“Since the moment you set your sights on Axe five years ago, you have orchestrated a perfect plan to impel us together, which makes no sense. Unless someone knows you, which I have.” — Wendy to Chuck
Damian Lewis and Maggie Siff bring to life one of the most intriguing and complex relationships we have ever seen on TV. It is sincere and it is strategic. It is friendly and it is flirty. It is personal and it is professional. It is delicate. It is difficult. It is delicious. The first three seasons reveal no romance in the relationship, but a real partnership. Bobby and Wendy find meaning in what they built together and can draw the best out of each other. In case you missed my earlier posts on these two, you can read them here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. In Season 4, we start to feel some romantic tension between them especially in the season finale where Wendy finds herself in Bobby’s guest bedroom after leaving the house she shared with Chuck… followed by a slowly blossoming romance in Season 5.
That is the question.
I know I am in the tiny little minority that is not a big fan of Bobby and Wendy as a romantic couple. And I really think that Wendy has diagnosed the situation right in the quote at the beginning of this post: it is Chuck that impels Bobby and Wendy together…
…and while they have not started what they would not be able to finish, I am keen on finishing what I started back in Season 1 and give you a new post about Bobby and Wendy’s special relationship.
It is Chuck’s endless obsession with getting rid of Jeffcoat and obliviousness towards Wendy in Season 4 that set the tone for Season 5. And it is mind-blowing how Chuck throws his wife into his nemesis’ arms!
Chuck and Wendy are at opposite ends of the spectrum as they refer to movies about their relationship at Chuck Sr’s wedding in Episode 1: The New Decas. Chuck still remembers the good old days where they would get away from the wedding like McQueen and MacGraw in The Getaway. Wendy, on the other hand, is thinking more Beatty and Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde. They would talk about getting away but would never do it. And everyone knows how the movie ends!
When confronted by Wendy as someone who is a prisoner of his appetites, Chuck defends himself by saying he lost his twin Northern stars – Justice and Wendy Rhoades – because he did not serve them right. But, hey, we all know who Chuck holds responsible for making him lose his bearings. And he is determined to destroy Axe at all costs.
Chuck starts EMDR therapy with Dr. Mark Rutenberg (portrayed by Mark Blum who unfortunately passed away due to complications from Covid-19 and the first episode of Season 5 episode is dedicated to him) who starts with asking Chuck to name a comforter, a protector and a wise person. We find out that all of them used to be Wendy in the past – which shows us Chuck probably depended on Wendy more than she did on him in their marriage. And the question about a moment Chuck felt betrayed brings us to the exact point I made time and again about WHY Chuck is so obsessed with Axe: It is all about Wendy. The question takes Chuck back to the 9/11 Memorial in Season 2 Finale Ball in Hand.
“She was there.”
And, Chuck, do you know who else was there?
Me! I was there, too, standing only a few feet from my favorite characters hugging followed by the windbreakers putting the cuffs on Bobby Axelrod. And I know these actors make it look easy but it was such a crazy cold day in New York that day. You can read my story here!
Back to Chuck who confides in Dr. Rutenberg that he felt rage, sadness and jealousy in every part of his body when he saw Axe and Wendy hugging. And I bet he felt exactly like that when Axe saved Wendy’s medical license in Season 4 Finale Extreme Sandbox. According to Chuck, there is no way he can focus on himself until he completely defeats Axe.
Season 5 does not find Axe at a great place, either. He has just broken up with the woman whom he thought he could build a family with. He is vulnerable and lonely. As he “graduates” along with Wags from their Ayahuasca Retreat, Axe confides in Wags that he sees the value in ayahuasca – especially the clarity and the perspective it provides. The problem is he does not like what he sees there.
Why am I not surprised about that?
We saw the worst version of Bobby Axelrod ever in the show when he ended his relationship with Rebecca. And maybe we should refresh our minds about how Bobby and Rebecca broke up to understand Bobby’s mental state.
Rebecca gets into a business partnership with Taylor. Bobby sees this as a betrayal. He sends Rebecca to “Extreme Sandbox” with Wendy on a day trip and spends the day playing in his own sandbox to ruin Rebecca’s business!
Now, I do not believe Rebecca got into a business partnership with Taylor only because she cared about her relationship with Axe. But I believe it was a significant factor in her decision since she saw early on that business is more personal to Axe than sex, and that a conflict of interest could shift their relationship quite quickly. Moreover, Axe repeatedly told Rebecca how much he admired Taylor. And finally Rebecca saved Axe from a professional suicide by getting into this partnership with Taylor because otherwise he was getting out of a lot of profitable positions just to help Rebecca buy her own house appliance company.
And how does Axe pay back? By lying in bed next to her and plotting his next move to ruin her business! Damian’s face alone deserves an Emmy here! I feel the cold that he talks about turning hot, to rage, there. He blows me away. But the way he destroys Rebecca’s business in such a sneaky, cold and calculating way just because he feels she has betrayed her is simply SICK.
And his arrogance as he talks to Rebecca in the board meeting? OMG. Axe talks about the market calling Rebecca a genius now because of what he did. He talks about his romanticism, his plans about marrying her and having kids with her (he is again unilaterally deciding these things — how does he know if she wants to marry and have kids with him?) He tells her now they are even, both fucked over, and so they can see what is left between them.
“What is left between us is nothing.”
I recently took my mom to see her favorite show “My Fair Lady” (with a feminist ending I applaud) at Lincoln Center Theater. And as Axe gives his outrageously bullshit monologue, all I can think of is Eliza singing “Without You“:
There’ll be spring every year without you
England still will be here without you
There’ll be fruit on the tree
And a shore by the sea
There’ll be crumpets and tea without you
Art and music will thrive without you
Somehow Keats will survive without you
And there still will be rain on that plain down in Spain
Even that will remain without you, I can do without you
Mr. Axelrod, Rebecca Cantu can do without you!!!!
