Welcome To Chippendales (Mini-Series) Episode 3: As delicious as the growing tension between Steve and Nick may be, it doesn’t come anywhere close to the fine study of “why” instead of “what” in the 3rd episode of the Hulu miniseries. The war between Nick’s understanding of art and Steve’s capitalistic coldness comes as the episode’s binding element. But every pettiness, every passive-aggressive action by Steve and his pathological naivety pull the rug from under every other distraction that tries and fails to steal the limelight. If only his bred-in-the-bone insecurities could see how the episode ironically places the heavy crown of intrigue on his festering decay.
If you know where Steve’s fated story leads you, episode 3 will come as a gasping realization of why impulsive extremities are believable for someone like Steve. He runs on frightening desperation for approval and praise. Overlooking the flamboyant Room Service routine and just how hilarious it is to see Steve direct the erotic calendar shoot, there lies the superfine dissection of Steve’s unpredictable psyche. Underneath his awful suit and thick Indian accent, there is a man whose wounded ego will see a calendar with a Hindu deity and will replace it with the scantily-clad pictures of Chippendales dancers if it means he gets to mess with Nick.
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A feisty montage of Steve calling the new Mrs. Irene Banerjee from India and the shot leading up to a dancer holding a vintage receiver to his crotch starts off the episode. The entrepreneur’s father has passed, and he has returned to his roots after half a decade to mourn the loss and impress his grieving mother with Chippendales’ success while at it. The processed blocks of Velveeta aren’t the only things his middle-class mother rejects. “We didn’t need saving from America,”–but Steve is too far gone. He can not possibly let the nostalgia of his father’s sepia-tinted printing press take over now that he is a big shot who has more money than his entire family combined. “Money isn’t for everyone” almost stands as a Shakespearean clairvoyance for Steve’s future.
Irene, on the other hand, is starting to let loose. The discomfort on her prude’s face at the sight of near-naked dancers is long gone. While Nick’s sexy Room Service routine is the most artistically raunchy act Chippendales has seen, he is worried at the possibility of not finding anything to top that. And even if he does beat that, how does he come up with something even better the next time? To cool off from the creative anxiety driven by Denise’s druggie mania, Nick, Irene and Denise decide to paint a disco red. Irene doesn’t take too long to jump from one coke to another, and before you know it, she’s screaming, “I love cocaine!”. Seeing Nick rub down with a guy, Irene learns that he’s “sometimes gay” and that Denise will take off with the first hot guy she lays eyes on.
Already triggered by his mother’s rejection and over that furious that Irene has tried cocaine, Steve returns only to find that the creative train has left without him. He walks in as Nick and Denise’s artsy-erotic brainchild, “The Hunkenstein,” is being explored on Chippendale’s stage. The idea is to perform a three parts rock opera where a lovelorn scientist will dismember men to create the sexiest possible man with all the best features. Steve does not have it. How could Irene possibly dare to hire a handyman while he was gone? How could the world think it was okay to go on while Steve wasn’t around?
“I am the owner!”–the frantic growl echoes in the walls of Chippendales and pierces through Nick’s puzzled ears. But Steve has met his match. Nick can’t take it sitting down while insecure Steve rains on his creative parade. Panting in the back room, Nick proposes that Denise and him take their talents elsewhere and start their own club. Irene tries to peek through the fragile exterior that Steve puts up and to talk some sense into him. But all Steve sees now is blatant disobedience and insubordination. He will not, at any cost, hand an inch of authority to anyone else. Not even his wife, for that matter.
Insecurity’s most prominent foe is flattery. Soon realizing that all it takes to get on Steve’s good side is vapid praising and reassurances about his supremacy, handyman Ray Colon finds his way in. Becoming Steve’s yes-man not only strengthens the unstable job he was hired for but also makes him Steve’s pawn against Nick.
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All Nick wants is creative freedom. Sure he can overstep his boundaries once in a while, but he doesn’t mean to take over. At least for now. Steve’s battle is with himself. It’s not just the identity crisis between keeping up the image of success with his Steve side while his Somen-ness tries to claw its way out. Of course, a man so unsettled within himself will seek battles wherever he feels he can win. And now it’s Nick’s turn to take the burn.
Steve goes over Nick’s head and plans a photo shoot for the Chippendales dancers. While the second-hand embarrassment of watching Steve try to sound hip with his “buttocks” talk is palpable, it is more fascinating to see Steve’s gullibility when faced with meaningless flattery. Ray goes from being an unwanted handyman straight to Chippendales’ calendar photographer. Nick goes from being the reason Chippendales saw success to someone who’s being shut down for not being submissive to the boss.
Vulgar glee pours out of Steve’s smile when Nick demands an answer for not including him in the calendar business. “Merchandise is my domain,” Steve reminds Nick. A calendar may not be a coffee mug, but Steve is marking his territory at this point. Frustrated with Steve’s infantile pettiness, Nick storms off to New York. But their war doesn’t end here. Steve won’t get away with being a control freak. Irene’s patience for him balances on a thin thread that may snap at any moment.