Billions: Fly Away, Fly Away!

This blog has been a long time coming. Damianista and JaniaJania have been wishing to see it up for a long time . I wanted to wait until I had seen all 12 episodes before posting.

We had devoured all the early promos for the show and have been blogging about Billions for over  a year. We attempted to get a feel for the characters as early as we could and this helped immensely as we discussed what we thought about Bobby and Wendy. Even early on, it was clear those two had a connection. After Naming Rights, we were having one of our discussions and I mentioned that I thought there was some Peter Pan in Bobby and Wendy. I was encouraged to investigate this further as Jania Jania said “Peter Pan is an archetype now…the boy who doesn’t want to grow up.” Investigate I have and there is a fair bit of Peter in Bobby. I am not saying this was intentional on the writer’s part, but that I had fun digging through the book looking for it. .

Quotes from Peter Pan by J M Barrie are in italics. The other quotes not in italics are from Billions.

Bobby and Dr Mojo/Peter & Wendy with sprinkles of lost boys and Tink

Bobby even has his own Wendy, (hereinafter referred to as “Dr Mojo”) and he has built his house around her.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

“She knew of no Peter, and yet he was here and there in John and Michael’s minds, while Wendy’s began to be scrawled all over with him. The name stood out in bold letter than any of the other words and as Mrs Darling gazed she felt that it had an oddly cocky appearance.”

Dr Mojo’s mind seems to be scrawled all over with Bobby Axelrod and Bobby Axelrod is quite as cocky as Peter Pan. Dr Mojo knows what Bobby is, but she stays by his side for a very long time. She forgives his transgressions and mistakes.

Wendy for a long time puts up with Peter’s dangerous adventures, his unreasonableness, recklessness and his need to talk about parents horribly. One such talk is eventually what pushes Wendy to resolve to get herself, John and Michael home before they forget their parents completely and before their parents forget them.

It can be argued that during her stay at Axe Capital, Dr Mojo has forgotten who she is and as she leaves her husband and Bobby behind her in ‘The Conversation’ she needs to go figure out who exactly she is now. Dr Mojo is going to go grow up and Bobby is going to return to his Neverland and embark on a new adventure without her.

Peter manages to lose his shadow in Wendy’s nursery and it evades his attempts at sticking it back on to his feet. Peter’s antics wake Wendy from her sleep.

But she could not help smiling when she saw that he had been trying to stick it on with soap. How exactly like a boy.” Fortunately she knew just what to do. “It must be sewn on.”

She comforts him as he cries, but of course Peter declares he does not cry and later on “Peter does not break down in front of anyone”. Bobby opens up to Dr Mojo in ‘Magical Thinking’ that he hides his crying.

Wendy sews Peter’s shadow back on for him. Peter wastes no time in convincing himself that he reattached his shadow by himself.

“It is humiliating to have to confess that this conceit of Peter was one of his most fascinating qualities. To put it with brutal frankness, there was never a cockier boy.”

In Magical Thinking, Bobby tries to tell Dr Mojo how to do her job and how long it will take to fix him. This is not the first time we see Bobby dismissing Dr Mojo. He ignores her advice in The Pilot (silly boy) and in Naming Rights he leaves her out of the loop on the ‘lifeboat drill’.


Peter eventually manages to get Wendy to come round by saying “one girl is worth 20 boys.”

If we look at how Bobby works at Axe Capital it is easy to see this reflected here. Dr Mojo gets far more leeway than anyone else. Anyone else would have suffered the consequences of moving money out of Axe Capital to a rival fund and of shopping around elsewhere as we see Dr Mojo doing in ‘Magical Thinking’. Peter needs Wendy and Bobby needs Dr Mojo very much.

Peter tells Wendy that he ran away the day he was born.

“I heard father and mother talking about what I was to be when I became a man. I don’t ever want to be a man. I want always to be a little boy and to have fun.”

The address Peter gives for Neverland, “Second to the right and straight on until morning” is his home which is quiet and peaceful without him. Peter does not like to be told what to do. He does not wish to play by the rules and grow up as everyone else must and does.

Axe Capital is Bobby’s Neverland. He dances to his own tunes, he makes up the rules (as Dr Mojo told us in ‘The Deal’) and he’ll change the game in the bat of an eye.

“Mafee, I love you.” “Mafee, you’re fired” “Mafee, how could I fire you? I love you.”

When Wendy suggests giving Peter a kiss, Tinker Bell chooses this moment to interrupt and make herself heard. She is less than happy at being shut in a drawer while Peter chatted to Wendy about his problems.

