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Chapter 2 is the second episode of the first season, as well as the second episode of the series in general. It aired on February 1, 2013, along with the rest of season 1.

Synopsis

Frank uses a young reporter, Zoe Barnes, to spin a story that puts the White House on its heels. Claire makes a cold-blooded move at work.

Story

Frank is still sitting on the terrace of Freddy's, enjoying his ribs and his first step to securing his revenge. He is off to meet part of the Democratic leadership for breakfast, where they discuss their course of action on how to handle the disaster of the education bill. They are interrupted by Remy Danton, who quickly moves up to greet Frank and the others. Frank explains that Remy used to be his press secretary, but that he was stolen away by Glendon Hill. It is quickly revealed though that Remy was just there to remind Frank that SanCorp threw big figures at him to keep him in Congress, and now they want to see the fruits of that effort. Even though Frank tells Remy he is on top of it, the latter is not sold.

Doug Stamper has found something on Michael Kern, but when Frank he reads it, he's not convinced, saying "it's thin". They are interrupted by Nancy Kaufberger, who informs them that Linda Vasquez is on the phone. Frank smiles, knowing that by now, she'll have been thoroughly yelled at by President of the United States Walker. He immediately leaves for her office, where Vasquez gives Frank exactly what he wants: full control over the education bill.

In a meeting with Donald Blythe, Frank pretends that he's going to take the blame for the failure of the education bill, only to move Blythe into such a position that the latter will fall on the sword, which is exactly how it plays out. Blythe does continue to support the bill, even though Frank knows his part is played out now.

With the first item off his to-do list complete, Frank arranges a meet with Zoe Barnes to kickstart his next task. Frank hands her the editorial in which Kern allegedly called the Israeli occupation of the West Bank illegal. She is skeptical but she takes it to her editors, who naturally share in the skepticism. But Zoe knows the value of a scoop, albeit it a questionable one, and she plays the 21st-century journalist card by saying she might as well just post on some anonymous blog then tweet it. Needless to say, her editors will talk it over.

Cut to Underwood's office, he and Stamper glued to the TV set. George Stephanopoulos is interviewing Senator Kern, where Kern mentions Frank's line of 'trickle-down diplomacy', much to Frank's amusement. Stephanopoulos brings out an advanced copy of the article Zoe has written, showing it to Kern, and watching him stumble over his own words. He eventually tries to laugh it off, and Frank knows that will kill the nomination.

Stamper managed to locate an old member of Kern's college editorial board, one who happens to be a burnout, anti-government extremist. It is too risky to send Stamper down to visit, but he reckons it would be a perfect job for Peter Russo. Stamper and Russo meet in the dead of night, where Russo is being told to go talk to Roy Kapeniak, and find out what he can about the editorial.

Even though Kapeniak tries to flag Russo down, the latter manages to sway him into letting him in with a bottle of scotch. Kapeniak reveals that it was entirely his article, and that Kern had nothing to do with it.

By the time he’s back in Washington, the damage is done. Barnes has Kepeniak on the record linking Kern to the editorial, Kern is trying to save face through press conferences but Jordanian diplomats are calling him racist. Underwood is already moving on, he calls Durant to tell her to be ready. Next he plants the Durant appointment rumor to Barnes to fuel early media speculation. It leads to talking head and poll support, so by the time Underwood meets with Vazquez it’s a mere informal formality. He’s there to meet about education, but provides subtle affirmation for the Durant choice—she’s experienced, someone who can communicate across the aisle, and it shows the administration Is above partisan politics because she campaigned hard against Walker.

Donald Blythe 0, Frank Underwood 1.

Michael Kern 0, Frank Underwood 1.

Vazquez and Walker, whether or not they realize it… 0

Secondary storylines

Claire Underwood continues with her organizational expansion, asking her office manager to conduct the exit meetings for 18 employees. And when Claire sits down for the debrief of those meetings… the office manager gets let go, too. “I’ll gladly offer you a recommendation.” “For what, bagging groceries?” She delivers a stump speech to the remaining employees about moving forward immediately after, emphasizing that her door is always open for questions.

The scene sets up a karma closer near the end of the episode, as Claire goes for a cup of coffee only to encounter an older woman unable to work the register. Aging is a bitch and in DC it’s tough to reenter the game when you’re out. Maybe that’s why she insisted earlier that Frank start using a rowing machine she buys and places in the basement. (A little American Beauty-esque, eh?)

Zoe Barnes gets accused of “fucking” politics from the Herald’s White House correspondent, Jeanine. How else can you explain some rookie grabbing all the big scoops? The education bill, Kern’s editorial, the Durant nomination. Barnes merely brushes it off. She hasn’t had sex with anyone and she needs to head to the main office to film her first TV remote spot.

Albeit briefly, we meet Remy Denton, oil lobbyist and former staffer for Underwood. He comes by early to remind Underwood of some promises he needs to keep, promises with “billions on the line.” Hmm.

Poor Russo, his wacko mission must be kept discrete so Christina is left in the dark about his unexpected exit at night into the next day. To make matters worse, he arrives back to the office still under that work stress.


Credits

The following characters appeared in this chapter.

Main characters

Recurring characters

Minor characters

Trivia

  • ...
Season 1 Episodes

101. "Chapter 1"
102. "Chapter 2"
103. "Chapter 3"
104. "Chapter 4"
105. "Chapter 5"

106. "Chapter 6"
107. "Chapter 7"
108. "Chapter 8"
109. "Chapter 9"
110. "Chapter 10"

111. "Chapter 11"
112. "Chapter 12"
113. "Chapter 13"

See also: S1S2S3S4S5

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