When it comes to House of Cards, the focus has mostly been on Frank Underwood and all the horrible things he's done to get to the top. We mostly hear his introspection, because it's he who turns to us and breaks the fourth wall (with some exceptions). People forget that Claire was there all the while, completely aware of and enabling his dirty deeds. Frank and Claire are two sides of the same coin—able to work together or independently in order to achieve a means to an end. They both have done whatever's necessary to secure their rise to power, barreling over whomever's in their way.
Without giving too much away, Claire really showed she could hold her own in season five of House of Cards. She's just as much a force to be reckoned with as Frank, if not more so. As we see in this season, there's really nothing she wouldn't do to stay on top, which may have dire results in the end (even for her husband). In light of her continued scary badassery, here are the 16 Most WTF Things Claire Underwood Has Done.
Warning! Season 5 spoilers below! Don't blame us if you keep reading beyond this point and haven't yet finished season 5. Use your head, Fred.
We couldn’t do a list about Claire without including The Scene. That infamous scene that made so many of us scream, “WTF is happening right now?” at our TVs while also laughing giddily at how perfect it was. That’s right, we’re talking about the Threechum. While a lot of moments on this list earned a spot because they were so God-awful you just had to shake your head, the Threechum deserves inclusion for pure shock value.
Claire manages to use her feminine wiles to seduce Meechum over the course of that episode in season two by breaking a glass and getting him drunk. Although it seems like she might just have a little fun with him to get her mind off the Galloway scandal and her failing sexual assault bill, what we were not expecting was for her to actually be orchestrating a threesome (or for Meechum to be totally down with it). Despite the scene (and Meechum) becoming a fan favorite, you have to admit it was kind of bizarre, especially because they practically treated him like a son on occasion.
Frank has a habit of using and manipulating people, but sometimes he gets so caught up in achieving his goals, he forgets who he’s manipulating (namely Claire). While prepping Peter Russo to run for Governor, Frank tasks Claire with writing the Delaware River Watershed Act, a piece of legislation aimed at getting jobs in Peter’s district. She’s reluctant at first, already bogged down with her own projects at the CWI, but eventually agrees after Frank promises to ask Cathy if she’d speak to the Sudanese government—who are holding up her non-profit’s water filters.
Unfortunately for Frank, Cathy doesn’t come through for Claire, so she turns to Remy Danton (who Frank forbids her to work with). In exchange for helping her with the water filters, he asks that she kill the bill, which doesn’t serve the interests of the companies he works for. So, when Frank asks her to convince two undecided congressman to support the watershed bill, she agrees, but does the total opposite and tells the congressmen it won’t be a big deal if the bill doesn’t pass. It's a huge betrayal, and the first inkling that their tight ship might not be as tight as it seemed to be.
From the moment Claire Underwood and Viktor Petrov meet, there's an obvious cat and mouse game that develops between the two of them. Petrov calls her out for trying to seduce him on behalf of her husband, but also confirms he's into it when he kisses her in front of everyone (including Frank). Theirs is a power struggle that never seems to cease, as Petrov seems amused and intrigued by Claire's desire to be taken seriously and seen as his equal. Nevertheless, through her time as ambassador, she comes to understand him and what his wants and weaknesses are.
When the US has to negotiate with Russia during the G7 summit, Claire basically bypasses both the acting president (Donald Blythe) and Secretary of State (Catherine Durant)—asserting that she knows better. Even though Petrov has his ass handed to him in the meeting, Claire completely overstepped her bounds while also setting up Cathy for failure when she tries to get the VP nomination.
For a couple who claim to be partners in everything, there are quite a few times when Frank takes advantage of Claire—pushing her too far. On more than one occasion, she runs into the arms of another man when her husband prioritizes his own needs over hers. First, there was the time after she killed the Watershed Bill, running off to Adam Galloway’s New York loft to pretend she was free. Unfortunately, she disappeared right in the middle of Peter Russo’s meltdown, so she didn’t get to play house for too long.
Then there was the time when she left him while they were in the middle of campaigning. Granted, he completely deserved it for agreeing to Petrov’s request that Claire no longer be ambassador. He was a total dick to her in the oval office, basically telling her that her needs are in fact secondary to his own, despite the fact that she helped him get the presidency. Still, that was a crucial moment for them, which she later used as leverage in order to get what she wanted.
When Claire became Ambassador for the United States, she was put in some extremely challenging situations—namely, the Jordan Valley conflict. The United Nations wanted to step in, but Russia wasn’t interested in negotiating. Both the Russian ambassador (Alexi Moryakov) and Petrov wouldn’t budge on their stance toward the peacekeeping mission. After several sparring sessions with Alexi, (including one where he flat out tells her that she has no business being ambassador) Claire circumvents the Russian Ambassador’s influence to get UN troops into the Jordan Valley. Through an executive order, Frank helps Claire get her wish, renewing Israel’s faith in the peacekeeping mission and ensuring her resolution passes.