Lara doesn’t have wings and she wasn’t shut in a drawer in ‘Magical Thinking’ but she was no less happy about being blown off for Dr Mojo than Tink was about being blown off for Wendy. No one kisses Tink’s, Peter!

Peter wants Wendy to come and be a mother to him and the lost boys. Peter teaches Wendy, John and Michael to fly. They fly for what seems to Wendy like forever with concerns plaguing her the whole way to Neverland. Michael nearly falls into the sea before being saved by Peter at the last moment.

“You felt it was his cleverness that interested him and not the saving of a human life.”

This quote jumped out of the page at me, regarding Bobby’s behaviour generally, but especially 9/11 and with Donnie. It is something which Wendy ignores about Peter to begin with on way to Neverland. Over time and added to more reckless behaviour, she realises she must go home because Peter will never change, but she must. This feels very much like this season’s finale.


The descriptions of Peter throughout really remind me very strongly of Bobby and a couple in particular “nothing escapes Peter’s eagle eyes” and “Peter is different from the other children”.

There is a scene in the book which is Wendy’s last night in Neverland. Wendy realised that though she loves Peter deeply despite his flaws, the possible romantic element (on her side only) has long since passed. However, there is an intimacy between them and they share a last dance which is in actual fact a pillow fight described as “when it was finished, the pillows insisted on one bout more, like partners who know that they may never meet again.”

In Magical Thinking, Bobby is tied down by Wendy for a little while as she insists he sits where she wants in her office and talks to her. As soon as she allows him to move them from her office, it is his game again. He flies about all over Axe Capital and outside, leading her a merry dance and distracting her so that he could eventually ask what he wanted to. After they were trying to throw objects into the bin from above, Bobby makes the lovers analogy of sleeping with each other one last time and it fits perfectly.


Dr Mojo and assorted needy/insecure Axe Capital Staff/ Wendy & the lost boys

Wendy is disappointed to realise that Peter came to hear her stories, not see her. When he asks about Cinderella, Wendy says she knows lots of such stories and with that she tempts Peter into taking her with him.

Which of the lost boys do you think the Axe Capital staff may be? Here is my two cents:-

Slightly – cuts whistles out of trees and dances to his own tunes “the most conceited of the boys” apart from Peter. I think that this is Bill.

Curly – always in trouble. This has to be Mafee who is loveable, but increasingly always in bother with Bobby.

Tootles – always misses all the big adventures, but the one time he does get involved he ends up in big trouble. Sounds like Donnie.

Nibs – is “happy and debonair”. I am putting Maria Saldana despite ‘debonair’ seemingly referring to a man. She worked hard to fit in with the boys!

The Twins – no one is allowed to know something Peter does not and he doesn’t know what Twins are so the Twins try not to bring attention to their sameness. I see the Twins as Dr Mojo and Wags. We rarely see Wags and Dr Mojo with Bobby at the same time trying to reason with and reign him in, but they both do.

The lost boys depend on and love Wendy, her stories and the way she takes care of them in contrast to Peter. They dare not speak about mothers in front of Peter and they have to pretend to be eating when they’d rather actually be eating. I am now questioning whether any of the Pizza on this show was ever actually there!

Dr Mojo emphasises her importance to Axe Capital at her poolside meeting with Bobby. I believe the figure she estimated he would lose without her there to keep everyone’s heads straight is $1 billion.

Source: Showtime

When Wendy indicates she is going home the lost boys do not take it well. They do not want to lose her and she offers them all a home, one they are happy to accept as they do not have the same fear of growing up that Peter does.

Bobby is all about assessing risk, but one wonders if he has really assessed the risk of losing Dr Mojo. He won’t find another performance coach like her and how many of his staff will be willing to put up with him without her?

Bobby, Wendy & Chuck/ Peter, Wendy and Hook

“Hook” answered Peter, and his face became very stern as he said that hated word. “If we meet Hook in open fight, you must leave him to me.”

Source: Showtime

If Bobby is Peter who plays by his own rules, Chuck is Hook who despises Peter’s methods and arrogance. Hook discovers the boys’ homes, but does not strike. This reminds me of what Chuck said in the Pilot. Hook wishes to poison them elsewhere, out in the open when they are vulnerable and have had to contend with other obstacles.

“A good matador does not kill a fresh bull. He waits until he’s been stuck a few times.”

“Peter was such a small boy that one tends to wonder at Hook’s hatred of him. True he had flung Hook’s arm to the crocodile, but even this and the increased insecurity of life to which it led, owing to the crocodile’s pertinacity, hardly account for a vindictiveness so relentless and malignant. The truth is that there was a something about Peter which goaded the pirate captain to frenzy. It was Peter’s cockiness.”

