We talked about why Wendy Rhoades is Bobby Axelrod’s most deadly weapon a few week ago. In case you missed it, it is here.
And today we will talk about why Wendy, as much as she is Bobby’s most valuable asset, is also a liability for the company she built along with Bobby. Because, while I admit it sounds ridiculous, Wendy is the reason Chuck wants to take down Bobby Axelrod.
Do you remember when Chuck makes his first move against Bobby and presses him behind the scenes to buy the $83M Hamptons mansion in Season 1 Episode 1 The Pilot? Just after the journalist Mike Di Monda asks him at a press conference that whether he does not go after a billionaire like Bobby Axelrod because he has a “conflict of interest” in his own home! And do you remember when Chuck sneaks into Wendy’s computer to find information about her sessions with Axe Capital employees so he can bring charges against Bobby? Just after he sees Bobby and Wendy on the Axe Capital terrace smoking and laughing in Season 1 Episode 11 Magical Thinking.
While Bobby and Chuck smoked the peace pipe in Season 3 thanks to Wendy and dug themselves out of the deep shit called Ice Juice together, Chuck has never been comfortable with the special relationship between Bobby and his wife. And as Bobby’s gestures towards Wendy accumulate over Season 4, in particular after Wendy’s medical license is under investigation, they start to rub Chuck the wrong way and ultimately bring this very insecure man to the edge.
The stakes get extremely high for Wendy when she gets a visit from Dr. Zhang, the chair of the medical board, telling her that her medical license is under investigation in Season 4 Episode 8 Fight Night. Wendy has violated her patient-confidentiality only to help Bobby destroy Taylor Mason Capital. And because she sacrificed herself and took one for the team, Bobby is now ready to do everything in his power to help Wendy keep her license.
It starts with Axe Capital running a mock hearing on New Year’s Day with Wendy whose medical board hearing is fast approaching. As they wait for the rest of the team, the only thing Wendy wants to hear from Orrin Bach is whether she can win this. Bach warns Wendy that the stakes are high and the medical board hearing will be brutal so they need to make it hard for her today. He further explains that their strategy is to convince the board that Wendy’s sessions with Taylor were only performing enhancement sessions and not a part of her medical practice. Taylor was not a patient but a client. So there is no doctor – patient confidentiality to talk about. The billion dollar question is whether the board will buy this argument. It seems to depend on Wendy’s as well as Taylor’s performance at the hearing.
Chuck wants to start the mock hearing right away since he has another meeting (Krakow!) in the afternoon. And while Wendy is openly sour with Chuck, she has the biggest smile we have ever seen on her when Axe – who is supposed to participate via Skype since he is on vacation with his boys – surprises her with an early return from Fiji.
Wendy’s schoolgirlish smile speaks volumes. So does Chuck’s face! It is obvious that Wendy trusts Bobby 100% in this. Chuck? Not so much. And while Axe talks about Gordie scraping his leg at a coral and Dean breaking his surfboard to explain their early return, Wendy knows HE IS BACK FOR HER. So does Chuck. And this does not sit right with him!
The mock hearing starts with Bach asking Wendy the details of her sessions with Taylor. And as Wendy uses the forbidden word “patient” in her answer Bobby comes up with an offer: How about trying to stop Taylor from attending the hearing? What if he offered Taylor something they needed to create leverage? It is not any different from what he always does in business. All lawyers in the room agree it is not a good idea but this does not stop Bobby from saying none of this would have happened should Chuck have done what was asked of him: Taylor Mason should have been in a fucking cell by now. Crazy! And Chuck reciprocates that this is more about Bobby’s gang war. He is obviously not impressed with Bobby thinking Wendy is in trouble because her husband did not do his homework!
And while Spyros, fully in character as Dr. Rodizio wearing a doctor’s coat and carrying a stethoscope, provides comic relief, the hearing goes downhill when it is Chuck’s turn to address his wife. Wendy loses her cool and when Ira suggests she should not let the board see her sweat, she refers to The Usual Suspects:
“Only the guilty one can sleep through the night.”
Bobby calls a timely break before shit hits the fan in the meeting room. And he and Wendy leave the room for a private chat. Does Chuck find this close friendship between the two of them as beautiful as I do? I do not think so.
Wendy is still pissed with Chuck, but she spills the beans for Bobby: She is not comfortable that the case is based on Axe Capital employees being clients, not patients. If it is the case with Taylor, it is also the case with Dollar Bill or Danzig whose session notes are certainly not kosher! She is concerned that they can subpoena her at a later point. Ha! Wendy is putting Axe Capital over her own interests. Now we know why Axe calls Wendy the company’s spirit animal, don’t we?
As Wags crashes the mock hearing with bags from Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach, Chuck finds an opportunity to have his own private meeting with his wife. We find out Chuck has pulled a few strings behind the scenes to get a deal for her.
If she takes the deal, Wendy needs to give up on her medical license, say for 6 months to a year, and in two years it will be removed from her records. Chuck thinks it is the smart way while Wendy thinks it is the easy one.
