Billions on Showtime, Episode 12: The Conversation

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

May I just say I will miss Sunday nights so much? Here’s my typical Billions Sunday: Watch at 10pm and live tweet. Take notes. Watch for a second time at 11pm. Take more notes. Sit down at midnight and start to write. Go to bed as the sun rises. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Sitting down to write for hours as if the world is waiting for my recap to be published… But it is not that. It is the thrill. I just LOVE the ride. Billions is such a pleasant puzzle to think about and write on. Standing Ovation for all brilliant minds behind and in front of the camera for the last 12 weeks! And special thanks go to my husband for bearing with me for the last couple of months and letting me sleep until noon on Mondays.

So the season may be coming to an end, but we still have so much to say about it. For starters, we are currently working on a FUN Best of Billions post that we will publish early next week. And we promise to do our share and keep the conversation going on about Billions between seasons. While we were giving a lot of time and energy to our episode recaps, we had countless conversations about the show, the plot, the characters, and made a LONG list of ideas we want to write about. So, going forward, we will sit back, relax, go back to Season 1, keep writing about it and, of course, speculate about what could be in store for Team Axe and Team Chuck (and for us!) in Season 2. And we hope you stay with us!

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Now, it’s hard to get over what Chuck does at the end of Episode 11 Magical Thinking. A personal computer is such a big part of one’s privacy these days that someone logging into your private information on your computer feels almost like rape to me. Seriously. And, yes, even your husband logging into your computer to spy on you counts. Maybe not in front of law. But in my eyes, it is. And I see that look on Chuck’s face as he does it. He is as disgusted about himself as I am. Then why? Because he wants to bring justice? Because his insecurities take over him so badly, with the image of Axe and Wendy sharing a laugh constantly in his mind, that he just does it to make the relationship between Axe and Wendy go wrong? Because he is scared it may be Axe that keeps a photographer on his tail that he is frantically looking for some information to protect himself? I, personally, vote for 2. I don’t think it is business. It’s personal. Chuck just can’t stand the idea of Axe and Wendy together now.

Well, whatever his reason is, Chuck is in high spirits the following day. He welcomes Lonnie back to the Southern District and gives him his first homework: Look into Mick Danzig. Start with Greenwich. And, no, he cannot tie this to Chuck. It is obvious Chuck has just found his new man: Lonnie, unlike Bryan, obeys his master. He does not question. And he is on it: Lonnie finds out that the police officer who responded to the disturbance call at Danzig residence and found no reason to arrest him recently made a trip to Vanuatu – a destination known for offshore bank accounts. When he loops in Bryan & co. on the matter; Bryan, being immensely familiar with Chuck’s ways, does not buy that this all comes out of a hunch: “That’s some fucking hunch.” No, Bryan does not believe in miracles 🙂

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

The way Chuck praises Lonnie’s “excellent work” in front of Bryan makes both men feel uncomfortable and gives Bryan all the more reason to believe it is Chuck who has fed the information to Lonnie. Chuck wants his “work sons” to be competitive with each other. You know, Chuck, this does not work on every child. Some kids may react and choose to go their separate ways. Well, more about this later 🙂 Bryan tries to make Lonnie sing to no avail. As Bryan pushes him to talk, Lonnie essentially tells him to go fuck himself. He just wants to be at Southern and have his burger at Old Town Bar 🙂

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Upon leaving her meditative fitness session at Soul Cycle — it seems even Dr. Mojo needs her soul to be nurtured — Wendy finds Axe waiting for her on the street with a key to a brand new Maserati: A token of gratitude for the session! He will also make sure Wendy gets her well-deserved bonus at the comp session. Axe feels ready to make the rounds for a capital raise. Wendy sees he is ready but she is not sure if the investors are.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

And she is damn right. Investors are not convinced by Axe Capital’s  “going only up” returns. They just want to evaluate risk, reward and return and not worry about Axe’s life or the fund’s profile. Wags advises they are lemmings and it will get one “major allocator” to jump on the Axe train for others to join. Everyone is asking if Carter Staley is on the board, so they need to have him. Wags tries some Coach K bullshit on Axe to boost his motivation: Mike Krzyzewski aka Coach K is the legendary basketball coach of Duke University, who is known to motivate his players well. And he should be doing something right since Duke won 5 NCAA championships with him at the helm. But, hey, Axe does not need that right now. Neither do we. He knows what is wrong here. He is NOT himself in that suit and tie. He may even be coming across as insecure. His tie does not really signify his “seriousness of purpose.” It is his jeans and hoodie that convey THAT. It is his signature. His Axe look. Like Steve Jobs’ turtlenecks.

