Happy New Year!
We are finally in the homestretch to Billions Season 2 with just over a month and a half to go! And the last couple of weeks have given us enough to keep the adrenaline flowing! We now have Season 2 art work, two new teasers, Season 2 Tease and “Cover Your Assets” Tease, revealing a bit more about the state of mind our characters are in, as well as some thrilling casting news!
Well, while I was thinking if my dream show could make me any happier, Billions has done it again. The brilliant Asia Kate Dillon, who you may know from Orange is the New Black, is joining Billions as Taylor, an exceptionally gifted new intern at Axe Capital. In addition to being an exciting character, Taylor as well as Dillon self-identify as gender non-confirming. And we just applaud the way Billions uses the power of art to celebrate diversity.
Dillon tells Huffington Post that Taylor’s storyline, in contrast to other cultural portrayals of gender non-conforming people, does not focus on the character’s coming out and/or rejection by their family and friends: “Not only is Taylor different from anything we’ve seen on television before, but I am something new, too. I’m here to change the game.” Well, from what we have seen so far, Axe, the ultimate expert in surrounding himself with the best and the brightest, seems to be taking Taylor pretty seriously: “You see things differently. That’s an edge.”
Welcome to Axe Capital, Taylor!
Then we have Billions Season 2 art work, with the tagline The Mighty will Fall, that makes me feel like at a boxing match with two heavyweight champions in their prime surrounded by their supporters along with a referee standing between them to make sure they do not fatally hurt each other.
On the Left: Team Chuck.
On the Right: Team Axe.
In the Middle: Wendy. The obvious winner of Season 1, who, time and again, showed us she could swim with the sharks. An independent team of one who happens to have strong ties to both teams. Her hand on Chuck’s chest and her eyes on Team Axe, will Wendy be, once again, the mediator in the ultimate pissing contest?
In contrast to earlier promos, Season 2 Tease has MORE Wendy in it, and I am intrigued to see her with two new characters: Wendy seems to be exploring some new space with Craig Heidecker “an innovative and ambitious young tech billionaire” and hangs out with Todd Krakow “a stylish and smooth hedge fund whale.” Krakow tells her: “I am offering you a chance to redefine yourself in the industry, separate from Axe in every way.”
And, hey, what is Wendy doing on stage holding a prescription bottle? Well, I confess I zoomed on the label but could not read a thing. So… I choose to wildly speculate here. Could it be that Wendy is taking a job at Krakow’s hedge fund and she is introducing herself to the fund’s employees here? Is she holding the prescription many of them take to deal with stress and motivation issues and telling them they will not need this now that Wendy Rhoades is in the house? I may be totally off the mark but who cares? I am deeply inspired by that scene in The Pilot where Wendy has a session with Danzig, who asks for a prescription, and Wendy uses her magic on him instead: “Feel that!” By the end of the session, Danzig is a new man. He does not need a prescription anymore.
Wendy seems determined to keep her distance from the two men who betrayed her. It is quite delicious to see her giving the boot to Axe, who needs her back at Axe Capital, with a “that’s not gonna happen” and to Chuck, who needs to get used to the “new reality” not only in his marriage but also at the workplace, with an “I think it makes sense for you to get your own place.” Pack your bags, Chuck!
Chuck is in trouble. It is not just the Attorney General is calling him down to D.C. and may be firing him, but also Ari Spyros informs Chuck they have opened an investigation into the conduct of his office and the man leading the investigation is dangerous.
Enters Oliver Dake.
Dake, played by Christopher Denham whom you may know from Argo, looks like a man from a former era with his haircut and glasses. We learn he sucks up information “like a goddamn octopus” and is determined to dig deep until he finds the truth. I bet he also has his personal agenda like everyone else on Billions!
Given that his office is under investigation, the best Chuck can do is to re-build his reputation through a case “screaming for justice” which his team is now tasked with finding! I told you earlier here THAT case may have something to do with Lawrence Boyd who runs the investment bank Spartan-Ives. We did not meet Mr Boyd in person in Season 1 but heard of him quite a few times. He is such a respected figure in the world of finance that Wags calls him “the healing waters of Lourdes.” But now that we see “windbreakers” leaving the Spartan-Ives building with boxes, healing waters may be turning into troubled waters. The new tease sort of confirms my line of thought that we now see Boyd telling Axe “I need to know how to beat him.” Given that nothing is what it seems on Billions, I am now thinking if the entire Boyd case could be Axe’s doing – part of his strategy to get to Chuck. And even the remote possibility of it makes me giggle. Oh, Billions, what have you done to me?
