Previously on Billions: ‘Magical Thinking’



Previously on Billions…

Bobby waves Mafee into his office, but Mafee stays where he is. Bobby is perplexed until Wags explains Mafee wishes to talk about BioLance so has sent Wags in to get permission because Bobby told him he would be fired if he brought that up. Mafee thinks that they are about to lose £400+ million and is basically saying Bobby has this one wrong. Since he is executing the trade, Mafee fears if he does not speak up now, he’ll be fired after they lose the $400+ Million. Bobby sees how this could be a sticky one.

Bobby loves Mafee though so permission is granted.

Mafee has been losing sleep over this BioLance trade and he sleeps like a bear. Axe does that thing he does and asks Mafee what type of bear he usually sleeps like.

There is a special announcement call about BioLance in 9 minutes and Mafee is uneasy. Bobby, however, is giving Mafee no leeway when it comes to the actual information as Bobby understands the risks and has done the homework. So, despite the fact that the other analysts agree with Mafee and him being so loveable, Mafee is the one standing in front of Bobby and Mafee is fired.

He tried.

He is still there 9 minutes later when the announcement is made that BioLance has not gotten FDA approval. What does this mean? It means that Mafee would be perfectly entitled to jump up on the desk and scream “I told you so”. However, Mafee looks genuinely disappointed by the announcement. If he is fired, why does he care that Axe just lost $430 Million dollars for being an over confident and dismissive ass? Mafee might just be a team player.

The news has hit Bobby like a ton of bricks, but it is not really the fact that he just lost $430 million that is bothering him or that he really owes Mafee an apology. It is the realisation he has lost his mojo. He was wrong. Him! Bobby Axelrod.

Source: Showtime

Debbie does not look impressed with Bobby as he comes out of his office almost in slow motion. See the look she throws him as he passes her.

Mafee gets the closet thing to an apology he will get from Axe who, upon seeing Mafee packing his bag, asks him what he is doing. Mafee responds “you fired me” and Axe says “you know never to listen to me about shit like that between 9.30 and 4. How could I fire you? I love you, Mafee.”

It turns out that Wendy is considering joining Maria Saldana at her new place of work, Zenobia Capital. Roma gives Wendy the tour herself and sets about trying to persuade Wendy to jump ship to them. She says that she and a few of the senior partners “came up at a time when Wall Street was all cock and balls…and no brains. We try to practice with a little less ego around here.” They need someone to help them strike the balance between aggressive and aversion to risk. Roma thinks Wendy is that person. Roma says that they need her and she (Wendy) wants to be here. Wendy is curious how she knows what Wendy wants. Roma says she is an instinct trader. She asks if she is wrong. Wendy’s phones buzzes.

The buzzing of her phone turns out to be a text from Axe, who having realised he has lost his mojo, has summoned Dr Mojo.

Adam and Chuck are having a chin wag and patting each other on the back as they do so. Adam it seems is being considered as a replacement for Judge Wilcox just as Chuck hoped he would. Adam is not stupid and picks up on the fact that Chuck wishes to pick his replacement. Chuck knows some good candidates to be Adam’s replacement in the AG’s office, being a “friendly” who will lend a kind ear to Chuck and not make things more difficult. He will need Adam’s help. Adam asks “is this really still about Axelrod?” Chuck answers rather unconvincingly “it is about justice”.

Source: Showtime

Chuck will have to pull some not pleasant moves to ensure Adam sails through Committee so he needs Adam’s reassurance he is willing. Adam says he is, but advises Chuck to practice restraint in trying to get his way back in on the Axelrod case. Chuck says he will worry about that.

Lara’s younger sister, Lu, has had a tour of Axe Capital kitchens, but is not very enthusiastic with Sheryl at all about working there.

Lara points out she doesn’t need to say what she is thinking all the time.

Bobby comes down stairs and Lara goes to him. Lara can tell something is wrong and Bobby says he has had a bad day and got it wrong. He tells her he needs to speak with Wendy. Lara seems to accept this but warns him to be cautious as Wendy will ask about Donnie.

Lu is waiting on Lara finishing her talk with Bobby when two male employees decide to open their mouths and show why Lu is not exactly overly encouraged about working there. That said, I am sure if Axe had heard what they said to his sister-in-law, regardless of what she thinks of him, those two would be eating their lunch off the floor.

Lu tells Lara she can’t “cook for a bunch of animals who will eat anything, shit on anything and fuck anything.” Lara tells her not to be ignorant and that is a stereotype. It is a shame she ran into two employees who seem to typify that stereotype.

