Billions on Showtime, Season 3 Episode 5: Flaw in the Death Star

While I find the way they operate appalling, it is impossible not to applaud Axe and Chuck for eliminating a lot of risk in the first four episodes. Chuck has been able to convince Dake to cover up Wendy’s Ice Juice short,  change the judge in the Axelrod case and keep his father quiet about his involvement in Ice Juice. Axe’s performance has been even more stellar with him keeping Danny Margolis and the Burke Brothers on his side, having Maria Gonzalez deported, and giving Ira his life back along with an engagement ring from Buccellati’s exclusive collection. We now find the two men going after the loyalty of the same man simultaneously: Dr. Gilbert is the man of the hour.

While Axe is looking forward to his trip to Silicon Valley, the new Halls deliver news big enough to keep him in New York. The Eastern District has grilled every doctor Axe has been to or donated to — including Dr. Gilbert. This reminds Axe that the doctor may still have the slide he told him to get rid of once he verified with him that the bacteria they put in Ice Juice would not be fatal for anyone. Axe may now be saying his line of business is all about eliminating risk but he has no one to blame but himself for Dr. Gilbert having the slide! I highly recommend Axe to hire our own Gingersnap who had said the day after Season 2 Episode 11 Golden Frog Time that Axe should not have left that slide with Dr. Gilbert and that would come back to bite him in the ass.

Axe now has no other option but cancelling his Bay Area trip and sending his CIO in his stead to meet Oscar Langstraat. It is hilarious that Axe tells Oscar that Taylor is a huge fan of him and his work while Taylor tells Axe they do not want to spend time with Langstraat since they believe Venture Capitalists are nothing but hedge-funders that can quote the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

While Bryan seems to have seen dozens of doctors with ties to Axe, he still has not been able to pinpoint the one that may have helped develop the bacteria. Dake is frustrated failure has now become a familiar refrain with Bryan and hopes it does not become his anthem.

Chuck wakes up Wendy as he gets a call from Dake in the middle of the night about the doctor situation: Chuck cannot now unsee what he saw when he had sneaked into Wendy’s laptop in Season 1 Episode 11 Magical Thinking: Axe convinced a doctor not to tell Donnie about the experimental drug trials that could give him another few months and one last Christmas with his family. Chances are, this could be the doctor that has helped Axe with the toxin in Ice Juice. Chuck says he is determined to pay a visit to Walter, Donnie’s husband, even if Wendy tells him not to do it. Well, she does not.

I know some viewers do not find it plausible that Wendy is supporting both Axe and Chuck in the case. I find it compelling: Wendy cannot choose sides in the Ice Juice case because she will fall with whatever side falls. Her optimal play is trying her best for both Chuck and Axe to get out of this with minimal damage.

It is obvious that Chuck, in Walter’s eyes, is the man who made his husband’s last months a living hell. He does not shake hands with Chuck, and when the latter tells him about how Axe, in cooperation with the oncologist, stole Donnie’s Christmas, Walter responds that Donnie’s doctor was compassionate. He did not only attend Donnie’s funeral but also he was one of the first 15 people that contributed to the Donnie Caan Success Academy, a charter school Walter is now establishing in Donnie’s memory. Chuck expresses his sincerest apologies and leaves with all the information he needs: It takes one of his minions at the SDNY to look at the charter school’s list of investors to identify the doctor!

Axe and his “ninjas” find Dr. Gilbert in Fort Tyron Park as he is enjoying his favorite pastime: bird photography. The doctor says he has got rid of the slide per Axe’s instructions, but Axe does not believe anyone would have a free get-out-of-jail card and throw it away. The slide has Axe’s fingerprints and it turns out even if the toxin goes away, the fingerprints stay for years, if refrigerated. Axe also finds out from Orrin Bach that they may go for a chain of custody argument saying Axe’s fingerprints could have been taken off a glass of Pappy and transferred, yet the likelihood of such an event is not more than that of “lightning striking powerball winner.”

It turns out Dr. Gilbert has not used any of the money he received from Axe for personal expenses. All the money went to research as the doctor and his family lived a frugal life with little debt. This makes the doctor a hard read for Axe. So the new Halls apply pressure elsewhere trying to have a read of the doctor: His grant being reviewed and the lease on his lab being questioned out of blue, Dr. Gilbert agrees to meet with Axe again: And as much as his story of burning the slide in a kiln in the same way the Russians got rid of thousands of doping samples is plausible, neither Axe nor I believe Dr. Gilbert when he swears on his Hippocratic oath. Well, would you? By the way, it is hilarious that Hall was “Iceland” on Axe’s phone, and the New Halls are “Greenland.” 😀

While Axe gets to meet with Dr. Gilbert in Fort Tyron Park, Chuck chooses to meet him in Central Park at the beautiful Bethesda Fountain. Chuck understands the doctor may not want to get on the stand, and guess what, if there is physical evidence that can speak for him, then he does not need to.

Axe is finally able to have his read of the doctor when he comes back to ask for $200M to have a better life for himself and his family: Knowing that this is a man that does not want money, Axe now knows he is fucked. What he does not know is that the slide is now in Wendy’s refrigerator!

