Billions: Fly Away, Fly Away

This blog has been a long time coming. Damianista and JaniaJania have been wishing to see it up for a long time. I wanted to wait until I had seen all 12 episodes before posting.

We had devoured all the early promos for the show and have been blogging about Billions for over a year. We attempted to get a feel for the characters as early as we could and this helped immensely as we discussed what we thought about Bobby and Wendy. Even early on, it was clear those two had a connection. After Naming Rights, we were having one of our discussions and I mentioned that I thought there was some Peter Pan in Bobby and Wendy. I was encouraged to investigate this further as Jania Jania said “Peter Pan is an archetype now…the boy who doesn’t want to grow up.” Investigate I have and there is a fair bit of Peter in Bobby. I am not saying this was intentional on the writer’s part, but that I had fun digging through the book looking for it. .

Quotes from Peter Pan by J M Barrie are in italics. The other quotes not in italics are from Billions.

Bobby and Dr Mojo/Peter & Wendy with sprinkles of lost boys and Tink

Bobby even has his own Wendy, (hereinafter referred to as “Dr Mojo”) and he has built his house around her.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

“She knew of no Peter, and yet he was here and there in John and Michael’s minds, while Wendy’s began to be scrawled all over with him. The name stood out in bold letter than any of the other words and as Mrs Darling gazed she felt that it had an oddly cocky appearance.”

Dr Mojo’s mind seems to be scrawled all over with Bobby Axelrod and Bobby Axelrod is quite as cocky as Peter Pan. Dr Mojo knows what Bobby is, but she stays by his side for a very long time. She forgives his transgressions and mistakes.

Wendy for a long time puts up with Peter’s dangerous adventures, his unreasonableness, recklessness and his need to talk about parents horribly. One such talk is eventually what pushes Wendy to resolve to get herself, John and Michael home before they forget their parents completely and before their parents forget them.

It can be argued that during her stay at Axe Capital, Dr Mojo has forgotten who she is and as she leaves her husband and Bobby behind her in ‘The Conversation’ she needs to go figure out who exactly she is now. Dr Mojo is going to go grow up and Bobby is going to return to his Neverland and embark on a new adventure without her.

Peter manages to lose his shadow in Wendy’s nursery and it evades his attempts at sticking it back on to his feet. Peter’s antics wake Wendy from her sleep.

But she could not help smiling when she saw that he had been trying to stick it on with soap. How exactly like a boy.” Fortunately she knew just what to do. “It must be sewn on.”

She comforts him as he cries, but of course Peter declares he does not cry and later on “Peter does not break down in front of anyone”. Bobby opens up to Dr Mojo in ‘Magical Thinking’ that he hides his crying.

Wendy sews Peter’s shadow back on for him. Peter wastes no time in convincing himself that he reattached his shadow by himself.

“It is humiliating to have to confess that this conceit of Peter was one of his most fascinating qualities. To put it with brutal frankness, there was never a cockier boy.”

In Magical Thinking, Bobby tries to tell Dr Mojo how to do her job and how long it will take to fix him. This is not the first time we see Bobby dismissing Dr Mojo. He ignores her advice in The Pilot (silly boy) and in Naming Rights he leaves her out of the loop on the ‘lifeboat drill’.

WendyBobby1

Peter eventually manages to get Wendy to come round by saying “one girl is worth 20 boys.”

If we look at how Bobby works at Axe Capital it is easy to see this reflected here. Dr Mojo gets far more leeway than anyone else. Anyone else would have suffered the consequences of moving money out of Axe Capital to a rival fund and of shopping around elsewhere as we see Dr Mojo doing in ‘Magical Thinking’. Peter needs Wendy and Bobby needs Dr Mojo very much.

Peter tells Wendy that he ran away the day he was born.

“I heard father and mother talking about what I was to be when I became a man. I don’t ever want to be a man. I want always to be a little boy and to have fun.”

