of a sacred institution for the last seventy years, touching it in any way would be incredibly unpopular, especially among the elderly voting bloc, which happens to be the most reliable voting demographic. Compounding the unlikeliness of America Works taking off is the natural resistance of Congress to make any meaningful change in the way government functions.