Billions on Showtime, Episode 11: Magical Thinking

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Well, night is young and magical for some and not so much for others in Billions Episode 11 Magical Thinking. 

Mafee sends in Wags to ask for permission to talk to Axe about BioLance that will make a special announcement in nine minutes about whether the FDA is giving approval for their diabetes type II drug. All the research points to the approval being a coin flip and Mafee, who usually sleeps like a bear, is losing sleep on it. He can pare their position right now just before the announcement and they can still make 10%. But they will lose 400 million should the FDA deny approval. Axe is not having any of it. 10% could be good for a benchmark fund which Axe Capital is NOT. They are already in BioLance where the win is. He fires Mafee on the spot.

Axe’s face says it all about the special announcement.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Remember the man, the one that I call Greek God of Hubris, that arrives at Axe Capital with that signature swagger of his after the Mundia Tel scandal in Episode 5 The Good Life? This Axe is not THAT Axe.

BioLance CEO is deeply sorry that FDA has just denied them approval. They need five years to complete the fixes but they only have cash to keep their operations going for three years. It seems their drug will not see the light of day. The stock is halted until the following morning, but the damage is already huge and could turn into twice the amount.

Bottomline: Axe has screwed up. Very badly. He now knows the auto pilot switch is broken. Better call Dr. Mojo. But he first goes and corrects the “other” mistake of the morning: Mafee stays!

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Wendy is taking a tour at Zenobia Capital, the hedge fund that Saldana leaves Axe Capital for after a session with Wendy in Episode 3 Yum Time. One of the senior partners, Roma, goes on and on about how having 60% of their PMs being women “makes it easier to practice for socially responsible investing.” Now, as much as I have huge respect for women that survive and thrive in such a “cocks and balls” world, I still think this “socially responsible investing” — I know the concept being about sustainable, “green” or ethical investing — may be a PR term (and I love Wendy’s smile when she hears about it), since, after all, Roma, like Axe, sees profit as the mission, and wants Wendy to train assassins at Zenobia. I am looking forward to our Lady Trader’s take on it!

I wonder if Wendy visits Zenobia after imagining herself there and thinking about how happy her days could be. Or not. She leaves the tour as soon as she receives Axe’s text:

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

As Wendy is on her way to “fix” Axe (she may be the only person Axe lets “fix” him!), Chuck is in his “brownstone off the promenade” with his new best friend Adam De Giulio. And you feel dirty listening to these two men working for, supposedly, the “public good.” Chuck gives Adam the good news: He is the one to replace Judge Wilcox given he receives Senate Approval. Chuck advises though judgeships can be held hostage for months, even years nowadays in the very polarized Congress. But, hey, he knows how to get it done. “Guarantee is a word amateurs use in politics” but Chuck can make sure Senator Vandeveer will take Adam’s hand and take him to the bench. Chuck is more than willing to help should De Giulio make sure Chuck’s pick replaces him in Washington. De Giulio knows this is about Axe. He plays General Bradley to Chuck’s Patton and advises restraint only to get this: “One of them died a well-respected and admired general and the other one died a legend.” All for justice? “Of course!” I say, exactly in the way that Lara uses it!

I was pleasantly surprised with Chuck finally saying “No, Dad!” to Chuck Sr in Episode 10 but here he is again with his “Please, Dad!” Dad knows Senator Vanderveer, who, in fact, owes him a favor. This means, as Chuck Sr rightly points out, he must still know THIS game. He gets his “Thank you, Dad” and “I am sorry” from his little boy who now needs to go see his squash partner Ira to talk about his “roof” or the person that protects him: his dad.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Ira is divorced and seems to “tinder” with 20 year olds who likes his Porsche photo on his account. Chuck asks a question whose answer I have always wondered: “What do you talk about to 23 year olds?” Not that I am against May – September relationships, but seriously, what do you talk to a 23 year old when you are 45? Ira says: “They are all wild, free, lick your dirty places and smile but what they are not is my Elizabeth. Or Wendy.” Chuck knows it already. And he is not sure where Wendy is tonight. They are in the middle of a “continental drift.” And he is scared as shit that he may be losing her.

“No clerical” for Terri and Dale. They leave the room as Bryan and Kate start breaking the Axe case down and putting them into boxes. Bryan, knowing that Chuck is BACK in the game, does not believe it is over. He is, in fact, so proud of Chuck that he has Axe’s torn check framed for Chuck.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

But, at the same time, I think, thanks to knowing Chuck’s ways, Bryan starts questioning their motivations for doing all this. Kate talks about how incentive structures are screwing up the society: Her brilliant classmate Jim Gagne, a double major in chemical engineering and pre-med, who Kate thought would cure cancer, now works the medical sector for Spartan-Ives and made 20 million last year. True. But remember we have also seen Dr. Gilbert in Episode 10 who has just kept mum to have his research funded by Axe. And we have just seen Chuck and Adam doing their back room deals. The problem is, Kate, incentive structures are fucked up across the board. And I am seriously curious if Team Axe will recruit Bryan. Well, Axe and Chuck are not that different in their ways, and hey, defense pays much better!

Well, so much for trying to save the system. Bryan and Kate start with the stash in Chuck’s office but give up on sex on his desk since it’s “so cliche” and the idea that Chuck might have had sex there makes them leave. Ok, guys, one thing I can tell you about Chuck’s sex life: It is everything but cliche. And he is playing far more dangerous games than the two of you playing with firecrackers at the Luna Park on Coney Island.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Michelin chef Lu tours the fancy kitchens of Axe Capital (La Cornue at workplace? Seriously?) with Lara and Sheryl who is trying to recruit her. She has an obvious disgust for everything Axe Capital represents and does not want to cook for a “bunch of animals that eat anything, shit on anything, fuck anything.” Well, a 24 hour joy ride with big sis may change it after all. They will start shooting pool in the old ‘hood and let the night take shape. But, first, Lara needs a sec with Bobby who cannot make it to Lilly’s tonight (Wow, is Lara still seeing her?)