source: Showtime

So Axe gets rid of his jacket and tie on the street (midtown just next to Bryant Park — a fan shared a pic from the set on Twitter) shops and shows up at Carter Staley in his usual attire. And now that he lets himself be himself, Wendy’s “black magic” works in an instant. Axe starts using his index finger. He radiates his audience. Hell yeah, here is our “Bullet Train” ready to leave in 10 seconds! Carter Staley climbs on board and others follow. “Holy fuck. We’re back.” No, it’s not Wags. It’s is me! 😀

Axe is speeding up on the winding roads of Connecticut as he is bathing in his glory. He seems to have been able to have the “Fuck you Pigs” graffiti cleaned off his Bentley or who knows, maybe he has got a new one 🙂 And he has his pretty little PBA Card ready when a police car stops him. Oh the sweet perks of being connected: In case you are not familiar with a PBA card, it indicates a close association with a member of law enforcement, and the police officer who hand out the card is vouching for that person.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

It is Raul Gomez from NYC Police Pension Fund who, in fact, gave Axe that PBA card! Raul is a real friend. He does not judge Axe and just does what he needs to do. And he is now there to let Axe know that US attorney’s office is looking into one of Axe’s guys regarding some automatic weapon charges and paid off cops… Put yourself in Axe’s shoes: What would you think? You share this with Wendy during the session and get this a day or two later? Axe is feeling betrayed. And we know our guy well by now. He gets even.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime
source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Emergency meeting at an empty stadium: Hall says the feds cannot trace funds back to them. Not yet. There are intermediaries and overseas banks; however, eventually everything has a trail. Orrin advises from a legal point there is no interpretation of bribery of public officials, automatic weapon charges and discharge in law. And “no judge’s personal help is going to help there.” This is deep shit. Hall’s turf. Axe needs Orrin to leave for this part of the meeting and tells Hall about his session with Wendy. Hall has only one question: “Should I prepare the materials for her?” And my heart sinks. The potential creep I see in Episode 6 The Deal is now surfacing. Hall has the photos.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

And, hey, it’s much more than that. They also track Wendy’s online traffic on their servers and from her laptop and find out about her unusual interests. If Axe is going down, he is taking Wendy and Chuck with him. And him, with that asshole-y look on his face, calling Wendy “a master of subconscious, or is it mistress?” is pretty low. I don’t think it is the pictures (Wendy, as Axe points out, could also think about the possibility of pictures. She takes a costly action, by agreeing to meet at the baths, to prove her loyalty to Axe) or being busted about her interests in BDSM that hurts her. IT IS the fact that Axe can think of her selling him out. She may be going back to their session where Axe confesses about not caring about Donnie. Does Axe care about Wendy?

source: Showtime

I know many will argue what Axe is doing to Wendy is beyond disgusting. I do not intend to make a case for him but try to figure it out: I love that conversation Axe and Donnie have in Episode 7: The Punch about how we are all animals in the end. So true. And, I believe, when the stakes are really high, we, the human beings, are capable of doing what we cannot normally imagine doing. To save someone we love. Or to save our own asses. We can make a huge sacrifice or we can sacrifice someone in a way that we could not imagine otherwise. These pictures are Axe’s last resort. He may well choose the short cut and use them earlier to settle this once and for all… but he does not. He tries everything else to save his ass but now he is looking at a real jail time. Having said that… what about not giving Wendy any benefit of doubt? If we look at the constant testing of loyalties over the season, Wendy passes with flying colors and Axe fails her. This is not the guy who has opened his heart to Wendy a few days ago. Stress levels are high, autopilot is on.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

We have earlier talked about new money and its anxiety to lose everything it has. This anxiety makes new money to plan ahead for contingencies. And it seems Mr and Mrs Axelrod already had THAT conversation. Axe now tells Lara about Wendy leaking the information and it’s time to put the contingency plan into motion. Lara talks to a guy who seems to arrange residence and travel for rich people who flee the country!  He offers Axelrods a sanctuary in Switzerland: 12,000 square feet of living space and complete privacy. And he inquires if they want their kids to keep their real names or if they need fresh passports so kids have a clean run in their new lives. I am sure Lara wants to kill Wendy right now. But she just says they will keep their names and agrees to pay double to arrange a flight for the family. I am sure these people are ripping Axelrods off because they know they need to leave asap.