Source: Showtime

Team Chuck is given word to box up what they have on Axe. Terri and Dale take their leave as Terri notes “it is over” and leaves the boxing up to Bryan and Kate. Bryan says “it’s not over”. Terri is quite short with Bryan here and says “when it starts going into the boxes, it is over.”

Wendy is coming back in to the office and overhears the analysts and traders talking about the information on BioLance being in the file. Mafee says “We didn’t fuck up. He did.”

Axe is sitting in darkness. He thanks Wendy for coming back, but can’t help questioning where she was. Wendy does not answer it. Axe tells everyone else they can go home. He tells Wendy about the mistake he made that could cost $1 billion after they sift through the wreckage. Axe has already decided the error is a mental error and he just needs to find out why he wanted to make it. He thinks they can have it sorted by tomorrow. Wendy says it may take a while.

Source: Showtime

Chuck is expecting to see Wendy come through the door, but it is in fact the babysitter who Wendy called because she knew she wasn’t going to make it home early. Chuck is not happy he doesn’t know what is going on with his wife.

Wendy and Axe enter Wendy’s office. Axe takes his usual seat although looking uncomfortable as he does so. Wendy sits down in her Drs’ seat which means she has her back to Axe. They remain that way until Axe gets the hint that Wendy wants him to take the patients’ seat. You want a session? Her rules!

Axe talks about how today he forgot he wasn’t superman. Wendy mentions magical thinking and people thinking Axe is a combination of “Warren Buffet and God above.” Axe doesn’t buy that it is magical thinking. Wendy points out that regardless of that he missed something today.

Axe says that when Mafee told him the analysts all agreed that Bobby had this one wrong that is when he had to stick it out, to prove he was the difference maker. Wendy asks who he has to prove it to “Mafee, Danzig?” Bobby replies “of course not” and Wendy comes back with “I agree. They all idolize you already”. Love her. She then concludes that it isn’t about proving anything to any of the guys. Bobby looks at her quizzically and she says “look you want me to fix the part of you that makes money, but it is attached to the rest so…like I said this is going to take a while.”

Bryan and Kate have a discussion about why they do what they do as they pack everything into the boxes. Kate helpfully points out to Bryan the reasons he hates these guys (Bobby and all) so much “they’re criminals and they are a lot richer than you.” Somehow I have the feeling that last part is bothering him the most.

Bryan had Axe’s settlement cheque framed for Chuck because he was proud of him for pushing back. The alcohol is running low, but it is ok because Bryan knows where Chuck keeps his stash. I swear the writers are deliberately making Bryan the child in this whole scenario. Proud of his ‘dad’, but now he’s raiding his liquor cabinet with his girlfriend.

Axe and Wendy are in the cafeteria which is neutral territory so Axe thinks he is allowed to suggest they talk about Wendy. Wendy tells him that is not how it works to which he replies they have never done anything the way it works and they are not starting tonight. He asks her how she is handling everything and I do not believe he is fishing…or rather that is not the only reason because I do genuinely believe he cares for Wendy.

Wendy says “the Donnie thing threw me, to be honest.” She missed that he was dying and he would not let her in “despite whatever was going on with him…and you”










































(Axe). She is letting Axe know she knows there is something.

She says that when she was young she thought that “if I were truly there for my patients, I could truly get them to open up, but you quickly learn that is not the case.”

Axe pokes fun at her for thinking about that when she was young and how she chose the right line of work. He says when he was young he thought about getting rich and getting even.

Source: Showtime

Wendy pulls the conversation back to Donnie and Axe notices “you keep going back there.” Wendy says they cannot ignore that Axe made this mistake after Donnie died.

Wendy explores the reason Axe may have subconsciously deliberately bombed that trade today. She suggests he may have been evening the score for Donnie. Bobby says that he goes out of his way to protect his people and they know that…and so should she by now. Wendy does not rise to that bait.

Wendy asks if he is ready to admit who he was trying to prove something to and they both know that person was him. Wendy asks if he was trying to reward or punish himself. Bobby gets up and tells Wendy to follow him.

Lara and Lu come out of the pub Lu talked her sister into going into and they then reminisce about the good old times.

Chuck is at his father’s with the begging bowl out. Just as you thought he was making progress, he is right back to following his father’s destructive pattern as Wendy mentioned several episodes ago. He needs his dad to help get a Senator on the Judicial Committee to push through Adam’s nomination. Chuck Senior isn’t going to let his son off easy and lays it on thick. Chuck offers his office on any issue that the Senator has. Now, is this appropriate use of government funds for the public good? Chuck seems to be getting a little lost in it all. Anyway, his dad says the Senator owes him a favour so accommodation will not be necessary. Dad does make his son apologise before he goes. It is stomach churning.

