Apr 062021

Season 3 opens with Bobby free on bail, his assets frozen, his trading license revoked, and Axe Capital on hold. Chuck has lost most of his money and alienated his father and his best friend in his scheme to get Bobby arrested, and is in the delicate position of having to ensure that the scheme doesn’t link back to him. Wendy is even more involved in Axe Capital in Bobby’s absence. Chuck and Wendy have reunited, while Bobby and his wife Lara are de facto separated.

L-R: Wendy (Maggie Siff), Chuck (Paul Giamatti) and Troy (Clara Wong)


The layout of a formal dinner table is juxtaposed with a woman selecting a flogger from a rack of floggers. In a dungeon space, Wendy, in dominatrix outfit, selects a flogger then walks over to Chuck, bent over a rack. 

Wendy: “Look at all the trouble you’ve caused. What a disgrace.”

Troy is lying on her back, looking up at Chuck. 

Troy: “Agreed. He’s almost beyond reclamation. I can’t stand the sight of this dog.”

I suspect Troy is in this scene to establish that this is a rented dungeon, not a space owned by the Rhoades. 

Troy: “I want to leave him here, and I’m tempted to take you with me. It’s up to you, Mistress. Leave with me or administer the required correction.” 

Is she asking a genuine question, or is it just rhetorical, part of the act?

Wendy: “He’s in need of punishment. I’ll stay.”

Troy leaves. 

Chuck and Wendy talk more, and Chuck brings up the fantasy of her being with other men. Wendy elaborates the fantasy, drawing upon her actual fling with another, younger man during their separation. Chuck responds with pleasure, especially as she punctuates her description with flogging his butt.

Chuck: “Yes, yes! This is the most excruciating thing that I can think of. I want to know what he does to you, what you do to him.”

While Chuck and Wendy are reunited at this point, there’s still a lot of tension in their relationship and it is spilling over into their play. Chuck is insecure about the discrepancy in looks between himself and Wendy, and he’s jealous of the emotional bond between Wendy and Bobby Axelrod, and he knows that she slept with another man. He’s eroticizing his anxiety. Chuck’s cuckold fantasy is a page straight out of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs (1870), in which Severin is fixated on the idea of his mistress Wanda leaving him for “the Greek”. In real life, the author was obsessed with pressuring his wife into committing adultery.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Wendy’s side of their BDSM relationship. How long has this been a part of their marriage? Does she play with other people?


In a secret meeting between Chuck, Wendy and Bobby, Bobby needles Chuck by saying to Wendy, “You’ve got him well trained.” This suggests Bobby knows details about Wendy and Chuck’s kink, though he hasn’t used that knowledge for blackmail.


To get out of prison sentences, Chuck falsifies evidence to make the case against Bobby collapse, and Wendy sexually manipulates Mafee, one of the Axe Capital traders, into perjuring himself. 

At the end of the day, Chuck comes home to find Wendy in bed, in her dominatrix gear. She says she wanted to celebrate but she admits “I don’t have it in me.” Chuck says the same, and gets in bed next to her, fully clothed. 

This is a good example of using kink to illustrate their relationship. We know how much Chuck loves Wendy as a dominatrix, but right now he’s too exhausted and ashamed and guilt-ridden. 


Chuck and Wendy find their date night has been canceled.

Chuck and Wendy go to a dungeon together, chatting affectionately. 

Chuck and Wendy have children at home, and they’re not lacking in money, so it makes sense they would book a fully-equipped dungeon instead of playing at home. However, using an outside dungeon, presumably owned by Troy, raises the risk of discovery, as this scene demonstrates.

Troy: “They left me no choice. Said they were going to destroy my business, my life.”

“They” are Chuck’s father, Charles Rhoades Sr., and political kingmaker “Black Jack” Foley, who step out of the darkness. 

Troy previously told Chuck she could be trusted, but once she is trapped in the workings of the Rhoades family and New York State politics, she does what she has to do to survive. At least she apologizes to them as she leaves the room. 

Charles and Foley want Chuck to commit to running for governor of New York State, under their “guidance.” Their confrontation with Chuck and Wendy are also expressed through kinkphobia. 

They first demonstrate their power over Chuck and Wendy by physically intruding into their kink space, and being more powerful than the dominatrix. Then Charles goes further by telling Wendy to take off her coat, so he and Foley can see her in her fetish-wear. (The collar of the outfit is visible under her coat. Note also that Wendy usually wears body-conscious dresses in black or other dark colors.) This is the kind of thing police do when they raid BDSM spaces, such as the LAPD’s raid on the MARK IV bathhouse in 1976, or the Toronto, ON police raid on the house owned by dominatrix Terri Jean Bedford in 1994. 

Charles: “It’s time to put away childish enthusiasms. Now what you do at home is your business. But this, with a third party, who we just showed could be compromised, a candidate for governor simply cannot do it.”

Chuck is right when he calls what his father did, intruding on and humiliating his own son and daughter-in-law, to be “your kink.” Charles and Foley could just have had a sit-down meeting, but instead they set up a theatrical production to express dominance. It’s also established that Charles can be emotionally abusive. 

Foley: “You think we give into our appetites as easily as you do yours?”

Charles: “Careful, Black Jack, she might give you a crack across the ass.”

Foley’s comment also places Chuck and Wendy as children being chastised by adults, for not controlling their desires, or at least not being discrete. 

Charles Sr’s disdain for Chuck and Wendy’s kink is, obviously, rank hypocrisy, given his long history of adultery. Wendy proves as much when she stages her own theatrical intervention into Charles’ hotel date with a mistress.

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