In the Billions season 4 finale, Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) has to sleep in the bed she made for herself — literally. After a season of seething through her marriage to Attorney General Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), Wendy finally ditches their Brooklyn brownstone and seeks shelter in her boss/friend/patient Bobby Axelrod’s (Damian Lewis) penthouse. Wendy and Bobby make a bed. She sleeps in it.
Billions is very much a show about actions and their consequences. Here, Wendy’s dealing with the fall-out of her choice to breach serious ethical boundaries and manipulate her patient, Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon). Wendy’s medical license is restored only because Bobby, not her husband, pulls necessary strings. She’s so disgustingly disappointed in Chuck’s inaction that she leaves him.
But it took me an embarrassingly long time to grasp this fairly overt metaphor, as I was completely distracted by Wendy and Bobby’s awkward silences and prolonged eye contact. Until now, Wendy and Bobby’s has been a relationship based on talk. He spews ugly vitriol; she shepherds him towards a strategic next step.
What does it mean when the typically chatty pair chooses not to say anything at all? Keep in mind there’s a lot Bobby and Wendy could be saying to each other in this moment. Their personal lives are in turmoil. Wendy is fed up with Chuck. Bobby is reeling from the fallout of his boardroom sabotage, which ended his relationship with Rebecca Cantu (Nina Arianda).
Yet for once in his pop culture-reference fueled life, Bobby is rendered speechless. When Wendy explains she “doesn’t want to stay at home tonight,” all Bobby manages is an, “Oh.” When she clarifies that she also doesn’t want to stay at a hotel, he says “oh” again, this time with a slightly different inflection. For a quick guy, he’s putting it together pretty slowly: She wants to be with him.
And now's her chance. It's no coincidence that Wendy slips in immediately after Bobby dramatically deletes his Rebecca's phone number from his phone, and officially declares himself single. This subtle, mostly silent interaction at the end of the Billions finale is definitely setting Wendy and Bobby up for a new phase in their relationship: sexual tension.
Within the context of Billions, Bobby and Wendy’s relationship developing into something “more” wouldn’t be so out of place. In Billions, as in many workplace shows, the office is the dating pool — and relationships have been sprouting up at a greater frequency. After a few rounds of competitive flirting, Dollar Bill (Kevin AuCoin) and Bonnie (Sarah Stiles) hook up in his minivan. In the same episode, Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon) begins a covert relationship with their new consultant, Lauren (Jade Eshete). Part of the reason Kate Sacker (Condola Rashad) feels protective over Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) is because they used be lovahs.
But Wendy and Bobby’s history is far more complicated (and long-running) than these other pairings. You might say, “If it hasn’t happened in the last 20 years, then it won’t happen now!” Perhaps you’re right. Or maybe they’ve never let themselves explore “it,” whatever “it” might be. Maybe their relationship has always been arcing toward “it.” Maybe you weren't imagining sparks that time they went skinny dipping.
Until this moment, Bobby and Wendy have been occupied by other romantic relationships. As far as we know, Bobby never cheated on Lara (Malin Akerman), his first wife — in fact, his “family man” status was one of the few things mooring him. On the other hand, we know everything about Chuck and Wendy’s sex life. It involves whips, but not extramarital affairs.
However, if we expand the definition of “cheating” to include betraying a partner’s trust with deep extramarital emotional relationships, then Wendy’s already been cheating on Chuck all along — with Bobby. Eventually, she was going to have to stop running between her husband (Chuck) and her everything else (Bobby). Where would she land?
Certain events in season 4 may have helped Wendy with her decision. Although Chuck and Bobby were supposed to be “friends” this season, they were still locked in a rivalry: They were going head-to-head for Wendy's heart. Round one: Bobby identifies the exact moment he knew he needed Wendy in his life forever; when asked the same question, Chuck is hazy with specifics. Round two, Bobby works to save her medical board license; Chuck doesn’t even try. In this game, there is a clear winner, and Wendy goes to his apartment in the middle of the night for a sleepover.
After making the bed, Wendy and Bobby stare at each other a few seconds too long for the interaction to still be considered platonic. There’s an acute awareness that anything could happen — those quivering electric moments before a first kiss. Bobby manages to leave, but with uncharacteristic awkwardness.
That night, Wendy sleeps in the bed they made together. My prediction? It’s only a matter of time before they’re sleeping in it together — inevitably complicating the Chuck-Bobby rivalry that's gearing back into motion for season 5.