Just to spite Alexi, she decides to inform him in a way that would catch him off guard and make him uncomfortable: inviting him to speak to her in the ladies room. To assert herself as a formidable force that deserves his respect, she brings him onto her turf and proceeds to pee in front of him while she tells him what’s what. Talk about an effective negotiating strategy. That’d make any man shake in his boots.
Behind every great man, there's a great woman—or in Frank Underwood's case, not behind, but next to. Frank and Claire have proven themselves as formidable partners, both doing whatever's necessary to get what they want and leaving their dissenters in the dust. Claire first helped Frank steal the presidency during season two, planting doubt about the President's fidelity and acting as the First Lady's confidant. She was able to manipulate Trisha Walker into seeking couple's counseling for herself and the President, where the First Lady was also prescribed pills that were really meant for the President.
Then, when Frank and Claire run on the same ticket—but don't seem likely to win against Conway—LeAnn Harvey's "friend," Aidan Macallan, gathers information on voters to refine their talking points and keywords. Originally, the information was intended to help Claire's gun bill pass, but it turns into a way for the Underwood's to use domestic surveillance as a political tool in order to win the election. In fact, when Frank has second thoughts about pulling the proverbial trigger, it's Claire who convinces him they'll lose if they do nothing.
One of Claire’s very first cold-blooded moments was with her own staff at the Clean Water Initiative, or CWI. Instead of taking a donation from San-Corp, Claire has to cut expenses to make up for the difference. To compensate, she decides to go on a firing spree, getting rid of nearly half her staff in the process.
Evelyn, her staff manager, voices her dissent on the decision—calling it cruel—but Claire decides to go ahead anyway. Claire makes Evelyn conduct the exit interviews herself, which turns into a very emotional process (as you might imagine). A lot of those people had been with the non-profit since the beginning, but Claire wanted fresh blood to coincide with the new direction she was taking the company in. However, to add insult to injury, Claire then informs Evelyn that she’s fired too, as she can’t have anyone on staff who doubts her decisions. That later comes back to bite her in the ass after Remy Danton meets with Evelyn, who was likely the one who gave him the tip about Claire’s involvement with Adam Galloway.
After Claire admitted on national television that she had an abortion because she was raped, a young female marine named Megan Hennessey calls in saying the same man raped her as well. As a result, Claire wrangles Megan to help promote a sexual assault bill aimed at civilian oversight when it comes to military crimes, despite her constant anxiety about sharing her story by herself.
Eventually, Megan gains enough confidence to do interviews with the press, but ultimately, those backfire too when Jackie Sharp calls in to deride Claire. When Jackie becomes the new whip in congress, her support suddenly becomes paramount to the Underwood’s continuous climb up the political ladder. In exchange for impeachment votes to get President Walker out of office, Claire eventually drops the bill because Jackie doesn’t support civilian oversight. Devastated, Megan goes back home in defeat and humiliation, even attempting suicide because of the whole ordeal. Claire tries to explain to her that it’s just politics, but Megan still hates her guts. Even Claire has a moment of "WTF did I do to this poor girl?" after seeing her drugged up and numb to the world.
At a dinner and ceremony for a few military promotions, Claire is greeted by General Dalton McGinnis, who implies they had a brief fling. Immediately distressed, Claire goes to the bathroom and Frank follows her. She confesses that the general is the one who raped her in college, but begs Frank not to take action mere minutes before he has to place a new star on the general’s shoulder. (He sure as hell stared daggers at McGinnis the whole time, though.)
Conveniently, Claire later does a one-on-one interview for CNN, after a suspicious powder has Frank in lockdown at the White House. When the subject of abortion comes up, Claire seizes the opportunity to not only get revenge on McGinnis, but cover up the fact that she's actually had three abortions. So, she decides to lie on national television, saying that she had her (single) abortion because she was raped. While it implicates the undoubtedly guilty general, Claire twisted the circumstances to suit her needs—proving she's just as calculating and capable of deceit as Frank is.
Claire doesn't have a very good relationship with her mother, as we see during season four. There's an obvious long-standing resentment between the two of them, probably relating to Claire's father, since she hadn't spoken to her mother since his funeral. But after Claire finds out her mother is dying from cancer, Frank forces her to use the illness as an excuse for her time in Texas and separation from Frank while he's on the campaign trail.
Near the end of the season, she returns with Tom Yates, who's writing the speech to end all speeches, which she's to give upon accepting nomination as Vice President. Knowing she's near the end, Mrs. Hale asks Claire to basically perform an assisted suicide so she can die comfortably from an overdose of morphine. Even though Mrs. Hale asked Claire to do it for her, ultimately, her death was all for Claire's benefit. She gained sympathy points for her personal tragedy and it added the necessary emotional punch Tom was looking for to beef up her speech. Regardless of whether it was her mom's idea or not, her death made her just another pawn of the Underwoods on their rise to power.