Wendy and Chuck have THE conversation we have been expecting for more than a little while, but in particular after Chuck breaking into Wendy’s computer. Chuck is shameless: “If you give someone your password, is it really breaking in?” OMG, just thinking this man is working for the public good is giving me the creeps. What an ass.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

The thing is what seems to hurt Wendy the most is not that Chuck logs into her computer or spies on Axe and her as they were “cozy like a couple of teenagers sharing a cigarette after a backseat fuck” but that he goes to see Troy without letting her know about it. Bookworm has been waiting for Wendy to kick Chuck into the gutter. Me, being softer on this very king of insecurities, have been waiting for her to kick him out of the house. To be honest with you, I believe Chuck’s desperation about being cut off. His pain comes across as very very real. But, hey, he has crossed so many lines so many times now with Wendy. He needs some punishment to get his shit together. So, hell yeah, go and pack your shit, Chuck! And, by the way, I don’t think it’s Axe that has a tail on you, because Hall would never do such an unprofessional job.

Bryan can tell Chuck spent the night in his office. And he puts 2 and 2 together when Chuck terminates Axelrod-Danzig case even though Lonnie gives him reason to keep going. “It’s Chinatown, Jake” indeed. Bryan now knows it is all Chuck. And Orrin will help him find out how. Bryan gets a phone call from Orrin and leaves the office to meet him. Chuck makes Kate go over personnel files and bank accounts to find out who else is wrong in the office. Kate catches the right person: The janitor. What Chuck does here is utterly hilarious revenge: He tells a confused Dale that the team needs the latest on the Axe Capital wire. The janitor is listening.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Wendy records her conversation with Chuck and brings it to Axe. Axe is so sorry to have doubted her. He is destroying all copies of the pictures and increasing her bonus from 2 to 5 million and lets Wags wire it to her personal account (Wags on the phone: “Whoa. Powerball winner!”) now. And he makes an opening offer of tripling the bonus in return for the recording. Too much. It seems, as much as she is disgusted by his behavior, one thing Chuck says stays with Wendy and makes her appraise her conscience: “And if you’re right there in the middle of it, with a bunch of criminals, what do you think that makes you?” Wendy does not sell anyone out. But she wants OUT. She is keeping her bonus and the Maserati, too. And as much as I like Axe, I am all Team Wendy here. Go, girl! Go have that bathtub gin with Chase the HOT headhunter and let the two idiots go on with their dick measuring contest.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Even though he does keep it to a minimum about Wendy when Lara says she does not want to talk about Wendy anymore, I reckon Axe will give it a try to win Wendy back. Is there is a way for him to win her back? Time will tell. But his look as Wendy leaves is not much different from that when he loses about a billion dollars during the BioLance fiasco. He did not see this one coming and he has no one to sort it out with.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Axelrods are, at least for now, off the hook, and Lara is relieved their boys will not turn into “fondue eaters.” But they will keep the money and the gold they took out from the bank here at home. Yes, the case is done, but you never know. You never know means it is now quite difficult to have peace of mind and it has the potential to trigger a domestic tension in Season 2.

Bryan meets Orrin at Bruno’s: Will Nonna’s pie be tempting enough for Bryan or will he ask for a salad? Bookworm has envisioned this meeting weeks ago, I think by the end of Episode 6, when Bryan sees Chuck is only “officially” recused from the Axe case.

Orrin makes the overture explaining how Chuck has got the information by logging into Wendy’s private notes. Bryan’s response: “Fuck!”

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

And Axe brings the opera: Bryan can come start in Orrin’s office on Axe’s account. Now. He comes highly recommended by Orrin. He’s just as smart as him. “More focused. Younger. Hungrier. Dangerous.” He is driven in the way that Axe is, a guy that comes from nothing, and not the way that Chuck is, a guy that comes from privilege. Even though Bryan says he cannot picture it, Axe thinks he, in fact, can. Because this Bryan is different than the one sitting in the settlement conference. TRUE. Bryan now knows Axe and Chuck are not really that different from each other in justifying the means for the ends. At least, Axe does not claim he is working for the public good 🙂 And, obviously, defense pays better: 7 figures to start. His mom will not have to work unless she wants to. Bryan thanks for the pizza and leaves. Axe does not hear no. Neither do we. Does Bryan want to be a lion? Or he is just happy staring at them? To be continued in Season 2. But why is Axe doing that? Is it about getting revenge on Chuck because he makes Axe lose Wendy?

A call from Hall makes the night much longer for Axe than he thought it would be. The janitor takes the bait and lets Hall know Chuck has listening devices at Axe Capital. They rip the place apart and cannot find a single bug. Axe Capital looks like a battlefield when Chuck arrives in the wee hours with a gift: Axe’s framed settlement check. Chuck now knows it is the janitor.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

The final showdown between Axe and Chuck feels like a duel. Not a duel of guns, but a duel of words. The way they talk about the system, from regulations to taxes to competition to employment to Ayn Rand shit to prison, feels almost Shakespearean.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Axe, as he pulls a deal off the table, leaves Nagasaki behind. However, “the only enemy more dangerous than a man with unlimited resources is one with nothing to lose.” Chuck is now THAT man. And we hear war drums playing as Titus Andronicus starts his “Dimed Up.” This is absolutely how you do a finale and I am bowing in front of the writers and the two powerhouses, Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. Any scene with the two of them is acting heaven.

