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Series / Trust

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"My grandson! J. Paul Getty, III."

"Mr. Getty's children are a sore disappointment to himself. It would be a sadness if that opinion came to include his grandchildren, as well."

Trust is a series airing on FX, created by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, and starring Donald Sutherland, Brendan Fraser, and Harris Dickinson.

In the wake of George Getty's sudden suicide, J. Paul Getty worries for the future of his empire, as none of his sons have managed to stay clean and sober. When his grandson John Paul III shows up for the funeral, he finally finds someone he believes he can trust with his empire, but then the kid is kidnapped, forcing Paul to deploy his fixer to Rome to find him.

This series contains examples of:

  • The '70s: The series takes place in 1973 and includes constant references to historical events of the era, like the Oil Crisis or Nixon's resignation.
  • The Alcoholic: Addiction runs deep in the Getty family, to the point where, after the sudden suicide of George Getty, Paul contemplates cutting all of his sons out of his will so that they can't blow through his fortune after his death.
  • All Part of the Show: Paul III is kidnapped for real while he is faking his kidnapping.
  • Ambiguously Gay: As the series progresses, Khan spends his off time visiting the Getty estate's flamboyant gardener, even electing to spend his day off with him. When Dennis' aunt proposes that he move in with them, saying that she'll buy them a nice double bed, Khan abruptly retreats. The men later reunite on warm terms and the nature of their future relationship is left open-ended.
  • Anachronic Order: The third episode, "La Dolce Vita", which puts the viewer up to date with the lead up to, planning, and early development of the kidnapping.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Why do you stay with him?" This could be asked of anyone attached to the eldest Getty, but it's asked to Khan, and it starts off his disillusionment with being Getty's butler.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Fletcher Chace is fond of quoting the Old Testament when he wants to intimidate someone.
  • The Atoner: One of the things driving Gail's quest to get her son back (besides the obvious motivation that he's her son) is her guilt over the fact that her relationship with Lang drove him away in the first place.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Primo, in spades. He kills one of his men for saying his name during a home invasion, even though he has already murdered the witnesses, and he beats up another for saying that a low counteroffer is normal in a negotiation.
    • Getty Sr. sics his guard dogs on the gardener just for his own amusement. It shouldn't be a surprise that the real Getty was one of the main inspirations for Mr. Burns in The Simpsons.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Primo gets away with the kidnapping and uses the money to fund a drug empire.
  • Bad Liar: Paul Sr.'s youngest mistress, Luciana, exaggerates her theatrics in a fruitless attempt to appear like she cares for him.
  • Blatant Lies: George's death is officially declared an accident because of the shame it is for Getty Sr., but everyone knows it was suicide.
  • Brainless Beauty: Luciana is maintained by Paul Sr. only because of her looks. He certainly doesn't respect her intelligence.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Chace has a lengthy scene in which he tells the camera how much the year 1973 sucks.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Chace tempts Bertolini with one when he meets him.
  • Brutal Honesty: Paul Sr. and Bullimore share this trait, although the first one is a classic Jerkass while the other tries at least to be polite.
    Luciana: [after Paul Sr. can't keep up with sex] Do you want to talk?
    Paul Sr.: Talk? With you? Oh, no!
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Fletcher Chace may come across as a Cloud Cuckoo Lander and raise laughs, but he knows how to find information.
  • Captain Obvious: Gail telling her husband that Paul III was really kidnapped, while crossing with Deadpan Snarker.
    Gail: Kids on benders don't send ransom notes!
  • Calling the Old Man Out: In "John, Chapter 11", Paul Jr., enraged at the apparent death of his son, shows up at his dad's estate to berate him for his selfishness
  • Chekhov's Gun: Inverted due to Anachronic Order. The twins using an AK-47 to save themselves from being raped by Bertolini's men originally comes out of nowhere. We later find (in a scene set earlier) that they were forced to safekeep the gun by Bertolini due to their debts to him.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Paul Sr. makes his famous broadcast promising to pay not a single cent for his grandson's ransom while Paul Jr. is trying to woo a patron in a bar.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In the finale, Paul Sr. is told that the critics are comparing his new museum to Disneyland. Cue Luciana cutting in and saying she likes Disneyland.