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

The only person that can give Bobby what he needs right now is Wendy and Lara is concerned she will ask Bobby about Donnie: “It is not 3 years ago, you know…” We know this show never uses a word for no reason! We see Wendy telling Axe at Donnie’s memorial service that they have not had a “real session” for the last 3 and a half years. Now Lara is repeating this. What happened 3 years ago that ended the sessions? Well, we had this conversation among ourselves and I buy into Bookworm’s idea that Chuck may have become the US attorney 3 years ago and Axe may have put an end to sessions for obvious reasons.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Axe sends everyone home and is ready for a session with Wendy. I love it that Wendy lets Axe know who the boss is by choosing where they sit in her office. So, what’s his problem? Axe confesses the urge her had to stick it out about BioLance as he heard more and more about why they needed to get out of it. Wendy knows what Axe wants is to have her fix the part of him that makes money. But that part is attached to the rest of it and this session will take a while.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

The question Axe asks Wendy about how she is handling everything gives her a chance to talk about Donnie. The fact that she missed her own patient being ill and dying hits her hard. Still, she is slowly coming to terms with the fact that she cannot really have all her patients be truly open with her but she still hopes… probably with the man sitting across from her. And she keeps going back to Donnie because Axe misses something first time in forever just after Donnie dies. And Axe seemingly allows her to connect the dots. But she should know by now how much he cares about everyone at Axe Capital: He makes sure Donnie gets the best medical care. He bribes the police to make Danzig’s arrest with the machine gun disappear.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

“Let’s throw stuff into the bin” game, and oh, no, they are not on a break, gives Wendy an opportunity to diagnose the condition: Axe’s self-image or his “unwavering belief in his capabilities” creates a blind spot that, in fact, has worked for him for a long time, since otherwise, how could he take all that risk; however, it is not working right now. So what is the cure?

“Find out what about your self-image is false, then either live up to it or lose it.”

Axe’s interpretation of the cure is priceless!

“Like… when someone knows they have to tell a lover good-bye but they cannot quite do it so instead they sleep with them one last time and they have their own unspoken goodbye not letting on that everything’s changed until the night is over.”

Am I the only one that feels Wendy is sort of blushing? And why do I feel like this very thing may have happened between these two? The chemistry between them is such a killer that I am really scared they will kiss but no they don’t. I know. I know. I am in that tiny little minority that wants to have this relationship between Axe and Wendy limited to platonic. I just find THIS delightful to watch. And, besides I am a believer in real conversation as the most intimate human relationship anyway. So, even though I need to limit this recap to 2500 words or so, I know this “session” definitely deserves its own separate post with its very own and very micro analysis.

I don’t know if it is getting hot in the building but Axe wants to go out 🙂

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

I just LOVE it the way they talk about crying. Bookworm and I, every time Axe let us just a little bit into his mind, have felt that Axe grew up with a single parent. What has prompted me to feel that is my own life experience which I shared in a comment to one of Bookworm’s Previously blogs earlier:

“I have that same feeling that Axe grew up with, at least, a single mom and no siblings. I just can’t put my finger on it, but I just feel it, it may be the auto pilot thing that he mentions. I grew up with my mom only since my dad passed away when I was 8 and yeah, sometimes you just put yourself on autopilot even at a pretty young age, because you don’t know how to deal with grief, but you know you would make your mom upset when you get that grief out of your chest, and you don’t want to do that since you know she has so much responsibility on her shoulders so, in a sense, you raise yourself at some level, and autopilot may be your best friend.”

It is just a wild guess on my part that I feel there may be someone in Billions Writers room that grew up with a single parent. S/he knows it so well. Exactly like I know it… It turns out Axe cries at You Tube videos in which soldiers come back home and surprise their kids. And I know how I cry at weddings and graduations. It turns out Axe’s dad never came back. Is it like Vietnam or that his dad just left home and never came back? And I cry at weddings and graduations because my dad has not been able to see me graduate or get married (it’s amazing that even writing this brings the tears). The difference between Axe and me is my husband knows it about me. Lara does not know it about Bobby. He’s always wearing his mask. And that is why I am thinking Bobby Axelrod could be the loneliest man in the world. I am not feeling deep pity for him. It is what it is. But is there anyone he is totally transparent with? Well, Wags can live with that, so can Wendy, but being Mrs. Axelrod is not easy.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

And that is exactly, in my opinion, what Lara means when she tells Lou, on their joyride in the wee hours for a shopping spree, that she needs something. No, she is not jealous of Wendy in the way that Chuck is jealous of Axe. Lara is not insecure. But, I completely understand, as a wife, she wants her husband to be able to share with her. A life together should be about sharing it. And, as a side note, since I really love that Billions is having wonderful stage actors in the cast, I want to applaud the show for having Louisa Krause, whom I was extremely lucky to see in Pulitzer-winning play Flick, as Lou!

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Well, Wendy sees all dots converging to one single dot: Donnie. She has already put most of the story together and Axe spills the beans about how he steals Donnie’s Christmas and, on top of that, feels relief when Donnie is dead. Does this make him a sociopath? It just seems he just does not care about Donnie as much as he thinks he does. And this may be what scares him. And today’s mistake is a manifestation of his guilt. He is not a sociopath but he is on his way to be one if he keeps trying to stay on auto pilot. This “do what is rational and move on” attitude makes him distance himself from emotion and turns him into a machine. He should just accept he is not a god and pancreatic would take Donnie anyway. Wendy is right: “It’s like the market. It does whatever it wants.” Axe should just allow himself to be a human being. And, no, Wendy is not disgusted by him: “For whatever reason, when it comes to you, it’s just not on the table.” Axe wants to talk about why she is looking at other shops. But it needs to be for a different session. They share an electronic cigarette, a few laughs and call it a night. The way they have been playing each other as much as been honest and open with each other is mind-blowing. Kudos to Damian Lewis and Maggie Siff for the wonderful “session”! UPDATE: Now we know that Axe knows about Wendy’s job search, his words about sleeping with a lover one last time from earlier could be about Wendy saying goodbye to Axe Capital and “sleeping” with him one last time without telling him. I believe this is a very spot-on observation that I want to share, with proper thanks to GiggirlNY, a great reader!