And, hey, since Dr. Mojo seems to be a freelancer now, may I see her about how to deal with my Billions withdrawals?

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!

24 thoughts on “Billions on Showtime, Episode 12: The Conversation”

  1. Again, a brilliant recap. So many things I don’t catch on the first watch. I didn’t catch what Chuck said for the janitor to overhear so I kept wondering “how did they find out a bug was in Axe Capital and where did they get the information?” I couldn’t believe they tore it apart. Did they ever consider maybe the janitor misheard? Unless he’s carrying a tape recorder. Can you imagine they rip it all apart and then the janitor comes in and says, “Uh, I think I misheard. My bad.”

    Wasn’t Damian’s speech to get the capital backing just amazing? He sold me. I couldn’t believe he threw his expensive clothes in the garbage can. But I see how the hoodie and jeans look was more his style in the trenches.

    I just loved seeing Damian more on the streets around the city. I was straining to recognize places. They don’t show much but I was able to usually figure out where they were. He was by Bryant Park when he chucked his fancy clothes.

    I think he gave Wendy the car on Wooster Street in Soho. I was just down there. Claire Danes used to live on that block for years. And The Wooster Group is still there. Experimental theatre group.

    I wonder how they film in those busy areas? Very early? Block it off and have extras as pedestrians? You would have crowds watching if it was a busy time. Unless they can CGI them out.

    I kind of have whiplash after watching this show. I’m like “Wha? What just happened? Who did what?”

    Amazing scene at the end. I was afraid Chuck was going to shoot Axe. He seemed that crazy. How did he get in? (suspend disbelief).

    What do the real hedge fund people think of this show? Have they said? Is it realistic?

    All the betrayals. Sad. Somehow I don’t want to think of Axe as a criminal. It seems everyone at these high levels skirts the law. They can’t be there if they don’t or can’t last long. Chuck skirts the law.

    Does this mean they stopped meditating? Just sayin’.

    You really do have a wealth of topics to blog about with all the work Damian has done. And going more into depth with this show and certain scenes and characters. You’ll never run out of topics. You picked a good subject to blog about. Just sayin’.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Ann, thanks so much! It was an EXPLOSIVE finale.

      The janitor taking the bait about Axe Capital wire was out of this world! I laughed really hard. And the office was looking like a real battlefield by the end of it. They need a real renovation. It seems we will see somehow a different office next time and minus Wendy. I am so curious where we will find her. If we will go couple months ahead, or S2 will pick up where S1 leaves us at. Ah, it will be us constantly speculating between seasons and I am looking forward to sharing the fun here.

      That street should be Crosby in SoHo. Me being me, I checked on Google Earth. But you are right Claire Danes grew up on that street. She was talking about that in her New Yorker profile. And, Axe and Wags walking around in the Upper East Side was the day I caught them on set. They were around low 70s and Park Avenue. It brought back sweet memories. It’s an utter pleasure to see Damian on the streets of NY, my favorite place on earth! We need to look into how they film that in S2 — I would say pretty early in the day if they could so they don’t need to deal with much crowds and maybe they can cordone off a block or two just for filming.

      The final showdown alone makes both Damian and Paul deserve an Emmy. Very different actors but both are powerhouses in their own right. Amazing to see this kind of acting on TV — we are extremely lucky!

      Thanks so much for your kind words and talking about depth. Talking about depth reminds me to tell you we are so happy we got a shout out from show producers last week during their Q&A on Facebook. They like our work! They could not have made us happier Here is the link if you wanna see it: https://www.facebook.com/BillionsOnShowtime/videos/1663490963913367/ We are at 9:55. And, oh no, we will never go out of topics. We are keen on continuing the conversation on Billions as well as visiting old and recent projects!

      As usual, thanks so much for reading us!

      1. That was an interesting video with the 2 show runners answering previously submitted questions. That was very nice how they complimented this blog. It was nice to hear from the show’s creators. Seem like very nice, down to earth guys. Life long friends. It takes a certain kind of person to be a show runner. Like a general of an army. It’s a huge job. And they are creating their vision for the show. And how they said the leads are extremely prepared when they come to set so it influences everyone to up their game. I guess leads set the tone for the other actors.

