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I can't see how it was smart of Frank Underwood to sign off to committing a litany of crimes, as is showcased in the House of Cards season 2 finale. Had Walker reacted differently, Frank would almost certainly be sitting behind bars.

Did Frank make a smart decision, or did he just get lucky?

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    This question almost borders on opinion-based. But I haven't seen the whole show so there might be evidence of the consequences of the action that could be used to make an argument. – sanpaco Jul 17 '19 at 21:20
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To everything: there are always three outcomes:

  • Things get better
  • Things stay the same
  • Things get worse

Your suggestion is built on the premise that it's better for things to stay the same than it is to risk them getting worse. That's a reasonable argument, but Frank does not work this way. He does not want a status quo. He shoots for the moon and does not yield in the face of doubt, failure, or the risk of losing something in the process.

Yes, it was a gamble. Yes, Walker could've made things really bad for Frank. But Frank played to Walker's sense of righteousness. By not fighting Walker and giving him the tools to hurt Frank, Frank leads Walker to feel at ease and not needing to fight Frank any further. It gives Walker a sense of security that he's got an ace in the hole for the future, if need be.

Or, to use a cliché saying, Frank caught the fly using honey instead of vinegar.

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First, this is your judgement as a person sitting comfortably in front of a screen. In the last episode of season 2 everything has been happening in the heat of the moment. Walker was under such pressure that he has been unable to keep a level head and for the same reason Francis has been extremely desperate.

Second, as an ambitious man he was, Walker wanted to get the situation under control on his own. He didn't just want to use Frank. He was also a good man and wanted to forgive Francis after all, he didn't want to falsely sacrifice Frank just to save himself. Francis knew that, and he deceitfully showed humility so that he could re-establish a dialogue with Walker.

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