Axe comes home to find the two sisters sleeping in party dresses. Lara smiles at him and Axe tells her he cries sometimes. It may be the first time he is opening up to her ever and even though it may start and end there, it may still mean the world to Lara. She is glad “tonight” helped him. And I am glad Axelrods will be just fine…

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

…which I am not able to say about Rhoadeses. The kind of things Chuck does tonight makes Axe seem to be righteous!

Chuck first has his driver take him to Axe Capital to spy on his wife. This guy really needs to see someone about his insecurity issues.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Then he finds the appeal that he has not found earlier at the night club with Ira at a BDSM club where a 23 year old greets him as “Mr. Martinez.” He starts a “session” only to stop in the middle of it confessing he did not ask for permission from Mrs. Martinez (It turns out Wendy rocked the role-playing workshop!) and he is in for a huge surprise as he is sharing with her dominatrix about how distant he and Wendy have been… Well, some guy has been following him all night taking his pictures. How long has this been going on?

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Wendy is in the shower when Chuck arrives home. Her computer is on the bed. Chuck now does the UNFORGIVABLE. Bookworm, the queen of the tiniest details, pointed out way earlier knowing each other’s passwords would haunt either Chuck or Wendy: Chuck logs into Wendy’s computer, reads her session notes, and his eyes widen as he reads about Axe bribing the police to get Danzig out of automatic gun charges. He shamelessly emails the file to himself as if Wendy is voluntarily sharing it with him. And he does delete the email from sent folder, too. Really? Can you get lower than that? Perfect closing with Dylan: Gotta serve somebody. Chuck serves himself and himself only. Shame on him! I wonder if disgust is, when it comes to Chuck, on or off the table for Wendy ! You know what I really hope Wendy kicks him out of the house soon enough. He so deserves it…

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

34 thoughts on “Billions on Showtime, Episode 11: Magical Thinking”

  1. As always, great recap.
    I had a few notes to myself about this episode.
    1. I too liked the story that Axe told to Wendy about a lover having breakup sex without the other person being aware that it is the last time. I read it as Axe hinting to Wendy that she won’t see him coming at people right before he takes them down. Could he have plans for Wendy? He is a mostly thorough man. He knew she was looking at other job possibilities. I think he has been 10 steps ahead of her the entire time and knows she is the weak link that he has to do a long game with, and he is a vendictive s.o.b. as we all know. If he thought that she was betraying him, there will be hell to pay.

    2. I’m not sure that was Axe’s man taking photos of Chuck. Why did the guy that threw him in the room with Chuck run off? Strange. I’d also would have thought Hall would be delegated to tracking someone so high positioned, not some little putz.

    3. I dug how Axe shared with Wendy that he cried at commercials. Especially after Wendy said he didn’t have to tell her, that he could have some secrets. It was like Axe realized that wasn’t the relationship he wanted with his wife. And…once again Axe does not let Wendy dictate his actions.

    4. I despise Chuck for the email theft. Time and time again he has broken more laws, morally, ethically and legally than Axe seems to ever break. And I have little respect for Chuck wannabe Bryan and his girlfriend Kate. Bryan took to destroying innocent lives very quickly under Chuck’s tuteledge. He and Kate have such a smug superiority about breaking the law and people having wealth when they are far worse in my book.

    5. Lou has got to be kidding! Yes, there were jerks at the firm but seriously, I grew up in a low- middle class town and the men hanging out at pool rooms and bars there are no gentlemen either. Lou is an ingrate and hypocrite. But sibling jealously is common when one person has more success than the other. Lara does a damn good job of showing reverance to her creepy family. Ok, I’m pissed that people are so ungrateful and critical to our billionaires.

    And lastly, curious how the word ‘permission’ was kind of emphasized in this episode. Strongly. When Mini coop guy ( forgot his name) wanted to see Axe to warn him about the bad trade , he asked Wags to get Axe’s permission. And then in the sex club Chuck clearly needed Wendy’s permission to participate in any role-playing activities. Very powerful scenes, one subtle, the other very intense.

    There you have it. And…loved the title “Magical Thinking”. Kinda reminded me of some of the cool Madmen titles like “The Carousel “.

    1. hmmm, I highly doubt Axe would no chuck would show up there. It was a coincidence to lead to his betrayal of his wife,.

      1. Well, I also think it is a long shot. I really think, even though both have been playing off of one another about Donnie’s death and Wendy’s job search, they were honest and open with each other. I genuinely think they have this special bond where they trust each other. And Wendy positively said in response to his question about whether she’s disgusted with him: “For some reason, when it comes to you, it’s off the table” I wonder if the same applies to Chuck.

        Having said all this: This show has thrown so many curve balls at us that I never say never 😀

  2. One last thing… I’m suspect of the way Axe really pushed Wendy to go outside with him and happened to be oh, so close up with her on the balcony just as Chuck goes by. It was as if Axe was anticipating Chuck. Like he wanted to really f$$$ with Chuck’s mind. Like, he knows EXACTLY what Chuck’s weakness is and is going in for the psychological kill. But maybe that’s what I would like to happen. Ha!

  3. Thank you for your kind words about my recap and thank you for your own recap which is great, too! I will reply with the same numbers you have!

    1. As Wendy says at the end of the night, he has been drilling for that “job search” all night. Ha! Maybe that “one last sleep” was happening then and there before Wendy leaves and goes to Zubenia. I will add this to recap with proper thank you to you! I think so!

    2. You are right. I could not completely figure out about the photographer, either. I have watched two times and then sat and wrote that there is still so much to DIGEST in this episode. This could be the most loaded episode of the season. I am sure Hall has a number of men to use in such situations, but this particular guy seems a bit amateurish. But this is one single thing at which Axe can get Chuck. And if this is all a part of the plan then your last point about having Chuck see them together may be part of the plan. OMG as I think and think about it, it is getting even more complicated!!!!

    3. I LOVED how he talks about the You Tube videos and even helps me to come out about my own crying at weddings and graduations. Amazing.

    4. For some reason, I had sympathy for Chuck — such an insecure guy with serious daddy issues — for so long all of which he was so good at losing at! What he did is outrageous. I really hope Wendy kicks him out of the house soon. He needs to live it to understand what could come his way!

    5. Your observations about “permissions” is very interesting. There is so much similarity/contrast in the parallel stories going on in this show. Love it!

