House of Cards Season 5, Episode 10: The Live-Binge Review

Frank draws a red line.


As in previous years, I’m binge-reviewing the latest season of Netflix’s House of Cards, the TV show that helped popularize the idea of “binge watching” when it premiered in 2013. Don’t read farther than you’ve watched. (The whole series will appear here.)

Episode 10 (Chapter 62)

“The dead sleep with their eyes open,” Frank said to start this hour. “‘Left for dead’ is an ancient concept,” Claire told Tom Yates later. Both statements were apt for an alarming episode in which the Underwoods’ past victims re-emerged for vengeance while the administration geared up for a land war in Syria.

The list of increasingly relevant dead folks include Zoe Barnes and Rachel Posner, whose killings are being investigated feverishly by Hammerschmidt. But perhaps the more dangerous “dead” person is ex-president Garrett Walker, who reneged on his plan to plead the 5th in Congress after Frank needlessly subjected him to a smugness offensive. Jackie Sharp and Remy Danton, still unseen this season after driving away together in the Season 4 finale, also resurfaced as possibly incriminating witnesses—till Usher neutralized Jackie with a public humiliation that Frank claims “is not how we do things in this administration.”

That statement is obviously risible. But it is true the Underwoods have tried to avoid burning the people who have served them—a tendency that is now being tested with LeAnn, and maybe will soon be with Doug. Because Doug could, one imagines, be the fall guy for a few of the brewing scandals. Lisa, the girlfriend of Rachel Posner, has gone from loose end to full-blown threat—especially now that Doug has confronted but not killed her. Additionally, the story of Anthony Moretti dying to save Frank thanks to Doug is now known to Sean, Seth, and Claire. It get you thinking: What else could Doug be scapegoated for?

Claire might be wondering the same when she muses that there “has to be a way out” of the congressional investigation mess. But in bed with Yates, she shockingly confessed to the Underwoods’ worst crimes: the murders, committed by no one but her husband. The Lady Macbeth outburst is a sign that Frank and Claire’s bond has once again been pushed to its limits. Frank should know to be respectful of her by now, yet here he is, chiding her to defer to him because he’s “been president before” (Claire’s correct retort: “So have I”), and pressuring her to get rid of Yates. These are exactly the kinds of assertions of control she has never been able to stand. Now she seems to be questioning whether she loves her husband at all. Is the “way out” for her to sell out Frank?

Jane Davis might counsel her to do so, were Claire to let her in on her thoughts. For now, she’s steadily drumming on the door to the vice president’s sparsely redecorated office, hoping for a deeper level of collaboration. She’s also working angles with LeAnn and Usher and Cathy, all of whom get a slightly different story on what she thinks of the Underwoods. And the chilling and cinematic closing sequence with the paper shredder implies that Jane is also involved in the assassination of the data scientist Aidan. Who needs the CIA when you have this woman who doesn’t do well at parties to do your dirty work and supply your intel?

Rest in peace, sweet, weird, anxious Aidan. He’s never been a particularly lovable character, and LeAnne was right that it made “no sense” that he was roaming free on U.S. soil. But I did feel a pang when LeAnn learned of his death via sound file. The security questions were particularly wrenching, highlighting how personal their relationship was. And the shredder scene was a reminder of how his killing fits into a long, sordid history that is only set to continue.

Almost one full season after Claire and Frank appeared set to start a war to distract from their corruption, invasion finally seems imminent. Which is another thing to pin on the busybody Jane. Frank implies at one point that Jane is a war profiteer, and though she keeps mentioning humanitarianism, it is because of her intel that Frank is going to draw a “red line” about chemical weapons amid Russian meddling in Syria. (Was that on your current-events bingo card?) In bed with Yates, Claire seemed tortured that more people will die by her husband’s hand—we shall see if she, too, has drawn her own red line.

Previously: Season 5, Episode 9

Next Up: Season 5, Episode 11