**There will be explicit sexual concepts discussed below**
(Proceed only if you’re OK with that!)
Last week we examined the kinks of Chuck Rhoades. But, you can’t tell the story of Chuck, and how his twisted, complicated psyche leaves destruction in its wake, without also getting into the women in his life. The presence of kink varies season to season. It ebbs and flows, much like the relationship between Chuck and Wendy. Their pervy playtimes are a proxy for the strength of their relationship. When things are good, Wendy and Chuck have complementary agendas. He’s a connoisseur of kink, and Wendy is the best, most attuned playmate he can find. She dominates him sexually, and he submits enthusiastically. When things are fraught, BDSM becomes the site of tension and disappointment, where Chuck wants more than Wendy is prepared to offer. After all, dressing up in exotic lingerie and bringing a husband to his knees can be hard work if you’re not into it. Conveniently, there are professionals able to step forward in stiletto-heeled boots, to address this inequality of supply and demand.
When considering the dominatrixes in Chuck’s life, Wendy, obviously, is the most important one. Chuck’s father once described her as a “killer.” There’s a pragmatism and a ruthlessness to her character that brings out the best and the worst in her husband. She’s not some quiet helpmate. She has the capacity to whip Chuck into shape, literally and figuratively. But there are other women with whips in Chuck’s life – the Troys and the Cassies. For the most part, he hires them, in a form of transactional BDSM play that puts him in charge of his own recreational debasement.
Wendy is presented as a “natural” dominatrix, and with her sophistication and intelligence, she has the capacity to weaponize empathy. She bends and shapes the traders of Axe Capital to be their best performing selves (which is different from their healthiest selves). She also confronts their fetishes on a regular basis.
When Wags explains his fondness for “ass to mouth” sex in the first season, Wendy doesn’t flinch. She immediately recognizes the act has a power component, and notes it’s about dominance. Although Wags says he doesn’t want to be the kind of person who gets off on that, he clearly does. When a woman under Wags tries to leave, he gets visibly excited telling Wendy about his plans to destroy her professionally. He vows to make an example out of her because she had gotten out of line. Wendy wryly notes that it’s “Ass to mouth, whether she likes it or not.” Fortunately for the woman, Wendy is able to use her persuasive powers for good, and after taking her through a visualization exercise, the woman decides to leave Axe Capital. Wendy subtly, yet effectively, protected her colleague from a non-consensual dominance move. She runs the dungeon, at home and at work.
In an interesting moment while roleplaying with Chuck (Season 1, Episode 3), where he can’t get into the moment, Wendy pauses the scene and asks him, “What is going on. You are not here with me.” She then removes his gag and waves a violet wand at him. “This makes cattle concentrate.” She’s baffled that he isn’t more fixed and alert. She continues, “The whole point is that this keeps you in the present. Are you OK?”
For Wendy, the games with her husband are something she approaches with a deep therapeutic understanding. They aren’t just kinky fun, they’re a device to keep him focused and concentrating on what’s in front of him.
Chuck, still lying there bound, describes how Axe is trying to undermine Chuck Sr’s relationship with his mistress. Wendy turns the wand back on. “I’m going to leave you to stew in it. And when I get back, you’d better be focused and obedient. Have I made myself clear?” She pokes him with the wand, zapping his skin with electric charge.
Wendy returns to the bedroom a few moments later, finding Chuck reading a document. They return to domestic normalcy, and he undoes her corset. “Do you wanna just watch tv and eat ice cream?” He offers to get the ice cream soft. She agrees. They can switch the kinky stuff on and off readily.
In Season 1, Wendy is enthusiastic and aroused by the kinky games. After an emotionally taxing conversation in Iowa, with a man who’d given confidential information to Dollar Bill, Chuck is clearly distressed. He finds an S&M club. While sitting in his rental SUV outside the club, he calls Wendy as she lies in bed reading. “I’m outside a club again. I don’t know how I ended up here. I feel so out of control, Wendy.” She understands the need, and she’s comfortable playing along and exerting some of the control he lacks. She tells him to go inside and to bring her with him.
While inside the club, Chuck puts in his ear piece and speaks to Wendy on the phone. He calls a submissive “pathetic.” Wendy agrees, calling him a “fucking worm.” She ups the ante, and orders Chuck to get on his hands and knees on the dungeon floor where he’s almost stepped on by a pair of stilettos. He submits, even knowing there’s no way for Wendy to monitor his compliance. The absurdity of the humiliation arouses him. When Chuck asks for permission to touch himself, she denies it. Wendy, however, dims the light in her bedroom and begins to masturbate, breathing heavily into the phone while her husband can only listen.
Even as they are working with a marriage counselor and veering towards divorce, Chuck and Wendy wind up playing hooky from therapy and have a laugh-filled dinner together. Wendy confesses that she’s been feeling off. At the end of the evening, as Chuck is driving back to the club where he’s staying, Wendy calls him and tells him to come home. “Is that an order?” he asks. He wants to know if this is kinky. “Damn right, it is.” He returns, and finds her in leather and stockings, with a thick collar ready to fasten to his neck. Just as it looks like they’re going to have a passionate kiss, she grabs his balls and orders him. “Take your fucking clothes off.”
Late in the first season, Chuck spots Wendy in a moment that suggests physical intimacy with Axe. Chuck then gets into his car, and has the driver take him back to the city where he visits an S&M club and meets up with a woman. He’s clearly familiar with the place, winding his way through dark halls, to visit his preferred domme. She’s a gorgeous Asian woman who, upon seeing him says, “Mr Martinez, it’s been a long time.” When Chuck calls a halt to the scene, she releases him immediately, and Chuck reveals that he didn’t get permission. The domme is taken aback. “Does Wendy not roleplay any more? The workshop went so well. She’s a fucking all star.” Even among professional dominatrixes, BDSM experts who are paid to play, Wendy’s talents merit acknowledgement.
