Mar 252021
 

Billions is a 2016 drama about the conflict between US Attorney Chuck Rhoades Jr. and hedge fund billionaire Bobby “Axe” Axelrod.

Chuck (Paul Giamatti) bound.

The very first thing we see in the pilot episode is Chuck stripped and bound at the mercy of a woman in lingerie. This is his wife Wendy, who is also the in-house therapist of Bobby’s investment firm, setting up the triangle at the heart of the series.

BDSM is not a big enough theme in Billions to do an episode-by-episode review. Thus I will focus on certain episodes in which Chuck and Wendy’s BDSM relationship is a major element.

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Mar 122021
 

The season 2 finale wraps up various plotlines. 

Portia has departed, but she left a note for Frank instead of ghosting him. 
Rolph still hangs out with Pete, apparently as his “friend who knows your whole schedule” rather than his submissive. Pete has put Josh behind him, but is still uncertain about Tiff, and his career in comedy.

Tiff and Doug have reconciled. She says she loves him, and knew it was because she was vulnerable to him. She even offers to show him around the dungeon sometime. 

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Mar 052021
 

Josh’s coming-out to his father goes disastrously wrong, as his father, MJP, thinks this is actually about him being kinky, because that’s how he knows Pete.

MJP takes off his tie, undoes his shirt and reveals his padlocked collar. 

MJP: “I’m kinky, Josh.[…] Kinky sub masochist, owned by my mistress, blissfully so. I’ve wanted to tell you for so long.”

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Mar 042021
 

Penguin Guy returns. Pete, in his own penguin suit, puts his heart into his performance, waddling around the dungeon looking for his egg. There’s an improvisational give-and-take, as Penguin Guy finds Pete’s reference to global warming to be a “boner killer”, but Pete adjusts and carries on. 

Tiff comes in (in regular clothes) and says using Mistress Mira’s dungeon isn’t allowed. Pete is being kind of a dick. Not only is he poaching clients from Tiff, he’s jeopardizing her future career as a domme by goofing off in class and using the dungeon to see clients without permission. 

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Mar 032021
 

Pete is late to a training session at the dungeon, and is told that May said to start without him. He later takes out his frustrations in his stand-up, using kink as a gimmick. The club’s manager tells Pete about how she never mentions her wife in her stage performance; the importance of boundaries.

Inside, Mira and Tiff are having a scene with a man in a full-body bondage bag and a gas mask for breath control. In between letting him breathe, they talk about Tiff’s past and future in the pro-domme business. 

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Feb 252021
 

As Mistress Mira’s class proceeds, through ball gags, corsets, strapons, floggers, and straight jackets, the rift between Tiff the teacher’s pet and Pete the class clown grows. 

Mira decides Tiff/May has come far enough to handle a scene with her personal submissive, a wealthy man known as MJP who is a masochist and finsub. Tiff explains financial submission to Pete and says “we” will take it. 

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Feb 242021
 

Most of the second episode is Tiff going back to school. She’s one of many women (of various ethnicities and body types) who are in Mistress Mira’s intensive course, though the other women give her the cold shoulder. Pete is the only man present, apparently on the grounds he is “Mistress May’s” assistant.

Mira enters and announces that she had to remove their links from the dungeon website, because of SESTA-FOSTA, much to their disappointment. (This suggests that all of these women are pro-dommes.) 

Mira brings up puppy play as an example of a key concept in their work: ownership. She notices that Pete and Tiff are talking in class, and calls Tiff up to the front. 

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Feb 192021
 

As I watch Bonding, I’m torn between my impulse to say to Tiff and Pete and Bonding in general, “That’s not the way you do this!” and my recognition that, in reality, some people play fast and loose with BDSM’s supposedly sacred principles. Especially if they’re inexperienced and/or money is involved. Likewise, pro-domme work might be a calling for some, but for others it’s a way to pay the bills. My problem isn’t that the show is unrealistic, but that it is unflattering. 

In Season 2, for the first time, Bonding breaks out of the narcissism of the Pete/Tiff dyad and shows there is a kinky community and what they do in it matters. 

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