Wendy and Axe are trying to drop items in a Bin downstairs from upstairs. Wendy seems to be winning. Axe then decides to take the globe of the world and attempt to get it in the bin…it smashes over the floor. He and Wendy have a right good laugh about this and Axe brings up their first building and Wendy says “the globe would have gone through the floor.”

Source: Showtime

Axe wants to try a computer but Wendy reigns him in and suggests his self-image is creating a blind spot. Axe realises “we’re not on a break are we?” This was a fun game, but not a break game. This was a game with a Dr Mojo purpose. Wendy suggests that perhaps Axe’s blind spot is usually what worked for him only it isn’t now, so he needs to either live up to the false part of his self-image or lose it.

Axe pounces on the word false and spins us a tale of “someone needing to tell a lover goodbye, but they can quite do it. So, instead they sleep with them one last time. They have their own unspoken goodbye not letting on that everything is changed until…after the night is over.”

Wendy is thrown off balance here a bit. Since they left her office, Axe has been changing direction too often. He now suggests they go outside. She follows.

OK, Bryan is not a child…he is a teenager. We see him picking the lock on Chuck’s liquor cabinet. Well you know what they say about criminals. They start petty. Why would criminal defence lawyers be any different? He then has a snogging session on Chuck’s desk with Kate which threatens to go somewhere before it crosses their mind that Chuck may have had sex on that desk. They vacate the room quickly. Kate still wants to do something dangerous.

Chuck is phoning Nancy, presumably a friend of Wendy, to find out if she knows what Wendy is up to.

Chuck is meeting with his friend Ira where they embark upon a conversation about what Ira discusses with his 23 year old girlfriend. They then start to discuss Chuck’s roof (protection) which right now is his father, something Chuck does not like.

Source: Showtime

Chuck confesses that he does not know where Wendy is tonight. He is scared he may be losing her. Ira seems very laid back and in control and could be a good focus point for Chuck, but Chuck’s spent too much of this episode in a rage already for me to think that is happening despite all Ira’s wise words.

Axe and Wendy are taking a walk around the grounds at Axe Capital. Axe confesses that he never cried over Donnie and Wendy asks him if he wanted to. He says he thinks he should have. Wendy pushes him to tell her the last time he cried and he admits that youtube videos of soldiers surprising their kids gets him every time. He treats us to another baseball analogy where the soldier is playing the game with a mask and when he takes it off his kid gives him a massive hug. Not even Lara knows about this crying. Wendy asks him if he has worked out what is going on and Bobby asks “you’re not going to tell me it is because my dad didn’t come home?” Wendy thinks that is in there, but not the whole reason.

Bobby says the returning soldier deserves the love from his kid. Wendy asks Bobby “what about you? Will you still be loved when you take the mask off?” Bobby’s face shows someone genuinely pondering that question and worried about the answer.

Wendy is not ready to let Donnie go just yet either.

We see Lara and Lu ‘joy riding’. I do hope Mrs Axelrod was on soft drinks in that pub. She drives into the helicopter pad and suddenly little sister Lu does not seem so adverse to Axe’s personal property as they take a joy ride in the helicopter.

Lara says Lu is right about her as the old her would have told Bobby to go fuck himself for blowing her off to talk to Wendy Rhoades all night. She says she needs something and Lu asks her what, but she clams up. They talk about their jaunts to the mall.

Wendy and Axe are talking about Donnie and Wendy tells Axe what she has put together and concludes Axe is punishing himself subconsciously because he loved Donnie. Bobby says “I stole from him.” Axe then tells Wendy about the experimental treatment and his reasons for stopping it. He is punishing himself because he does not want to believe that he has the capacity to do that to someone that he cares about. If that is true, he doesn’t like what it says about him. Wendy says he has it wrong. He is punishing himself because he is realising that he didn’t care about Donnie and that is what scares him. He finally admits to it. Bobby says his first emotion, on Donnie’s death, was relief and sorrow and sadness were buried way down.

Source: Showtime

Wendy then asks Axe to ask the question he has been too afraid to ask. He asks if he has to and Wendy says “I think you have to. I can’t say it for you.” Bobby asks if he is a sociopath. Wendy asks what he thinks. He says he doesn’t know and he is clearly frightened by it. Wendy says this punishment of himself is how he manifests guilt. A sociopath wouldn’t give a shit.