The address Peter gives for Neverland, “Second to the right and straight on until morning” is his home which is quiet and peaceful without him. Peter does not like to be told what to do. He does not wish to play by the rules and grow up as everyone else must and does.

Axe Capital is Bobby’s Neverland. He dances to his own tunes, he makes up the rules (as Dr Mojo told us in ‘The Deal’) and he’ll change the game in the bat of an eye.

“Mafee, I love you.” “Mafee, you’re fired” “Mafee, how could I fire you? I love you.”

When Wendy suggests giving Peter a kiss, Tinker Bell chooses this moment to interrupt and make herself heard. She is less than happy at being shut in a drawer while Peter chatted to Wendy about his problems.

Lara doesn’t have wings and she wasn’t shut in a drawer in ‘Magical Thinking’ but she was no less happy about being blown off for Dr Mojo than Tink was about being blown off for Wendy. No one kisses Tink’s, Peter!

Peter wants Wendy to come and be a mother to him and the lost boys. Peter teaches Wendy, John and Michael to fly. They fly for what seems to Wendy like forever with concerns plaguing her the whole way to Neverland. Michael nearly falls into the sea before being saved by Peter at the last moment.

“You felt it was his cleverness that interested him and not the saving of a human life.”

This quote jumped out of the page at me, regarding Bobby’s behaviour generally, but especially 9/11 and with Donnie. It is something which Wendy ignores about Peter to begin with on way to Neverland. Over time and added to more reckless behaviour, she realises she must go home because Peter will never change, but she must. This feels very much like this season’s finale.

BobbyWendy4

The descriptions of Peter throughout really remind me very strongly of Bobby and a couple in particular “nothing escapes Peter’s eagle eyes” and “Peter is different from the other children”.

There is a scene in the book which is Wendy’s last night in Neverland. Wendy realised that though she loves Peter deeply despite his flaws, the possible romantic element (on her side only) has long since passed. However, there is an intimacy between them and they share a last dance which is in actual fact a pillow fight described as “when it was finished, the pillows insisted on one bout more, like partners who know that they may never meet again.”

In Magical Thinking, Bobby is tied down by Wendy for a little while as she insists he sits where she wants in her office and talks to her. As soon as she allows him to move them from her office, it is his game again. He flies about all over Axe Capital and outside, leading her a merry dance and distracting her so that he could eventually ask what he wanted to. After they were trying to throw objects into the bin from above, Bobby makes the lovers analogy of sleeping with each other one last time and it fits perfectly.

BobbyWendy2

Dr Mojo and assorted needy/insecure Axe Capital Staff/ Wendy & the lost boys

Wendy is disappointed to realise that Peter came to hear her stories, not see her. When he asks about Cinderella, Wendy says she knows lots of such stories and with that she tempts Peter into taking her with him.

Which of the lost boys do you think the Axe Capital staff may be? Here is my two cents:-

Slightly – cuts whistles out of trees and dances to his own tunes “the most conceited of the boys” apart from Peter. I think that this is Bill.

Curly – always in trouble. This has to be Mafee who is loveable, but increasingly always in bother with Bobby.

Tootles – always misses all the big adventures, but the one time he does get involved he ends up in big trouble. Sounds like Donnie.

Nibs – is “happy and debonair”. I am putting Maria Saldana despite ‘debonair’ seemingly referring to a man. She worked hard to fit in with the boys!

The Twins – no one is allowed to know something Peter does not and he doesn’t know what Twins are so the Twins try not to bring attention to their sameness. I see the Twins as Dr Mojo and Wags. We rarely see Wags and Dr Mojo with Bobby at the same time trying to reason with and reign him in, but they both do.

The lost boys depend on and love Wendy, her stories and the way she takes care of them in contrast to Peter. They dare not speak about mothers in front of Peter and they have to pretend to be eating when they’d rather actually be eating. I am now questioning whether any of the Pizza on this show was ever actually there!