    6. Hmmm… Axe may well know that Chuck is on his way. Quite possible. But, for some reason, I really think, even though he is drilling for information about why Wendy has been looking at other shops, he’s being open and honest with her tonight. I don’t think his goal is to have Chuck see them together and go crazy. Having said that anything can happen in this show. Can’t wait for the season finale!!!!

    Thank you so much for reading us and for great feedback!

  4. He looked at her session notes. It’s a crime. I cannot get over it >< I wanted to strangle that man as soon as he opened her laptop.

    1. I am so with you, Lee. Amazing, isn’t it? He does the UNFORGIVABLE. Once you cross that line, there is no respect left in a relationship. Can a relationship without respect survive? I don’t see it. I really want Wendy to kick his ass out of the house. He so deserves it. He will come back begging her. Seriously.. how lower can one get? Ewwww.

  5. I enjoy all these comments, especially the recap of course, but I remain in the tiny minority that positively cannot stomach Wendy. She obviously has a doctorate, but has impressed me from the beginning that she feels she not only can fix anything, she is the god, not Axe. Of course I realize that much of my opinion stems from my lack of empathy with the concept of a business needing some kind of a performance coach and all the psycho babble that goes with that. That situation, as well as all that goes on in the world of high finance is simply out of my realm of experience and frankly, beyond my interest. Sorry to be a loner here, but I would be unlikely to bother with Billions were Damian not in it. I’ve followed him since Band of Brothers, Sept. 2001, and have seen just about everything he has made, include the horribly ridiculous Your Highness, and will continue to do so. I just wish I could get into Billions more. Back to Epi 11, the one redeeming feature was watching Axe during his session with Wendy. He put so much into facial expressions, mostly the eyes, and I detected Brody a couple of times, enjoyed that!

    1. Hi Connie, thanks so much for your kind words!

      We are both in tiny minorities in our own rights: I am in the tiny minority that wants Axe and Wendy not to go “there” and you are in the tiny minority that cannot bring herself to like Wendy. And we LOVE all different opinions to be voiced here on this blog. My partners and I do not see eye to eye about it all the time, either; and I think THIS makes the blog a much better place to discuss different ideas!

      Having said that, not that I am trying to change your mind or anything here, but would it be okay if I sort of played devil’s advocate?

      I appreciate that you do not have empathy for the business she is in. It turns out though, this is something I have recently found out as well, hedge funds hire performance coaches that can really make you go from 0 to 100 in minutes. Besides, it seems Wendy is the one that put Axe together post 9/11 that even though they have all this conflict of interest going on, he just CANNOT give up on her. I don’t think she sees herself as God but yeah she knows what Axe needs (or any of her patients for that matter) and she gives them that. That is what she finds meaning in. I have a doctorate and work in academia so I, at least, am more than familiar with the big egos in academia that write papers that nobody reads but still think of themselves as little gods 😀 Therefore, I, in fact, appreciate the people that do choose to leave the ivory towers of academia, and go try to make a difference in the real world with real people. And I see Wendy being able to do that. To a degree. When you think about it Wendy is the only one that saw Axe at his most vulnerable and she is probably the one that knows him the best in this world. He CAN talk to her about things he CANNOT talk to his wife. Honestly, I think Lara is holding her own there well, I admit I would be so frustrated if my husband had such a “special” relationship with anyone. But, again, I believe in conversation as the most intimate human relation. And I see this as an accomplishment on Wendy’s part and I love it that she finds meaning in it.

      So true about Damian’s acting in Episode 11 during his session with Wendy. In particular, the part about the You Tube videos that makes him cry resonates with me, maybe because I had been feeling so deeply for the last couple of episodes that Axe grew up with a single parent. I could not put my finger on it, I just felt it, and it was maybe because I saw some of my own life experience in his. I know that auto pilot he often operates on very well. Damian’s delivery is seamless and I wonder if his boarding school experience helps since that is also a setting, like in a single parent home, where the child needs to step up and raise himself/herself at times. And, YES, YES, YES, I exactly know about seeing Brody a couple of times. “Magical Thinking” at times feels, at least for me, “The Weekend” and “Q&A” bundled into one. Axe and Wendy being playing off of one another and being so honest and open with each other at the same time. I think it’s a fantastic episode digging deep into the psychology of this very complicated man, Bobby Axelrod.

      Again, thanks so much for visiting and reading us. Please keep the feedback coming!

  6. Great recap. Recaps always make me realize there is much more going on than I realize. How do you ever figure out what’s real and what’s an act in this? Did Wendy sign her death certificate by admitting she was looking elsewhere? Was Axe being real or was it an act? Was he saying goodbye to her?

    I was also glad to see more of Louisa Krause as the sister Lou. I thought maybe we had seen the last of her with the demise of the restaurant. She was a blue collar worker type in “The Flick” and here she is someone who rose above her blue collar beginnings to become a high level chef. Did Lara pay for cooking school?

    Chuck and Axe seem to have to win at any cost. When they get in a pinch they will do just about anything. They just have to win. Just living in their worlds seems so stressful but I guess there are people who thrive on it. Kings of the jungle.

    The guy in the club tells Chuck he wishes he had shared more with his wife. Chuck says he should do that himself. They realize the value of a real life partner, not just a plaything. Axe winds up coming home and telling Lara he cries. Chuck doesn’t do that, he violates Wendy’s professional privacy. Seems she would keep her notes in passworded documents especially knowing Chuck.

    Yeah, what is that guy following Chuck with a camera? He may have the camera but where else are the pictures? Have they been sent to someone? Uploaded somewhere? If Hall was doing it they wouldn’t have been caught. Was it just a warning to Chuck or to make him paranoid? There may be plenty of people mad at Chuck who want to take him down who might follow him to get dirt. People he sent to prison.

    What cliffhanger will we be left with in the finale? I am starting to feel Chuck is more of the bad guy. Hard to tell. Axe hides what he’s really thinking or feeling and Chuck seems to wear everything on his sleeve.