        I just think Damian is one of those actors who will rise to whatever challenge you present him with – like his capital raising scene in his hoodie in this episode. He found that place in that scene – he did the sell. He conveyed his absolute certainty of the success to follow and that it was now or never.

        1. I was teaching so I missed the most of the video first when they did it LIVE on FB then I went back and watched from beginning and there was THE surprise 🙂 So happy about it. Yes, they are very genuine, down to earth guys. Great vision. Super sense of humor. And yes it seems the lead actors set the tone on the set. Yes they are being paid well, but it’s a tough job. Very long work hours. I think Damia does not just rise to the challenge but he LOVES doing that. It is reflected in the roles he chooses to play — take Axe: Very different from everything else he has done before and he seems to be having a very good time with it!

    2. Hi! I want to write a complete post, but wanted to answer your question first:
      As a trader, and someone who knows about the hedge fund world, I can tell you that everyone I know that watches loves it. Is it factual and accurate on all levels? No, but it is a entertainment, so there is always going to be some exaggeration and drama. But for the most part, it has stayed true to most of the dealings and feelings of Wall Street. That speech Axe gave to Chuck in the last scene would make about every hedge fund manager I know stand and give him an ovation. Throughout the season, I have tried to give my two cents when it came to the high finance part of the show, and as I said, it’s pretty on the money when it comes to the terminology, and more important, the culture of Wall Street.

  2. beautiful review!

    even between 2 seasons, and even at the end of the series, we not leave you ever! as long as Damian exists, we will be faithful!!
    Monique

    1. Thank you, Monique! This was an EXPLOSIVE finale – exactly in the way a season finale should be! I just cannot wait for more! Yes, as long as Damian is around, we are all around to admire, think about and write on his work. Cheers to the BEST fandom! <3

  3. “May I just say I will miss Sunday nights so much?”
    May I say how much I’m going to miss your recaps and this board? I follow only two ‘recappers’- you and a woman named Ozge who does the funniest, coolest recaps for Penny Dreadful (yeah- something to look forward to while Billions is on hiatus!) :
    https://ozgeburcaka.com/blog/2015/10/28/penny-dreadful-2×05-above-the-vaulted-sky-photo-recap/

    Back to you, dear deftly literate daminaista. Fantastic recap.

    “And as much as I like Axe, I am all Team Wendy here. Go, girl! ”

    I am so with you here. The only grownups thus far have been Wendy and Lara, although manifesting their accomplishment in that area in two vastly different ways. Lara puts her family first and foremost, for better or worst. Wendy is always looking for the healthier ‘win’. Her advice to Maria to go to Zenobia was caring and protective and just damn right. However, Wendy has a very narcissistic side. Have we seen her do one thing with her kids? Lara was no housewife. She ran the restaurant and the farm. And even with a chef and nanny she was extremely hands on. Her kids will never forget digging with their feet for clams with their mom when they get older, no matter how much they complained. What will Wendy’s kids remember about mom & dad? Mostly, how much the two parents were apart.

    Paranoia

    This episode should have been titled “Paranoia” because both Chuck and Axe were poster children for this affliction. Interesting how Wendy commented/warned Axe last week about how, although he wasn’t there, how shutting off emotions entirely would cause this spiraling effect towards being a sociopath that included paranoia.

    Bryan

    This episode, and I’m coming to the realization that the season, has used Bryan as the galvanizing center of how far will one go in this labyrinth of career morals and ethics faced by the movers and shakers. Agent Terri said it very well when she correctly summed up Bryan with something in the way of ‘his being something when he becomes his own man.’ Bryan is influenced greatly by the power players around him. He wants his cake but feels guilty hen he gets it. He has to get drunk with Chuck to feel better about sabotaging an innocent man’s life for “the greater good”. Their barroom scene a few episodes back was almost something out of Orwell. Chuck had convinced Bryan that everyone at Axe Capital was a criminal even without evidence. Bryan followed right along with that so as not feel his guilt in his participation in the take-down. Last night, Bryan was at another seductive crossroad. Pizza was good, yum. Good bait. Axe’s offers were outrageously lavish. Much like Bryan entering Kate’s apartment, Bryan is exposed to a stratosphere he thought he’d never fly in. The scene ends with Bryan NOT giving Axe a yes or a no. Ah, the real cliff hanger: Will Bryan ever be his own man?

