First things first: Thank you, Billions, for the wonderful Super Fan Season Finale event in New York, thanks to which Lady Trader, Lewisto and I were able to see the season finale a few days earlier with a room full of super fans and the show creators and show runners Brian Koppelman and David Levien, followed by a Q&A.
I have already thanked Mr. Koppelman and Mr. Levien at the event for giving us the BEST show on TV, but I want to repeat it here one more time: Hats off to the brilliant writers for creating and the wonderful cast for bringing this awesomeness to life for us!
Now, I always say Billions loves symmetries! And Season 3 has built up, slowly and surely, to the ultimate “palace coup” both at Axe Capital and the Southern District of New York. Given how badly the mentors have treated their protégés this season, they have practically asked for what they have just got from them. I think this old saying applies to both Axe and Chuck:
“As you sow, so shall you reap.”
Wags is right that the air smells money as McLarens, Aston Martins, Bentleys and such arrive at the Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets. Spartan-Ives is having Capital Introduction Day where hedge funds share their ideas to capture whatever they can of the $30 billion out there to be invested.
Thanks to their “icebreaker” and their recent success with Genometech Atlas, there is too much demand for Axe Capital that Spartan-Ives has reserved the largest suite, kicking off a brand new dick-measuring contest on the street: While McGann, the guy who did not bonus Axe right in the past, says people usually go to see the bearded lady at the freak show but then go to his suite, Birchie believes people will find out by the end of the day that Axe Capital is like Atlantis, once great land now totally underwater.
Taylor texts Wags they will be late because of some last minute organization — which is technically not a lie 😀
Taylor is meeting Andolov who has already read their material and approach and is curious to learn about their market outlook. While Taylor offers lightning quick moves and cutting-edge tech, words do not mean much to the Russian and do not dictate how he makes decisions. He wants to know is why Taylor is leaving the man that made them.
“The same reason you leave a house with a furnace leaking carbonmonoxide. It’s the only way to survive.”
Who can blame them?
And when they finally arrive at the suite, Taylor puts the blame on Uber just to hear from Wags that they need to live like a rich person and take a chopper next time — which I believe may happen in Season 4!
While I was not surprised by Taylor’s move to open their own shop, I was confused about their eyes lighting up when Axe put them back on the raise team in Season 3 Episode 11 Kompenso. I understand WHY only when Axe goes on the stand to talk about Axe Capital – Barry White style.
Axe introduces Taylor as the future of Axe Capital! All potential investors in the room now hear from the king that Taylor is the single most effective manager he has ever seen who made sure Axe Capital is ahead of everyone on the market followed by Taylor inviting them to come shadow them for a day and find out Elmsley Count is not about magic but focused work where the audience never sees the extra cards are here and feels the miracle.
Wendy is right.
“They are not buying your proprietary trading platform or strategies. They are buying you.”
Now that the investors know Taylor is THE one, it is only natural they will follow them wherever they go and that is why Taylor’s eyes lit up when Axe put them back on the raise team in the last episode. They knew Axe would prop them up at the pitch day! Brilliant!
Chuck finds Alvin Epstein having a foot massage at Foot Heaven. Epstein has the target letter ready and once he emails it to Pastor Zeb Jeffcoat, they are at the point of no return. The only issue is they do not know what route the AG will take. He can either threaten and try to destroy Epstein for the case against his brother or he could ask Chuck for help. Chuck and Epstein want Jeffcoat to do the latter which would happen if Jeffcoat knew they had Ashley Cutler as their star witness. And even if the AG thinks Cutler is a weak witness, if Epstein impanels a Grand Jury, he will know they are moving ahead. So Grandy Jury or No Grand Jury is the question.
Chuck Senior is right that a man can want to see his father, but not this man. This man is here to consult about the optimal play he has. Senior suggests Chuck should take a fast and aggressive game with inferior material.
Grand Jury it is. And per his plan with Epstein, Chuck will ask Jeffcoat for something in return so Jeffcoat thinks Chuck has his own reasons to accommodate him.