Bryan, who has been dreaming even during sex about the jury giving a guilty verdict for Axe in the courtroom, is now thinking that vision is slipping away from him exactly like his case. McKayla, who is about to board on Spartan-Ives private jet with the new CEO, gives him a bright idea as Bryan talks about how the mighty tumble:

“One day your initials are on the private jet, next you’re in jail.”

“And the next day you’re out.”

How come Lawrence Boyd is not in jail?

Bryan invites Kate to the EDNY to tell her how Chuck’s fucked-up business may take the SDNY down if Kate does not do anything about it. What Bryan does not see is Kate is to Chuck what Taylor is to Axe: A true protégé. Chuck is right that Kate has made up her mind about what side she is on when she goes to see Chuck about Bryan asking about how come Boyd, given he is not Papillon, is out of jail. And, lucky her, Rhoades Airlines appreciates and rewards their loyal customers 😀

Chuck tells Boyd he needs to give him a few “misbehaving moneylenders” so his release looks like a case of “active cooperation” only to receive a list of conditions: Boyd needs his passport, unrestricted travel rights and more importantly his boat, that has been deemed legally forfeit, so he can travel to Antibe this summer! While Kate, as the Chief of Crim, gets a judge to keep Boyd’s release papers under seal, Karl Allard, who knows his Sonny Crockett (I had a huge crush on Don Johnson in Miami Vice) well, recommends “old empty auction play” so that a straw buyer can get the boat very cheaply . Boyd has his boat back and might as well jump where as Allard and Kate put the final touches on their joint project by “massaging” the dates on the papers.

Poor Bryan. He is always a step behind.

When Bryan is finally able to have the appeal court grant his motion, it is already too late. As he looks at Boyd’s release documents, Bryan realizes they are all cooked. And when he meets Boyd at The Lotos Club he finds out Boyd has no interest in fucking up Chuck.

I am rooting for Bryan not only because I believe in justice as much as he does, but also because he is very lonely in his search for it. I genuinely think Bryan may lose his belief in the justice system by the end of the season, go to the other side and become a lion! 😀

And speaking of lion, here is a recent Twitter exchange I have had with THE lion about a week ago.

Well, it does not take long for Taylor to change their mind about a certain VC! Taylor shows interest in the investable start-up pitch about traceable user identity using the human voice and detects their Flaw in the Death Star — Oscar gets the Star Wars reference as soon as Taylor says “the thermal exhaust port” — that the startup does not own the technology they are trying to retool.  While Taylor misses the opportunity to have dinner at State Bird Provisions because they have other plans for the night, I was lucky to have dinner there with a wonderful friend of mine after the two of us made a tribute video to Brody and Carrie after Homeland Season 3. As Charlie Crews would agree, everything is connected!

Well, you never know what turns people on: Taylor and Oscar first bond over a conversation about the Flaw in the Death Star and one thing leads to another when they bump into each other at a round of Netrunner, a card game depicting cyberspace between a global mega-corporation (the Corp) and a hacker (the Runner) 😀 I find Oscar cute, I love Taylor’s smile and I want that VPI Prime Signature turntable!

Billions is using hilarious side plots this season, developed brilliantly by the writers and delivered seamlessly by the incredible supporting cast. In this episode, we find Dollar Bill using his special methods that computers cannot use for research: a bag of money along with a whistleblower protection for the scientist at Mendham Pharmeceuticals! The company is pure evil like Dr. Mengele creating tumors in living creatures even though they know the drug they have developed is not working. Dollar Bill is not uncertain it is time to short the company. Taylor, having studied Agrippa, knows why Bill is doing what he is doing, but will approve it if the compliance gives the greenlight.

But Spyros, who describes himself in terms of his espresso machine as “grinder, tamper, knock box, quality, and integrity”, tells Bill he will not let this caca de vaca happen! Not even when Bill tries to repackage the trade by longing the company like a Hail Mary Pass, and hedging it against credit default swaps, a type of insurance for non-payment. As Spyros believes he is keeping everyone at Axe Capital out of prison, Dollar Bill is ready to rent him out for a fucking scoop of potatoes should they be in prison.

Spyros and Bill have irreconcilable differences — Spyros has never married but did couples therapy with three separated women while Bill is married to two women and never did couples therapy — that Wendy would recommend break up should they be a couple, but given that they are like in No Exit, Sartre’s existentialist play about three people being locked into a room together for eternity, they have to suck it up and focus on goals.

Neither Dollar Bill pulling his pants off for a “Strip or Retire” nor Spyros threatening to turn them in do the trick. Axe tells Bill to pull his pants up and get his shit together, while he dines and wines Spyros at Daniel of all places with Daniel Boulud, the owner and the executive chef of the Michelin-starred restaurant, making a wonderful cameo. As Axe calls him the favorite son, Spyros agrees to use his distinguished career to protect his new family as well as to keep his new Porsche 😀 Yet, we do not get to hear the one thing Spyros says he needs…

Bill, who proves once again he is the cheapest man in America by not paying for his newspaper, will now take his creative trading to Victor Mateo’s Fund and will take a page from Otis Redding songbook to publicly apologize to Spyros followed by some sweet revenge! Dollar Bill will be Dollar Bill no matter what. Strip or Retire indeed. And I wonder if Spyros will complain to “dad” 😀

While we witness water and oil clashing in this episode, I believe we will get to see nitrogen and glycerol come together and, thanks to Wendy’s black magic, not make a fire. Besides, I believe The Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen is a messenger of what is coming our way….

