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Investigating Frank Underwood's involvement in the death of Peter Russo
One month following Peter Russo's death, after coordinating and getting approval from the DCCC, in late October 2013 Christina Gallagher (who continued running Russo's congressional office after his death) summoned Paul Capra, Russo's childhood friend turned adversary turned friend again, who is influential with the Philadelphia trade unions, to D.C. in order to get him to run for Russo's vacated seat in the House.
Through her DCCC sources, Skorsky immediately learned of the plans to enter Capra in the race for Russo's seat as well as Capra's trip to D.C. to meet with Christina. Skorsky phoned Capra to confirm that information, but he remained coy. She continued digging by bringing up Russo's silence at the BRAC hearing, getting Capra to reveal that Russo was pressured from above to do that before ending the phone call. Skorsky started connecting the dots and, though lacking proof, began suspecting the pressure Capra mentioned must've come from Frank Underwood, reasoning that the fact Underwood had nothing to do with Russo before the shipyard closing and then suddenly started propping him up in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race is highly suspicious.
Also long suspecting Underwood has been feeding stories to her co-worker Zoe Barnes, Skorsky mentioned her Russo-Underwood hypothesis to Zoe who expressed doubts at this version of events. Attempting to convince Zoe, Skorsky then directly confronted her younger colleague about Underwood being the source of her big breaking stories, however Zoe wouldn't admit that to Skorsky just yet, but conceded to knowing him and agreed to ask him about the alleged BRAC-related strong-arming of Russo.
Meeting him in the Capitol corridor and framing the question as 'my colleague is investigating a story', Zoe, as promised, asked her source Underwood about his alleged pressuring of Russo to stay silent at the BRAC hearing, to which Underwood nonchalantly, calmly, and convincingly lied, passing it off as mere advice to Russo to stay silent for a later benefit from Rep. Terry Womack. He also quickly connected the dots that this 'colleague' Zoe spoke of is Janine Skorsky and somewhat sternly inquired with Zoe whether Skorsky knows the two of them are talking to which Zoe reassured him that Skorsky doesn't know.
Seeing Christina as potential Achilles' heel that could provide further information that would lead someone to connecting Russo's death with Frank Underwood, Doug Stamper monitored her closely. When Skorsky approached Christina in the congressional cafeteria to ask her questions about Capra running and Russo being pressured to not fight the shipyard's closing, she quickly got interrupted by Stamper who joined their table, effectively chasing Skorsky away before telling Christina to let him know if she's again harassed into answering questions she doesn't want to answer.
To Skorsky, Stamper's sudden appearance when she sat down to talk to Christina was further indication of Underwood's untoward involvement with Russo while Zoe, though open to question, still thought Underwood had nothing to do with Russo's silence at the hearings. Upon some investigating of her own by sifting through the recent congressional activity records, Zoe began to think Russo's silence at the hearing was simply trading in a favour to Rep. Terry Womack for some benefit down the road. However, after reminding Zoe of Underwood's involvement in many different recent events around the Congress, Skorsky raised sufficient doubt in Zoe's mind whether Roy Kapeniak's late January 2013 phone call to her, confirming that Michael Kern wrote the 1978 anti-Israel editorial, was in fact also engineered by Underwood, something Zoe had been suspecting right from the start.
After flying out to talk to Kapeniak only to find his stripper girlfriend Echo, but nevertheless discovering that Russo paid them a visit on 24th January 2013, Zoe is finally fully convinced of Underwood's scheming when it comes to Russo.
Once she got back to D.C., Zoe started working with Skorsky as the two journalists finally seemed to have dropped any remaining traces of mistrust, jealousy, and antagonism. They agreed that their first order of business is to go back to Christina, deciding that it will be Zoe who does this since Skorsky is being watched by Stamper. Barging into Russo's former office to talk to Christina without an appointment, Zoe told her Russo flew out to see Kapeniak on the night of 24th January 2013, asking her if she remembered anything else. Though dismissive at first, Christina became clearly shaken up as she recalled the night Russo stormed out of their apartment at 1am without a convincing explanation.
Fleeing D.C. after Barnes' death
As a result of her extensive gathered evidence regarding Peter Russo's manner of death and the murdering of Zoe Barnes that ensued, Janine was quick to drop her personal investigation in fear that an extremely reputable Frank Underwood — having a lot to lose — would not hesitate to pursue and eliminate her to protect himself. Skorsky got especially spooked after Underwood, in an effort of further intimidating her, sent her Barnes' naked photos that he took months earlier as insurance for their business arrangement.
Skorsky immediately dismissed her journalism duties at Slugline and fled to the state of New York where she took up teaching at the college level — parting with Goodwin in a rushed state of panic, expressing empathy to him for life being unfair and for Zoe's death.
Life in Ithaca, New York
In February 2014, after making contact with a hacker named HEROnymous Bot with a view of hacking into AT&T's network in order to retrieve phone records that would prove Underwood's involvement in Barnes' death, Goodwin showed up in Ithaca to inform Skorsky on the latest developments, hoping to get her to jump back into exposing Underwood by seeking her help in piecing a timeline and tracking events once he gets the phone records. However, still spooked by the events of a few months ago, Skorsky rejected him, saying she wants to be with her aging mother.
Goodwin phoned her multiple times after that meeting, but she never returned his calls, and he eventually stopped calling. Not knowing HEROnymous Bot reaching out to him was part of an FBI sting stage-managed by agent Nathan Green at the behest of Doug Stamper, Goodwin ended up going through with his plan only to get arrested in May 2014 while inserting a thumb drive into AT&T's data server.
