It's rather appropriate that the first episode of House of Cards opens with Frank and Claire Underwood jogging over a hill, as the episode is chock full of swift moves to remove the couple's Season 1 obstacles.
After their jog in the wee hours of the DC morning, Frank and Claire return home to find Doug waiting in the shadows -- a.k.a. his natural habitat. It's almost Frank's birthday and his present comes in the form of terrible news: Zoe's on their trail, she's already made contact with Christina and Rachel, and she knows about Peter Russo's DUI cover-up and Frank's contact with Kapeniak last season. And in case you forgot, that trail leads to the truth about who put Peter in his car the night he died from carbon monoxide poisoning. And that's no good for Frank. He sends Doug to take care of Rachel and Kapeniak and says he'll handle Zoe.
Next, we're introduced to our new favorite early success: third-term Congresswoman Jackie Sharp. Frank calls the young congresswoman to his office to let her in on the secret that he's about to take the Vice Presidency and offer her a chance to be his replacement, despite her being about 10 years away from that level of power. The two senior members of the party, Webb and Buckwalter, are slated to take the seat, but Frank says if it was put to a vote they would pull votes from the same pool of congressmen, leaving a big gap in which she could eke out a victory. (In a later scene, he plants the election idea in the leadership's heads.) Naturally, Jackie is wary. She may not know what Frank has actually done to get where he is, but his forceful manipulations aren't exactly lost on her. He offers up three files on his computer for her perusal: one on Webb, one on Buckwalter and one on her. You can tell from the way she unbuttons her blazer that she's ready to get serious about Frank's offer as she hunches over his computer.
And while Jackie is doing what Frank wants, he's going to have to do more than handle Zoe. She's so distracted by the Peter Russo question that she can't even enjoy sex with her new boyfriend, Lucas. He's at her apartment, having sex with her from behind, but she's not into it. She tells him to just finish and he's furious saying that he's not "him." And by him, he means Frank, of course.
He's likely pretty frustrated because his girlfriend is obsessed with Frank and the question of whether or not he murdered Peter Russo. He's joined Zoe and Janine's investigative duo and they're splitting up duties. Lucas searches fruitlessly for Kapeniak while Zoe heads off to find Rachel, but they've got nothing on her and Rachel's been trained well by Doug. Per Zoe, her last retort was "Go to town, bitch." Oh yes, Zoe. Keep chasing that hopeless "loose" end.