Season 1 is behind us and Season 2 is a long way in front, so think of us as the in between because who says we have to stop talking about Billions Season 1 just because it has finished? We were talking about it long before it hit our screens and we’re not stopping now.
With that in mind, we have our fun list of our best of Billions Season 1. Feel free to agree or disagree with our list in the comments and let us know what your best of Billions Season 1 are.
TBkWrm: I have to give this to Bill ‘Keyser Soze’ Stearn. He of Pepsum Pharmaceutical infamy bought his mum a washing machine, blows up his two families for Axe, has a wonderful fake fight with Axe and he plays Carly, Channing and Lhasa like a fiddle on Axe’s behalf.
JaniaJania: Wags. Something of a mystery just what expertise makes Wags’s position so firm as Axe’s Number One. Axe is even willing to put his hands out for handcuffs if Wags turns out to be a mole. Yet, he is kept out of the loop on other things, i.e. the Pouch situation. His capacity to punctuate Axe’s lines perfectly with his own ribald observations and his willingness to lug around binders of prospectuses on busy NYC streets make him my Number One Minion.
Damianista: Oh, the knight who falls on his sword! The guy who figures this business makes liars out of all of them eventually but still stays loyal to the end. His last months are not his; he does it all to leave a comfortable life to his family. The one-hit wonder. The “Brian Doyle” of Axe Capital: “Let’s do this. Donnie.”
Most Vulgar Wags Line
TBkWrm: I prefer to call this category “Wags Words of Wisdom”. I think I will go for “Guys on the Prime Broker desks have loser lips than my first wife after the second kid.” Wags would be a painter of some imagery in another life.
JaniaJania: “We have to be more pure than the Virgin Mary before her first period.” Even Axe himself was floored by that one.
Damianista: Wags answers Axe’s question about when he comes into the panic room: “It’s a good place to jerk off when you are not around.” And I believe him.
TBkWrm: Elmo the dog being “fixed”, Axe aiming to ensure that no one ever “fixes” him like that and buys that blasted beach house..
JaniaJania: “That…was a prom night promise…Just the tip.” There are tips and then there are tips.
Damianista: Bookworm and I had this conversation about Bryan and Nonna Pie the other day. Bookworm suggested Bryan now tasted the pizza (he listened to Axe’s offer) and the pizza is still on the table (so is the offer). I don’t know if this was intentional on writers’ part but it gets my vote as the Best Metaphor!
TBkWrm: Axe Capital dress code
This is what a suit should look like!
JaniaJania: Suits were invented for the likes of Damian Lewis to wear. My fav was the one from the finale.
Damianista: We may be the bloggers that take it seriously, dive deep and micro-analyze it all. But, hey, for once, may I take a moment and have my fan girl moment? 😀 Suits may not be Axe’s favorite. But, if not Axe, Damian was born to wear them! In an interview with Elle Magazine, Billions costume designer Eric Daman says “when Axe does wear a suit, it’s like a punch to the face.” Not just to the face, I’d say. To the stomach, too. SIGH. Mr. Robert Axelrod is looking terrific in his Cifonelli in Episode 6 The Deal.
Best supporting character
TBkWrm: Donnie Caan. There is a saying about not knowing what you had until it is gone. How many of us really paid that much attention to Donnie in Naming rights? Then he becomes so important and we really did not want him to go.
JaniaJania: Dollar Bill Stearn. Had him pegged all wrong at the beginning. And I like being proven wrong. His ability to hold his own in the fake fight with Axe was a thing of beauty. Happy to see more of the brotherly love play out next season!
Damianista: Keyser Soze of Axe Capital is in THIS for life. Devoted two-family man. Sunday School Teacher. Volunteer Fireman. We use “Lawyer” and “I’m not uncertain” daily in our household now. Dollar Bill rocks and I am looking forward to more of him in Season 2!
Best Axe T shirt
TBkWrm: I really like the grey one from YumTime. It is telling you what will happen to YumTime if Axe gets involved…stock up!
JaniaJania: No secret that blue is this guy’s color. But grey works nicely too. The t-shirt when Bobby was tripling Donnie’s stack was memorable.
Damianista: That worn out “Master of Puppets” t-shirt. It’s a statement. Of Bobby boy, a teenager from Yonkers who is probably listening to Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” and taking a job as golf caddy, $16 an hour, that summer to make his pocket money for the year. And today he is getting even with the spoiled brat who spoiled his summer job. And nothing else matters 🙂
Best Axe line
TBkWrm: There are probably better lines in terms of humour or putting someone in their place, but I like this one because it sets the tone from the off. “He’s marking his territory. That is why it is called a pissing contest when two men try and stake out their turf.”
