The Bottle Rockets’ “Wave that Flag” opens this week’s episode in which both Axe and Chuck figure out how they would feel if somebody owned their asses.
As Chuck is spending some time with Jeffcoat in West Texas, he happens to go on a hunting trip with him and ends up shooting the coyote that has been picking off Jeffcoat’s calves for a while. It turns out Chuck learnt from the best:
“My father taught me. Once you have the animal in your sights, breathe easy and let fly.”
That kind of training, Jeffcoat believes, is what they need for the upcoming Jose Lugo trial. Remember Lugo, the young man who could not make bail and ended up killing the guard who abused him? The AG wants Chuck to make sure Lugo gets the same treatment the coyote gets in the court.
Back in New York, Chuck finds Kate preparing for the case while hoping for the first time in her career that the defense will do a better job in the courtroom and she will lose. Jose Lugo killed the guard in self-defense and all Kate will say in court will be lies. Chuck advises her to try and extract a 20 year plea from Lugo.
While Chuck is after a 20 year plea, Axe is after a $20 billion icebreaker to kick off his wild capital raise campaign. A potential investor is Grigor Andolov, a Russian oligarch who just got out of jail (I wonder why he was in jail!) and Axe is now collecting information about Andolov from a man who used to work for him.
The man used to live in a palace in Khamovniki, the most expensive living area in Moscow. He shipped oil for Andolov, and no one, he claims, shipped faster or skimmed less than him. Yet, once out of jail, Andolov wanted to buy his business for nothing. Knowing “no” might not be a wise option, the guy chose to say “yes” but rather slowly that cost him not only his business but also his arm. He now runs a coffee cart in a shit corner and his dream is to run a hot dog cart. As Axe’s payment for the information he provides makes the man’s dream come true, Hall talks about Andolov like we have never heard him talk about anyone before.
“If you take his money, I may not be able to cover you.”
Axe is willing to try Spartan-Ives before taking the Andolov route to a successful capital raise, but he still lies to Wags about what Hall thinks of Andolov.
And as much as the Spartan-Ives guy is willing to shine “like a pasty on the nipple of Lili St. Cry in the bright lights of the Florentine Gardens” per Wags’ request, $20 billion is an unprecedented amount of money to raise in a few months. When the best ideas he presents are either “do a full rehab tour” or “sell piece of the fund” Axe knows he needs Andolov.
Axe Capital invested only Axe’s money during the indictment because it was a necessity. But now that the government is off his tail, the fact that Axe Capital still investing only Axe’s money is unacceptable. Wags is scared Andolov is a Siberian brown bear who would rip their faces off as he gives them his money and warns Axe not to go full Grizzly Man. But Axe knows, unlike Treadwell, that he is facing a wild animal.
Axe finds Andolov (Hello, John Malkovich!) at Nassau Coliseum playing hockey with the NY Islanders, a team he is considering to buy!
It is obvious Andolov will not be an easy catch and the way Axe takes so much arrogance from him and still speaks softly tells me he is desperate to have his money. Axe may be back to life, but how will he handle investors’ questions? When Axe responds with “victim of class warfare. I win too much so the game must be rigged” he gets a story from Andolov: Every life is a body of water with the equal amount of salt added. To endure, you need to expand your body to an extent that you do not notice the salt to endure it. Andolov, on the other hand, has decided to like the salt. It is all about survival.
“However, you get there, right?”
While Axe wants Andolov to meet only with Axe Capital, Andolov advises he may not be convinced Axe got his edge back or even if he is, he may want Axe to work a bit harder to get his business. Still, he agrees that their lieutenants should meet to talk about how they can make themselves richer, stronger and thicker like the 80-time world record breaker Vasily Alekseyev.
The lieutenants meeting turns out to be a fiasco and who can blame Taylor for believing “international criminals are unstable bedrock for a capital raise” and giving an oil man an environmentally friendly “fuck you” at the face in the form of impact investing ?
Well, Axe can.