    Chuck

    Oy. Chuck. A broken man. Broken down to the age of 12 again. Blind rage and vengeance on his mind. He feels he has lost everything. But has he? Did you catch the snarl he gave to the camera when he turned away from Axe at the office? Primal.
    But is it true, his ‘nothing to lose’ speech? Because the man still has plenty to lose. And the way I see it, he is dancing close to a real jail time himself. Wendy, as she said, WOULD testify against him. Bryan COULD testify against him. Lonnie should have thrown Chuck out of his house when he came a knockin’. The way Chuck screwed Lonnie over the deal should have proved to him how unethical and ruthless Chuck could be and how ultimately he would sacrifice Lonnie in a heartbeat for his own self interests. So there is yet another player who could play a part in Chuck’s further demise. And for all of Chuck’s preaching to his dad’s soon to suicide friend about how he should have played the market fair like his father, I doubt for one moment Chuck’s daddy played clean. He was too giddy to claim the benefits of the shortened stock until Chuck sat and made him wait to sell. Chuck could see his whole family go down.

    Back to Wendy

    I think Wendy will miss Chuck immensely. The Dominatrix/Submissive relationship is delicate and complex. What it seems on the surface is not what it really is. The Submissive is really the one in control and the dominant (male or female) is at the real mercy of the submissive. Wendy as the dominant needs her submissive. It is her outlet. In an article from the “Dominate Guide” the relationship is explained as:

    “One of the most significant traits which identifies or distinguishes a member of this community is the basic ‘desire to serve for the pleasure of another’. This aspect trait is shared by both Dominant and submissive though manifested in entirely different ways. When ‘in scene’ the Dominant is ‘serving’ the needs of the submissive by giving and/or directing that submissive in a manner which is pleasurable to the core being of the submissive.”

    Wendy and Chuck’s need for each other is profound.

    There is a turn in Billions that has me a bit disappointed. That is the shift of the Axe character and his Zen-like approach to all things turned upside down. Axe seems too rash now to me. His hallmark was his calm evaluation of situations. His outburst at the pool was damaged controlled by his amazing capacity to calmly recall every bit of information that occurred, even when he was in a volatile state. Axe’s eidetic memory is astonishing and a pleasure to behold. Thank you writers! But now that aspect of Axe, his calm Zen center, is being downplayed, if not abandoned.

    Damian Lewis says this in his January 2016 interview from The New Yorker: When production for “Billions” began, in July, Lewis intended to embody a “compelling stillness.” But as the season progressed the Zen-master approach no longer felt appropriate. He said, “I just found, for Bobby, once we made the choice that he was a jeans-and-trainers guy, and that he liked wearing knitwear”—he broke into a sort of garmento-inflected American accent—“that he was going to take the space. It was a way to find the expansiveness of the king.”

    I’m as frustrated as Wendy at these two guys in a pissing contest that neither can win. Nagasaki for sure. Just all out destruction. I, for one, want Bobby (not ‘Bob” as Chuck spits out) to rise above the fray. Lara has been working diligently to humanize he and the children to be good people. Maybe life is more than just protecting your own family. But life, no matter how you cut it, starts with family. And that start shapes the lives of many, not just your own.

    Yeah, I’m going to miss this tangled group of titans. My Showtime poster would be of Axe, Chuck, Wendy and Lara. Just those four.

    1. Thank you for your very kind words – you make my day big time!

      First things first: I LOLled when I saw the name Ozge as your other favorite recapper? WHY? Because this means Turks make great recappers 🙂 I have been living in the US for the last 20 years so I spent most of my adult years here but I was born and raised in Turkey. And Ozge is a common female name in Turkish so go figure 😀 I need to start Penny Dreadful!

      Now on to your fantastic feedback:

      Your observation about Wendy is very interesting. I think, as much as Lara is not a housewife, she still has more time in her hands since she is not pressed with the monstrous working hours of private sector. You are right we did not really see Wendy doing much with her children and I don’t have children so I cannot speak to that in depth; but having a lot of friends and family with two jobs and two kids around me, I can say most people do their best to make time for their kids but it does not always work perfectly. I still see Wendy as sort of a moral compass in this BIG pissing contest. I am all with you that she and Lara are the grown ups here!

      Yes! Bryan is the real cliffhanger of the story. I am so curious about where we will get to see him come Season 2 Episode 1! He is obviously on the horns of a dilemma. Over the season, he has shifted from being the proud “work son” of Chuck to saying “Fuck!” to Chuck’s ways. He now knows Axe and Chuck are not that different in justifying their means for the ends. True. Will Bryan be his own man? Terri is a smart woman and I hope Kate helps Bryan to grow up. He is not as a kid as the two main characters, but maybe a teenager still struggling to find his way.

