With the election over, House Majority Whip Francis Underwood expects newly elected President Garrett Walker to deliver on his promise to make him his secretary of state. When he arrives for what he believes will be a face-to-face meeting with the president-elect, Francis is stunned when Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez tells him that the State Department position is being given to Michael Kern, and that Walker wants Francis to usher his agenda through Congress instead. Though he agrees to the change of plans, Francis abandons his previous obligations to the new administration so he and his wife Claire can use their considerable political muscle to advance his career. Meanwhile, following a chance encounter at a high-profile Washington social event, up-and-coming Washington Herald reporter Zoe Barnes targets Francis as her source for the inside story on Capitol Hill. As his Chief of Staff Doug Stamper researches the list of other candidates for secretary of state, Francis meets with Vasquez to get his first assignment -- a major education bill being drafted by ultra-liberal Congressman Donald Blythe that the president wants to sign in his first 100 days. However, after sending Blythe back to the drawing board to come up with something that can get congressional approval, Francis undermines both the congressman and the new administration by secretly releasing the controversial first draft to Zoe. While working behind the scenes to scuttle Kern's nomination and make Congresswoman Catherine Durant the new secretary of state, Francis helps Pennsylvania Representative Peter Russo get out of a drunk driving arrest in exchange for his unquestioning loyalty in the political battles to come. On the eve of the inauguration, Zoe hands over her story to her editors at the Herald. So even as Francis promises to help Blythe craft a bill that will allow the president to deliver on his pledge, the story he planted rocks Washington's political landscape, setting in motion a ruthless yet subtle political war aimed at making Underwood more powerful than ever.