Chuck has good reason to go after Bobby and yet it is also clearly very intensely personal.

Hook is described as being alone despite being surrounded by his crew because they are socially inferior to him. I get the feeling from Chuck that he does possess a superiority complex arising from his blood status. It is most pronounced when he has to deal with Bobby, but I increasingly sense it around Bryan.

Hook wishes to steal Wendy from Peter. Chuck displays all the signs of a man who feels resentment at having to steal his wife from her boss. In the end, his actions may have assisted in stealing her from Bobby to a degree, but he has also pushed her far from himself.

Peter is the only one not afraid to enter Hook’s circle of dread water. In a scene with Lara in ‘The Deal’ Bobby wonders why everyone is so afraid of Chuck Rhoades and he subsequently enters the circle of dread water…to be continued…

Just one last thought…when Peter takes Wendy, John and Michael home, he goes on in front to bar the window in order to make Wendy think her mother has forgotten her. In a rare moment of feeling, Peter sees Mrs Darling crying and though originally angry, resentful and defiant “I’m fond of her too, we can’t both have her”, Peter unbars the window and lets Wendy be free…

Source: Showtime

13 thoughts on “Billions: Fly Away, Fly Away!”

  1. So SO good!!! Thank you for reading Peter Pan again and for pulling out all these wonderful totally applicable quotes. The parallels are astounding. The Billions writers show such utter brilliance in pulling out the archetype of Peter Pan and transforming it so wonderfully into Bobby Axelrod. The way archetypes work is that they become parts of our subconscience. So we don’t know that this was a conscious thing they did. But how freakin wonderful to see it done!!!! Brava girl for shining a light on it so beautifully!

    1. Thank you! I had fun doing it. Peter Pan is so much fun in itself, but to see so much of Bobby, whether or not it was conscious or subconscious was delightful. I suggest everyone get around to re-reading Peter Pan as soon as possible.

  2. If the show creators did that consciously, I would salute their brilliance; such a great idea to turn a children’s classic that steps on most humane sensibilities into an adult classic. If they did that unconsciously, I cannot blame them because of the the same reason. In any case, I salute the brilliance in this writing (and in many writings here on this blog)

  3. WUNDERBAR! :))))

    Since you first raised this idea of Bobby being the boy who never wants to grow up, I have been dying to see this post. And I salute you, partner! This is extremely serious research and the connections you find are no less than genius.

    Oh yes, Peter is different from the other children. So is Bobby. Peter tries to keep Wendy at Neverland where he sets the rules and when she ultimately decides to leave, he re-visits her again and again as she is becoming an adult and he stays as a boy — but for her stories, and not for her. She is absolutely worth 20 boys!!!! You are now making me believe Bobby will try to win Wendy back! 🙂 And after him not giving Wendy the benefit of doubt in the season finale… I have just felt that it was the stories and not her. Incredible, isn’t it? And Peter bringing Wendy to the window and still trying to make her think her mom is not missing her… but giving in at the end and letting her be free…

    Imagining Chuck as the Hook (“A good matador does not kill a fresh bull”), Lara as Tinker Bell (Ha! I loved the bit about her not having wings and not being put in a drawer, but still her not being happy about Peter and Wendy :))))) and the Lost Boys… this makes me so happy!!!! And, hey, who is the crocodile? Hall? Maybe that is why I like Hall quite a bit – I always liked the crocodile and his clock 😀

    On a personal note, I have already shared with you Peter Pan was my childhood idol and he somehow still is. I sort of followed his footsteps — never wanted to grow up and sort of accomplished that in my own way 🙂 Billions is a dream coming true for me because it brings some of my most favorite things together: Damian Lewis. New York. Game Theory. And now Peter Pan? Did they make this show for me or what? 🙂

    1. Thank you in general and thank you for making me laugh. Honestly, anytime I hear or see the word WUNDERBAR from now on, I am going to think of the face that women pulled at Wags when he said it and I am going to laugh!

      “And after him not giving Wendy the benefit of doubt in the season finale… I have just felt that it was the stories and not her. Incredible, isn’t it?”
      Interesting you say this because as I told you I had to cut a lot and decided what had to be in here an what could go. One bit I cut was about how Axe and Dr Mojo met. We know when they met, but not how. I was theorising that perhaps Axe either heard or saw Dr Mojo doing her thing and spinning her yarn to many devastated people and maybe he sat down for a session with her himself…and maybe he became entranced as Peter did and decided this woman needed to come and fix him and his lost boys with her stories.

      Hall would be an awesome crocodile.

