The Billions Supper: a promo

Gingersnap brilliantly dove deep just a couple days ago into the recent DaVinci’s Last Supper photo shoot for Billions Season 3. Consider this reporter thoroughly scooped by her examination of the imagery throughout this heavily stylized promo. Nonetheless, here I am with my observations on what it all may mean for our beloved cast and characters this upcoming season, appended with a look at the fun behind the scenes vid of the photo shoot.

Promos certainly do the trick of whetting our appetites, don’t they? Especially when it seems like we’ve already waited forever. Fear not, just a few more weeks remain now till the Billions premier on March 25. (and the more promos they do, the more often you’ll see us here talking the heck out of them!)

So, yeah, Billions Supper, forgive the shorthand, is clearly three groups of three, a triad of triads. Team Axelrod on the left, Team Rhoades on the right, and in the center: the A-team, the endgame, the first string. (why, yes, I did just quote a Taylor Swift lyric!) The center holds none other than the triangle of Bobby, Wendy, and Chuck posed provocatively with two fingers of scotch/bourbon (something hard), red wine (something slick and tasty), and an imperious cognac snifter (something very hoity-toity), respectively. The drinks make the man, or the woman, as the case may be! There is a cornucopia of food before them, mostly shellfish, for what its worth, which one may be tempted to believe recalls Ichthys, the Jesus fish. Also on the table is foliage in various stages of splendor and decay, recalling the expected and welcome state of Season 3, the hump season, in any multi-season enterprise. Finally, if wine is blood, then the Axelrod endzone sheds much, doesn’t it!

The symmetry of The Last Supper is certainly there in Billions Supper. Where Billions Supper has three groups of three, The Last Supper had four groups of three, equaling twelve for the twelve apostles. The two images depart considerably though in the peerlessness of Jesus. DaVinci put nothing and no one at the center but Jesus. He was the nexus, the crux, the very geometry of the triangle within the triangles.

  

The Last Supper is DaVinci imagining of the moment right after Jesus has shared his vision that someone at the table will betray him. And he’s also told his friends gathered there, “Here, take this wine, for it is by blood; take this bread, for it is my body.” So two major revelations made concurrently, revelations that the rest of the table is reacting to. It’s been said that the most persistent point of discussion of the painting is what exactly the apostles are reacting to? Are they ooh’ing and aah’ing that Jesus will be betrayed and that the betrayer is right there at that table? Or are they all, “Did he just say what I think he said? The wine is his blood? The bread his body? Dude.” Those who thought the blood and body bit was the closer, they became the Eucharists, a title that literally means True Body-ist. (disclaimer: This comes from no other source than my own knowledge of Latin terms in biology and medicine.) And we know that the wine and bread became Holy Communion. Those who put emphasis on the betrayal and the betrayer went another route, maybe? (not sure of my Christian history enough to say)

What’s this have to do with Billions, you say? Well, the betrayal bit is obviously compelling. From the end of Season 2, Axe is on the chopping block. He’s been betrayed and, given the promos so far, will continue to be betrayed. Christ said in his revelation that he will be betrayed by the same one who shares his plate. In The Last Supper, you can see both Jesus and Judas reaching for the same plate. Yet, Jesus is also reaching for the wine, again leading to the dichotomy of the meaning.

You may also note in The Last Supper, Judas is holding a purse, a blue pouch full of coins. This purse contains the bounty he received for betraying Christ to the Romans.

Now, who holds the purse in the Billions Supper? Look, it’s Lara! But, of course, this is TV and what they tease in promos foretells nothing…usually.

In The Last Supper, most of the rest of the cast is either turned towards Jesus or gesticulating towards him. He is naturally the center of attention. Billions Supper, on the other hand has no Jesus, but it does have a center. The one character who is facing out looking directly at us? Wendy! She’s at the center of the composition albeit not the center of attention at all of the others at the table, quite invisible actually to everyone else on the canvas. I venture to say that the one character looking right at us IS us, the audience. She’s like “Look at these fools, only I know what the hell is going on here. You know it, I know it.” It’s natural to think of Axe as the Jesus stand-in here, but maybe it’s really Wendy? Will she take a hit for the team? Which team? Or will she be the betrayer? Of whom? Her husband, the law, or her boss and dear friend? Like Gingersnap said: Wendy is both stuck between the rock and the hard place and the glue that holds it all together.

