Chapter 1

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Drama, USA, 2013, 55 min.

Synopsis Exterior of house of Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) in D.C. A dog belonging to one of his neighbors has been run over by a car and is wailing on the curb. Francis tells his bodyguard Steve (no surname) to notify the neighbor and, while he is alone, strangles the injured dog to death to put it out of its misery. He returns home and dresses for a party.New Year's Eve celebration in a hotel ballroom. Speaking to the viewer, Francis introduces newly elected President Garrett Walker (Michael Gill), Vice President-elect Jim Matthews (Dan Ziskie), Linda Vasquez (Sakina Jaffrey), the presidential Chief of Staff; Francis identifies himself as House Majority Whip, with 22 years in Congress.Riding back home from the party, Francis's wife, Claire (Robin Wright), tells him that "this is going to be a big year for us." Her NGO, Clean Water Initiative, will get a large donation as soon as he is nominated as Secretary of State, Francis tells her.In the newsroom of The Washington Herald, executive editor Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) and city editor Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus) are wondering what the new administration's priorities will be. Cub reporter Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) approaches them and, after Tom leaves, asks Lucas to reassign her from the Fairfax County Council beat to Capitol Hill. He turns down the idea.Rep. Peter Russo (D-Pa.) (Corey Stoll) arrives in his office and is told by his secretary, Christina Gallagher (Kristen Connolly), that a constituent is waiting for him. The man, builder Henry Chapman (Steven Beckler), presses Russo for action on a zoning bill. Apparently Russo cannot do that, so he distracts Chapman by pretending he is receiving a call from the President-elect. The call is actually coming from Christina.In the office of the White House chief-of-staff, Francis is told by Linda that the President-elect will NOT appoint him Secretary of State, as promised, and has chosen to keep Francis as Majority Whip. Instead, the president will nominate Senator Michael Kern (D-Colo.), (Kevin Kilner). Francis is offended and disappointed but outwardly accepts the President's decision.At the offices of Clean Water Initiative, which Claire directs, Claire is telling her office manager, Evelyn Baxter (Maryann Plunkett), that CWI is expanding to an international dimension and will need 6 or 7 more employees.At The Herald, Zoe offers chief political correspondent Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer) to be her researcher on the Hill. Jenine is despective and brushes Zoe off ("I don't have time to be anyone's training wheels").Francis returns home at night, to tell Claire that the Secretary of State job is not his. He is quietly furious. So is Claire, who had been counting on a big donation for CWI from the SanCorp corporation, a natural-gas provider, if Francis became the U.S. foreign secretary.At dawn the following morning, they chat over coffee. She reaffirms her support for him. He is grateful and in an aside says "I love that woman more than a shark loves blood."At Francis' office, his secretary Nancy Kaufberger (Elizabeth Norment) and chief of staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) watch the nomination of Michael Kern as secretary of state. Francis arrives and hints at the future, revealing his anger and frustration. ("We are no longer bound by allegiances. We serve no one. I hold [Walker and Vasquez] accountable.") "Retribution?" asks Stamper. "No, no, it's more than that," Francis replies. "Look at the bigger picture."Stamper realizes that Francis is going to go after his enemies' political careers. "Kern first?" he asks. "That's how you devour a whale, Doug, one bite at a time," Francis answers. To torpedo Kern, Francis will "need a buffer, someone we control completely."At a church service, the minister tells politicians in the audience to deal positively when faced with defeat. Leaving service, Felicity Holburn (Francie Swift) commiserates with Claire about Francis not getting the Secretary of State job. Felicity's husband, Senator Charles Holburn, (Karl Kenzler), tries to console Francis.In Russo's bedroom, the Congressman has sex with his secretary, Christina. They've had an affair for six months.Francis and Claire attend a concert at the D.C. Center for Performing Arts. Francis steps outside and is photographed by a paparazzo oggling a petite concert-goer in a tight white dress.The woman turns out to be Zoe Barnes, who lives in a dingy walk-up in a less-than-affluent D.C. neighborhood. Upon returning from the concert, she sees the picture of Francis leering at her, sent to her over the Internet by the paparazzo. She Googles Francis' official Congressional website to learn more about him.On Capitol Hill, Francis is visited by Linda, who brings him two tickets to the presidential ball and tells him that Donald Blythe (Reed Birney), is drafting a new law on education. Blythe is a liberal and Linda asks Francis to review the draft and make it more moderate ("We need a bill that we can pass.") All that within 100 days, she says. "I can do that," Francis assures her.Later that day, Doug gives Francis a list of possible legislators who could replace Kern as Secretary of State. Catherine Durant (Jayne Atkinson) appeals to Francis and he asks Doug to set up a meeting.At CWI, Claire tells office manager Evelyn that the SanCorp donation fell through and that Evelyn will have to make a list of employees who can be let go. Evelyn is shocked.That night, Zoe shows up at Francis' house. She tells him that she needs access to Capitol Hill through him. ("I protect your identity; I print whatever you tell me and I'll never ask any questions. I promise absolute discretion.")She guesses that education will be the first issue that the new administration will deal with. He does not confirm that guess but tells her that they will meet again.On a Washington street, a police car stops Russo's car. He is accompanied by a woman other than Christina, an unnamed call girl (Rachel Brosnahan). The policeman arrests him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.Stamper learns of the arrest and notifies Francis by phone. Then Stamper approaches the D.C. police commissioner, Barney Hull (Chuck Cooper), and asks him to release Russo, no questions asked, no paperwork filed. Stamper offers Hull endorsement from Underwood and fund-raising for a run as Mayor of D.C. Russo is released.Over breakfast, Claire aks Francis for two tickets for the Holburns to the presidential ball. She explains that she needs a donation from them for CWI now that the SanCorp donation fell through.On Capitol Hill, Francis ostensibly shreds Blythe's education bill telling him that it's too liberal. He asks Blythe for a rewrite.Meeting later with Catherine Durant, Francis hints that he will torpedo Michael Kern's nomination for Secretary of State if she's interested in the job. She appears to be receptive.Francis summons Zoe to an art museum, where he gives her Blythe's draft bill. She takes it home, studies it and writes an in-depth article about it.Francis invites Russo to his office and tells him that he rescued him from jail. For doing that, Francis asks Russo for his "absolute, unquestioning loyalty." "Anything. Name it, Frank," Russo replies.Zoe delivers to city editor Lucas her story about the Blythe bill and photocopies of the half-shredded bill. Executive editor Hammershmidt approves its publication and orders Janine to assist Zoe with further research. Janine, who is clearly Zoe's senior but now is in a subservient position, is insulted but complies.President Walker is inaugurated. In his address, he stresses his education reform bill. At the inauguration ball, Francis dances with Cathy Durant.The following morning, Francis goes to Freddy's Barbecue Joint for breakfast. He opens a copy of The Herald, which carries Zoe's story on Page One, blasting Blythe's educational bill as "far left of center" and tying a "massive funding package to liberal mandates."Francis asks Freddy (Reg Cathey) for a second helping of ribs. "I'm feeling hungry today!" he says. (CHAPTER ENDS.)

Directed by David Fincher  

Starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright Penn, Kate Mara, Corey Stoll, Michael Kelly, more...

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