When Axe confronts Taylor that he knows they do not want Andolov’s money, Taylor does not deny that and moreover asks him whether taking Andolov’s money would not have merit a discussion first. Well, there was a discussion. Ouch.
While he is busy playing ball with Andolov, Axe finds time to check in with Wendy who has just sold the Maserati Axe gave to her in Season 1 Finale followed by a $250K donation to the Axelrod Foundation. I wonder if this is just the way Wendy copes with guilt or she is slowly parting ways with Axe while he keeps giving her advice in back-to-back episodes!
One should not let the guilt win, Axe suggests. There was a time he thought he had to be understated for the sake of his investors and flew First Class commercial. But when a blizzard cancelled his flight and he found himself booking hotels for the night with all the mortals, he went ahead and bought his FIRST Gulfstream.
Now that Taylor knows their position is completely advisory, they knock on Wags’ door to discuss what to do when Axe is wrong, a discussion Wags needs to take off-campus, to a monument called Axe is Never Wrong: His stately house where his ex-wife is now living. It turns out when Wags fell in love with his ex-wife, Axe openly told him she sucked. As Wags loved the way she danced, Axe knew that the dance would end. Wags believes Taylor does not understand Axe’s current moves because they are emotional. And they are emotional because he is fighting for his life. Taylor cannot understand because they have not gone beyond their own limits yet. I wonder if Wags would make a case for Axe if he knew what Hall thinks of doing business with Andolov!
When Taylor comes back to tell Axe they are still not seeing what he is seeing, because they believe in data and not in blind faith, Axe gives them food for thought with Dylan’s “He not busy being born is busy dying” and reminds Taylor once again he is paying them to see. Taylor should give Andolov’s man a convincing presentation while keeping their eyes open.
Well, boss, you may not be the only one busy being born. Taylor keeps their eyes open but also keeps their quants close, adds a new member (the second guy from the quant interviews in Episode 3 A Generation Too Late, who had given to his emotions and ruined the cardboard when he was not able to turn it into a box) and moves ahead with developing the quant algo that can crush the market. I bet they may give Axe a good run for his money… or could help him in a dire situation. This will be FUN!
While Kate is rehearsing her argument in the courthouse, she gets the news Lugo has died on his way to the court. The guards, who obviously executed him, are claiming Lugo made an attempt to run and they had to subdue him, well, to the point of severing his spinal cord. Kate assesses the situation right.
“Charges are dropped, and Lugo received the death penalty.”
While Chuck asks Kate not to read the report when it arrives and that he will take that weight and will ensure they will get those guards for what they did, Kate is keen to be on it because she wants to know if someone is ready to do the right thing… Well, that someone is certainly not Jeffcoat, who enlightens Chuck and Kate about the Code of Hammurabi that had different penalties for killing a property owner, a freeman or a slave.
Why? The reason is simple. All lives are not equal. Some do more for the society and Lugo is not one of them. Jeffcoat believes when Chuck takes his time to investigate, he will find out the guards are telling the truth about what happened in the transfer van.
Kate goes and finds the only person who can understand what she is going through in a bar, but, no, Bryan may buy her a drink but will not buy her bullshit. Besides, he has a job interview in the morning.
The person with a security clearance that still answers Bryan’s calls turns out to be Terri who has arranged a job interview for him at the FBI New York office. Thanks to her preparing him well coupled with Bryan’s ability to breakdown a complex movie, Pi, as a bonus, he is hired as a special counsel. I bet he will make FBI not his peaceful park bench but his playground to continue his investigation. I am rooting for him!
While Chuck and Wendy are having dinner with Lonnie and his wife Sandra at Kefi, Chuck throws his anger for Jeffcoat at Lonnie, who seems to make good money in private sector and afford Brioni suits. Chuck is torn between his options. If he does not bring charges against the guards, they will go free; and if he does, he will be fired, and they will go free. Since Chuck cannot let Jeffcoat own his ass, Wendy offers a third option.