  • Daddy Issues: All of Paul Sr's sons, but Paul Jr. has this the worst.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Paul Jr. calls Paul Sr.'s new acquisition "nice".
    Paul Sr.: "Nice"? It's a Rubens!
  • Disappeared Dad: Chace has a son back in Texas. He hasn't seen him for years because of his work in England.
  • The Dragon/The Lancer: James Fletcher Chase serves as Getty's loyal fixer. Though he appears briefly in the first episode, he becomes a major character starting in the second, when he is deployed to Rome to find Paul III.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the opening scenes of the pilot, George Getty kills himself during a drug-fueled freak-out.
  • Eagle Land: Chace, who dresses as a cowboy, makes some Italians laugh when he hangs an American flag on his hotel window.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: All the women in Paul Sr.'s house react very positively to Paul III's visit.
  • Enfant Terrible: Paul III was expelled from multiple schools, set one of those schools on fire, drinks, takes drugs, has casual sex with men and women alike, posed for a gay magazine, and is sunk in debt to the Mafia. All this at sixteen. And Paul Jr. is hinted to have been worse; his father can't remember if he can't go to Italy because he has a warrant there for drug trafficking or one for manslaughter.note 
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The introduction of the elder Getty and his house, right after the colorful pool party at George's house, which highlights how dour and Lonely at the Top the patriarch is.
    • Little Paul crashes the reception after his uncle's funeral (which he missed), dressed like a hippy and barefoot, and goes straight to the snacks without talking to anyone.
    • Paul Jr. being afraid of speaking with his father, doing it only after being henpecked by his girlfriend, failing to connect with him due to their non-existent common interests, then getting jealous of his estranged son.
    • Primo murdering three people in cold blood during his first scene.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Leonardo may be a criminal, but he genuinely loves his son Francesco. His main motivation for getting involved with Paul III's kidnapping is to get enough money so that he can send Francesco to a university so that the boy won't grow up to be a gangster like him.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The photo of Little Paul's supposed remains is enough to horrify Paul Sr. out of his usual cynicism.
  • Evil Virtues: Paul Sr. can't deny his admiration for Little Paul when he is told that he staged his kidnapping to extort him. Too bad the kidnapping is real.
  • Expelled from Every Other School: J. Paul Getty III had been kicked out of every school in which his parents had enrolled him before moving out of his mother's house. His pent-up anger at his parents' divorce was probably a contributing factor.
  • False Friend: Unbeknownst to Paul III, who had wanted to make his own way in life without falling back on his family's wealth, his friends used his family name to get drugs and other favors on credit. The climax is Marcello playing a cruel prank on Bertolini, which sends him over the edge and makes him give an ultimatum to the teenagers - including Paul.
  • Finger in the Mail: Paul III's ear after being cut off by Francesco. His father and grandfather express doubt that it's actually his. Paul Sr. even points out that at least a finger has a print that can be matched. Gail digs up a photograph of Little Paul and matches the freckles on the severed ear to it as confirmation.
  • From Bad to Worse: Paul's first escape results in him being "sold" to the psychopathic criminal Primo.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Instead of blowing through their newfound wealth, Primo and Leonardo invested it in order to build a port in Calabria, creating a legitimate front for a drug empire.
  • For the Evulz: While there is some pragmatism to Primo's actions, he clearly enjoys killing people and will pull the trigger before considering other options. He also enjoys forcing Paul III to ride in the trunk of a car with the fresh body of his frenemy, Bertolini.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Martine and Jutta, who are twins, get some action while snorting drugs with Paul and Marcello.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Paul III goes into cocaine withdrawal shortly into his captivity. He begs his captors to get him drugs, pointing out that he won't be of any use to them if he dies from withdrawal symptoms, but they refuse.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Paul Jr. competes with his own son for his father's inheritance, which he believes belongs to him.
  • Groin Attack: In a bid to produce one more heir, Paul Sr. has his physician inject an experimental drug directly into his penis.
  • Harmful to Minors: On his confirmation day, poor Francesco stumbles upon Little Paul, who's been stashed in a mountain cave and is about to be executed. In a last desperate bid to get his parents to pay his ransom, Paul begs Francesco to cut off his ear so that it can be sent abroad to scare his parents.