JaniaJania: “Swallow that and wash it down with this.” Lewd and memorable and applicable in a variety of situations when you’re kicking ass. (close second “THAT’S RIGHT!” in Naming Rights. Perfect delivery.)
Damianista: Axe is all about effing: F*** Chuck! F*** Carly, Channing and Hlasa! F*** Eads Family! Hey, he even wants to say F*** You to gravity! It is his “fuck you money” that gives him the power to do it and Axe perfectly sets the tone in The Pilot with my favorite line of the show: “What’s the point of having F*** You Money if you never say F*** You?” And, besides, it is very personal.
Best snarky moment
TBkWrm: The snark has to come from Lara doesn’t it? I am therefore going to choose her “Of course you are” line in response to Wendy’s declaration that she is part of the Axe Capital family.
JaniaJania: “…or should I say mistress.” Cutting and hurtful snark, not the humorous variety.
Damianista: I need to give it to Queen of Snarky aka Mrs. Robert Axelrod. Lara’s trinity of “Of Course!” to June’s “I never judged” in The Pilot to Wendy’s “This is not fun to any of us. You trust me on that, right?” in The Good Life and again to Wendy’s “One I’m part of, too!” in Quality of Life is a very clear F*** You.
Best of the rest Scene:
TBkWrm: Could it be anything else? Axe and Dollar Bill. I haven’t laughed that much at a scene in a long time. Just brilliant.
JaniaJania: Fake fight. Hands down. Rare to see such vivid humor inserted into dark drama. Humor, not as an aside or an escape, but something that is integral to the plot. Just old school laugh out loud wonderful.
Damianista: The fake fight between Axe and Dollar Bill is my new all-time favorite TV moment. “Come bonus time I will show you enough love you could start a third family.” Original. Hilarious. Genius.
TBkWrm: Wags who is right by Bobby’s side through it all. I’d love to know how these two met…and see that first meeting. For some reason, I imagine it being funny and Wags directing a diatribe at Bobby.
JaniaJania: Lara. She puts up with a lot for her guy, always has an ear when he wants to talk, always has a solution every time he has a problem. Maybe some of her loyalty is self-serving, but it’s still very real.
Damianista: Raul Gomez. He does not judge Axe even when he hears about 9/11. He just does what he needs to do and pulls NYC Pension Fund Money from Axe Capital. But then he lets Axe know about the US attorney looking into Mick Danzig’s automatic weapon charges as soon as he hears about it. A good friend does not judge and s/he is there for you. I don’t think Raul Gomez is on Axe’s payroll. He is a friend.
TBkWrm: This is very tough because I don’t think I have watched a TV programme with a score that is so appropriate and consistently excellent across the season. Parker Millsap’s ‘Heaven sent’ which is playing as Axe arrives at Donnie’s funeral.
JaniaJania: Cover Me Up, Jason Isbell. Beautiful lyrics. Hearing Isbell on the show introduced me to his album, Southeastern, which has been an easy go-to on my playlist ever since. So much great music on this show, but this one song and this artist will stick for a good long time.
Damianista: I just can’t stop listening to this song since I heard it on Billions. How come I missed this song when it came out in late 1990s? Or later? I believe though I have compensated for the last two decades in the last couple of weeks that my husband is already sick and tired of the song: Chumbawamba sings Tubthumping!
TBkWrm: I am going to give this to Quality of Life which was written by William Reale. An episode that deserves a great deal of credit..
JaniaJania: Short Squeeze, written by Young Il Kim. It had the pacing of a thriller, perhaps not sustainable in the long run, but a great punch in the gut in the first half of the season. It was the Metallica episode, where the direction and pacing of the language made it seem like Damian traded in his very spine for Bobby’s.
Damianista: William Reale rocks it big time in Episode 10 Quality of Life. This episode should be a challenge to put together since the story, with Donnie’s memorial service at its heart, has so many moving parts. Reale does it seamlessly with flashbacks as well as several back and forths between the memorial service and all else going on. Brian Koppelman tweeted the fake argument between Axe and Bill was Reale’s idea and THAT alone deserves standing ovation!
Best single to catch
TBkWrm: I take back all my wishes for Kate and Bryan to hook up because now I can’t say Bryan! I am going to say Wags…because good luck catching that man.
JaniaJania: Mafee, if he’s still single by the time next season starts.