House of Cards has some pretty steamy love scenes on occasion, but not when it comes to the Underwoods. There's only one instance where we actually see them doing it, and boy, is it awkward. After a night of failed campaign contribution calls, Frank's burnt out from all the rejection. He can't expect to run for president without any financial backing, especially when the Democrats don't even want him to run.
Claire finds him on the floor, overwhelmed and crying when she comes back from a run. He looks like a child, helpless and wimpering pathetically, but Claire won't coddle him. Instead, she lays him down—like she's about to change his diaper or something—and proceeds to have awkward pity sex with him. She can't stand to see him in a position of weakness, so she has to assume dominance.
For the Underwoods, sex together seems more about the physical release so they can get their heads back in the game and focus on what's really important. Judging by this weird "love scene", it's no wonder they often look to others to satisfy them physically.
One of Claire's very first WTFs happens during episode six of season one, amidst the education bill shenanigans. The Underwood’s former driver/bodyguard, Steve, has been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and is on his deathbed. Claire goes to visit him as a courtesy since he had been a loyal member of their detail for eight years. On her second visit, however, Steve spills his guts—admitting to hating Frank and putting Claire on a pedestal.
Admitting to the first was a sin in its own right (despite her brushing it off with "a lot of people do."), since Claire doesn't tolerate disloyalty anymore than Frank does. But it's the second part, when Steve creepily divulges his desire to bone her, which secures her disgust for him. She goes into a little speech about why she chose Frank over all others, explaining that he takes what he wants. She's not just a pretty face who values the superficial; Claire desires equality. She's no trophy wife. So, in order to prove her point, she proceeds to give Steve an old fashioned right there on his deathbed, despite his protests—completely humiliating him. Never put the you know what on a pedestal, guys.
Claire pretty much drew the short end of the stick during season three. She’s forced to resign her post as Ambassador because of Petrov. She has to campaign for Frank, which she hates doing. And she even has to change her look because it polls better with voters. Basically, she’s forced into submission by the people and circumstances around her—a position she doesn’t thrive in.
Fed up with constantly “playing second fiddle” to Frank, she decides to take control sexually in order to try and get some of her power back. She just straight up demands that Francis take her, right then and there, while he’s in the middle of paperwork. She tries slapping him around, which leaves him speechless at first, but eventually it pisses him off enough that he tries to oblige her. But when she asks him to face her, he can’t. He may be the one in power (at least at that point in time), but she needed to remind him that they’re equals. He respects her too much to treat her like a piece of meat and look her in the eye while doing it, and she needed to throw it in his face to make a point. It's not that she's nothing without him—it's that he's nothing without her.
You have to hand it to Gillian. At least she tried to fight back against Claire, refusing to just roll over and take it. Like Evelyn, Gillian voiced her concern about something she disagreed with, and like Evelyn, Gillian was shunned for disobedience. Unfortunately for Gillian, she revealed a little too much about her personal life—leaving her completely vulnerable.
Although she tries to sue Claire and claim that she was fired due to her pregnancy, Claire was having none of it. She tracks down the wife of the guy who’s the father of Gillian’s baby and sends her a harsh message. When Gillian refuses to drop the lawsuit or settle, Claire takes things to a whole other level of cruelty. She actually forges a consent form allowing her to revoke medical coverage, putting both Gillian and her baby’s lives at risk. In fact, she tells her straight up, “I am willing to let your child wither and die inside of you if that’s what’s necessary.” Damn. Don’t mess with Texas.
Despite what they may have had in the past, when we first see Claire run to Adam, it's to spite Frank. Adam is the complete opposite of Frank, an artist that inspires Claire's yearning for freedom. She can breathe with him and allows herself to feel and love deeply. That all changes when their relationship threatens to destroy her life as it is now, however. When she has to choose between love and power, the latter always wins.
When Remy leaks the photo Adam took of Claire sleeping, she concocts a story about her relationship with Adam in order to distance herself from him. She tells him to say one thing, but then contradicts him on live TV—instantly soiling his credibility. Then, when the second image comes out, she makes him release a statement saying he staged the whole thing for attention. His comments in that episode say it all, "I've never hated anyone before. Now I know what that feels like."
While Claire proved she could be as ruthless and calculated as Frank in the past, she can now add cold-blooded killer to her resume too. Although she killed Tom for the same reasons that Frank killed Zoe and Peter (they knew too much and were in the way), her style was especially brutal considering how she felt about him. As soon as he became a liability, she turned off her feelings and did what she had to do.
Poor Tom Yates. He got in way over his head with the Underwoods. His days were numbered as soon he started messing around behind Claire's back. And then there was that manuscript of his. He just couldn't let it go. Maybe if Claire had been a little bit nicer when she asked him to leave, he wouldn't have tried to blackmail them with it. His fatal flaw was that he loved and believed in Claire's ultimate goodness. Well, any speck that remained of Claire's soul died with Tom in front of that fireplace.
Did we miss any WTF-worthy moments from Claire Underwood? Let us know in the comments.