In July 2014 as Goodwin, facing cyber-terrorism charges, was being offered a plea deal by the feds, he requested to meet with Tom Hammerschmidt before responding to the plea offer. Goodwin's idea was to provide Hammerschmidt with all the information he (Goodwin), in addition to Skorsky and Barnes, previously gathered about Underwood's involvement in the death of Peter Russo and now let the respected journalist and former editor of a major newspaper investigate the story on his own before putting together an article that would release the entire story into the public sphere for the very first time. One of Hammerschmidt's key tasks in this regard involved talking to Skorsky who had by this point essentially cut off all ties to these events and now wasn't responding to Hammerschmidt's calls and messages.
Meanwhile, already well-aware of Hammerschmidt's journalistic investigative efforts, VP Underwood's camp first pondered squashing his upcoming story on 'security grounds' via their FBI agent Green, but after realizing they couldn't, decided to allow Hammerschmidt to meet with Underwood. While being briefed by his chief of staff Stamper about Hammerschmidt's efforts as well as Stamper's inability to stop the story from coming out, Underwood explicitly wanted to know if the former Herald editor had been successful in contacting Skorsky.
After subjecting himself to an uncomfortable short meeting at the White House with Hammerschmidt who among other things asked him directly whether he killed Russo and Barnes, Underwood sternly instructed Stamper to put this issue to bed. Stamper reacted by sending FBI Agent Green to Ithaca to intimidate Skorsky into cooperating. Having her silent on the sidelines far from D.C. was no longer good enough for the Underwood camp - now that Goodwin was possibly about to get a shot of public credibility via Hammerschmidt's story, Stamper wanted nothing left to chance. They needed her to explicitly distance herself from Goodwin on the record, just in case such a declaration is later required to smear him. Completely terrified and rattled, especially when threatened by Green with being charged with abetting cyber-terrorism on the account of meeting Goodwin several months earlier, Skorsky agreed to sign an affidavit stating all Goodwin's claims in regards to Underwood are false. She also agreed, at Green's request, to talk to Hammerschmidt for his story and lie to him about what she knew and experienced.
The combination of lack of clear evidence and Skorsky providing misleading info to Hammerschmidt, meant that Hammerschmidt's story painted Goodwin in mostly negative light. So much so that Goodwin decided against it even being published when Hammerschmidt brought it to him in jail. Coming along for the said jail visit was Skorsky, only her second time seeing Goodwin since fleeing D.C. after Barnes' death. In a gut wrenching conversation, Skorsky basically admitted to Goodwin that she sold him out to save her own skin, encouraging him to take the plea deal and admitting on the verge of tears that Underwood is going to get away with everything.
Hammerschmidt visits Skorsky sometime after a failed assassination attempt on Underwood's life in which Goodwin's plot to kill Underwood resulted in both Goodwin's and Meechum's demise. Skorsky, clearly distressed, is shown to have developed somewhat of an addiction to prescription pills for anxiety. Knowing that Skorsky knows a great deal about Underwood's darkside and covert criminal activity, Hammerschmidt attempts to extract information only to be reassured by Skorsky that, although he is on the right track and has indisputable information gathered, she cannot help him given her affidavit signing. She cries in his arms at the realization of Underwood getting away yet again with his atrocities that he's committed. Skorsky's non-compliance does not deter Hammerschmidt in anyway, and he continues to pursue his personal investigation, which results in a widespread controversy and impending legal investigation as alluded to by Frank during a conversation with Claire, in which Frank resorts to inducing fear into not only his political opponents, but to the entire country.
Skorsky is a cynical and abrasive reporter. As part of her driven personality and persistent approach to gathering information around the D.C. political establishment, her path to a prominent correspondent position at The Washington Herald self-admittedly involved "sucking, screwing, and jerking anything that moved just to get a story" with the long list including a congressional staffer, White House intern, communications director, and even a congressman.
Despite presenting herself as a nonconformist and brave journalist when pleading with Zoe that "only the stories that scare the shit out of you are worth pursuing", Skorsky has been shown to fold (not only backing away from confrontation, but actively throwing, albeit begrudgingly, her collaborator Lucas Goodwin under the bus) as soon as enough pressure got turned up on her.
Behind the Scenes
- Shortly before the production of the third season, Constance Zimmer had said that she would appear in season 3. However, shortly before the premiere of season 3, Zimmer had clarified rumors, stating that she is still in contract with the show and that she would likely be appearing in upcoming seasons given that the show runners have already plotted the story arch for the show but have provided the cast with very little detail so as to maintain the secrecy and direction of the show.
Actress Constance Zimmer confirmed at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner that she will return for season 4, though "the purpose of her return is being kept under wraps". Though unconfirmed, Zimmer stated that Janine's knowledge of Frank's murdering of Zoe Barnes will play a role in season 4. In late-2016, sources close to the show hinted at Zimmer's return as well as a number of other characters from the show's earlier seasons.
|"Chapter 1"||"Chapter 2"||"Chapter 3"||"Chapter 4"||"Chapter 5"|
|"Chapter 6"||"Chapter 7"||"Chapter 8"||"Chapter 9"||"Chapter 10"|
|"Chapter 11"||"Chapter 12"||"Chapter 13"|
|"Chapter 14"||"Chapter 15"||"Chapter 16"||"Chapter 17"||"Chapter 18"|
|"Chapter 19"||"Chapter 20"||"Chapter 21"||"Chapter 22"||"Chapter 23"|
|"Chapter 24"||"Chapter 25"||"Chapter 26"|
|"Chapter 40"||"Chapter 41"||"Chapter 42"||"Chapter 43"||"Chapter 44"|
|"Chapter 45"||"Chapter 46"||"Chapter 47"||"Chapter 48"||"Chapter 49"|
|"Chapter 50"||"Chapter 51"||"Chapter 52"|