Now for a look at behind the scenes hijinks. These cuts do nothing but affirm what everyone who’s ever worked with Damian has said about him: He’s fun!

One fancies Damian the kind of bloke who’d take the most grumpy and ill-tempered of his co-workers, grab him or her by the lapels, and declare in full-frontal confidence: “Come with me my dear fellow, let’s laugh together, I with you and you with me. We shall make much merriment of this thing we call work.” And he does it in a respectfully humble kind of way, not as an affront to grumpiness, (because sometimes seriousness does deserve respect!), but rather a bone fide viable solution for it.

So many fun bits in this vid. From Chuck flicking away some fish goo, or escargot, perhaps, in disgust, to the portrait of Damian with a lobster.

Get that shellfish away from this man; goodness knows what unmanageable mischief he has planned for the poor creature!

Damian does double duty as both Bobby Axelrod and the cast masseuse between takes.

Wendy flicks her vintage cigarette while flicking her vintage porcelain shoulder.

Bobby hams it up while enjoying an uncharacteristic wine.

Notice the Macbeth towards the end? Anyone’s guess whether Damian bust out some Shakespeare all on his own, taking inspiration from the photo shoot or whether someone shouted across stage “Yo, Damian, got some Shakespeare to lay on us to accompany this moment?” His speech, the parts he remembered, from Macbeth, Act 1, Scene VII:

..that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’d jump the life to come.
Witness the scene and mise en scene as it glows and percolates in our imaginations.

And, here’s Damian with the lobster again.

You’re welcome. 😉

7 thoughts on “The Billions Supper: a promo”

  1. “Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes” – that’s what the big fish puts me in mind of. Good to hear your input JaniaJania!

  2. I like the breakdown into the groups of 3, and the comparison to “The Last Supper,” which I’m sure was intended.

    I will admit I hadn’t noticed Wendy staring into the camera 0 and her position there, while obvious since she is critical to both Chuck and Bobby, makes me wonder now – all along I saw this as a story about the battle between Chuck and Bobby – could the show in fact be all about Wendy, the true key figure in all of this, with Chuck and Bobby representing different parts of her ego/superego/id. I need to think about this some more.

    1. Right? Axe and Chuck could go at each other for years, back and forth in the ring, a new winner every season. But such a battle is not interesting for long unless there is another medium in the mix. That’s Wendy. She’s both the water they swim thru and the force that holds the world together. What a great structural element to the story, eh?

      That the men represent different parts of her psyche, well, we’re getting into Black Mirror/Christopher Nolan territory there, but how freakin fun if they carried it that far! Love it!

  3. You know I didnt know about the groups in the original painting..so great you placed the squares…one gets to know a good deal of stuff while enjoying the pics of our fav ginger!

    What an eye!!! The purse, I hadn’t notice it…
    I like your approach of the triads…though I have to say I see Wendy like the sort of puppeteer at times, playing these brilliant men hearts…because she is smart and plays low to drag each of them into dangerous territories…I see her more like the devil dressed in red .(as Gingersnap mentioned red has many meanings)..and she knows we know it.
    I am still unsure why Damian is sitting while Chuck is standing.
    Sitting is a more calm and in control behaviour while standing seems more aggressive or less reconciliatory…
    For me Damian is looking at Bryan while he is looking at Taylor like two bishops in a chess game.
    I have to say it’s pretty hillarious the thing with the lobster…at thw very beginning I thought it was a crab..

  4. Fantastic post! I love your breakdown of the painting as well as your angle on Judas. The purse! Well, this is not the first Judas situation with Lara… Remember the FDNY guys had left 30 silver coins in Lara’s vegetable garden after destroying it — implying that she was Judas… still, I agree with you, promos are all about tricking us exactly as they should but it is so much for speculating about what may come… and I don’t think Lara would be Judas. If there is a Judas, I think I would put my money on Taylor. I find them very hard to read since they are like Axe minus emotions. Honestly, they could be the most trustworthy person in the world or they could be the one to betray Axe.

    I loved Paul’s comment on the post: Maybe it’s all about Wendy 🙂 I think this season will see these two men reluctantly cooperate with each other to save both their own asses and Wendy’s — it would be a fantastic twist to what we have seen so far… I CANNOT WAIT.

    And I cannot thank you enough for the lobster gif. Priceless!

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