Damianista: I waited for him to divorce Betty Fuckin’ Crocker for the entire season… Oh no Axe has not promised me $40 million pre-tax for catching him, I just find Chuck Sr very charming 😀 I am learning from the best so I have my Plan B: I will chase Chase the hot headhunter!
Best of the rest line
TBkWrm: We aren’t actually told who wrote this (I suspect Donnie) but the IT guy reads it out to Axe as Axe searches amongst his employees’ emails for the Axe Capital mole.
“The man fucking creeps me out. Is he even a man or some kind of alien magi? His eyes see the dark truth inside us all. A truth that wasn’t even dark until he looked at it. He knows I’m typing this. He is having this email read aloud to him right now.”
JaniaJania: Overlaps considerably with the funniest lines, because this show knows comedy better than any other drama series. If I had to choose a serious line, with some serious science behind it too, it would be Wendy’s in The Good Life:
For most of human history, we would’ve been dead by now, we get to this age and think “What the fuck am I still doing here?” It’s disorienting.
Damianista: Billions has so many great lines and we on the blog are at a point where we can live a full life speaking in Billions quotes only 🙂 If I need to go with one then it’s Chuck spilling out all his insecurity when Bobby Axelrod is concerned to his friend Ira:
“Bobby Axelrod could run through the Serengeti and not break a sweat. I go down in the subway and gotta change my shirt.”
Best Wendy/Chuck scene
TBkWrm: Wendy throwing his ass out, not just because I am not a fan of Chuck it has to be said. Paul Giamatti’s performance in this scene did tug at the heartstrings . Ultimately Chuck verbally slapped his wife in the face. A great performance from Maggie Siff as well “You don’t get to ask me that question anymore.” Wendy knows how to slap back.
JaniaJania: Finale when neither was really crying but both had tears coming out of their eyes.
Damianista: Oh it is intense between Chuck and Wendy as Chuck gets his ass kicked out the house in the season finale. As much as I anticipated this; in particular, after Chuck sneaked into Wendy’s computer, I feel their LOVE the most in this scene. Chuck’s desperation is real. Wendy’s disappointment is real. You feel desperation and disappointment only when there is LOVE.
Best Axe/Lara scene
TBkWrm: Bobby telling Lara that he cries. He finally gives Lara “something”. He is rewarded with a snogging session.
JaniaJania: Tete a tete sur l’herbe. Lighting was good that day. Created the post-coital glow perfectly.
Damianista: Bobby telling Lara he shuts down when things go bad is an aha moment: This guy has a tendency to close up himself to emotion. And as much as it looks perfect from the outside, no, it is not easy to be Mrs. Axelrod.
TBkWrm: Mr loyalty himself Bobby Axelrod destroying it all with Wendy in the finale. “You’re either loyal or you’re not”. So said he earlier in the season. Well, she was and now he has blown it!
JaniaJania: Roman bath scene. Bobby and Wendy getting naked before anyone ever expected they would.
Damianista: Donnie Boy taking one for Team Axe!
TBkWrm: The season finale ‘The Conversation’. So much pulled down in this episode to build up for season 2.
JaniaJania: Tough one! They seemed to get better every week. Not a dud in the bunch. (even the best series always have one where you’re left thinking: what the hell?) I’d have to pick the one where Bobby and Wendy have their session. Lovely, engaging, smart and beautiful.
Damianista: IMHO, Episode 10 Quality of Life has the best writing, my new favorite TV moment as well as my favorite song. Besides, it has quite a few revelations about who Bobby Axelrod is. My new obsession is going back and watching its last few minutes. Again. And again. And again.
TBkWrm: Wendy and Bobby in virtually every scene they are in there is something there. Magical Thinking is alive with it. Each scene with them in this episode is wonderful. I will however, highlight the “aim for the bin/lover’s analogy” scene. Fun followed by serious, followed by some verbal intimacy which Bobby both initiates and breaks.
JaniaJania: What Bookworm said. 🙂 That bit where Bobby sidles up to Wendy with the parting lovers analogy, all sexy and playful, threw the entire world off balance.
Damianista: Axe and Wags! I sometimes feel like I am watching this old and odd marriage in which two people know it all. There is no need for words to understand each other but there is always time for a good tease. (“Bad idea. No man is a hero to his valet.” “That goes double for his COO. So you’re fucked with me either way.”) It’s delightful to watch the two of them.