  • Hidden Depths: John Paul Getty III at first blush looks like a hippie, but he manages to impress his grandfather when he demonstrates a knowledge of ancient history and manages to comprehend how the Getty family trust works.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Getty's contracts with his harem forbidding them to bear children were written under the assumption that the women would get abortions rather than risk being disowned. In the finale, Belinda turns the tables on him, declaring that he will have no say in how she raises their son.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Twice in the Pilot. First when Paul III's grandfather agrees to pay him the $6,000 he asks for... after he works 6 months in one of his oil wells. Then when he tells his audience that he intends to name Paul III his heir, only to change his mind when Paul Jr. tells him about Paul III's past with drugs and nude modeling in a gay magazine.
    • In the second episode, Chase attempts to buy Paul's freedom from the Roman underworld with a Briefcase Full of Money. When it looks like the kid is going to be handed over to him, they return him the briefcase instead, and tell him that none of their associates has Paul III. After teasing that Paul staged his kidnapping, the end of the episode confirms that he was really kidnapped after all, just not by anyone in Rome.
    • In the finale, Paul III marries Martine, but the scene of the wedding celebrations are intercut with visions of Paul's crippling overdose. Chace advises the audience to just pretend everything turned out okay in the end.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
    • Bertolini lets his anger at Paul go to his head and he sells him to Primo instead of cashing on Chace's Briefcase Full of Money. Primo tries to swindle him, then murders him.
    • Paul III trusting his (fake) friends who put him in trouble and underestimating his earlier kidnappers, putting him in further trouble.
    • Gail doesn't realize that Lang is alienating her child from her until he is kidnapped.
  • Hypocrite:
    • In "La Dolce Vita", Lang accuses Little Paul of being lazy for wanting to be an artist instead of working in a field all day. "Kodachrome" reveals that Lang used to be an actor.
    • In "John, Chapter 11", Paul Junior rails against his father for refusing to pay the large ransom demanded for Little Paul's safe return, wondering what kind of monster would refuse to save his own grandson. In "Kodachrome", he sabotages the efforts to retrieve Little Paul because he is indignant at the notion of paying his own money to save his own son.
  • Identifying the Body: In opening of the episode "John, Chapter 11" Gail has to identify the remains of Little Paul, who was supposedly burned to death beyond recognition. While the shoes are his, she realizes that the body is not, because the shoes are tied; Little Paul disliked shoes and thus never ties the laces properly.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: The Series. Two of Paul Sr.'s sons are dead and he considers the other three failures.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Bertolini just wants to be paid what he is owed and maybe meet Roman Polański. He repeatedly warns the teenagers and tries to go easy on them, which just makes them take him less seriously.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Paul Sr.'s address at George's funeral is all about how he was his choice heir and now he has none.
    • In "John, Chapter 11", Paul Jr. uses the apparent death of his son as an excuse to get high and rage at his old man again.
    • In the finale, Paul Jr. gets an invitation to Little Paul's impending wedding in Italy and assumes that it's a cruel jest at his own inability to travel there. Victoria suggests that it's more likely that Paul is getting married in Italy because that's where he lives.
  • The Jeeves: Getty employs Bullimore as his manservant.
  • Jerkass: Of all of Paul's children, Paul Jr. is easily the worst, a greedy asswipe who sabotages his own son's attempts to forge a relationship with Paul Sr. purely because he's jealous that Paul III was going to be named the new heir. For added jerkass-ness, the third episode reveals that he's been stiffing Paul III's mother on alimony payments, making her increasingly dependent on her abusive new beau.
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Faintly hinted with Paul Sr., who is a Jerkass by default, but immediately changes his attitude when he sees his grandson's talent and actually tries to get closer with him. Then the aforementioned incident ruins it.
  • Karma Houdini: Primo receives no punishment for his actions.
  • Laborious Laces: After a badly-burned body turns up in the middle of the Getty kidnapping case, and everyone fears that Little Paul's kidnappers ran out of patience and murdered him, his mother notices that the corpse's shoes are tied; Little Paul always hated tying his shoelaces, so she reasons that the body can't be his and therefore he must still be alive.
  • Lima Syndrome: Paul III's captors actually grow fond of him after he helps them with fishing and entertains them at night.
  • Lonely at the Top: Everyone at Paul Sr.'s house is just after his money. He wakes up every day to a broken record playing "Have a Nice Day."
