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!
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 🙂
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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?