Recap: House of Cards, The Final Three Episodes

Written by Dylan Brandsema

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DISCLAIMER: SPOILERS AHEAD!!! DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE EPISODES!!

EPISODE 311: “Chapter 37”

Ya know, the “twists” this season are really desperate. Early on in “Chapter 37” we see Frank and Jackie discussing how to corner Heather Dunbar in the upcoming presidential debate. They disagree on strategy, so of course, Jackie turns to Dunbar to the same. When Jackie can’t seem to get a hold on either of them, it turns into a free-for-all. Anybody paying attention to Jackie’s character, and the way she maneuvers through the ranks, this was easy to see coming, and it comes off as rather flat plot turn.

Photo Credit: David Giesbrecht for Netflix
Photo Credit: David Giesbrecht for Netflix

Despite the shaky set-up, however, the actual debate that takes place is without a doubt the high point of this episode, and one of this season’s most riveting scenes. The debate talks about practically half of the episode – an interesting, but frankly brilliant creative choice – we get to see it in one, long, uninterrupted period, as if we were really there in the seats ourselves. The debate itself is sharply written, and we get to see our triangle of candidates under pressure, and intelligent, and resourceful questions (mostly Frank, of course). It’s smart, intense, and viewers’ eyes will be glued to the screen, wishing that real presidential debates were the way they are here.

During the debates, Frank also brings up to both of the candidates, through dodging the question, that having a family can sometimes get in the way. This is something we’ve known all along – and it’s kind of ironic of him to bring it up now, right after his wife of 29 years was forced to resign as Ambassador to solve overseas conflicts – a nice little nod to the audience from the writers, perhaps.

Towards the end of the episode, we get a rightfully nerve-wracking scene between Claire and Tom Yates. When volunteering to give blood, Claire thought it would be a good a time as any to finally give him the sit-down he’s been asking for to contribute to the America Works book. When she loses too much blood and starts to feel lightheaded, she loses control of her self-awareness and starts confesses a little too much as Yates starts asking her about her marriage to Frank. It’s never made crystal clear what she’s trying to say, as she’s very woozy and soon after passes out, but something about “seven years” and wanting to jump off a bridge only indicates the worst. (A genius metaphor is also on display here — she’s bleeding her out to Yates when bleeding her blood into a tube) When Frank finds about her delirious confession, he becomes frantic – the worst thing to be during such a critical time in his presidency.

Photo Credit: David Giesbrecht for Netflix
Photo Credit: David Giesbrecht for Netflix

The final scene of “Chapter 37” is likely the most ambiguous of not only the season, but perhaps of House of Cards as a whole, relying on metaphors and symbolism to create a cliffhanger. As Claire sits and reads a children’s book to kindergarteners (assuming), she reads the line “I don’t know what to do!” multiple times, followed by “Don’t do anything?!”, as she glances over at Frank, smirking at her from across the room. She smiles back. A brilliant and beautiful ending to fantastic episode, despite a small blunder in the beginning.

With excellent writing from Melissa James Gibson, and spot-on directing from Poland’s Agnieszka Holland, “Chapter 37” leads us into the final two chapters of House of Cards like threads being effortlessly woven into a sweater, preparing us for the worst, or, if the show keeps up its element, the best.

Overall rating: 9/10

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