It turns out Boyd is not the only person that wants to talk to Axe. Axe receives interesting visitors varying from Oliver Dake to, well, Chuck Rhoades! While I am dying to hear their conversations, I am equally curious about the timing of Chuck’s visit – whether it is before or after Dake’s visit and whether it is Axe that invites Chuck or it is Chuck that drops by!
And while we do not know the circumstances under which the two meet, we certainly know, and the new tease reveals a bit more about Axe’s current state of mind, that Axe is now obsessed with Chuck.
I do not believe a word of it when Axe, in “Fortune Favors the Bold” tease, tells Chuck he never thinks about the evening Chuck made him rip Axe Capital apart. Oh he is THINKING about it. Axe, in fact, confirms my suspicions in the new teaser:“I’m hearing Chuck Rhoades in my sleep, it’s like the fucking Lord’s Prayer.” And THAT seems to be driving him crazy. Axe is restless. He feels unsafe. He wants to get rid of Chuck once and for all. However, as I talked about earlier here, Axe’s guys do not seem happy with Axe’s obsession reaching new heights. And, Hall joins the club, in the new tease! We see him being quite unwilling to go after Chuck because “there is no opening now” while the boss insists: “Find one.”
And it seems the Megadeth tshirt reveals Axe’s current state of mind. I have never been into metal music but I am lucky to have Lady Trader who grew up with it and she has told me Megadeth’s most famous song is called “Peace Sells, but Who’s Buying?” in line with the theme of war in Billions! Now, please look closely at Axe’s t-shirt. Voila! The exact lyrics are written on it! “Peace sells… But Who’s Buying?”
Si vis pacem, para bellum. If you want peace, prepare for war. Those Romans were damn smart.
Is there anybody out there that could get Axe interested in peace?
Well, Axe Capital seems to have a new performance coach whom we see in a session with Ben Kim. As much as the following figures appearing on screen one by one as the new coach asks Ben whether he is “a hardass, badass, jackass, or noass” is beyond hilarious…
…the new coach does not seem capable of keeping Mr. Badass in check. Axe declares open war: “I don’t want to be subtle, I want him to know it’s me.” And we all know open war, as Wendy rightly points out in Season 1 Episode 6: The Deal, is not good for anyone.
Moreover, Axe believes “Hate is nature’s most perfect energy source. It’s endlessly renewable.” WHOA. I really need to be cruel to be kind here.
Axe is WRONG.
Hate may be a motivating force to an extent and I imagine Axe may have used it as a fuel as he was climbing the social ladder to fulfill his dream of “getting rich and getting even.” Yet, excessive hate may also consume your energy and ultimately destroy you. So I believe it is vital Team Axe take pre-cautions before it is too late. And given that they are a smart bunch, they may start their own “Bring Back Wendy” operation behind Axe’s back. I can even see Lara heading such a covert operation in case she does her own calculations and concludes it is only Wendy that can fix Axe. Well, seeing these two kick-ass women sitting next to each other is a damn good start and I cannot wait for more.
And how about Wags going wild with booze, drugs and women? Why do I think it could be part of a strategy to bring Wendy back? Well, because I cannot stop my imagination from going in twenty different directions when this show is concerned!
We talked about possible sources of domestic tension in Axelrod household earlier here. Regardless of what the tension is between Lara and Axe, it feels REAL. You see it in their body language. You hear it in the tone Axe uses with Lara as he asks “how?” when she says she will handle IT. We do not know what IT is, but IT is clearly something that makes Axe talk to his wife in a condescending manner which is planets away from the loving way we are used to seeing Axe with her and believe me Lara is not the only person irritated by his tone. In the new tease, we see Lara doing her own thing — from leaving an envelope possibly full of money on a bar counter to telling a man it is not a good idea, and I concur, to test her. It is not hard to guess she is on her own mission to keep what they have, as a family, built together and she will stop at nothing in doing that.
Going back to the two men butting heads: While Axe and Chuck are seemingly very different men, they have more in common than they know. Both are full of themselves. They just cannot see everything is not about them and the actions they take have consequences for everyone around them. They put themselves at the center of a solar system where they expect all planets to get aligned. When you think about it, Axe telling Hall “find one” and Chuck telling his team “find another way” are not terribly different from each other. Both are used to getting what they want and they want to get it no matter what. Both are equally driven when it comes to their ambitions and this may in fact be more detrimental to them than anything else. Well, maybe it’s time they learn the hard way that everything is, in fact, not about them.
Finally, I love the brief appearance MetLife Stadium, the home of NY Jets and NY Giants, makes in Season 2 tease, but I cannot help think about Naming Rights. It is a good thing Axe is a “rich fuckin’ man” but he is not doing THAT, or is he? 😀