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Paul III is a gorgeous boy with long red curls. As his mother puts it, he looks like an angel.
  • Lost Lenore: Paul Jr. still mourns for Talitha, his second great love, who died of a drug overdose. Her death also pretty much destroyed his relationship with Little Paul, who loved Talitha almost as much as he did.
  • Lousy Lovers Are Losers: Paul Sr. is impotent and Luciana only makes their sex more awkward by exaggerating her pretense that she enjoys it.
  • Mad Oracle: A living statue is the only person who saw Paul III being kidnapped. He tells Gail in return for some coins, while keeping his living statue act, and refuses to tell Police or anyone else.
  • The Mafia: The main suspects of kidnapping Paul III.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Paul Sr. is an art collector.
  • Midas Touch: Discussed in the first-season finale, where Fletcher Chace recounts the story of King Midas as he discusses the upheaval in J. Paul Getty's life following the failed opening of his museum. Having alienated much of his family with his stingy behavior, disowned his grandson (the only person who still looked up to him), and wrecked his reputation as a connoisseur of the arts with his gaudy museum, Getty finds himself still one of the richest men in the world, but also incredibly isolated.
  • The Millstone: Paul Junior manages to sabotage the efforts to retrieve Little Paul because he refuses to pick up the goddamned telephone, and once he finally gets his act together, he manages to sabotage the pick-up again after he refuses to agree to his dad's repayment terms.
  • More Dakka: One of the twins saves her sister from rape (and eventually herself) with an AK-47.
  • Naturalized Name: Bullimore's true name is Jahangir Khan. Bullimore was the name of one of Paul Sr.'s previous butlers, and he simply passed it on to Khan so that he wouldn't have to learn a new name.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: In "John, Chapter 11", Paul Jr. is so enraged by the apparent death of his son that he finally works up the nerve to call out his dad for his refusal to pay the ransom, laying into the old man about what a cheap and heartless bastard he is... except that Junior spent so much time getting intoxicated enough to work up his courage that he hasn't heard that Little Paul is alive, and thus all he accomplishes is demonstrating that he only cares about his son as an excuse to hate his dad.
  • New Old West: Fletcher Chace is very outwardly Texan and wears a large ten-gallon hat and riding boots at all times.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Kodachrome", J. Paul Getty has done all the hard work and convinced the mafia to release Paul for far less than they originally demanded, and Little Paul is all ready to be returned home... and then Paul Junior throws a tantrum because Paul Sr. tells him that he will be expected to pay him back.
  • Not So Stoic: Played with; After finding out that he's being cut off from his inheritance, Paul III is naturally distraught and tells Bullimore that he wishes he had not been born a Getty. Bullimore suddenly embraces him, as if to comfort the boy, but then tells him to leave and never come back. "John, Chapter 11" reveals that his affection was genuine, as Paul III was one of the few people at the estate who ever paid him any attention or respect.
  • One-Word Title: The title refers to the Getty family trust, the source of all of J. Paul Getty's wealth and power.
  • Paid Harem: Old man Getty lives in his mansion with four women and they have sex with him whenever he wants. Getty III also has this to a lesser extent. His friends around him mostly because they think he has deep pockets. Though he’s technically ‘only dating’ one of the twin girls in the harem, some of the make out scenes suggest both are involved.
  • Paparazzi: They pester Gail as soon as the news of Paul's kidnapping become public knowledge.
  • The Patriarch: J. Paul Getty, Sr. In spades.
  • Police Are Useless: The local police tell Chace that kidnappings are a common affair in Italy and that they are best resolved without their intervention.
  • Prank Call: Gail receives so many after Paul is kidnapped that her husband unplugs the phone. It is implied that this prevents them from being contacted by the real kidnappers earlier.
  • Prequel: Boyle confirmed that if the series is renewed, a later season will chronicle Paul Sr.'s ascent in The '30s, presumably featuring no actors from the first season.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: While waiting for Paul III to come from England with the money, Bertolini's men attempt to rape Jutta and Martine. Attempt.
  • Real-Person Epilogue: The penultimate episode shows a photograph of Little Paul after his rescue, but the season finale itself has no montage; Fletcher Chace claims that it's just too depressing and anyone who actually cares can look it up themselves.