      Chuck can go from “No, Dad” to “Please, Dad” in an instant when it serves his interests. And, this is how he probably grew up. He is used to asking for dad’s help all the time and I believe some of his insecurities come from the fact that he does not have much in life that he has succeeded on his own merit. I am seriously thinking that even this US attorney position could have come to him via Chuck Sr. Chuck needed a good spanking and Wendy just gave it to him. I think they will get together once he puts his shit together. Chuck is desperate to have her back. I think He will behave and win her back but I can also imagine Axe, even though he kept Wendy talk short with Lara upon her request, will give it a try to win Wendy back. I am so curious where we will find these people a year from now. Will S2 pick up where it leaves or we will fast forward and will find our characters at different places in their lives? Haha so much to speculate about, so you don’t really need to miss us, we will keep the Billions conversation going here between seasons and hope you stay with us and keep the feedback coming!

      I understand your point about how Axe has shifted as a character over the season. But I think this character is very different from everything else Damian has done before. He’s a more-at-your-face character and for a reason. Axe as well as Chuck are bigger than life characters with HUGE egos and they need to take the space. That’s why, I believe, the scenes with the two of them, are explosive even when they are not talking. We are just so lucky to have such two amazing actors together in TV show! It’s the golden age of TV indeed.

      And a little surprise: we are so happy we got a shout out from show producers last week during their Q&A on Facebook. They like our work! They could not have made us happier Here is the link if you wanna see it. We’re at 9:55: https://www.facebook.com/BillionsOnShowtime/videos/1663490963913367/

      1. Just saw the Brian Koppelman and David Levien interview. AWESOME shout out! Hey guys, don’t fear our eyes and ear to the show. You have no idea the thrill we have with her contact and sharing her experience as the ‘woman on the street’ regarding the show. I’ve only watched Damian Lewis in Homeland and became hooked on his acting from that show. Watching Lewis & Giamanti work together is such a high.
        Yeah, this board rocks. Thoughtful, insightful comments masterfully helmed and navigated by damianista.
        Now the slow crawl to 2017.

        1. Thank you! I don’t know if you saw the post about me showing up on the set unannounced. Back when they were shooting the pilot. Koppelman is absolutely right. I was sort of, more than sort of, trespassing. But I really needed to tell Damian about the blog and you know he does not have his number in the phone book 🙂 So that was my one chance and I took it. And it is just lovely to hear that we won them over through our work. They could not have made us happier.

          Watching these two together is an out of this world experience. We’re just so lucky to be living in the golden age of TV where it is a real possibility to see higher quality work than on big screen.

          Exactly! On to the crawl! 🙂

          Thank you for all your kind words!

          1. How could you not stop by the set! Really, shooting in NY draws crowds. It’s the nature of the industry. You did it respectfully. Damian is a gent. And we blog followers Want you on that wall, we NEED you on that wall! LOL!

      1. Thank you so much for visiting and reading! What did you think about the season finale? We would love to hear your thoughts, too!

  4. Another great re-cap, to cap off the season! You saw things I did not the first time, and I always love your point of view, since I’m always looking at the show from a traders point of view.

    I’m working on my thoughts for the last episode (and all I can say is: WOW!!!!), but I wanted to say how much I have enjoyed being a part of the ride this season! Billions has brought together fans of such diverse backgrounds, all sharing our thoughts, and for my part, my “insider” knowledge of the hedge fund world.

    So, thank you so much for welcoming me into the group, letting my point of view be heard, and for just being an amazing person.

    As I said, my full thoughts later this week (because there is just too much to say!!) but I do need to say: Axe is my spirit guide after that scene with Chuck!

    1. Thank YOU for being here! Our different points of view make us richer! That is what I love the most about our group since we all see different things in the show and bring a different perspective and a different voice. This season has been a WILD ride and I still cannot believe how smart the show has been written. They do not use a word or a scene for no reason. So you really need to watch carefully and listen what everyone says. You have to be alert. Exactly like people on Wall Street. Exactly like people in the US attorney’s office.

      I love that Axe is now your spirit guide 🙂 My on-going joke at home is the bit for series finale many years later: Bobby Axelrod for President 🙂

      1. Who ARE the writers? Do we ever know on these shows? I wonder what their backgrounds are and what type of things they have written before. Do the show runners have a team of writers and all of them together collaborate on the scripts including the show runners?

        1. We know the writers for every single episode. It is a collective effort but I think they all talk and there is story arc but someone writes it. But at the end of the day, every show may be doing differently, and this is a question to ask the show creators. And, in fact, this is the question I would like to ask if I have a chance one day. Writing process is the one that I am more curious about. Do the show creators give writers a story arc and let them write? How do they assign that episode’s writing to one particular writer? I am more than fascinated by the creative process! In this show, yes, show creators, Koppelman and Levien are writers, they did write The Pilot, Episode 2: Naming Rights and Season Finale: The Conversation. And they play a big part in Billions Writers’ Room.

