In the final episode of House of Cards Season 5, Frank Underwood blackmails Alex Romero, referring to someone named Rochelle. So who exactly is Rochelle, and why was Romero so concerned that Frank knew about her?
Frank Underwood in the final stretch of House of Cards‘ fifth season tasks Mark Usher with digging up dirt on Congressman Alex Romero, as Romero is the one leading Congress’ investigation into President Underwood’s crimes. At first, Usher says that he doesn’t have anything on Romero, saying he has been vetted for a possible presidential run and that he’s clean as a whistle.
However, in Chapter 64, Usher reveals he does have some sort on Romero. Usher tells Frank Underwood that in college, Romero and five of his friends took turns raping a girl named Rochelle. Usher says that Romero told the dean that he only watched but that this isn’t true.
Frank Underwood in that scene is upset that Usher did not share this information earlier. Usher says that he had this dirt all along and was waiting until it was really needed. Underwood then states that he might use it or he might not.
Then, in the next episode, Frank Underwood approaches Romero and simply says the name “Rochelle.”
“Rochelle,” Underwood says. “Such a lovely name. Tell me how much you don’t want that to end up in the press. And then shut this committee down.”
Romero, not wanting the story of Rochelle to become public knowledge, does what Underwood wants and shuts down the committee. This means that although Frank Underwood is resigning, he will no longer have a committee continuing to investigate his crimes and ultimately recommending charges to the Department of Justice.
In a television interview later in the episode, Romero suddenly begins defending Frank Underwood, saying that it’s because he’s happy to see the first woman president. In reality, it’s because he was blackmailed and didn’t want the public to know that he participated in a gang rape in college.