The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.
All I recall in this episode is the slow creation and ceremonial destruction of the mandala - obviously a metaphor for the impermanence of life. Frank of course misses the final ceremonial and asks for a picture. (There's actually a lot of understated symbolism in this episode - the renewal of vows and the picture Frank and Claire take for the official portrait. But it's all bullshit. They look silly in white. And even more silly re-affirming their marriage.)
Chapter 34 - "This place ain't for you and me."
At the risk of sounding like a Liberal douche, here is a piece with Robert Reich discussing Walmart. I like Robert Reich a lot. I also like shopping at Walmart about as much as I dislike Walmart's corporate values. Why do I bring this up? Heather Dunbar's attack - and ultimately Beau Willimon's - on Walmart is great. It is true that we literally subsidize the income of Walmart and the Waltons. How does this shit just happen?
"This place ain't for you and me. It's good to have dreams as long as they ain't fantasies." Freddie's words. They are both sad and refreshing. They are sad because he is kinda capping his grandson's ambitions. But they are refreshing because perhaps he knows the truth that political actors at that level have weak morals. Also, his simple directness in determining the income of the job opportunity that Frank offers him is also refreshing. He just wants a j-o-b.
Chapter 35 - "It's you're hands on the wheel."
That is what Remy is told as he takes a minor character to the airport. It's a great line. He nearly gets arrested a few minutes later for DWB. Remy is slowly figuring out he is not really in the inner circle in any sense.
Chapter 36 - "Are we friends?"
Tom Yates flirts with the President. Meh... The Yates character has great potential. But he's a bit of a lowly weirdo. It would have been much more interesting if he was a straight arrow / straight edge artist-writer. It would have been a change of pace and provided a great juxtaposition. He just looks like another creep in the mix. He does make one great point: Frank and Claire don't know how to give straight answers anymore.
I left public policy around 2005 out of disgust. And I empathize with Remy. Perhaps he should not have left. He had a good job. He was already in very deep in terms of moral compromises. Everyone has their final straw. What is so disappointing is that he is kinda carrying Jackie's cross not so much his own.
Chapter 38 - "You're finally one of us."
When Dunbar tries to blackmail Frank she took a big risk. She had great moral power, which is a true power in this world. In this small choice, however, she undermines herself greatly. She was a high integrity person in a low integrity domain. And that gave her an advantage that no one else had. That's why she offered Jackie "nothing" for her endorsement (in chapter 37). That's why she was such a compelling character and candidate. IMO if you're going to cut moral corners, you better have experience with it.