Axe visits Wendy to share the the experience he had under ayahuasca. We find out that Axe was happy like a guy who randomly finds a $20 on the street corner for a flicker of time the day he became a billionaire. And as he gazed over his life from whatever angle he could under ayahuasca, he only saw ugliness. He does not feel like he won, and he does not know if one can win. Wendy’s diagnosis is that Axe has never let himself feel he has won thinking he may pause or stop.
“You win only when you decide you’ve won.”
Will Bobby Axelrod ever decide he has won?
Wendy is the one who holds the fort when Axe is away for business varying from Ayahuasca retreat to the Prince conference to Gordy’s school- three episodes in a row – this season. She sees through everyone at Axe Capital, resolves tribal conflicts at the work place, makes the boss as well as his employees perform at their best and help make Billions! Wendy is the spirit animal of Axe Capital.
And she is currently vulnerable and lonely, too.
As Chuck is in denial about their separation, Wendy chooses to make a public announcement about their split. And Chuck gets the news when a notification pops up on his computer screen as he looks pathetic with his guacamole and chips working away on the kitchen island.
Chuck leaves an utterly ridiculous voice mail for Wendy. Get a grip, man, you were the one who took a unilateral action and made your unusual sex life public! Even though I supported it, and I still do, Wendy is the last person Chuck can question when it comes to unilateral actions!
Chuck retaliates in his own pathetic way! Wendy gets some bad news from her real estate broker as she and Bonnie are touring the beautiful penthouse Wendy has been planning to buy for herself: Chuck has put a restraining order on their marital assets. Well, I think it is good that a spouse has this right especially when they suspect the other side can drain the bank accounts. But Wendy?!?! Un-fuckin-believable!
When he hears that the deal got “Chucked” Axe is more than ready to buy the apartment for Wendy – and that is exactly why what Chuck did is not only disrespectful but also utterly ridiculous – Axe has Wendy’s back! Moreover, this makes Wendy stay a bit longer in Axe’s apartment and be even more grateful to him for accommodating her… It is Chuck’s impulsive actions that always give him the most damage.
In the meantime, Bobby who has not been happy lately is noticing that the one woman he trusts with everything maybe within reach! He is single and so she is! And maybe, just maybe, he will win if he wins over her.
Now that Chuck is not there anymore, Bobby and Wendy seem to have working dinners at Bobby’s penthouse. They talk business. And Bobby kindly asks Wendy to motivate Tanner, the painter he hired to paint for him, who seems to have a artist’s block.
It is hilarious that Bobby, like a shy teenager, does have difficulty finding the words but he is finally able to say it:
“This. So much better with Chuck out of the picture.”
I find it utterly delicious that these two have constantly been dancing around that thin line and never crossing it. I hope they stay the way they are but I cannot deny the romantic vibes I am getting from Bobby at the moment. The fan girl in me congratulates Wendy for resisting… well, this!
Alas, it is a mistake on Axe’s end to put Wendy on a mission to motivate Tanner. Is there anyone that does not fall under her spell? Tanner, who sees himself as a sellout because he is painting for money now, cannot feel special enough to start his work.
And even though he mocks with Wendy who makes him sit, close his eyes and feel the work at first, he becomes a believer in a couple of days 🙂 Tanner is making progress and Wendy deserves to be the one who sees the final product first… and she also gets a little “morning after” gift…
…which Bobby detects among Wendy’s papers in her office:
“You posed for this? Or was it from memory?”
One may think that Axe is getting sarcastic with Wendy because he hired Tanner to create a series of paintings for him and the first work he sees from him is a drawing of Wendy on bed after sex. Yet we have all seen Axe making a clumsy move on Wendy in Episode 4 Opportunity Zone so we feel the jealousy in his sarcasm… and then we see him getting creepy.
It turns out Axe has access to cameras outside and inside Tanner’s studio building. I am sure he has told Hall that he wanted the access to check how much time Tanner spends in the studio. But no, those cameras are for him to check how much time Wendy is spending at Tanner’s and I am lost for words! The only thing this reminds me of is Carrie watching Brody 24/7.
This is SICK.
Look at him, Axe treats the live camera as a TV show to binge – the man even has his dinner in front of the screen!
He does not sleep all night to make sure he knows when Wendy leaves the building to call her and give her a feeling that she is being followed.
What the actual fuck?
I understand that Bobby trusts Wendy with everything. She is the only person he can open his heart to and she is the only person that can heal him. She is the one person Bobby needs to be with when he is overwhelmed with memories in his childhood room in Yonkers.
Yet.. this is no legitimate excuse for him to feel possessive over her.
And we know that the dinner party Bobby invites Wendy and Tanner to when he calls Wendy as soon as she leaves Tanner’s building is not to show his appreciation for the artist but to observe the relationship and understand what Wendy finds in Tanner.
Bobby, who is paying utmost attention to Wendy as she cannot keep her hands off Tanner, talks about the viewing party he is planning for the new series of paintings Tanner is creating for him! While Tanner prefers not to attend the party – it seems he and Wendy talked about this before – Wendy shares that Tanner cannot stand the “bullshit interpretations” of his paintings.
Voila! Bobby now knows what Wendy likes about Tanner! And as he calls Tanner “the mythical incorruptible artist” we all know that Bobby Axelrod believes that everyone is corruptible – if you pay the right price… and now he will do anything to prove to Wendy that Tanner is not the man Wendy believes he is. YIKES!
To be continued…
Next: Bobby Axelrod and Wendy Rhoades, A Special Relationship: Part X