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.

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Billions on Showtime, 3.03: A Generation Too Late

Billions Season 3, with “A Generation Too Late,” just got real dark, folks. Not the sort of dark that takes you weeping to a fetal position when it’s done, your poor heart bleeding from the pain of it. No, this episode is the kind of dark that makes you mad, even when you thought the madness had already reached its upper limit. I don’t mean the characters have become unrecognizably hateful and ugly and you want nothing more to do with them ever. Quite the contrary. This episode instead shows you how real breathing people in technicolor reality sometimes need to go monochromatic, all black and white, when those are the only colors left available to see the world. You feel sorry for them for losing their color a bit and you know it’ll come back eventually (it always does, it has to!) For this hour, though, it’s gone, baby, gone.

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Billions on Showtime, 3.02: The Wrong Maria Gonzalez

Bobby and Chuck are a set of twinsies this episode of Billions, Season 3, Episode 2, “The Wrong Maria Gonzalez.” Where we saw Chuck mildly relishing in his win in the first episode and Bobby not-so-mildly wondering what to do about his loss, in this episode the two foes are on more equal footing.

Bobby can’t act on his investing instincts about the earthquake on the coast of Africa, which he knows will lead to a tsunami on the coast of South America, leading to losses for Axe Cap investments in Brazil, specifically flooded sugar crops and interruptions in shipping.

On the other side, the wheel of fortune doesn’t roll in Chuck’s favor to be awarded the judge sympathetic to his cause in Eastern v. Axelrod.

Both Bobby and Chuck have obstacles set before them, both master their obstacle du jour, in essentially similar ways.

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Billions on Showtime, 3.01: Tie Goes to the Runner

Billions Season 3, episode 1, long time coming, eh? Let’s skip the pleasantries and get down to it, shall we? Continue reading “Billions on Showtime, 3.01: Tie Goes to the Runner”

Billions: A Look Back, a Look Forward

Five days till Billions Season 3 premiere, and I don’t know about you, but I’m at a loss to remember where we left off. One, the finer points of plot don’t stick to the neurons as much as the character development and two, binging TV seems to wreak havoc with attention spans. I mean, how can one possibly remember the in’s and out’s of a show watched over 12 weeks when most watching is done binging all 12 episodes over a few days? It’s a strange new cognitive disconnect I’ve just begun to notice. The way we watch is changing the way we remember. Of course, binging affords rewatching and nothing (but time and space) stops one from binge watching the prior two seasons in preparation for the third. The total recall afforded by such rewatching is what I intend to do with this post, but requiring less time and space. One post, all twelve episodes, a scant few sentences an episode. Just to hit refresh on our information clogged memories a bit. Once the neurons labeled Billions are lit back up, I’ll do a quick look-see at all the previews of Season 3 they’ve shown us so far. Sound like a plan? Alright, here goes!

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Billions Brings the Drama

Saw a tweet go by a couple days ago: something to the effect of “Let’s not forget literary fiction is also a genre.” It’s a response by writers and readers of genre fiction to the idea that the stuff they read and write isn’t “serious”, and that it’s unfair to ghetto-ize so-called genre fiction.

One part of me, thinks, sure, I get the argument: there are features common to literary fiction that make it just as much a genre as fantasy, mystery, and romance. Literary fiction often adheres to realism and has a certain quality of angst, dramatic tension, with flawed characters who are presented lots of obstacles that may or may not be resolved. These traits, along with the pursuit a universality, the goal of getting at the heart of the human condition, could be the identifiers for the genre ghetto we know as literary fiction.

A bigger part of me, however, says: Nope, literary fiction is not a genre, it is ALL the genres. The best literary fiction has elements of humor, romance, mystery, and even fantasy. Same applies to drama: it is the umbrella under which live comedy, romance, and even the supernatural. Call me a pretentious throwback, but where art is concerned (even visual art!), all other ways of seeing and being are subservient to drama. Being subservient doesn’t mean inferior! Drama is not better than comedy or romance or thrillers. Drama is simply the limitless space that lets all of the others in. Drama doesn’t refuse any possibility. And, in order to be really really good, comedy can’t divorce itself completely from drama, romance can’t either. Drama is what all other genres need, or at least acknowledge in some way, even ironically or derisively, in order to be totally believable and totally entertaining.

We know that Billions brings the lulz. What Damian (not Bobby) would probably call good old laddy humor (er, humour). It’s got plenty of really fun moments, both words-wise (“Viscosity.”) and scene-wise (fake fight, anyone?). As for romance, it’s a bit lacking in that department only because everyone is already married! There was the bit of cuteness when Mafee swung a date, and then apparently a long-term thing, with Deb using nothing but his self-effacing charm. Absent the romance, there’s still plenty of lust (for power) and longing (for the upper hand). What turns my head and keeps my eyes glued is the drama. In this post I’m going to look back at a couple of scenes that worked very well as great drama. Of course, there are more than these two, but these are the ones I remember most vividly, even now, a couple years after seeing them for the first time.

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