Dr Mojo emphasises her importance to Axe Capital at her poolside meeting with Bobby. I believe the figure she estimated he would lose without her there to keep everyone’s heads straight is $1 billion.

BobbyWendySpa
Source: Showtime

When Wendy indicates she is going home the lost boys do not take it well. They do not want to lose her and she offers them all a home, one they are happy to accept as they do not have the same fear of growing up that Peter does.

Bobby is all about assessing risk, but one wonders if he has really assessed the risk of losing Dr Mojo. He won’t find another performance coach like her and how many of his staff will be willing to put up with him without her?

Bobby, Wendy & Chuck/ Peter, Wendy and Hook

“Hook” answered Peter, and his face became very stern as he said that hated word. “If we meet Hook in open fight, you must leave him to me.”

BobbyChuck
Source: Showtime

If Bobby is Peter who plays by his own rules, Chuck is Hook who despises Peter’s methods and arrogance. Hook discovers the boys’ homes, but does not strike. This reminds me of what Chuck said in the Pilot. Hook wishes to poison them elsewhere, out in the open when they are vulnerable and have had to contend with other obstacles.

“A good matador does not kill a fresh bull. He waits until he’s been stuck a few times.”

“Peter was such a small boy that one tends to wonder at Hook’s hatred of him. True he had flung Hook’s arm to the crocodile, but even this and the increased insecurity of life to which it led, owing to the crocodile’s pertinacity, hardly account for a vindictiveness so relentless and malignant. The truth is that there was a something about Peter which goaded the pirate captain to frenzy. It was Peter’s cockiness.”

Chuck has good reason to go after Bobby and yet it is also clearly very intensely personal.

Hook is described as being alone despite being surrounded by his crew because they are socially inferior to him. I get the feeling from Chuck that he does possess a superiority complex arising from his blood status. It is most pronounced when he has to deal with Bobby, but I increasingly sense it around Bryan.

Hook wishes to steal Wendy from Peter. Chuck displays all the signs of a man who feels resentment at having to steal his wife from her boss. In the end, his actions may have assisted in stealing her from Bobby to a degree, but he has also pushed her far from himself.

Peter is the only one not afraid to enter Hook’s circle of dread water. In a scene with Lara in ‘The Deal’ Bobby wonders why everyone is so afraid of Chuck Rhoades and he subsequently enters the circle of dread water…to be continued…

Just one last thought…when Peter takes Wendy, John and Michael home, he goes on in front to bar the window in order to make Wendy think her mother has forgotten her. In a rare moment of feeling, Peter sees Mrs Darling crying and though originally angry, resentful and defiant “I’m fond of her too, we can’t both have her”, Peter unbars the window and lets Wendy be free…

BobbyWags
Source: Showtime

7 thoughts on “Billions: Fly Away, Fly Away”

    1. I’m certainly sold on Bookworm’s argument. When she first raised it, we were like “a-ha” and then she came full force with research and… isn’t it amazing?

      And with Bobby and Wendy in Wendy’s office in S2 Premiere: It was like Peter visiting Wendy for her to sew his shadow! That is why I always feel like he is a little boy with her. The way he said “Ok… I apologized…” Like a five year old! And I added a sentence from Peter Pan to my recap, too 😀

      I have also noticed about myself that I call him Bobby only when he is with Wendy or Bruno. He’s Axe otherwise. Even with Lara.

  1. Thank you!

    I have to say I wasn’t impressed with Bobby in s2 premiere. Even more ‘me, me, me’ than usual and he was in full on Peter mode in Wendy’s office.

    Wendy’s gone away to grow up…and Peter still wants his happily ever after…Oh for a thimble!

    1. Me, either! I think I even sound a bit pissed with him in my recap especially about his relationship to Wendy! He will not accept his fate, and I guess this means “me, me, me, and even more me and only me” time for him.

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