  5. I’ve enjoyed the recap and all the comments, although I seldom read into these characters, their roles and overall themes as deeply as most of you do. At my age, (my kids are older than Damian and Helen), I just like to sit back and be entertained. Actually, anyone from the Yahoo forum would tell you that in all the years there, almost 15, what I like most to do is find a thread, no matter how small, of past roles Damian has played, in whatever one I am watching at the time. In the case of this last episode of season one, I saw Mr. Gray (Dreamcatcher) shining through several times, in Damian’s eyes of course, rather than any body language. If anyone on here hasn’t seen Dreamcatcher, hasten to do so! It is always put down critically, even by Damian I believe, but his ability to shift in a split second from one character to another is fascinating. Anyway, keep up the good work on here folks!

    1. Hi Connie! We’re keen on keeping up the work and it is the GREAT fans like yourself that make us keep going. So thank you!!!

      I just love your “game” of finding a thread of a past role in whatever you are currently watching. Axe is interesting in the sense that it is very different from whatever Damian has done earlier. Our guy likes a good challenge, and I think this is one reason we admire him for. He does not let himself be branded. Having said that I know the feeling that you just see bits and pieces of a past character for a moment. I felt like I saw a bit of Brody in Episode 11 as Axe was questioning about whether he was a sociopath. Haha I can definitely see Mr. Gray’s wild eyes in some Axe scenes – absolutely! And I know what you mean about shifting from one character to other. Same thing with mood swings. His Henry was just perfect going from tender to monster in the blink of an eye. Yeah Damian just recently said about Dreamcatcher that it was sort of a disaster. I can see his point that I believe that project was just after Band of Brothers that was supposed to be a bridge to Hollywood. But it did not work that way. And, honestly, this may even be a blessing in disguise. Maybe he would have stayed in Hollywood should Dreamcatcher have been a huge hit. One thing I like so much about Damian (and Helen, too, for that matter) is that they are real people. No vanity about them. They are not caught up in that celebrity lifestyle. They go to the supermarket or pick up their kids from school. They take the tube in London and the subway in NYC. You know, on Broadway, actors come to theater in limos. Damian was taking the Tube to Wyndhams Theatre when he was doing American Buffalo. So my kind of people.

  6. I love this so much and though sad it is the last one of the season, I know you’ll be back at it in no time, depriving yourself of sleep for our benefit. It is great that you highlight Chuck’s seeming need to pit Bryan and Lonnie against one another. He can add this to the list of mistakes he has made as regards Bryan. There ay have been a certain naivety to Bryan at the start of the season but he lacks Chuck’s insecurity. he didn’t grow up with Chuck Senior. He isn’t just going to accept that BS because Chuck thinks it is acceptable. Lonnie is too concerned about being back to makes waves with the boss man. I love the way Bryan is stepping out on his own.

    Wags and Bobby were a hoot during those scenes. Poor Wags and all those folders.

    Axe has very seriously screwed the pooch with Wendy and apart from the obvious betrayal of her and how that will make her feel, he forgets in his panic and rage just how important she is. It is hard to see how he can possibly win her back at this point.

    Bryan took a bite of Pizza! That is me happy…even though he did so before he knew Bobby was there. It is still on the table! Can I just say that I absolutely love the way Bobby just swaggers towards Bryan. Go back and watch as Bobby appears from behind Orrin. Pure swagger.

    I loved that last scene with Paul and Damian. Amazing. In fact the whole episode was amazing. This is how you do a season finale. Hats off to those writers!

    1. Thinking about it, Axe and Bryan are really similar. Both grew up with single moms. Remember Bryan talking about the Saturdays his dad showed up… and we know Axe’s dad never came back even though we don’t know the concept. But they both had working class moms. We don’t know where Bryan grew up (probably NY but we don’t know the ‘hood) but it seems he was not hanging with the boys Axe was hanging. He is not a “let me get rich, let me get even” type. But he’s also the next generation that maybe he did have more chances than Axe had in his time. Bryan does not come across as vengeful. But on the other hand, he asks Kate why they are hating those guys so much. Oh I just LOVE your analogies. Bryan tasted the Pizza! And it’s still on the table. He did not say no. Axe did not hear it. We did not hear it. And it was you that foresaw that Bryan might slowly shift to the other side. Big catch! You are some kind of Kate Sacher, aren’t you? <3

      Wags and his folders! And Axe closing the car door on him!!!! Hilarious! I just love the sense of humor in this show SO MUCH! I am not a comedy person, I love drama, but I always think the right sense of humor just elevates it. And Billions has done it just right this season. Oh yes this is how you do a season finale. Standing ovation!

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