'House of Cards,' "Chapter 36": Who Gets Fired?

Petrov forces Frank's hand.

To mark the debut of House of Cards season three, THR will be breaking down the biggest moments from each episode every day through March 11. Read the previous breakdowns: Chapter 27, Chapter 28, Chapter 29, Chapter 30, Chapter 31, Chapter 32, Chapter 33, Chapter 34, Chapter 35 

“What is the point of having us ask questions, if you won’t answer them?” Annie, an elderly woman, and concerned citizen of the United States of America asks President Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) at a town hall meeting. Perhaps that is the question audiences should be asking Beau Willimon, since almost every question from last season is still, after 10 episodes, left unanswered. Well, besides whether Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is alive, (he is, and he apparently knows how to fold laundry too.)

As season three nears its end, episode 10 is packed with conflict. Here are the key moments from the episode that forces Frank to sacrifice his partner in crime, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright).

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Doug, the family man? Not quite, but there’s hope. Stamper claims to not have ever wanted the life his brother, Gary (Kelly AuCoin) leads. When his brother’s family comes to stay with him, the hugs Doug gets from his niece may persuade him. Gary points out that his younger brother has always been running from something, but is Stamper merely hoping to post pictures of his own family on his fridge? With Rachel (Rachel Brosnahan) dead, he may never get that chance.

Cashew returns. No, not cashews, although everyone in this show is a little nuts. Its Gavin's prized guinea pig. The hacker gifts Lisa (Kate Lyn Sheil) the pet, after coming clean about his identity, including lying about having AIDS. 

Petrov’s revenge. Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen) kissed Claire, and she dissed him in front of his country. He can’t seem to let his grudge against her go, so he sets Frank up to prove that the first lady is blind. Frank shows up to the Jordan Valley wearing a Kevlar vest and a helmet to negotiate with the Russian president. Petrov demands that Frank fire his own wife from being U.S. Ambassador. “She was never equipped to be an ambassador,” Petrov reminds Frank. “I’ve killed a man with my bare hands. . . do you think you're capable?” Petrov answers the question for Frank, realizing that the president of the United States is ruthless and will do whatever it takes.

Frank’s sexuality. Tim (David Andrews), Frank’s pal and occasional lover from the Sentinel, gives him a call to fill him in that Yates (Paul Sparks) is reaching out with questions. By the end of the episode Underwood is answering them and gracing his hand on Yates’, a similar hand grab that started the infamous threesome last season. Yates reveals his past as a hustler, bed-hopping and feeding off clients’ secrets along the way. Frank realizes he may have revealed too much to the author and ends the night before it can even begin.

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Claire goes back to blond. “Francis, I would have preferred if you just walked in and told me I was fired,” Claire says. Fired and shamed by her own husband, Claire returns to her sole role as the first lady. “The groups in Iowa in particular, they like the blond,” she is told as now her toughest decisions will be what color her hair is and what she wears on the campaign trail. “We’ll do what we have to,” she says in a tone full of resentment. So much for that vow renewal. 

Email: Brian.Porreca@THR.com