In the second episode of House of Cards Season 5, characters make reference to Tim Corbet, someone from Frank Underwood’s past who has gone missing. So who, exactly, was Tim Corbet, and why is he important to the Frank Underwood storyline?
As established in House of Cards‘ first season, Tim Corbet is someone who went to school with Frank Underwood at the Sentinel. He and Frank, along with their friend Ken Caswell, sang together in the Riflemen Singers.
In Chapter 8, Frank Underwood meets up with Tim Corbet again and they reminisce, with it being said that they lost touch after college but were extremely close for a time. Tim joined the Army after school and later moved to Colorado to start a white water rafting company. Meanwhile, Frank Underwood pursued a career in government.
It becomes clear in that Season 1 episode that Frank Underwood and Tim Corbet had a sexual relationship, and this is our first indication in the show that Frank is bisexual. Frank says that they were “so close” and that they were like “more than brothers.”
“We were kids, Frank,” Tim Corbet tells Frank Underwood. “We messed around a couple of times.” Frank responds by saying, “I was so drawn to you.”
Tim says that he has since had children, noting in Chapter 8 that they are now older than he and Frank were when they had their relationship.
We don’t hear much about Tim Corbet again after this episode until Season 3, when Tim calls Frank after being contacted by Tom Yates, the man who is writing a book about Frank and Claire Underwood.
Early Season 5, Tim Corbet becomes an important character again. Claire Underwood runs into Ken Caswell, another one of Frank’s friends from college who sang with Frank and Tim in the Riflemen Singers. Ken informs Claire that Tim Corbet has gone missing, and he makes reference to Frank and Tim’s relationship. Claire is very concerned that this information might go public, especially after Ken says that he has a big mouth.
Tim evidently went missing while white water rafting. In Season 1, it was set up that Tim has a love for rafting.
“You know why I love rafting?” Tim asks Frank. “When you’re on the water, all you’re thinking about is what’s right in front of you. Everything is in the moment. I don’t really have time to think about the past.”