    "Google it."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After Paul Jr. goes to his father to discourage him from trying to rescue Paul III, insisting that the younger Paul is probably just faking his kidnapping to get money out of the old man, Paul Sr. points out that if Paul III really did stage his kidnapping, it's only because Junior sabotaged his previous effort to clear up his debts.
  • Red Baron: Paul III is known as "The Golden Hippie" because of his Bohemian lifestyle, blonde locks and family's money.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Fifty gives up his face and name to Gail and is later murdered by Primo for it.
  • Request for Privacy: In the first-season finale, after hearing the scathing reviews of his new museum, J. Paul Getty orders his staff out of the room so that they won't see him as he smashes the model in a rage.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: By the end of the finale, Penelope leaves Getty in disgust over his toying with Paul Jr., Belinda leaves in order to carry her son to term, Dennis leaves after growing sick of the old man's abuse, Khan leaves after getting tired of taking orders from Getty, and Chace leaves in order to go see his son.
  • The Scrooge: J. Paul Getty is absurdly cheap, to the point that he installed a payphone in his house and grumbles when the price of the paper is raised by a tuppence.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Primo is a disgusting psychopath, but his choice of clothes is not.
  • Secret Test of Character: Paul Sr. brings Teresa from Africa, holds a reception and tells his four mistresses to meet her in private. Teresa is a lioness. As he predicts, all but Penelope run away. She calls him a bastard, however.
  • Servile Snarker: Bullimore is a loyal servant, but he is not his employer's friend. At the end of the pilot, he steals a figurine representing Getty Sr. and plants it on a turd.
  • Shame If Something Happened:
    • Chace tells Marcello that he knows how to kill a man with half a pencil before telling him to say all he knows about Paul III's recent whereabouts. All while breaking Marcello's pencil and holding the end half in his hand.
    • After learning of Bertolini's death, Martine goes to the Police and tells everything she knows. The Dirty Cop taking the report tells her to go back to Germany before listing several ways she could suffer an "accident" while in Italy.
  • Starts with a Suicide: George's suicide is the first scene in the series and the event that kickstarts the plot.
  • Stock Visual Metaphors:
    • Paul Sr.'s estate has a rat problem. His staff's daily routine includes killing it.
    • Paul Sr.'s frivolous spending and lack of emotional attachment is showcased by a sequence of three scenes in the pilot. First, a crate of black swans is freed in his estate, presumably because they match Getty's car, drapes, and most of everything else. He runs over one as he is driven away and doesn't care in the slightest. He later has several cooked and served to his guests.
  • Supernatural-Proof Father: Everyone believes that Paul III was kidnapped in the beginning, except his father and step-father.
  • The Unfavorite: In "John, Chapter 11", Paul Sr. talks about how he spent his childhood living in the shadow of his sister, who died before he was born.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The series makes no secret of the fact that it takes considerable liberties with the story of the Getty kidnapping. Lampshaded by Chace in the finale, who points out that a straight retelling would just be too depressing.
  • Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child: Lang bullies Little Paul for being sensitive and effeminate.
  • Was Once a Man: In "Kodachrome", we see flashbacks to Paul Jr.'s time in Italy. At one point, he was an eager, diligent employee at his father's company, but things went downhill when his father suddenly promoted him from gas-station attendant to head of the Italian branch of the company and ordered him to make the branch profitable, all the while undercutting his decisions. Unable to deal with the stress, he turned to drugs and his marriage to Gail collapsed. He managed to rebound with Talitha, but then she died of an overdose and he stopped caring about anything.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Early on by Getty Sr. When he offers ‘$600 plus expenses’. It makes sense when he explains it. However, its virtually guaranteed to go over the kidnappers’ heads. They then come close to killing Getty’s grandson and each other. Getty Sr. wins either way. He sees his grandson as a lost cause. If the kidnappers accept the offer, he ‘saves’ the grandson. If they interpret it the other way, they obviously plan to kill his grandson, which absolves Sr. of any further responsibility.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • After Bertolini and his minion fail to secure payment from the Getty family, Primo kills them both and takes over the kidnapping. Things get markedly worse for Paul after that.
    • Primo almost tells this to Paul III when Paul Sr. makes a counteroffer so low, he takes it as a personal insult.