The opening credits are not even finished rolling yet and I am mesmerized. The direction alone is just perfection. I looked it up and the director of the first three episodes is Danny Boyle who has done a lot of movies but most notably to me was Slumdog Millionaire which was just fantastically directed. He’s also one of two executive producers. We are not five minutes in and I am all in.
Donald Sutherland’s first scene did not disappoint when a butler literally changed his underwear and brushed his teeth for him. I could have done without the gruesome suicide in the beginning. The suicide was George, Getty’s oldest son. At the funeral his touching words included saying “he would miss his phone calls.” At the wake, John Paul Getty III arrives just as his father, Getty Jr is trying to reconcile with his father and get back in at the Oil Company to replace the dead (half) brother and steals his thunder in the most remarkable way.
By 1973, Getty had gone through five wives and had long since decided to simply have a gaggle of girlfriends who all lived in the ginormous mansion. Currently, there are five of them. But another is expected to arrive. The errrr… head mistress? Helps get Paul settled in as his father left him standing out in the rain.
Paul owes the Italian mob six thousand dollars and he asks his grandfather for the money. He doesn’t mention the mob. He tells him he can work on one of his oil rigs for six months for the money. Paul plans to take the money and run. I do not think that will happen. Not with Getty.
Teresa is arriving as the latest addition to Getty’s harem. Apparently this calls for a large formal party replete with gold engraved invitations for all his family and friends and an astounding number of political types to welcome the new concubine. After much prodding by his wife, Getty Jr plans to ask again to take the empty seat as the heir to the company.
This calls for even more killings of the black geese that were delivered at the beginning of the show. #TriggerWarning The first goose death is quite gruesome and you don’t see it coming.
The current harem is taken into another ballroom to meet Teresa. As it turns out, she is a lioness. A real lioness with four paws, a tail and a frightening roar. All of them run except for the longest standing one who the staff refer to as “the lady of the house”, Penelope. Getty apparently enjoyed pranks like this.
At dinner, Getty Jr. (who btw is not the oldest son, and is Paul III dad) finds the courage to ask for the job with the company once again. He has done something to lose his position, probably drugs and with the death of George is hoping to get back in. But old man Getty tells him that it is his son, Paul the fuckup grandson who will be taking on the position once he is put through the paces. Then Getty makes everyone stand up and toast Paul III as his successor at Getty Oil. Getty Jr. leaves Sutton Place and goes out to his car and runs back in with a nude magazine with photos of Paul III. He tells his wife he did it because he is being a good father and keeping his son from getting money for his drug problem.
Speaking of drugs, Getty gets some sort of Czechoslovakian love potion injected directly into his penis by his doctor and it immediately has resplendent results for Belinda, the lucky chosen recipient of the Getty’s affections for the evening. Perhaps that poor man who has to read Getty erotica before his escapades can now find other avenues of employment.
The butler is given a letter to give to Paul III. His grandfather had given him a ticket to Rome on the first flight out the next morning. No money. No goodbye. He’s done here. He gets scared and blurts out all his troubles with the mafia in Rome and says he never wanted to be a Getty and tried to run away. He just got into some trouble and needs a tiny bit of help. The butler, in an unheard of moment of emotion give the boy a hug and tells him that if he really doesn’t want to be a Getty, he must leave and never, ever come back. Then he snaps back to robot mode.
The next week in Rome, Paul III is high as hell and dancing barefoot all over Rome making out with a bartender. What happened to that girl he called from the pay phone in Sutton Place professing his undying love to? He is quickly picked up by the Italian mafia. He’s barely 16.
I loved this episode. I feel like I have an advantage over some by knowing absolutely nothing about this story. I presume if you followed this back when it happened I’m sure you might have a lot of issues with the liberties that have to be taken.