We sit in the mud, my friend, and reach for the stars.
― Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons
Here we are, at the end of Season 2 of Billions, and what a ride it’s been. I know I’m not alone in wishing that these folks wrote and worked and filmed and screened all at the same time, so we wouldn’t have to suffer the excruciating dry months of waiting for the next season to start. In this season, the entire lot of them exceeded all expectations. The story was tight, the performances even tighter. It’s like they all came into their own skins this season and it was a treat to watch.
My review here won’t be a recap, because you’ve already read those. Instead I’ll focus on the father and son scenes central to Season 2, Episode 12, “Ball in Hand.” And I can’t leave the season without talking a bit about Bobby and Wendy. While most other connections between characters are clear, it seems there reigns a central mystery, still, between who Bobby and Wendy are to each other. This season, wonderfully, didn’t solve the mystery a bit, it only intensified it.
Kings, Caesars, Mob Dons. When we think of these titles we may think of power, wealth, and loyalty. To a certain extent that is true. However, what they also have in common is the struggle to keep their place at the top, how they get there and how they fall. Kings, Caesars and Mob Dons all get to the top through violence, and usually end their reigns that way as well. Through the course of their reign, they often become distrustful of even their most loyal subjects and become deceitful in order to keep everyone off balance. In the end, they are paranoid, isolated, and alone.
What does that have to do with Billions? The titles and events of the previous two episodes “The Kingmaker” and “Sic Transit Imperium”, made me think of Axe in that light. He got to the top through violence; as we learn in “Boasts and Rails” his actions during the murder and devastation of 9/11 made Axe a lot of money, and the destruction of his former company lead to the opening of Axe Capital (I write about that here). He also has wealth, power, and from many of his employees, loyalty. However, he too is constantly fighting to stay at the top. He sees the Visigoths coming, whether in the form of the government (and Chuck in particular) or other fund managers, and he will fight them all. The Axe we see in “Sic Transit Imperium” is a tired, isolated, and reflective King, wondering if it is all worth it. Continue reading ““From the Trader’s Desk” What does Axe have in common with Kings, Caesars and Mob Dons?”
Nearly midpoint to Billions Season 2, and tables are turning in Episode 5, “Indian Four”. We start the show geared up to go thru all the machinations, ebb and flow, tit for tat, cat and mouse that has been the hallmark of the series so far. And there is plenty of that rapid-fire tennis match back and forth to watch, but, there’s also something quite new this episode. It feels sort of homey, much less technical, more touchy-feely, dare I say, more human.