In the 4th season, Wendy morphs from being a force (mostly) for good, into one whose insights and willingness to roleplay leads her to feign friendship with Taylor, and to feign being a woman in distress with Mafee. Mafee ultimately recognizes Wendy’s duplicity and in a powerful scene, he marches into the Axe offices and calls her a “garbage person.” Wendy, acknowledging the accuracy of the accusation, winds up sobbing. She may be a dominant power player who can roleplay a woman in distress, but she’s still a human, and one with the expertise to understand she has failed to live up to her personal and professional ethics.
Wendy’s willingness to accommodate her husband’s proclivities changes from season to season. When the two are in sync, they play in a way that’s highly charged and very arousing to Chuck. Often, it involves an interplay of physical torture and emotional debasement. At times, however, Wendy is unwilling to play along. While Chuck’s sexuality is basically defined by his passion for BDSM, Wendy’s isn’t as confined. She can enjoy “vanilla” sex too, as we saw with Craig Heidecker. In the bedroom, Wendy has more balance and more breadth.
In the most recent season, Wendy balks at dominating Chuck, even when it’s clear he’s engaging in self-harm as a means of satisfying his masochistic impulses (he would maul his skin by snapping rubber bands wrapped around his thigh). She’s sufficiently pragmatic, however, that she acquiesces to his request to play with a professional. Wendy does so without enthusiasm, and with the promise that Chuck will be discreet.
Wendy is also forced to confront Chuck’s willingness to go against her preference for privacy, and out himself as a sexual submissive during a televised press conference while running for public office. In the first season, we saw Axe use Wendy’s pervy web browsing history against her, and the specter of her kinky proclivities becoming widely known would shake a woman who’s so accustomed to controlling herself and to shaping how she’s seen in the world. However, Wendy’s concerns about being “outed” as a BDSM enthusiast are not just about the perception of others. The National Coalition of Sexual Freedom, an advocacy group for “alternative sexualities,” has documented instances of employment and custody discrimination for those who partake. There are real world consequences for being on the edge, sexually-speaking, and Wendy knows it.
Troy is refined, intelligent, sophisticated and carefully cruel. She’s clearly had a longstanding relationship with Chuck, and she has also spent time with Wendy during a “workshop.” She’s so familiar with the couple that she can conjure up Wendy’s name effortlessly, when Chuck says he didn’t secure permission to play. When Troy and Wendy are together, they are a sexy, powerful pair. They co-dominate Chuck smoothly and effectively, with Troy knowing how to set Wendy up to take over. There’s a mutual respect borne of comfort and competence.
When Wendy was struggling with Chuck’s deep need to be dominated, she sought out Troy for advice. Wendy even deployed the Axe Capital security expert to find Troy. This violation of Troy’s privacy, in addition to being a quest for information, was a form of retaliation. Troy had previously permitted Jack Foley and Chuck Sr into her dungeon, where they proceeded to humiliate Wendy. During this later conversation, Wendy reminds her they had once discussed people who had switched. Troy replies that some people “reversed who was dominant. Changed styles altogether. They were role players, experimenting. So yes, they switched from time to time, moved off of bondage altogether. Tried exhibitionism, voyeurism, other forms of play. But that’s not Chuck. Not his arousal template. For him it’s not a game. It’s rooted deep.” Troy has an understanding of “arousal templates” that even Wendy, the super-shrink, lacks.
Chuck, while keen on humiliation and physical torture, found a careful and committed playmate. Troy demonstrates an understanding of Chuck’s physical and emotional safety. She leans into his need for “permission” prior to play and then, when her laptop was stolen, she reaches out to Chuck.
Her commitment to security is such that the guy who stole it had to give her a “backstopped alias,” and he had been visiting for 3 months before gaining access to her inner-sanctum. Even as she’s warning Chuck about the breach in her security, she’s flattering him. She informs Chuck that he’s one of her more prominent clients, because the lifestyle attracts brilliant people with “intricate” tastes. To reassure Chuck, she shares that a client from Palo Alto has secured the info inside her laptop, and if approached, she’d never succumb to blackmail because it would be a way of punishing true expression. As their coffee shop encounter is wrapping up, she deliberately drops a bottle cap and tells him to pick it up. Once he’s down on the ground, she steps on his hand and a familiar look of agony and delight appears on Chucks face. She suggests meeting again, but only after he’s secured “proper permissions.”
Of course, when confronted with the prospect of losing her privacy and livelihood, Troy capitulates and lets Foley and Chuck Sr. into her dungeon when Chuck and Wendy were due to arrive. There are limits to her commitment to safe sexual expression.
Cassie is the newest of Chuck’s dommes. She comes to his home in Season 4, after Wendy gives him permission to play. She then proceeds to leave him covered in welts and bruises. Cassie is depicted as the most coarse and cruel of all the dommes in Chuck’s life. Physically, she’s the most imposing and her makeup is the most garish. She greets him with a punch. And yet her dress conforms to his preferences (tight bodysuit, elaborate stockings, garters, boots) and she respects his safeword. When he says “red”, she stops. That Chuck returns to her, even after being savaged, indicates that he sought out someone who’d be particularly harsh.
At the end of Season 4, Chuck has won the election for Attorney General of New York, he’s outed himself as a sexual submissive, and he’s on a path to even greater personal power. Either his kinky needs have become heightened, or he’s finally seeking out the really rough stuff. Chuck no longer asks Wendy for permission to play, he gives it to himself. Through Cassie, a woman who knows how to crank a ratchet for full dramatic effect, Chuck has doubled down on his twisted impulses. He has earned his punishment.
Here’s an analysis of Chuck’s kinks.