Bryan, who looked into the “Chuck Rhoades Special” thanks to operation “Si, Se Puede” believes he has finally got Chuck because Chuck is covering a witness to protect Jeffcoat! Ah, Bryan! The moment he thinks he is a step ahead, he is once again a step behind and his “Fuck!” is real when he finds out from Kate that Chuck is doing his Chuck-thing for the first time for the right reasons. And when Bryan comes home to share the information with Dake who seems to be crashing on Bryan’s couch, I think the two former “Eastern” boys will go the other way and cooperate with Chuck to get rid of Jeffcoat.
By the end of the pitch day, as Axe is thrilled to announce they have raised $6 billion and that Axe Capital is all the fucking way back with shout outs to Wags, Wendy and Taylor, and leaves the stage to Hold Steady to take it away, he has no fucking idea about what is about to hit him in the morning. Put aside locking the committed money in, Wags is having difficulty reaching the investors. It feels like someone slipped them a Cosby! Ewww!
It does not take long for them to figure out who is pulling an Elmsley Count on them. One person Taylor seems to have taken with them is Mafee, who has not shown up for work, and that Ben Kim arriving late raises suspicions that he may be sleeping with the fishes.
It turns out Ben is a loyal Axe Capital employee who has just said no to Taylor’s job offer. And I would give Ben an A for solving the Subgame Perfect Equilibrium in Taylor’s game, but Axe does not give him a raise 😀
Axe calls an emergency meeting: Wendy suggests they have to look within and see where they have made a mistake, where as Wags believes his strategy of poisoning the bitch’s name everywhere from dinners to parties to massages, could be more effective. Bach advises they can file a case against Taylor for intellectual property theft and tortious interference but they cannot win it quick enough to stop them from opening their shop. They will still go ahead with the case to distract Taylor from work.
As if the cash situation is not bad enough — 500 million in, 3.5 million leaving with Taylor and 2 million withdrawn because investors do not want to be in the middle of a family fight — Andolov wants to meet Axe right away and the meeting at his empty apartment speaks volumes about the man! For starters, who knew Andolov would need quilts on the bed and healing crystals in every window to feel at home? Maybe he is knitting, too, Madame Defarge style?
Secondly, Andolov is ready to take care of Axe’s “pest control” problem and he is kind enough to ask permission because Taylor is Axe’s property and not his! Besides, he does not only shock Hall but also the audience (gasps in the room!) when Hall speaks out of turn.
As I am starting to lose it that Axe is considering to use Andolov’s “pest control” services, he reveals to Hall he has figure out the ramifications of saying yes or no to a guy like Andolov. He needs a day to think about how to protect himself but also to look at Taylor in the eye.
Well, Axe’s visit to Taylor Mason Capital is quite different from the one he had to Ionosphere in Season 1 Episode 10 Quality of Life. Taylor’s response to his sarcastic “the palace coup is complete” is they have not done it against him but for themself. Besides, they do not seem to be intimidated when Axe reminds them why the top of the Everest is called the “death zone.”
“Young lungs. So yeah we will.”
Chuck gets THE CALL he has been waiting for. Jeffcoat needs him to arrange a private meeting with Cutler so he could remind him what really matters to him and his family 😀 Chuck is happy to accommodate but would also ask for something in return: He wants to keep his post until the end of the administration and he needs the AG to stop picking and choosing the cases for the Southern District.
As soon as Jeffcoat gives Chuck what he wants, he has his spa time with Cutler arranged with us seeing the star witness in his bathrobe as the FBI places recording devices in the room. Epstein calls to say he has the tape but since he is not sure if his office is bugged, they need to meet at Chuck’s office.
Now that Axe has looked Taylor in the eye, he consults with Wendy and Hall before going to Andolov with his final answer about pest control.
Wendy recommends patience. Most people in the industry would think Axe sent his protege off to open their own shop and invested with them. And he can still do it. Or he can take comfort in knowing it is inevitable that Taylor will suffer internally in a couple of years and have no one to turn to.