    I don’t know much about the BDSM world but I liked how they showed how it is done safely (he yelled Red his safe word to stop her) and she went into normal mode seeing if he was okay, showing concern. I take it if it’s done the way it’s meant to be done, safety is key and there are rules they follow like his getting permission from Wendy his main dominant. They are in the role playing and then suddenly they just step out of character and act normally.

    It’s hard to know who to root for in this show. As a fan of Damian, I can’t help but like him in his roles. Maybe not all – I didn’t like Rizzo in The Escapist. Yechh. It’s a very intricate, fast-paced entertaining show. Definitely a must re-watch show.

    1. Thank you so much Ann for reading and for your detailed feedback!

      There is so much to digest in this show. And they do not use a word or a scene for no reason. Never. You really need to listen to every conversation knowing that it will come back at some point in the show. I LOVE it. And that’s why, I think, it’s great — in addition to having three different takes on one episode — that we do three recaps in a week because we pay attention to different details and when we all do recaps, we are very likely to catch it all 😀

      I am also very curious about the cliffhanger. I just can’t wait for the season finale and I am also scared of the serious Billions withdrawals that will follow. I am addicted to this show now exactly like Axe is addicted to markets. I have never ever followed any show this closely, and besides, it is certainly a dream coming true with a TV show bringing me 3 of my most favorite things in the world: Damian Lewis (my favorite actor), NYC (my favorite place in the world) and Game Theory (what I do for a living)!

      I also love the fact that Louisa Krause is staying and hope to see her in the kitchens of Axe Capital next season, that 24 hour joy ride may convince her about the high life that she had much disgust for! 🙂 The meeting with Chuck and Ira in the club was eye opening in the sense that they both know those wild girls are all fine for fun but not so much for sharing a life. I am glad to see Axe values it the most and I hope he will do more to SHARE life with Lara.

      I admit it’s fascinating to get into the BDSM world — it seems the rules are the rules, right? The young woman is obviously pissed when she finds out Chuck violates the rules. I have not been able to figure out the camera part, either. It could be coming from Axe’s side but I think Hall would do it much more professionally. I just think it could be the press somehow, an amateur paparazzi even… we know that the press has been clubbing Chuck like a baby seal, and this could be an extension of it — I wonder if this will somehow come back and haunt Chuck in terms of juicy headlines.

      Oh my! How much is real? How much is act? I’d say God knows how much 😀 I just love the way this show presents itself and never ceases to amaze us with the brilliants twists and turns. As I said, I am ADDICTED.

  7. Also – it’s interesting your intuition about what Axe’s wound is. What makes him close off his emotions, protect himself. Any parental loss at a young age is devastating. I am so sorry for your loss. And it is a unique situation if you are an only child brought up by a single parent. Just the two of you. You are very protective of each other.

    My parents were always together and I had two sisters. It’s so different to imagine one parent and no siblings. Not that there aren’t severe dysfunctions in having two parents and sibling rivalry with 3 siblings only 1-1/2 years apart.

    Axe’s wound came from somewhere. I agree that Damian’s British boarding school background gives him something to draw from as far as playing characters who are adept at hiding their feelings and only giving subtle clues. If you go at 8 years old you would have to devise some kind of coping mechanism to be strong. You can only hope they have kind teachers and a nurturing environment. I was a big baby about just going to first grade (never went to boarding school). I would not have lasted at a boarding school. Each child is different. Maybe because I never went to kindergarten (never knew why) and I was especially sensitive. I went to Catholic school for 12 years. That has it’s own issues. Being taught by nuns in habits. Strange role models for little girls. Very mysterious people. Dropped the religion as soon as left school. No offense intended, just my choice.

    But you may be on to something as far as Bobby’s wound. He doesn’t seem to have said anything about his family that I remember. Something drove him to rise above his humble beginnings and BE somebody. He’s also extremely smart and ambitious.

    I lost my mother when I was almost 26 years old. That was bad enough. I can’t imagine losing a parent as a young child. But we humans are tough and we survive and adapt. We all have our wounds. Bobby does not seem enmeshed with any family. Look at Chuck. Daddy always breathing down his neck, playing mind games. Is he also an only child? Has a Stepford Mom who only seems to bring out the guacamole.

    There are so many things to ponder in this show. So many details and layers. They put a lot of thought into plotting this show. The characters are so vivid and such great actors. TV is really upping its game. Big time. I grew up with Leave It To Beaver and Peyton Place. The shows were quirky and camp (Dark Shadows, The Adams Family) and then a little more sophisticated (Family, Sisters, All In The Family). But now – it’s like film level quality. Top actors doing television. The TV stigma is gone.

    1. You are absolutely right about TV. I believe the revolution really started with The Sopranos and then we have had amazing series like The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Homeland, and others… amazing. As Damian says they are like great books with chapters that we read chapter by chapter, and sometimes as a whole thanks to binge-watching! And we are lucky to have Damian as part of this revolution. I, for selfish reasons, and even though dying to have him as a main character in a major film, prefer to have him on MY TV. It’s better to have him for 12 hours than 2 hours. Hehe.

      Losing a parent is always hard. Whatever age you are. In childhood, it’s a trauma that you have to live with all your life. It shapes you in ways that you sometimes don’t even see. I have never wanted children and when I look deeper, I just think it’s because I saw a mother (my grandma) seeing her only child die (my dad) and never recovered from it. She took a handful of pills every day for the rest of her life. And I never wanted to love anything that much in my life. This is one personal result of my trauma, I have others live other ones. As you say everyone is different and everyone has a different way to cope with stress. But I know the auto pilot very well that I just felt there could be someone in Billions Writers Room that had a life experience similar to mine. Maybe not. But whoever has written that part of Axe’s life has written it in an incredibly deft way. S/he knows what s/he is talking about. And, of course, in Damian’s hands, the material is always elevated to a different level. I thought this episode brought the BEST in the entire cast — in particular the fab four as I call them 🙂

      Yes I was an only child with a single parent. But I had grandparents and very close aunts/uncles/cousins so I had a strong support system and so much love and I was lucky to be spoiled. Regardless though that loss stays with you forever. It makes you weak in some things, and stronger in other things. My husband always says I am the most resilient person he has ever seen. Could be related to loss of a parent at a young age.

      Hmmm… Interesting that I have never thought of Chuck’s siblings. You may be right that we may be talking about two only children. Possible.