On one hand, I think Wendy is not being consistent here. Is this the Wendy who advised Axe about giving up on his trade license in Season 3 Episode 1 Tie Goes to the Runner and even told him giving up his license could be another kind of freedom in Season 3 Episode 2 The Wrong Maria Gonzalez ?!?! Axe fucked up in Ice Juice and had to give up his trade license temporarily. And now that Wendy fucked up her doctor – patient confidentiality and has to give up her medical license temporarily. What is the difference?!?! Axe did it. So can Wendy.
On the other hand, Chuck is bringing this deal up probably to make Wendy know how it feels to lose her career. Because Wendy has, it is very hard to say this for my favorite character, hurt him badly: She told him to kill his political career for her and then asked him to kill for her career. This is some serious double standard in my book.
But then again if the only issue was Chuck’s press conference, things might get better over time between him and Wendy. But Chuck insisting on BDSM even when Wendy did not want it, and bringing in a professional to meet his needs have hurt Wendy. Chuck and Wendy are not in a good place in their marriage.
Later in the day, Wendy points out to Bobby that it is wrong to make people work on a holiday. Axe Capital employees kill it every day for Axe and they deserve to relax a bit. What is the point of being very rich if you are not able to enjoy life? While it is never easy for him to admit a mistake, Axe tells Wendy this is exactly WHY he cannot let her lose the hearing. He needs her more than anyone at the company.
And, FINALLY, we find out about their backstory that we have been dying to know for years: It turns out they met when Wendy came to the company after 9/11, on loan from the Sports Psych Place she was employed at, to help with the survivors as well as the families of the employees who died on 9/11. Axe, the only surviving partner in the company, was determined to do the impossible: pay for all the funerals, the school for kids of the colleagues who died in the attacks and the bonuses for the next three years. The company did not have a book. It did not have personnel. Every advisor Axe talked to told him to shut it down but he did not. And it was too much for him to take when, at one of the funerals, some families questioned his integrity as well as called him a thief. And when he was not able to handle the situation, someone else put herself between him and the families.
“Shut the fuck up. You lost family. So did everyone else here. And this man is the only hope you or any of you have of paying for the rest of your lives. And I’ll tell you another story. I have begged him not to. Because I think it’ll destroy him next. He doesn’t need it. He can move on clean and in a couple of years he’ll have enough wealth for 20 lifetimes. But if he’s really too slow for you, if you really think that he’s stealing from you, say another word, and I’ll make him shut it down. Otherwise, shake his fucking hand, say thank you, and we can all mourn together.”
But the moment Axe knew she would be his partner in this for life came later when Wendy came to his car and told him:
“Bobby, you better fucking deliver for those people. Or I won’t just make you quit. I’ll kill you myself.”
Wendy being loyal to him in public and her holding him accountable in private and her dedication to the greater cause sealed the deal for Axe. Now it is clear why Axe calls Wendy the company’s spirit animal and why he was even willing to go to jail for her.
And while I believe everything Axe says is sincere, I also think it is strategic of him to talk to Wendy about her loyalty to the greater cause. Axe knows that, when he suggests Wendy should go to Taylor and say she is sorry Wendy will do it only if she feels this is for the greater cause. These two have built Axe Capital together and they will protect it valuing the cause more than their own personal interests.
So Axe lets his employees go home and send everyone a case of champagne with a tin of caviar. And Taylor agrees to not show up at the hearing. Perfect Team.
While Bobby knows he needs Wendy by his side more than anyone what he does not know is that by revealing the exact moment he knew Wendy would be his life long partner, he has accidentally helped to further dissolve the Rhoades’ marriage. Now that she knows Bobby remembers the magic moment with her, Wendy believes Chuck needs to remember the exact moment he knew he needed to marry Wendy. Chuck does not remember it but it seems to me that he does not even make an effort. I do not buy this from a strategic man like Chuck. He knows that Wendy is an emotional wreck at the moment with everything she has built in huge risk. And if he wanted to give her the emotional support she desperately needs, Chuck could make something up there. But he does not. Wendy can make good use of the professional hugger she invited to the office to help Wags at the moment.
When she shows up for her medical board hearing with Orrin Bach in Season 4 Episode 11 Lamster, we think Wendy will pass with flying colors until we realize that Wendy has Taylor’s words in her ears:
“You are torn up, Wendy. The look in your eye tells me that there is still, somewhere inside of you, someone who knows right from wrong. This hearing is your chance to reclaim that person. I am not setting you up for defeat. I am giving you a chance to save yourself. And, in fact, that decides it. I won’t come to the hearing. If you think you should keep your license so you can continue to treat people, tell them why. And I won’t be there to tell them any different.”
I KNEW IT! While I obviously did not know what Wendy would do at the hearing, if there was one person in Billions who had the balls to admit their wrongdoing and bravely face the consequences, it would be Wendy! LOVE YOU, GIRL! And, yes, in caps, too!
