House of Cards recap: Episodes 7 and 8: The Rise of Peter Russo

The series loses some steam as Peter starts campaigning and Frank turns introspective
Ep. 07 | Aired Feb 4, 2013

FRANK UNDER FIRE Just kidding; the Majority Whip never loses his cool.

Patrick Harbron/Netflix

Russo travels home to Philly in Chapter 8 to address those angry shipbuilders. Their support is vital to his campaign, but it seems at first that it’ll be impossible for Peter to soothe their rage. Then he gets into a fist fight with Paul, the leader of the shipbuilders’ union… and suddenly the working stiff is on Russo’s side.

The turnaround’s quick enough to give a man whiplash, but no matter — now Peter’s got real momentum. And he even manages to assert some Underwoodian dominance over an orderly at the hospital where his mother’s being treated before he leaves the Keystone State.

Speaking of Frank: Excluding a graphic, disturbing sex scene at the episode’s conclusion — note: if you’re on the phone with your dad when your married lover starts pulling down your underwear, hang up, for the love of God — the Majority Whip stays mostly on the sidelines in Chapter 7. He returns with a vengeance in the next installment, as he and Claire head to South Carolina to visit Frank’s college stomping grounds, a fictionalized version of The Citadel called The Sentinel.

A surprise reunion with his old a cappella group leads Frank to indulge in a night of drinking, pushup contests, and carousing in the military college’s creepy, abandoned old library (which has been replaced with a new building that bears Frank’s name). The whole storyline serves to deepen Frank’s character, proving that before he became the snake we know and love, he was just a carefree a good ol’ boy who nursed feelings for his male best friend. (They even fooled around a few times as undergrads.) It also puts Underwood in a vulnerable spot for the first time.

But this new, softer Frank isn’t here to stay — by the time he leaves S.C., he’s ditched his nostalgic, rose-colored glasses for the laser-sharp gaze he wears like a mask in Washington. Guess you really can’t go home again.

Also: Claire knows origami now. Clearly, that’s going to become super important in Chapter 9.

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