Hall believes outsourcing to Andolov will bring clean results: falling debris on the street, an overdose, a heart attack… The refinement the likes of Andolov have reached in this line of business is unmatched! But Andolov would have this on Axe forever. He could soon ask Ask to invest his money with no fee and later he can ask for money to keep quiet. Whatever, however, and whenever Axe decides, Hall is ready to help. That said, Axe should take into consideration the psychological consequences, the weight, even if he decides to go in-house with pest control. While Axe is making his decision, Hall will add extra security for Lara and the boys in a way they will not see it.
As Axe passes Andolov’s offer, he gets his early notice from the Russian that he is taking his money to Taylor because he cannot trust his money with a man who will not kill for it. And he reminds Axe that if whatever Axe will do to Taylor hurts Andolov, they will meet again.
While Wendy has recommended Axe patience, she is about to lose her own patience with Taylor. Well, it is one thing Taylor has used her empathy for them to get on the raise team, and it is another when Taylor makes her an offer for her own sake because a fresh start would be good for Wendy after her fuck-ups!
Taylor may need their employees to be tuned and upgraded like the software, but they need to find the solution somewhere else. And while I agree with Wendy there are things more important than money, I also give credit to Taylor that this has not been the practice at Axe Capital for a while.
We see the importance lasting relationships, true loyalty and real trust have when Chuck arrives at his meeting with Epstein. While Chuck is there to put the final nail into Jeffcoat’s coffin, he ends up attending his own funeral at the SDNY. It turns out Bryan and Dake are merciless after all, and wait, they may have a point. Yes, Chuck has been doing THIS for the right reasons but what about all the wrong he has done in the past? Come to think of it, even a broken clock is right two times a day!
So Bryan gets Chuck’s post (interim but still…) with a move that tells me Chuck has taught him well: Anything is legitimate if you want to get justice! 😀 Epstein is now moving to DC to serve as the Deputy AG. Kate, thanks to the heads-up Bryan has given her about her texts with her FBI guy, is keeping her position. Dake? He got to watch all this!
It is beyond ironic that Chuck has lost his job over a move he has been doing for the right reasons for the first time in quite a while! As Chuck tells the AG that the smile on his face will not stay there for long, he hears from Bryan the exact same words he has said to Bryan only a few episodes ago.
“Drop your credentials at the desk, and get the fuck out of here.”
My first hunch, when Oscar arrives at Taylor Mason Capital with a $500M check, is that he and Taylor will get back together. But while Oscar is happy to invest in the fund because he believes in Taylor’s talents, he cannot open himself to Taylor after “what they have done.” WOW. It seems to me that when they told Oscar about Axe buying 50% of Peyton’s Breen’s company in Season 3 Episode 10 Redemption, Taylor did not put the blame on Axe but instead took the responsibility for their actions: that they put business before relationship and shared the information with Axe.
As Axe is looking at Atlantis, ahem Axe Capital, he calls Wendy who has changed her recommendation about what to do about Taylor after their recent encounter at the garage!
“Fuck them over.”
“Different from look inward.”
Well, I highly recommend Taylor to talk to Chuck Senior about what happens to those that mess with Wendy!
Simpler times at Chez Rhoades exactly like the days Wendy tells Wags that she misses in Season 3 Episode 5 Flaw in the Deathstar… So maybe it is time to enjoy it over a bottle of wine with an old friend.
“Wendy asked… I said I am no longer the US attorney so there is no conflict. And I have nothing against the guy. Not anymore.”
“I said much the same.”
One question Billions constantly explores is what drives people like Axe and Chuck. Look at them! It is not power. It is not money. It is certainly the love of the game. Both men are already excited about their next move and I can feel the adrenaline flowing in Axe’s veins as Wendy suggests he should share his plan with Chuck.
Let the brainstorming begin. Given what this trio has accomplished the last time they sat together at a table, they are starting to write the game for the next season here and now! And we all know “We’re Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together” in Season 4. The wait may be long but… WORTH IT!