  8. One or two more thoughts here. Also, I am warming up to all these entries. After almost 15 years over on the Yahoo Group, it is nice to have an additional spot to discuss the Ginger Prince as we have called him from time to time. Of course I’m glad to see Ann here as well. We go back quite awhile.
    I too am an only child, although both my parents were around till elderly. But I relate to personal loss as my husband of almost 53 years passed away in 2014, and the grief is with me every day.
    But on to Billions. The thought crossed my mind that neither in episode 10 nor 11 was much attention paid to the earlier thread of Bobby’s post 9/11 actions and the public’s reaction to them. I’m wondering if the writers are finished with that, or holding it till next season perhaps? Then there is the fact that much was made of Chuck not being able to locate Wendy. There was at least one other incident when he obviously did not know exactly where she was. That would be the episode with the nude in the pool scene, if my memory is correct. Chuck had asked her something about her day and she was less than truthful. So I suppose the writer had to play into his curiosity in order to wind up with the bit about him “highjacking” her session notes after the scene seeing her with Axe.

    1. Ha! Ginger Prince! I love it. He’s getting used to play kings lately: Henry VIII and now a hedge fund king… Maybe he’s becoming Ginger King now 🙂

      I am so sorry for your loss, Connie. But 53 years together sounds wonderful. I hope my husband and I can make it past 50 years, too! Not half way yet.

      I think Bobby’s post 9/11 actions were indirectly addressed in Episode 10. When the three “rats” set up shop, they were able to steal some of Axe Capital’s clients thanks to Axe’s new reputation related to 9/11. Some clients were ready to jump ship with PMs they worked earlier with at Axe Capital. And because Axe did not want to attract much attention to it, he did not sue the “rats” (what they did was illegal due to non-solicitation agreements they signed when they were hired at Axe Capital) but tweaked it into a different ball game and destroyed them from within: revenue share agreement.

      The morality of what Axe did on 9/11 is absolutely debatable but it is not illegal. That is why what it would bring to him is completely reputational. The damage is done in the sense that he lost big clients like Garth Sykes (Kentucky) and Raul Gomez (NYC Police Pension fund) as well as smaller players (I think) that went with Carly, Channing and Hlasa to Ionosphere Fund. He does not have the “man of the people” image he once used to have. It seems he needs to live with that. But as Axe also pointed out to Lara at some point, things change, people forget. And, Axe may rebuild his good image again the future.

      I remember Chuck was trying to see where Wendy was in Episode 5 when she, again, visited Axe, in his house, when he was pretending he would be out of it completely (Telecom play). Chuck was worried that she was alone with Axe in the house (the guy is so insecure) and then found her finally at a Broadway show and knowing she is not in the office, he, in fact, sent the Feds to go arrest Dollar Bill. You are right, he is always concerned with Wendy’s whereabouts, in particular, if he thinks she is with Axe.

  9. Yes – the cable shows that started in the 1990’s. I remember people at work coming in (was it around 1999?) talking about this new show The Sopranos that you just gotta watch. It was on a whole new level. I have to go back and watch The Wire. And haven’t seen too much of Mad Men. Have to watch while still can on HBO Go and Netflix. I started trying to watch Breaking Bad on Netflix – whew, pretty dark. I also love shows like Enlightened with Laura Dern. They’re all good. I sometimes like a feminine energy and lead character. And humor. The Comeback with Lisa Kudrow. I love comedy with actors who are good at improvisation. Also her show Web Therapy. I love light shows, dark humor and dramas. Some I can’t make myself watch. If they seem too gory.

    Then I thought – do people really do this stuff? Trying to take each other down any way they can. Look at what our politicians have done and continue to do to each other to try to knock off the competition. Dragging things out of the closet, insinuating things, accusing them, spinning things, manipulating public perception. I guess all these high level people do this. What if the judge Chuck just crushed and humiliated sent someone to get dirt on Chuck? But it could be anyone – the judge, Axe, anyone Chuck has convicted, someone who wants to blackmail him, Page Six. Chuck can be nasty and vindictive so there are many he could have pissed off. The man he made pick up the dog poop? Ha, ha. Chuck is also scary so many might think twice.

    Chuck has been playing with fire with his careless outside activities – he should have done it with more secrecy and control. Maybe the thrill of doing something dangerous and maybe getting caught is part of it. But it’s really, really dangerous. Especially for someone who holds others to a high standard. Not that what he’s doing is necessarily wrong – BDSM between consenting adults – but a lot of the public won’t see it that way. Most don’t understand it at all. And they will see it as adultery which I guess it isn’t as long as he has Wendy’s permission as his dominant (in the rules of the game). Maybe it’s really serious if he doesn’t get permission. Then it might be like adultery.

    Isn’t our city such a great place for a show? All the great locations?

    1. Oh, they do all kinds of stuff. Kate was talking about incentive structures being wrong in the private sector, but hey, it’s wrong all around, that is why the people are so sick and tired of the system aka the establishment — a word we’ve been hearing for months now 🙂 We have seen Axe doing the insider trading, and we have seen Chuck doing all kinds of things through finding someone’s weakness and using it against him. Think of Spyros (rape), Wilcox (racist and profiteer). But he would not bother to go after them if they did not bother him. So, when Chuck’s and public’s interests overlap, we may have good results. Put aside these two, we have seen Dr Gilbert who has kept mum to Donnie about his actions because his research is being funded by Axe. Think about the attorney general so scared of moving on Axe Capital in elections year. Business. Politics. Finance. Pharmaceuticals. It’s all about money in the system wherever you look. And Billions is doing an amazing job of showing us what’s going on without judging or moralizing. I applaud the writers going to places that other shows have not before. They make us think hard about on a wide range of issues.

      All characters love adrenaline, right? Axe finds it in the markets, Chuck may find it in BDSM. His sex life is dangerous just because, as you rightly point out, even though you and I may not give a shit about who is sleeping with who and where and how, general public may pay attention and not like what’s going on. Headlines with the US attorney at a BDSM club may be damaging Chuck’s reputation badly.

