Chapter 3 is the third episode of the first season, as well as the third episode in general. It aired on February 1, 2013, along with the rest of season 1.
Francis must leave union negotiations to deal with a crisis in his home district; Zoe negotiates the politics of being a journalist on the rise.
Frank Underwood is in the middle of negotiating with Marty Spinella, head of the teacher's union, trying to bring everything together. But while that debate rages on, Doug Stamper pulls Frank out to watch a local news report.
A 17-year-old girl ran off the road while texting her boyfriend at night back in Frank's hometown of Gaffney. The text: "Doesn't the Peachoid look like a giant c-word." The local County Administrator Oren Chase has already touched base with the family, ready to run the Underwood smear campaign by talking the family into suing Gaffney.
Even though both Linda Vasquez and Spinella protest, Frank begrudgingly leaves the union negotiations and heads south with his new bodyguard, Edward Meechum, on damage control. Chase turns down political help because of his personal grudge against Frank, promising to make it messy.
His next move is to city hall, talking with the Mayor and a few city council members. They’re split on whether or not to let the Masters issue go to court on principle (she was, after all, illegally texting). But as soon as he’s off the education conference line, Underwood can’t let that happen:
“We’ve been dealing with this for a week, Frank.”
“So where’s your solution?”
Underwood has a plan almost instantaneously—the city can raise $150,000 for a potential settlement and they’ll also sponsor anti-texting and driving billboards to go up ASAP near the Peachoid. Maybe if it wasn’t lit up at night it’d be less of a distraction… and the city would save almost enough cash on electricity to send a kid to college. That’s enough to get the ball rolling, and Underwood and the mayor look up something about county roads and power lines in the meantime.
The first time Underwood actually encounters the Masters family is at a public vigil sponsored by the neighborhood church. Mrs. Masters mourns, but appreciates the sentiment of her congressman showing up. Mr. Masters isn’t as cordial (Oren has clearly worked with the duo already and, sure enough, he’s nearby to advise ignoring Underwood). Not as easy sailing as he might’ve hoped, but Underwood is never without a plan. He pulls the reverend aside and asks for a favor in the morning’s service.
The life of a politician knows odd hours however. Before then, he heads back to his SC home and continues the education conference call. Well, “continues” is a loose term. Those guys are still at odds, but Underwood puts the call on mute to say goodnight to Claire (and learn the origins of his tulips). Even after they hang up his attention isn’t on work, he’s flirtatiously texting Zoe Barnes. Well, it seems innocent enough at first—but Barnes is clearly talented at playing this game. She quickly escalates a “what’s next?” conversation into:
What’s more pressing than me?
You haven’t seen me start.
I can’t imagine.
I bet you can.
I bet you HAVE.
Watch STARTING POINT tomorrow, I’ll blow you a kiss.
(Which, she does.)
Underwood’s deal with reverend gets him a little time at the altar, and he demonstrates the oratory skills that clearly helped him rise in Washington. He frames an old-school passionate sermon around the idea of hate, going so far as to yell “I hate you, god” in front of a South Carolina congregation. He’s able to connect to the parishioners by making them equals, saying they’ve all done this before when feeling soul crushing loss, and two among them are feeling that today. The cherry on top is sharing the death of his own father at the young age of 43, though it’s less tragic that it’s played up to be. “Maybe it’s best he died so young, he was just taking up space—but that doesn’t make for a very powerful eulogy does it?”
It’s simply a matter of time at this point. The Masters come over for lunch, discussions get heated at times—Underwood literally pushes this to the point of asking Mr. Masters, “Do you want me to resign?”—but their convo ends talking about a Furman scholarship in their daughter’s honor.
Damage control done in its most artistic and efficient way. But there’s one last bit of business to take care of while at home—kick some dirt on Oren. Along with the mayor, Underwood rolls up to his property and kindly reminds him road guardrails are under county supervision. The car crashed, she wore her seatbelt, but… if there were guardrails the car doesn’t flip three times. “The county administrator didn’t build those guardrails and now she’s dead.” To add salt to the wound, power lines the mayor usually blocks because they fall on Oren’s property… well, this year they can go up if he claims “Eminent Domain.” Oren is speechless, but Underwood doesn’t really want to bury him, merely flex. He says he’ll support Oren in the fourth, keep the fifth, then they can put the Peachoid behind them and call it a day.
Barnes gets trashed by her editor for her growing public persona. It’s a response to her TV appearance where she’s pressed on how the Herald is adapting to the Internet age. She gets scolded like a child, told she’s “no Judy Miller” then given a 30-day TV ban… which she then asks Underwood about breaking for Dateline.
Claire Underwood recruits a water non-profit hero named Jillian to her organization. Jillian is skeptical at first—she’s been wined and dined before. We discover Sergey and Larry wanted to add her to the Google team but she felt like a trophy for them to brag about to the media. Claire is unphased, she follows up by visiting Jillian at home and telling her she doesn’t want to hire Jillian but rather enable her to achieve. She tops it off by correctly guessing Jillian lacks health insurance and pays for a doctor visit to take care of a cold.
Claire also gets her second weird karmic interaction in as many episodes. While running around D.C., she continues her path through a cemetery—only to have an elderly woman stop her mid stride, yelling she’s disrespectful. Claire later reroutes accordingly, but we find her in the cemetery later this episode on a walk. She spots two younger kids making out among the tombstones, but Claire simply smiles and moves along.
Russo seems to have things going well with Christina despite his MIA act in the Berkshires. At dinner, she reveals that she wants to work somewhere else to further legitimize their relationship. She’s offered a Deputy LD position in the speaker’s office and is leaning toward taking it. Russo is supportive at the dinner. But we get them together at his apartment later, and Russo surprises himself by flushing his last bit of cocaine from his toiletries bag down the drain—for her. In the morning, he tells her he has to be honest: he doesn’t want Christina to leave.
The following characters appeared in this chapter.
- Frank Underwood
- Claire Underwood
- Zoe Barnes
- Peter Russo
- Doug Stamper
- Linda Vasquez
- Christina Gallagher
- Gillian Cole (First appearance)
- Tom Hammerschmidt
- Nancy Kaufberger
- Rachel Posner
- Edward Meechum (First appearance)
- Martin Spinella (First appearance)
- Margaret Tilden (First appearance)
- Gene Clancey (First appearance)
- Oren Chase (First appearance)
- Dean Masters (First appearance)
- Leanne Masters (First appearance)
- Reverend Jenkins (First appearance)
- Young Woman (first appearance)
|Organizations and titles||Sentient species||Vehicles and vessels||Weapons and technology||Miscellanea|
Organizations and titles
|Season 1 Episodes|
|See also: S1 • S2 • S3 • S4 • S5 • S6|