Wendy tells the board she is a medical doctor and Taylor was her patient, and that she violated doctor – patient confidentiality for her own ends. Doing this, Wendy does not only feel good about herself and steals my heart all over again but she also protects the company. Because she is a medical doctor, all her previous sessions with employees count as confidential and she cannot be subpoenaed.
Yet, now that she is not a licensed doctor anymore, how will the sessions with employees work from this day on? Wags, who operates as Wendy’s professional cuddler these days, is right that the fucked up Axe Capital employees will always need her as a coach and as a human being at the company.
That said, Bobby, who cannot understand why Wendy voluntarily let her medical license go, does not even listen to her when Wendy advises him against narrowing his whole gaze to retribution – an action that always hurts him in the end?
“You need an enemy. Or you think you do. Like without that gravitational pull, you’ll go flying off into nothingness. No edge, no drive, no Axe.”
And I cannot help wonder who she has in mind as Wendy talks about people who let their childhood shit run them as she and Rebecca sit at a bar for a beer or two after their Extreme Sandbox adventure!
Upon her return to the office next day, Wendy takes the most surprising phone call from Dr. Zhang. Because she willingly came forward and took responsibility for her actions, the board has decided not to revoke her medical license and give her a verbal warning. Wendy thinks she owes this miracle to Chuck. And guess what? Her husband does not deny it. But when she sees in the news that Axe has donated $25M to the Pancreatic Cancer Research Foundation, Wendy knows who got her license back. While it is surprising that Chuck tells his wife he did not even try to save her, because he did —he asked Allerd to look into Dr. Zhang’s past — maybe it is just that Chuck is too proud to tell Wendy he tried but Axe got there first!
Regardless, Axe saving Wendy’s medical license is enough for Chuck to take an impulsive action: Lo and behold, he offers Taylor a partnership to take down Bobby Axelrod together! Chuck seems to believe that Bobby is responsible for everything – from his firing to his failing marriage.
Chuck: “When I look at the shambles my life has become From my firing, to my public disgrace, to my election with strings attached, to the destruction of my marriage, to my family falling into disrepair. Ah, did I make mistakes to cause it? Perhaps. But a truer reckoning is: it all tracks back to one source. One man. A man so corrosive, so virulently infective as to strip me of every good quality I ever had: my kindness, my empathy, my sense of justice. Maybe even my ability to love.”
Huh? As a guy who lets his childhood shit run him, Chuck is extremely insecure, but also too arrogant to accept his mistakes and the combination is quite unhealthy! If Chuck wants to know who is responsible for the situation he is in, he should look at the mirror. He had better grow up and take responsibility like Wendy. And then he may magically feel like his old self again!
Bobby has just deleted Rebecca’s number from his contacts as Wendy arrives in the penthouse upon finding out that her husband did not even try to save her license. They are both at their emotional lows — assuming Axe has emotion somewhere deep inside! And I am at the edge of my seat, maybe more so than I am during all other crazy shenanigans, as Axe and Wendy explore what options Wendy has to sleep in Axe’s apartment.
And I am yelling at the top of my lungs:
“No, no, no, don’t do it!”
They do not. These two are true friends and I hope they stay the way they are. That said, while I do not get any romantic vibe from Bobby when Wendy is concerned, I am not 100% sure about Wendy at this time. It could of course be her gratitude that might bring her to him but I feel like anything could happen if Bobby took a step further which both could regret the next morning. But the awkwardness between them hints that Wendy did not have a sleepover at Chez Axelrod earlier.
And when she lies on the bed in Bobby’s guest bedroom, is Wendy missing or longing for certain someone on the other side of the bed? I suspect she may be relieved that the other side of the bed is empty! While I always thought Chuck and Wendy had a strong marriage, I am now thinking their marriage may not survive Season 5.
The new season trailer finds Chuck visiting Wendy in the apartment we saw Lara living in when she left the house in Season 2 Episode 10 With or Without You, and also during her separation from Axe in Season 3. It now seems that Wendy is staying temporarily in this apartment either to take a break from marriage and think this over or to wait for Chuck to find a place for himself and leave the family home in Brooklyn. I cannot imagine how pissed off Chuck is about Wendy staying in one of Bobby’s residences? Oh, and what do you think Chuck would do if/when he learnt that it was Bobby that Wendy went to when she left home in Season 4 Finale Extreme Sandbox?
Final words about Bobby and Wendy: I am in that tiny little minority who does not want to see any romance between Bobby and Wendy. I believe that a man and a woman can have a relationship based on care and trust without any sexy time. Understanding each other with words is a beautiful rarity. And that is what these two have. I find Bobby and Wendy’s relationship intimate, sexy and dangerous as it is. Hey, you two, please do not pass the red line but keep dancing around it. I love your relationship as is 🙂
Final words about Chuck and Wendy: I really hope their marriage survives. They have always been the strong couple in Billions because, unlike Axe and Lara, they could get deep, communicate and ultimately resolve their differences. But there is one necessary, if not sufficient, condition for this marriage to heal: Chuck must grow up, stop putting the blame on Axe for his marriage going south, and own his mistakes. Come on Chuck, you can do it! 🙂