      New York is the best place on earth. I am so biased, I know, but I just LOVE it. I am preparing a Grand Tour of Billions which I will publish soon after the season is over. I think such posts will be our way of dealing with serious Billions withdrawals waiting at our door!!!!

      Thanks again for your feedback!

  10. Thank you Damianista. Not only were hubby and I married that long, we were high school sweethearts, beginning back in 1956. Knew him from childhood as our families go back 3 generations in the same small town. (Gee, that sounds almost incestuous!!:) Ok, on to Damian, I’ll have to re-watch the latest epi for more thoughts, but of course that is no hardship. I may have said this on here before, but if anyone on this blog has not seen Keane, Life and The Baker, those three are musts in my opinion. That is not because they are the only pieces which demonstrate Damian’s sensational talent, but they cover a range from very dark in Keane to the lightness of Milo in The Baker. Also, so glad to hear from you Ann!

    1. Love your story! 53 years is the marriage then and you were together longer than that. Beautiful.

      We have written a bit on Keane, Life as well as The Baker and we will go back to projects old and new (we are still waiting for his three movies to arrive to theaters, hopefully, this year) once Billions Season 1 is over. Keane, Charlie and Milo: I love them all but I think Keane is extra special because it’s not just an incredible performance but also Damian’s performance in Keane gave us Brody! However, I admit it’s a hard watch. It feels so real, so depressing. I can watch the Baker all the time, but not Keane.

  11. Nice recap! And thanks for leaving that opening for my microanalysis to come in a couple days
    Loved so much about this episode. I say that about most of the episodes, I realize…but each does seem to be better than the last.
    There seem to be as many interpretations of events in the comments as there were scenes to interpret! Love all the enthusiasm

    1. Thank you! I am so looking forward to what you will do with those two — I just know it will be brilliant and cannot wait to read it!
      This may be the best episode — seems it brought the best in everyone in particular the fab four as we call them 🙂
      The chemistry between Damian and Maggie is such a killer, they are so intoxicating together. I love it when actors have that chemistry with each other, and I know Damian is master of chemistry but still it takes two to tango and it rarely happens!
      I think this episode has made us all HAPPY HAPPY, partner! <3

  12. I love this lots as it brings the episode together so well and I feel like I can nod when needed and vent when needed for example…Chuck! We’re there together, sister and I swear the way he looks at Wendy when she comes out the shower, he’s convincing himself she just betrayed him. But uggh yuck I dislike this man. He is so oblivious to the fact he is on the road to corruption himself. Can’t see the wood for the trees.

    As for Axe, it would be good to get clarity on the exact circumstance of his dad not coming back. Regardless, it just felt to me because of his behaviour there was that absence.

    1. Thank you! We nod and vent together, sister! 🙂 Oh I agree with you about Chuck’s look. He believes Wendy has betrayed him but I think he’s also disgusted to an extent by what he has just done. This guy is the perfect depiction of insecurities and dilemmas — it looks like he can never have inner peace. Does this all have to do with daddy issues? We always talk about the root of the problem when Axe is concerned but do we really dig deep into the serious issues Chuck Rhoades Jr has? He is just too insecure to come from a blue blood NYC family. Best schools. Best public jobs. Great marriage. What’s lacking?

      Yeah. Dad not coming for war is not equal to dad just leaving home one day and not coming back. The latter is much more difficult that probably makes you think, as a kid, that your dad did not love you. It’s too heavy for a kid to take.

      1. Chuck is clearly disgusted with himself in the seconds before Wendy comes out of the shower, but when she does and he is looking at her, he is in that moment wearing the look of a man convincing himself/convinced he is the one who has been betrayed.

        1. True! Oh and maybe he has this look because she is coming out of the shower? Oh my, he is thinking they slept together. Wow. That insecure man.

          1. Hmm. Interesting. I wasn’t necessarily thinking that, but it could be bearing in mind what Axe said about people withholding information all the time and not allowing that to descend to paranoia which I would certainly believe Chuck capable of. Obviously he feels betrayed because of what he read, but this is a doctor/patient session so Wendy obviously must withhold that from him. He is extremely insecure.

            For my part I was meaning that when she was in the shower he had to ‘look at himself’, when she came out, he had somewhere else to direct his tangle of emotions.

          2. Ok. And I started to think because of what he saw on the balcony he just thought one thing led to another there…

  13. Great recap! This episode was so good on so many levels. In an hour, they basically took you through the psychologies of most of the major characters. I know the “session” was the main storyline, but I do think we also caught glimpses of what drives the other characters as well. And your recap of the chemistry between Axe and Wendy is spot on. I too do not want them to have a physical relationship. I just do not get that vibe from them.

    First, I need to get something off my chest: Chuck is slime. That is all! And, I won’t even go into how low he is in regards to basically stealing Wendy’s session notes! However, I did notice he deleted it from her sent file, but not from the trash file. Could be how he gets caught. As for the photographer: well, there could be a list of people trying to blackmail him; Axe, Wilcox, Hall. Maybe even Lara. Who knows? I just hope he gets what’s coming to him. (As an aside, the first role I ever saw Paul Giamatti in was in Howard Stern’s Private Parts. He played a guy the all called Pig Vomit!)

    Next on the hit list before I get to Damianista’s question and my thoughts on the session: Kate. If there is a character I dislike more than Chuck, it is Kate. She is the most sanctimonious person on this show! As the Dowager Countess Violet would say “Does it ever get cold on the moral high ground?” She rails about her classmate that was “brilliant”, and thought would cure cancer, but chooses to make a lot of money in the private sector. My first thought was “well, you have decided to take a job that will advance your goals (being president). I don’t see you being a public defender helping poor minority kids from not going to jail because they have bad lawyers”. She doesn’t like the “incentive structure” if involves money. But don’t we all have an incentive structure for our own personal goals? Her incentive to work for the US District Attorney is to put herself in a position to one day become president. Her motivation is power and prestige; for some people its money. She just seems like such a hypocrite!

    Can I tell you how much I rolled my eyes at that whole “socially responsible investing”? UGH! What a load of crap! Zenobia may use that as a marketing tool, but the bottom line is performance. Nobody is going to invest in fund that has mediocre returns just because they don’t invest in tobacco or alcohol stocks! Also, a shop that has 60% of the PMs that are women is not a place I would ever work. For some reason, you put a bunch of type A personality woman in a competitive environment and the cattiness is going to be through the roof. If Wendy is smart, she’ll steer clear. That place won’t be open in 2 years!