      This show was made for you and I am glad Peter is here to make it better. A good idol to have!

      1. So HAPPY that I make you laugh. Then again: Wunderbar!!! 🙂

        That’s serendipity — we both think about Axe and Wendy along similar lines: Yes, maybe he just hears or sees her doing the magic that she does, and becomes entranced by her. We need to find out about the backstory!!! Now that Wendy has left, and we know Peter has kept coming back to her over the years, and now that I am a believer Axe is the boy who does not want to grow up, he will try winning Wendy back. Is it possible? I have no idea. But our guy has his charm and all! I just think Wendy may give up on not having “disgust” on the table when he is concerned. We know Axe operates on autopilot under stress, and this was a very stressful time —- Axelrods thinking about fleeing the country!!! — that he was a robot with Wendy. I think if there is one person at the workplace that is important for him, that is Wendy. if not for herself, for her stories 🙂 I am just so looking forward to where we will find them in S2!

  4. Such a great analogy with Peter Pan. So interesting! For some reason, I kept thinking of her name, Wendy. Wondering why did they name her Wendy of all names? Not that there’s anything wrong with the name Wendy (Wendy Wasserstein was a great playwright). But you may be on to something. Or, as you say, it could be unconscious on the writers’ part.

    The comparison does really seem to fit. And if they never intended it, it still seems to fit.

    I do have to read Peter Pan now. I know about it of course but I don’t know if I ever read it. I guess I saw parts of it on TV.

    I like Wendy. I like seeing a strong, smart female character in a show. She holds her own with all these type A people and has tried with her husband (and I hope they can work things out). I believe in coaching or therapy that actually helps people. That has real results. It’s a special skill to work with those types of Type A business people, especially Wall Street people. And for her to be seen as a kind of co-founder of the firm. And highly valued. I have never watched this actress Maggie Siff before. I guess I’ll try watching some of Sons of Anarchy on Netflix. But I like her as an actress. She is interesting to watch.

    And her personal life is her business and no one seems to be getting hurt from their activities. But the trust stuff now has hurt them.

    But this is a TV show and drama is necessary. This show has a LOT of drama! Very high stakes. Everything is so high stake – prison or social death or financial ruin.

    Now I have to carefully read your post again and then read Peter Pan.

    1. Thank you. It is always good to find something you like wrapped in something else you like whether intentional or not. It was so much fun going through the book. Have fun reading Peter Pan for yourself. I love Wendy a lot as well and she has shown loyalty to both men who have now betrayed her trust in return. The both have some amount of grovelling to do to her. Quite right it is their business, but there is a lot of judgment about it. I’m with you, they are consenting adults whose activities are hurting no one.

      Enjoy Peter Pan…Second to the right and straight on until morning!

  5. This is great. Its incredible how we keep re-writing the same archetypes over and over again. Great comparisons made here!

  6. All this stress and craziness in their lives. Wasn’t the new “safe room” a meditation room previously? What if Axe gets to a crisis point and perhaps decides to go for a week long meditation retreat? He was meditating in early episodes in his office with his timer app. Would he ever drop out that long without it being part of some strategy?

    Would he ever question his life with a spiritual advisor? Perhaps a Buddhist teacher? Can he be introspective? Is he all action? Will we find out what drives him besides just coming from a blue collar background?

    What might come up in his mind if he stills himself and meditates. Can he still his mind? He was seemingly meditating in his office. As was Chuck. Imagine a mind like Axe’s trying to let his thoughts go. You can’t stop them but you notice and then let them go. Then they slow down. They never stop. But you don’t get caught in the story.

    Sorry if this doesn’t fit with the Peter Pan theme but I just thought of this. If he doesn’t have Wendy anymore who will he turn to? Did she do his introspecting for him? Maybe he’ll take his kids to a production of Peter Pan and have a moment of recognition. Sorry for babbling.

    I love your writing. And I appreciate having a place to babble about things a little.

    We all will eagerly await your ongoing posts here. We never know what you are going to offer next!! And we all can learn more about Damian’s career and past performances.

    1. Babble away! And thank you. So many interesting questions to consider. The fact that Chuck and Axe could both be found meditating earlier in the season may point to it having been Wendy who introduced them both to it (suggested By Damianista or JaniaJania in one of our talks earlier in the season). As the season goes on and they both become angrier and more paranoid the meditating seems to take a back seat, as does their listening to Wendy.

      I hope we do find out what else exactly is driving Axe in season 2. There is more beneath the surface. It is also wise to question whether Axe’s decision not to meditate later on is part of a strategy. He is a sneaky one.

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