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

First and foremost, EW.com would like to congratulate our fictional, unnamed head editor — a man who apparently will be hired by Washington, D.C.’s most prestigious fake newspaper sometime this spring. (House of Cards tells the future, y’all.) Even if snooty political reporter Janine doesn’t think a stint at this website qualifies one to run the Washington Herald, we believe that experiences gained here would absolutely translate to an imaginary newsroom.

Anyway: House of Cards loses a bit of steam in this pair of episodes, which find Peter Russo throwing himself into his new campaign and Frank wistfully visiting his alma mater. This slight slow-down wouldn’t be so obvious in a show that aired once a week; episodes that forgo plot for character development certainly have their place, as anyone who’s enjoyed Breaking Bad‘s “Fly” or Mad Men‘s “The Suitcase” would know.

But in a show designed to be watched all at once — or as close to “all at once” as possible — storyline naturally takes precedence over anything else. House of Cards only really works if it can hook its viewers so thoroughly that they simply can’t wait to watch its next installment, and by that criteria, chapters 7 and 8 fall short.

Still, there’s plenty of good stuff here — thanks mostly to Russo, who’s transforming quickly from ambivalent, underachieving congressman to smooth gubernatorial candidate.  As Chapter 7 opens, he’s reluctantly attending AA meetings and dragging his feet on trying to win over his district’s shipbuilders, who lost their jobs thanks to Frank’s machinations in Chapter 4. Nobody but Frank truly seems to believe that Russo has what it takes to be a viable choice for governor — even after Doug successfully finds and pays off the prostitute who was in Peter’s car when he got pulled over in Chapter 1. (At least that’s one problem taken care of.)

But when Frank convinces Christina — she of the enormous anime eyes and perpetually forgiving nature — to come on board as Peter’s deputy campaign manager, everything changes. Their reunion gives Russo the strength to declare that he’s all in, as long as his kids are kept out of the limelight — and a fair but sympathetic Slugline profile, written by the EW-hating Janine, may be just what voters need to get on Peter’s side. It may be Janine’s ticket to a job at the hot political site as well.

NEXT: Filling in Frank's checkered past

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