Billions on Showtime 2.05: Currency

Billions season 2 episode 5 is titled “Currency”, after the main play of the episode which happens to be a highly delicate currency play. Currency, the word, when spoken by Damian Lewis manifest as Bobby Axelrod, is also one among the many rhythmic words you’ll hear from him this episode, pronounced in impeccable New York-ese. We probably shouldn’t keep harping on his believability in this role. After all, that’s why they call it acting, right? Where most acting is a well-developed form of impersonation and most non-native accents are a form of ventriloquism, what Damian does with Bobby, in terms of body and language, is something else entirely. Something that is neither simply impersonation nor just ventriloquism.

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Billions on Showtime, Season 2, Episode 5: Currency

source: Showtime

How to save a quarter? How to bag a wolf? We learn from the very best in this week’s Billions episode šŸ˜€

Wags arrives at Axe Capital in his vintage Mercedes inĀ the opening sceneĀ ofĀ Currency. He looks GOOD for a change. And he has something important to tell Axe but the other does not let him speak because it is not his turn to speak. While Wags was MIA for the last couple of days “learning the Yaqui way, or how to run like the Tarahumara”Ā Axe has been fighting the “Battle of Thermopylae” frequently cited as an example of a patriotic defense where the small Greek army was able to defend its land against the huge Persian army in a three-day battle.Ā  Continue reading “Billions on Showtime, Season 2, Episode 5: Currency”

Billions on Showtime 2.04: The Oath

Boy, Billions is giving its stellar coterie of actors a lot more to do this season! While the plot has always remained tight and unpredictable, this show has always been character-driven, never more so than right at this moment.

You don’t have to read the business papers to hear the real world buzz around Preet Bharara’s recent firing as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY. In the fictional world of Billions, this is the very position occupied by Chuck. In Tuesday’s NYT, Andrew Ross Sorkin’s regular article Dealbook , quoted the so-called “sheriff of Wall Street” Bharara saying in another interview:

I have never said that insider trading is the crime of the century. It has not been my personal focus. It’s the focus of the press because there are a lot of wealthy people that like the reporting of it.

Indeed, in the world of Wall Street, and Billions, there is ethics and then there is the appearance of ethics. Prosecution is not always (or ever?) about beating the bad guy and scoring a victory for justice. A lot of the time it’s about beating a case that’s beatable and tantalizing to the press and the public. Sure, the practice of law is about setting precedent on good and bad, right and wrong, but a lot of the time (most of the time?) it’s about managing public perception of these lofty ideals. And it’s in the managing of perception where all the play happens. This theme runs throughout Billions, and is in particular focus in Episode 4 “The Oath.”

Something else notable for this episode: the virtual encyclopedia of pop culture references! A cynical person could snark it’s a good thing all the people of this world seem to have read the same books, seen the same movies, and listened to the same music. Writing about it was one rabbit hole after another and I can only imagine the fun from the actual writing of it.

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Billions on Showtime, Season 2, Episode 4: The Oath

Just three episodes in and we have received terrific news that Showtime has renewed Billions for a thirdĀ season! The news is not surprising given that Billions is the SMARTEST show on TV but still THIS WAS FAST! Congratulations to the entire cast and crew, we are over the moon for you and yeah, for us, too!

And who knew “Paulie Pennino” of BillionsĀ would come back to direct Axe in Season 2 Episode 4? It is a true delight Noah Emmerich is directing this episode! I love him as Agent Beeman in The Americans!Ā And, hey, he is also directing Richard Thomas, who brings to lifeĀ Beeman’s boss Agent Gaad in The Americans and whom I loved as John-Boy in The Waltons as a little girl, in this episode!

source: @SHO_Billions

Axe is finally in the final three in his bid for the NFL team. Over lunch at Vaucluse, Mark Cuban tells Axe NFL does not like guys like themĀ because they didĀ come from nothing, earned their money calling bullshit openly and publicly and so they come across as people that can breakĀ the etiquette. According to Cuban, Axe needs to hang up the gloves and focus on changing the “hearts and minds”Ā that will give him whatĀ he wants. Continue reading “Billions on Showtime, Season 2, Episode 4: The Oath”

Billions on Showtime 2.03: Optimal Play

Billions pulls a great trick from the big bag of tricks available to entertainment. It puts on an episode with a discrete arc — a beginning, middle, end… rising tension, climax, and denouement. And it does it in each episode while also exploring deeply profound themes fit for feature length film. This show is entertaining, no doubt. But there are ways in which it isn’t “just” entertainment. Allow me, please, to explore a few of the ways Billions pulled it out for S2Ep3 “Optimal Play”, would you?

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Billions on Showtime, Season 2, Episode 3: Optimal Play

source: Showtime

I could not be happier that a game theory term makes it toĀ the title of thisĀ week’s episode: Optimal Play. Optimal Play, also known as Best Response, isĀ the strategy that produces the most favorable outcome for a player,Ā taking the strategies of other players in the game as given.

Given thatĀ the entire hedge-fund industry is under siege and that he needs to adapt, Axe’s optimal play is to venture out of the city walls and straight into the NFL. We learn from his chat with NY Giants chairman Steve TischĀ that Axe grew up with football on aĀ “24-inch Trinitron knock-off” and his first ever football game in a stadium was in Tisch’s box. AsĀ Tisch shares withĀ him that he needs to jump through quiteĀ a few hoops to impress the NFL, Axe is pretty confident about his bid and already trying to figure out whereĀ his seat will beĀ at the stadium. Not here atĀ MetLife Stadium, of course. NY Giants is not for sale šŸ˜€ Continue reading “Billions on Showtime, Season 2, Episode 3: Optimal Play”