“Fate
Up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him”

If Wendy coming to Wags’ office and asking for the “bottle” is not the depiction of frustration, what is? And her frustration is not really about Bill and Spyros, but her two lost boys: Axe and Chuck.

We find out Chuck was in private practice when Wendy started dating him, and Axe and Chuck liked each other plenty. She misses those good old days, and Chuck is right that her giving all of herself to both of them is not sustainable. That is why I think Wendy will bring them together for a a kiss and make up session soon. Now that Axe has Ira and Chuck has Dr. Gilbert in their pockets, it is time to put aside the measuring tape and cooperate. Wendy can orchestrate an epic cooperation in which she can make the boys believe they are doing this in the name of saving the woman to whom both owe a great deal. Hats off one more time to the brilliant writers room and the wonderful cast for bringing this awesomeness to life for us.

source: Showtime

From the Trader’s Desk: Winning Ugly Billions S3 Ep4

Happy Earnings Season from the Trader’s Desk!

This week’s episode of Billions was aptly named “Hell of a Ride”, and it certainly was one (maybe not so much for Craig Heidecker!!). We’ll also see how a win’s a win, even if it’s ugly.

Before I get into the meat of my recap (Axe and Taylor) some observations: Wendy’s look at the Yale reunion was amazing! I have never thought this about her before, and I guess it’s why it stood out for me. Her hair and make-up was great. She should keep that look – get that hair outta your face girl! Continue reading “From the Trader’s Desk: Winning Ugly Billions S3 Ep4”

Throwback Thursday to Damian Lewis in Hamlet on Broadway *UPDATED*

Did you know that Damian Lewis made his Broadway debut some twenty three years ago in Hamlet? So why not travel back to 1995 and chase a 24 year old Englishman in New York today? 😀

Damian as Laertes in Hamlet on Broadway, copyright: Damian Lewis

Damian’s debut on Broadway is as Laertes to Ralph Fiennes’ Hamlet in 1995. The Almeida Theatre production is staged first at Hackney Empire in March 1995, and after its successful run in London, it comes to Belasco Theatre in the summer of 1995.  Continue reading “Throwback Thursday to Damian Lewis in Hamlet on Broadway *UPDATED*”

Billions on Showtime, 3.04: Hell of a Ride

With Billions, you’ve got that easy on the eye and ear appeal going, but, look closer and there’s so much more. Look closer still, and there’s, like, everything.

Billions Season 3 Episode 4, “Hell of a Ride”, shows us, more than any episode so far, that “everything.” That is, everything, sans women. Though the women are well-written, this show will never be in danger of passing the Bechdel test, and that’s fine, because it is a story about men and their use and misuse of power and of men begetting men, which, to bring it all home, does indeed apply to everything. This episode is about men’s legacy and men’s vanity and the intersections between the two.

Continue reading “Billions on Showtime, 3.04: Hell of a Ride”

Billions Season 3 Dining Guide – Episodes 1 – 4 *UPDATED*

It is no secret that one of my favorite things about my favorite show is how it showcases the New York dining scene from hole-in-the-walls to neighborhood gems to Michelin-starred restaurants. And it has been my pleasure to share the information about restaurants appearing on the show first in my weekly recaps and then in a full dining guide by the end of the season for Season 1 and Season 2.

But now that our dining guides are two of the most widely read articles on the blog, and that we constantly get questions about the restaurants on the show, I have decided to take a different route this season. I am kicking off our dining guide early with the restaurants our characters visited in the first two episodes in Season 3 and updating the post as we go. Continue reading “Billions Season 3 Dining Guide – Episodes 1 – 4 *UPDATED*”

Billions on Showtime, Season 3 Episode 4: Hell of a Ride

From a tragic death, to people trying to dig themselves out of their own grave, to those searching for the ultimate resting place, and to kiss of death, eventuality, literally and metaphorically, is at the heart of this episode.

Three Days Ago

Chuck drives his Porsche, which was probably bought by Axe Capital money, into a private garage only to find Dake waiting for him with bad news:  Connerty knows about Chuck Senior’s involvement in Ice Juice and Chuck needs to make sure his father will not testify against him. And when Chuck Senior does not answer his son’s calls, Chuck decides to go to his 25th year class reunion at Yale, which he RSVP’d no earlier, because it is celebrated together with his dad’s 50th year class reunion and Chuck Senior will be there to receive an award. We hear an extremely worried Wendy not only telling Chuck to convince him but also to do it for her. Continue reading “Billions on Showtime, Season 3 Episode 4: Hell of a Ride”