The climax of Sunday night’s episode of Billions was Oedipal in nature as it saw Chuck Rhoades and Chuck Rhoades Sr., the show’s main father-son duo, share a slightly uncomfortable kiss on the lips that would have almost seemed passionate or loving if it weren’t simultaneously tainted by a cutthroat betrayal and lingering paternal hatred.
In the episode, titled “Hell of a Ride”, Chuck Rhoades Jr (Paul Giamatti) pulled one over on his dad, by forcing him to choose between receiving immunity from a crime by snitching on his son, or rendering a major plot of land he purchased unprofitable by turning letting it be turned into a conservation area. That’s about as dirty as you can do someone in a show about a handful of hedge fund bro’s screwing over each other and the U.S. criminal justice system.
When Jr. reveals this betrayal, his dad doesn’t fly into a fit of rage at all. He simply says that he’s proud of his son for betraying him in order to further his own goals, grabs Jr. by the cheeks, and plants one right on him. If you watch the scene Jr. tries to get out of the kiss a little but hangs on begrudgingly as his father forcibly prolongs the exchange. Not that a father and son sharing a kiss is inherently bad at all, but the show, which is known for being more than a little over the top definitely let the coerced affection linger for a bit before the scene ended.
Naturally, the kiss was one of the big things people elected to discuss after the episode aired. A la Tom Brady’s “controversial” kiss on the lips with his young son, people will invariably be more weirded out by them kissing than by the almost non-consensual and hate-filled nature of their encounter. Unlike the kiss between Brady and his son which seemed to happen purely out of love. The kiss between Chuck Rhoades and Chuck Rhoades Sr. was loving but more twisted. Sr. is kissing Chuck Jr. because his son has finally become the kind of heartless businessman that he’s always wanted him to be, and that’s a pretty sick reason to finally give your son a Fredo-kiss.