Chuck, what were you thinking? Financial thriller drama series Billions is back with S5 from Tuesday, 23 June on M-Net (DStv 101) and it has a score to settle with last year’s somewhat lacklustre S4. Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) has gone from being US States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in S1, to politician in S4. All the while, he’s been hiding a kinky alternative lifestyle choice – that he’s the Submissive to his on-off wife Wendy’s (Maggie Siff) Dominant in the bedroom. But while psychologist performance coach Wendy has long since hung up her PVC thigh-highs, stashed her whips and handcuffs, and hidden the gimp mask, Chuck has been a bad, bad boy. And not in the way that his better half likes.
When S5 picks up, Chucky has a new object of desire… Billions newcomer Julianna Margulies (Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife) plays Catherine Brant, a whip-smart sociology professor and author of The O Gap (guess what that’s about, kids!). That’s a buzzer that Chucky boy just needs to push, and he’s coming in with the old “my wife doesn’t understand me” angle to get into Catherine’s good books – and by that we mean her O book.
But before they do or don’t slip into the sack, it’s worth recalling some of Chuck’s previous indiscretions that have led to him being in the dogbox with Wendy…
Permission to play
Chuck needs permission to do anything sexual. If Wendy doesn’t okay it, he’s forbidden. When he phones her and tells her that he’s outside a BDSM club in S1E5, while she’s not impressed, she uses it to her advantage, sending him inside and ordering him to do things – like call other submissives “trash” and “scum”. That’s part of their thrill, that Wendy is in control and Chuck has to do what she says – even if it’s to people like him. Except later in S1, he breaks the rule – again. He not only doesn’t call Wendy to tell her that he’s at a BDSM club, he goes in for an “appointment” with a former sex buddy dom. It’s only when she asks where Wendy is that Chuck tells her he’s playing without permission, ruining everything when the dom phones Wendy.
Doctor-patient confidentiality is hugely important. It’s not just an unspoken rule, it’s a very literal, written-down rule. And it’s more important in the Rhoades home because Chuck is a lawman and Wendy is the in-house performance coach at AxeCap… which Chuck is investigating for suspected fraud, illegal deals and anything else that will guarantee putting company head Bobby (Damian Lewis) behind bars. Wendy trusts Chuck, given that he’s a stickler for details and knows right from wrong. But when she leaves the bedroom in S1E11. Chuck notices that her laptop is unlocked and there’s a folder on the desktop with Wendy’s session notes from AxeCap. Who’d know if Chuck took a quick peek? Not Wendy. Until Bobby loses his cool in S1E12 and berates her for leaking sensitive information that’s not public knowledge. When Wendy puts two and two together later, Chuck has signed the death warrant on his marriage and he’s thrown out with two very sad little bags of clothes.
Three’s a crowd
Chuck and Wendy are very well-known figures. He’s the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York-turned-politician, she’s one of New York’s top psychologists. So what would happen if their BDSM fun became public knowledge? That’s the very real fear in S3E8 when the somewhat-rekindled couple arrive at their friendly dom’s house for a little leather ’n latex loving as a three-piece. Except hiding in the shadows is Chuck Rhoades Sr (Jeffrey DeMunn) and a private investigator pal who make it clear to the couple that not only is there a video of them (in Sr’s possession, for “safekeeping”), they should be far more careful who they get involved with. Especially Jr, whose BDSM fetish was noticed in S1E11 at the club…
Out and not-so-proud
Surprise! Everything Wendy has worked so hard to keep hidden from the world becomes frontpage news in S4E4. Knowing that his BDSM secret is about to be exposed by blackmailers, Chuck goes on national TV during his election campaign and blurts the words that hurt Wendy most: “I am a sexual submissive and I am proud.” Did his dom wife Wendy give him permission to expose this? Of course not! Is she furious! Hell hath no fury! And is she going to take out her frustrations on him for being a naughty boy? No. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back for their sub-dom love life.