Axe is working to get Andolov’s business over a conversation about who is soaking his pants. Andolov believes Axe is either fucking with him by having his CIO pitch “potato-powered cars” to his man or scared of doing business with him. Since Axe does not want to personally insult him he is now inviting him to his house, where his children sleep, expecting Andolov himself to end the conversation. When Andolov brings up his kids, Axe is ready to be as friendly as Andolov who claims to be a sweetheart like Casper the Friendly Ghost.
“Me, too. And if you mention my kids like that again you’ll find out how fucking friendly.”
Now that Axe has started speaking Andolov’s language, he goes on to share a story he has heard about a Russian oligarch who only loved the killing part of hunting and so had his men bring the game for him to a well-lit area and he only delivered the kill shot. Axe knows some may not call this a sport while some may just say:
“However you get there, right?”
Andolov’s position is clear.
“If you want to kill the meat, kill the meat. If you only want to eat the meat, get someone else to do the killing.”
Axe, who is not afraid of Wetwork, offers to become Andolov’s craft butcher, but Andolov has not survived jail to take a hunter’s bullet meant for Axe. Ha! Is it Andolov who is pissing his pants now? Axe may be able to show him he has “trust” at high levels of government but Andolov is not interested in that. He wants Axe to deliver influence.
The “influence” costs Axe $50K to Kevin Durant Charity Foundation so KD makes a “Happy Bar Mitzvah” video for Muresan’s, ahem, Krakow’s son Stevie! And raise your hand if you have noticed Axe’s nickname on Krakow’s phone? Bullitt! Spot on, Todd! No wonder we have been arguing Damian Lewis should play Steve McQueen for a few years now!
As Andolov arranges for vodka and caviar at The Russian Tea Room, Axe has his own exotic delicacy delivered in a back room.
Krakow reminds Andolov he was at a party on his boat, the boat that follows the first boat, in St Barth’s. And Gingersnap reminds me, in one of the creepy voice messages Axe leaves on Lara’s phone in Season 2 Episode 10 With or Without You, he mentions the opportunities he missed, citing the “prostitute yacht” the Russians had five hundred yards behind the “family yacht”… Oh well.
As Andolov wants Krakow’s phone number, Axe points out it would not be a good idea for any government official to talk to the Russians right now! When Andolov finds out the only way he can reach Krakow is through “his brother” Axe, he says “fuck you” and we find out Andolov takes you seriously when you speak to him in the way he speaks to you. He tells Axe to draw the papers for business only after the latter tells him “fuck you.”
While Axe is after Andolov’s money, someone at Axe Capital is after Dollar Bill’s lucky dollar that he won in a poker game against Carl Icahn. Bill finds his first suspect in Bonnie, the new analyst and a tough cookie who does not let Bill look into her purse, so Bill looks into Rudy’s only to find out gag gifts for the bachelor party he is going that evening… I do not even want to know how come Preparation H qualifies as a gag gift! As Bill loses his cool and turns to his new suspect Ben Kim, completely stereotyping him as well as testing his patience, Wags uses the data at hand to find the thief.
Rudy, who has consistently been the weakest link at Axe Capital, was desperate to steal Bill’s lucky dollar to knock Bill off his game so his quarter would not look as bad. Survival, in this world, is all indeed. Rudy now has $10 million to work with whereas his other $10 million is going to Dollar Bill.
Andolov shows up to sign the papers. Being Casper the Friendly Ghost, he has only one rule in business.
“You can’t lose my money.”
He illustrates his rule with a “funny story” that is not funny at all. Once at Moscow Christmas Market, Andolov is in line for mulled wine and there is this little boy who wants his wine so he gives him a sip. But when he notices the boy’s mother has plump breasts, he realizes the boy is not hungry but only greedy. So he takes his mother away, rapes her, and leaves her for the soldiers.
Does Axe know what happened to that boy?
“I always ask. No one ever knows.”
What Axe knows is Andolov owns his ass. And I wonder if doing business with Andolov is as desperate an act on Axe’s part as his fellow Hofstra alum stealing Bill’s lucky dollar to disguise his abysmal performance. We can only hope everything will be alright.