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House Of Cards Season 1, Episode 5 Recap: A BBQ And A Meltdown

All of the relationships onmove forward to varying degrees: Frank and Zoe take it, Claire and Adam dance on the edge of danger and Frank and Peter test each other's limits. Master manipulator Frank always manages to come out on top, at least for now.

Contains spoilers -- do not read unless you've seen House Of Cards Season 1, Episode 5

I'm not sure why I'm so repulsed by the Frank/Zoe sexual rendezous. It could be that, in "real" life, Kevin Spacey is so asexual. Or it could be that, so far, House Of Cards hasn't really set these two up for that kind of relationship. Either way, blech. It kind of soothes me, just a little, to learn that it's strictly a business arrangement. When Frank returns home, Claire seems to know immediately that he's slept with Zoe, and she asks, point-blank, "What's in it for us?" Everything this pair does is calculated. It also helps us understand why Claire turned down Adam in the hotel: that affair is based on emotion, and is thus dangerous to her marriage, her professional life, and Frank's entire political career.

So it's very interesting to see Claire fight against her strong feelings for Adam. To give credit to Robin Wright's amazing portrayal, you can literally see the jealousy in her eyes when she realizes Frank has slept with Zoe -- not because she's possessive of Frank, but because she wishes she could sleep with Adam.

Up-and-coming Zoe, now unemployed, is being pursued by the likes of MSNBC and ABC, but opts to go for a job at Slugline (a.k.a. Politico), where online journalists write articles in beanbags and come and go as they please. Washington Herald editor-in-chief Tom Hammerschmidt, who fired Zoe in a rage, goes on a tirade about the "new" journalism, saying things like Twitter and the internet are fads. His tirade serves as his resignation, and he's finished. This black-and-white depiction of old and new journalism isn't too far from the truth, but it's just so dichotomous. If every old-school journalist who believed these things about new media were fired, methinks there would be no newspapers printed at all.

Next, we're introduced to a new character, Marty Spinella, who's an education lobbyist and union supporter (geez, these political folks all look the same, don't they? I have trouble telling a lot of them apart). He's vehemently against Frank, obviously, over his stance on collective bargaining. This all ties in with Claire's gala -- she still won't have enough proceeds from the fete unless she takes Remy's offer (which she hesitatingly refused in episode 4). Because of Frank, the union won't let Claire into the planned hotel venue for the gala, and they stage protests outside to try to mar the event.

Ever the thinker, Claire decides to throw the party in front of the hotel. Things get into full swing and the party is a major hit, even though, realistically, this could never happen. I mean, hello by-laws, safety measures and fire codes! Frank calls in his old pal Freddy to supply the BBQ (another unrealistic thing -- at a fancy black-tie gala you serve messy ribs? Not likely). Frank also invites Zoe to be the only journalist in the gala; all other reporters are resigned to the outside, asking pathetic questions to reluctant protesters. Claire invites Adam as well. On the surface, it appears that she only wants money from him, but we all know that she secretly wants to see him. Nothing ensues aside from bountiful flirtation, but this relationship is the equivalent of a bubbling volcano. It's only a matter of time before it explodes.

On the Peter side of the story, things are looking a lot more dire. Even though Frank has it in mind that he run for governor of Pennsylvania, Peter has just been dumped, he's just closed the shipyard, and he's addicted to drugs, alcohol and hookers. He gets pushed over the edge by several angry emails (from fired shipyard workers and their families), and heads over to Frank's house in a drunken stupor to confront him.

Frank, master manipulator, somehow takes a completely intoxicated and violent man and turns him into a snivelling wimp, cowering naked in a bathtub. Frank gives him a lecture to end all lectures, and then places a razor blade on the rim of the tub. Peter's choices: suicide or sobriety? Frank promises him a run at governor if he sobers and shapes up.

The seed is planted. But will it grow? With the amount of bullshit Frank uses as fertilizer, I'm betting that yes, it will.

Best Frank Quote: "Friends make the worst enemies."

You can stream House Of Cards at any time on Netflix.

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