    I think the session between Axe and Wendy was probably the most reveling thing we have seen on the show this season. There was a lot of stuff Axe shared, but one thing stood out the most for me. Axe says that when he was young all he thought about was “getting rich and getting even”. That right there explains so much! But the question I have is: getting even with whom? Why? I understand why he wanted to get rich; it’s the getting even part that is curious. Something has happened to him when he was young and he feels the need to “get even” about it.” Naming Rights” make so much more sense now! But getting even can turn into revenge, which usually hurts the person seeking the revenge more than anyone. I also think Axe not telling anyone about how he cries at sentimental things is telling as well. He needs to portray an image, even to his wife, of strong, tough, and unbreakable. I think he has a fear of being judged about showing feelings other than what’s expected of him in certain situations. He doesn’t want to feel rejected. He is rich, powerful, respected and feared, but he is still a person who hides his feelings because he is afraid of what others will think of him. It is why he is a good trader: he has learned to detach his feelings from situations. In a way, it’s sad.

    Lastly (since I have been going on too long here!!), I find it interesting that Wendy says “For whatever reason, when it comes to you, it’s just not on the table” when she finds out about he did to Donnie. I have a theory about “bad boys” and how/why we love them and forgive their transgressions. I plan to write a post on it soon. I doubt Wendy will be so forgiving of Chuck when she finds out he stole her session notes!

    Looking forward to the Season Finale and the final confrontation between Axe and Chuck!

    1. I love your hit list 🙂

      Start with Chuck: I also mentioned in response to another comment today that it is not easy to understand why this guy is extremely insecure. He is coming from a wealthy family and went to right schools and got the great jobs. I mean, maybe some of it happened thanks to dad, but he can be calculating and all so Chuck is no idiot. He was on his way to be a chess grandmaster at 14. My hunch would be his dad always pried into what he did and the guy did not have the opportunity to grow up and be an adult. He is dependent. He is needy. Big time.

      Go on with Kate: I like Kate. In general, I like strong women characters, and Billions is very impressive in terms of its female characters – no woman in this show is taking any bullshit from the guys. Having said that, I agree with you that Kate’s arguments about “incentive structures” is very one sided. We are seeing Chuck and Adam doing back door deals (yes it’s not illegal but it’s not like working for the public good either) and then we are seeing Dr. Gilbert who basically does not bother to tell Donnie his options because his research is being funded by Axe. Then we see a university president that stops the admission of a student because some donor that gave the school a lot of money does not want that kid in that school. Then we see the AG who is scared that Chuck is going after Axe because it’s election year and she needs Wall Street money. Now Kate should be able to look at the big picture. The whole system has its incentive structure wrong in a way. Everything is about money and not just in private sector. And everyone, you are right, is trying to maximize their utility in the setting that they operate.

      Get to Axe: I am not sure if it is something specific that made him want to get even. What happened on the golf course when he was a teenager was probably just one moment but I am sure he was denied a number of opportunities because of his background. For example, Chuck could get into Yale because he has the legacy but he also has the money to do it. Bobby did not have that and he could not get into one of the Ivy schools even though he was a bright kid in math — he should have been a really bright kid at math, he probably honed his skills at card tables growing up, all very correlated with being a numbers person. I hope we may find more about his background in the coming season. Hiding his feelings because he is afraid of what others would think of him is a personality trait that I have observed in myself growing up — many kids that grow up with a single parent, I think, has it. You wanna come across as perfect — I think that was one of the things that made me work so hard at school and excel, too, now that I am thinking about it, oh my, this show is making me also reflect in my own life experience, amazing!!!! — because you really want to be loved. I know this about myself, when you have one parent, even though you still have lots of love, there is something lacking there that you are needy for love. It’s sad. And yeah I think this could at least partially account for his ability to detach from emotion and be a good trader even when disaster strikes and everyone is in a panic mood: Axe can think about business any moment.

      Zenobia Capital: It is a demand / supply relationship after all and if there is a critical mass that wanna go for SRI even though they know they will make less money as investors then the model could work. I just don’t know if this would work for investment purposes where it is profit that counts and even the senior partner at Zenobia tells Wendy this. The smile on Wendy’s face is telling that SRI is just a selling point but a business is a business. Is there any big (or small) hedge fund that is known to do SRI?

      And we would love to have your thoughts on bad boys, please write it!

  14. Great recap, and I quite agree with the edit too. When he first started talking about a last goodbye I immediately thought of Wendy’s job search. Not that I would mind if he was being literal about it, I’m part of the Axel+Wendy group. I have been despising Chuck from the beginning of the show show actually. Even though brilliant and interesting, he’s a hypocrite, up on his high horse of morality where the goal justifies all means. I think my exact reaction to the privacy violation was: “well he’s the scum of the earth”, which earned me quite a few raised eyebrows from the group I was watching the episode with. Talking about this email by the way….. I do not know if that was intentional, but it can definitely be a game changer. As a Mac user for many many years, I can guarantee that unless you have a rule set up, you need to empty the trash for the email to be truly deleted, otherwise it sits in the trash folder fully readable and retrievable. Now wouldn’t it be a shame if Wendy saw that…. *evil snicker*

    1. Thank you so much! I have to say understand Chuck to an extent: who wants his/her spouse to have such a relationship with another person? It goes deep between Bobby and Wendy. As someone who believes in deep conversation as the most intimate human relation, I would not want my husband to have a very close female friend who he confides in things that he does not confide in me. Same thing goes with Lara, I think, in the show; but she is a rational player. Chuck is way more emotional than Lara dealing with things and he confesses this a couple times — for example in his speech to his people after Donnie dies. Having said this, Chuck’s violation of Wendy’s privacy is unacceptable. But I feel sad for Chuck rather than despise him.

      You are completely right about the email. If you don’t empty the trash, it stays there forever. So we’ll see if this will come back and haunt Chuck at a later point!

      Thanks for reading and please keep your feedback coming!

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