13 thoughts on “Best of Billions Season 1”
Glorious post. You three writers complete an Olympian Triad of bloggers. How lucky we readers are to have you all share your craft analysis and respective observations about one of the best series ever to grace the airwaves. Who knew a show that is basically a dissertation on an inner character that could be named ‘morals and ethics’?
“Bobby Axelrod could run through the Serengeti and not break a sweat. I go down in the subway and gotta change my shirt.”
Wow, that one line could be used to head a whole psychological profile on Chuck Rhoades. I see Chuck picturing a gazelle-like Axe breezing freely through a vast, untamed, glorious expanse of nature. Axe being part and parcel of this great nature he navigates, and free-oh so free. And then I see Chuck envisioning himself wallowing in the unnatural bowels of a man-made plain, labored and uncomfortable, as unattractive pools of sweat stain his business attire. The business attire of a worker-not a free man. Not a gazelle running free.
You three will get me through the crawl to 2017.
“Olympian Triad” made me smile big. We do tend to approach all of this with the vigor and determination of athletes on a mission. 😀
Beautiful description of Axe and Chuck’s animal natures! There will always be a place in this country for those who are naturally free “part and parcel of this great nature he navigates” (love it!). It’s the law and order types who have to struggle to carve out a niche in a society that rails against authoritarianism of any sort….thus Chuck will be struggling to not drown in his perpetual sweat for a nice long time. The struggle between the two is a brilliant and timely premise for a show.
Glad to see you through it and get you thru between seasons. It’s an honor and a privilege!
Thank you so much for your kind words!!! What a compliment!!! It was such a pleasure to put this post together — it’s always seamless and FUN work with these two incredible women I am proud to call friends and partners in crime 😀
Haha I am busted! I would love to write something about Chuck’s obsession about Axe and I think that one sentence summarizes it all. It’s much more than justice served for Chuck. It’s extremely personal. I sort of understand him and sympathize with him because I have never been a gazelle running free, either 🙂 I just can’t wait to see where the show is taking us in Season 2. We would just feel honored to get you through the crawl to 2017. Let’s crawl together!!! <3
Ooh thank you so much, but it is just as good for us to have all of you to share it with. Great analysis of Chuck who seems to have to measure himself against Bobby to a certain extent. We will get each other through the crawl to 17. It might seem less than the year if we are lucky. I can’t believe that we have been writing about Billions for so long and that season 1 has just finished.
The best metaphor is in “Dead Cat Bounce” when the new therapist puts up a picture of himself big-game hunting cats.
Hahaha it may also mean his stock is temporarily up, too, thanks to Wendy’s absence! I think Chuck also makes perfect Dead Cat Bounce, doesn’t he?
The three of you created a terrific post here (though I like all of them). I enjoyed remembering every good choice you made. Bravi tutti!!
I would contribute another BEST category that furthers the best heavyweight fight on TV ——–
Best Bone-Chilling Threats (powerfully delivered by our favorite fighter, too) –
“When I pull a deal off the table, I leave Nagasaki behind.” Axe in Episode 12, in the facedown with Chuck, last scene. (In the midst of the physical devastation wrought at Axe Capital).
“Those who would try to bring down our house will see their own houses fall.” Axe in Episode Six, from atop the file cabinet, rallying the troops, after Dollar Bill was arrested.
Keep up this great blog. Best to you,
Thank you Lynda! :):):)
So many great lines in this show!
Thank you, Lynda, for reading us! And for your BEST category: I love it! I would go for “When I pull a deal off the table, I leave Nagasaki behind.” So brutal. I am looking forward to seeing where S2 will be taking us.
We will do our best to keep up the work: the support we get from you all is making us keep going so BIG THANKS! Please keep your feedback coming in! Sharing the love is the best thing about this experience!
Yes, Damianista, the threat from the finale is the best – brutal, as you say. But, I also had to include the runner-up, the second threat, because we immediately see the look on Wendy’s face as she foresees the “Fall of the House of Rhoades” in Axe’s words. Pretty chilling premonition.
Thanks for the fanfun. You guys are terrific.
Ha! There is always a runner-up, especially in this show! And I know that if we start from scratch we can come up as many different BEST categories as we did originally. Yep, the look on Wendy’s face as the general orders his troops “to live free or die” + the way he walks past her once he is off the file cabinet = terrifying!
Thank you for transcribing the ‘alien magi’ bit! I’ve been searching for that quote since the episode first aired. Easily one of the funniest parts of the season.
Our pleasure! It was certainly one of the best lines! Thank you for reading and glad you are enjoying Billions — we do a lot of Billions posts, hope you enjoy them, too! Please keep your feedback coming.