Power corrupts. It even corrupts those who merely strive to attain it. Frank and Claire Underwood were no different. In their quest for power, they warped their own views on sex and intimacy. They learned to sin as a union. And they sacrificed personal goals for the common one. Any one of those measures alone would be enough to degrade most relationships but Frank and Claire embraced and endured all three to claim the ultimate prize: the leadership of the free world.
A great man once said, everything is about sex. Except sex. Sex is about power.
Frank took advantage of Zoe, a young woman with Daddy issues and Claire found intimacy with her artistic muse, Adam Galloway. But why did the Underwoods need others to satisfy their sexual and emotional needs? Were they not happy with each other?
They believed showing a desire for one another would be a sign of weakness. The Underwoods’ relationship operated on a level above sexual and emotional connections. Claire knew about her husband’s escapades with Zoe; she permitted him to pursue it in order for them to gain access to the media. The Underwoods regarded themselves as titans and no one could submit them with blackmail, coercion and certainly not with sex.
He was professional.
The opening of season two’s fifth episode showed a Chinese businessman, Xander Feng, engaging in a threesome with a male and female couple. The following scene showed Feng requesting his subordinates pay the couple for their services. This vulgar opening established Feng as man of wealth and power.
The Underwoods weld similar power over people but didn’t exercise it until the latter half of the second season. (Episode 10) After Edward Meachem proved his loyalty and subservience to the Underwoods, they invited him into their bedroom. This was the first time that the audience witnessed The Underwoods together in a sexual act. We don’t see what happens next but it’s safe to assume they used Meachem as an intermediary.
Like the Romans, the Underwoods relegated Meachem, Zoe and Adam to the lower caste. In their mind, sex with any one of them was meaningless and did not infringe on their positions of power.
I’ve known everything from the beginning, Zoe. My husband and I tell each other everything
From lovers to cigarettes, the Underwoods shared everything with one another. It was contentious early on but the couple quickly learned to operate on the exact same wavelength.
In the first season, the two of them angled and schemed their way to position Peter Russo as the democratic candidate in the Pennsylvania Governor’s race. In the second season, the couple managed to open up a rift between the President of the United States and his First Lady. But these actions were tame compared to Frank’s murders and Claire ransoming an unborn child’s life.
We’ve never seen the the Underwoods discuss these gruesome plans on screen but like Claire said in the first season, they “tell each other everything”.
The two of them have been conspiring for so long, they complete each other’s sins. Frank knew that his wife would do whatever was necessary to control the abortion bombshell during her interview with CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield. He knew she was just as capable and ruthless as he was.
Do you realize, you’ve endangered everything we’ve been working toward?
It took the death of Peter Russo and the crystallization of Frank’s plan for the Vice Presidency before Claire realized what she was sacrificing for. After that defining moment, Frank and Claire were united and nothing would derail their progress.
Claire wasn’t asked to make sacrifices but she gave up nearly everything by the end of the second season. The Clean Water Initiative was first on the chopping block. Claire bartered away the very same charity she backstabbed her husband for in order to settle a scandal out of court.
In the second season, Claire convinced Frank not seek immediate revenge after finding out General Dalton McGinnis raped Claire in her college. She recognized the fallout if Frank went ballistic on the General then and decided delayed gratification was best.
Claire sought justice through a military reform bill addressing sexual assault matters. She expended huge amounts of effort, resources and even convinced an unstable rape victim to stand up for the bill. But at a moment’s notice she let the bill wither and die to further her husband’s cause.
For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted.
Frank and Claire Underwood were a couple of alpha hunters; they had to be in order to chase down their biggest prey. The two of them were in such dominant positions that they refused to submit to one another on physical or emotional levels. They shared the burden of sin ensuring the two of them were kept abreast of schemes and their outcomes. Finally, they did whatever was necessary to keep their plan afloat — although Claire was clearly the party that sacrificed the most.
It’s unfathomable that a couple could go to such lengths for common everyday goals. What’s worth committing murder, permitting adulterous behavior and threatening unborn children for? To maintain the image of a happy home? Accumulate wealth? No, nothing in this world of ours is as desirable or corrupting as the promise of power.