“You are practised at closing off your feelings. Do it often enough and they die. So, it is either fix it or close yourself back up and see what happens.”

Lara and Lu are done with the helicopter and now take a night time stroll through the mall.

Bryan and Kate are doing something dangerous while letting off their fireworks and we hear sirens…you see Bryan is well on the road. He even begins a sentence with “Key part of breaking the law…never mind” as they flee from the police.

We are back at Axe Capital. Wendy and Bobby are standing out on the balcony. Bobby says Wendy did to him what he does to companies. He asks if she is just tired or disgusted.

She tells him “you are a difference maker, but you are not god. Pancreatic takes everyone. It is like the market, it does what it wants. No amount of magical thinking was going to change that. So, no I’m not disgusted with you. For whatever reason when it comes to you that is just not on the table”

Bobby tells her that some of her wires aren’t where they should be either and asks her if that is why she has been looking at other shops. Wendy then thinks that is what Bobby has been drilling for all night and then he guess that she was thinking of Zenobia. He probes as to why she thinks she would better off there, but she says that is for a different session.

Chuck arrives outside Axe Capital and observes Bobby and Wendy having a laugh about something and he instantly allows his insecurity and rage to take over.

Source: Showtime

Chuck shows up at a BDSM club where he is known as Mr Martinez. Apparently it has been along time since he was last there. We find out his safe word is red. We find out he can’t go through with it because he didn’t get Wendy’s permission. Wendy is known as Mrs Martinez. Chuck gets upset.

They are then interrupted by security catching someone who was taking photos. The guy manage to flee, but leaves behind his camera which has pictures of Chuck on it. This man has been following him all night. Chuck does at least have the camera, but is majorly spooked and leaves.

Bobby comes home to find Lara and Lu asleep on a sofa each, dressed up in their new clothes, with food and wine out on the table. He has the hint of a smile on his face and seem more relaxed.

Source: Showtime

Lara asks him how he is and he says “I feel young again, Wanna go to prom?” Lara tells him she “knows better than to go with a bad boy.”

He then tells her that he cries sometimes. Lara is glad tonight helped but tells him not to do that to her again. They start making out. Lu who isn’t actually asleep decides to giggle silently, turn over and let them get on with it.

Wendy is typing up session notes. She is then in a shower when Chuck comes home. Chuck decides he cannot resist the lure of invading his wife’s privacy and logs into her laptop. He reads her session notes with Axe, emails them to himself and then deletes the evidence, or he thinks he has anyway.

Source: Showtime

There is no disguising his look of guilt and betrayal either. Wendy has picked up on it right away. However, I sense he is trying to convince himself as she appears from the shower she has betrayed him and is the guilty one, whereas while she was still in the shower, he was clearly disgusted with himself.

5 thoughts on “Previously on Billions: ‘Magical Thinking’”

  1. “Mafee would be perfectly entitled to jump up on the desk and scream “I told you so”. However, Mafee looks genuinely disappointed by the announcement…. Mafee might just be a team player.”

    brilliant catch! one of many actually. can’t stop myself, I’ll say it again: watching the episodes again after reading the recaps here, everything makes more sense and fun.

    1. I loved the following (a very stretched one of course) cross-reference of one line to Homeland. Axe to Wendy: “You did to me what I do to companies. Took me apart, put me together again”. Carrie to Brody in Series 2 Episode 5 “Q&A” about Abu Nazir: “He pulled you apart until there was nothing left but pain. And then he relieved the pain and he put you back together again as someone else”. In first case the purpose is therapy, in second case – creating an assassin. Method is similar, but in first case the pain is psychological, in the second – pain is physical. Interesting it was done twice to the protagonist played by our favourite actor:-)

    2. Thank you! It is great to hear that because I do think Billions is one of the most entertaining shows for a long while and I am glad to contribute to anything that helps others enjoy it more.

  2. Loved to read your take on my favorite episode and have you call my attention to so much that I have missed. Let me add my different view on one conversation about the “false” issue.

    Axe:” False, like when someone knows they have to tell a lover good-by but they can’t so they sleep with HIM one last time etc.”

    He is talking about Wendy and himself. I believe she was at a point in her psychiatric training when it would have been unethical for her to continue both therapy and a sexual relationship with him. She had to choose treating him during his crisis. Looking at the timeline of the story they both quickly married soon after this episode which probably explains these two curious marriages.

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