The overslept birthday boy, who was totally oblivious to his wife’s pain at Yonkers Racetrack, wakes up in an empty house. Lara has taken off with the boys leaving a note that reads “you lied to me.” Well, he did. Her phone is off and his first voice message is kind:
“Will you just call me? Please?”
Cameras show Lara taking four 10K bricks out of the vault and leaving with light luggage. She has not used the jets or the chopper. We find out Axelrods have a NYC apartment, homes in Aspen and Miami as well as a vineyard in addition to their two properties we have known of and Lara is not at any of them. Hall disabled the GPS in her car at Axe’s request months ago and she has not used EZ-pass or any credit cards yet.
While Lara has certainly rubbed me the wrong way this season, especially with her brutal stance on Sandicot, I AM WITH HER on this. Trust is the most important ingredient in a marriage – 20 years of experience is speaking here! – and once it is broken, I don’t know how you can keep it together. Having said that, Lara knows she is married to a man who lies, and it seems his lies become a problem for her only when he lies to her. It is too big to comprehend for my small head!
Wendy looks like a school girl who knows what she did is wrong when asked by a very creepy Hall to get in the car. Axe is right she knew she would make trouble when she told Lara she set the “no session” policy with Axe. And she obviously took pleasure in doing that but can you blame her? Lara started it all with her snarky “yeah, I’ve heard other people say that” at the poker tournament and so totally deserved “which is why I set the policy” from Wendy at Axe’s birthday party.
I understand that a man that has told only one lie to his wife in 15 years counts as “a black swan” in Wags’ book but I cannot help give Axe a Lara-esque “are you fucking kidding me?” Didn’t he lie to Lara about the boat trip in Season 1? But, hey, Axe’s conception of a lie may well be different from mine 😀
A call from an “unknown” number cuts their conversation. The “unknown” turns out to be Boyd who kindly asks Roberto to please find him at his new job for some “deep throat” conversation and bring a bottle of 20 year old, too, if he can.
Roberto continues his one-way voice-messaging with an “I wanted to protect you” bullshit, but then annoyed by Lara’s silence, he shifts gears in the next one:
“You know what? You leaving is one thing, but taking my boys, what the fuck?”
His next stop is Lara’s cop brother Matt’s house, which he bought for him, just to get introduced as the “asshole brother-in-law” to Matt’s friends accompanied with a lecture on what cops do to guys who abuse their wives.
Hall finds out Lara and the kids were at a Go-Kart place close to Cullen’s Tavern where Lara used to hang out in her youth. Axe goes there to find the two guys Lara hired in The Oath to pull a trick on her competitor Mercy Squad. They have a message from Lara: She is going to their NYC apartment and needs her space.
Axe is now a hopeless romantic who has got “struck by the thunderbolt like Michael with Apollonia” in The Godfather in his new voice message to Lara.
He talks about a night in Paris that they listened to U2’s “With or Without You” on iPod all night and promised if they hit a wall they would remind each other of that night and find a way back to each other. Axe is now reminding Lara of that night.
“Call me. Please.”
Wendy finds Axe lost in frustration in his office. We probably never really saw Axe in this kind of agony, not even after he lost a billion dollars at BioLance. It makes sense the possibility of being walked out on is way bigger than losing a billion dollars for the boy whose dad never came back. Wendy remembers Axe talking about marriage after only one date with Lara while Axe remembers how Lara helped her close friends to keep it together after they lost their husbands, all firemen, on 9/11. Axe knows he now has to wait and Wendy knows he hates it. As soon as Wendy leaves, Axe comes up with an idea to shorten his wait time. New message:
“Just say the word and I’ll erase Wendy Rhoades from our world forever.”
Feeling a bit guilty about what she did, and maybe because she knows Axe does not deal with waiting well, Wendy does her share to shorten Axe’s wait time, too. While Wendy thinks she is in the middle in THIS family crisis, Lara thinks she is ALWAYS in the middle. Wendy assures Lara she cannot pay her enough to disappear and tells her this is the first time she has seen Axe in fear. It is pretty ironic that the woman who has heard other people say marriage is hard is now asking whether her marriage would come out stronger if they were able to make through this. Wendy just advises her to forgive if she can. Lara seems to be listening.
Chuck gets to meet George Minchak (a wonderful Mary-Louise Parker) who has vetted all candidates Foley backed to date. Minchak needs to make sure, if there is a possible October surprise out there, they drop it in February during The Super Bowl when no one is paying attention! 😀 She has already checked the small stuff which Chuck passed with flying colors and she will now get into his receipts, browsing history as well as everyone who has known him intimately since school days. And, today, they go over a number of topic areas from aborted pregnancies to employing undocumented workers to see if there is any flag raised. And, hey, is it me or does Chuck get distracted by Minchak’s high heels? 😀 Well, she is THE expert and may have just done it to figure him out.
Minchak also needs to know what they will be selling in terms of marital status so it cannot be a “process.” She knows EVERYONE has something to hide and so pushes Chuck to give her whatever it is he is afraid to whisper:
“Don’t think you’re doing your daddy, or Jack Foley or certainly yourself any favors by holding back. “
Chuck shares a hazing story from boarding school in which Minchak is quick to figure out Chuck was the victim: “You were Santiago, not Dawson.” (A Few Good Men, anyone? A second, indirect,reference to Tom Cruise 🙂 While Chuck took his revenge two years later, in an intramural baseball game, by sending a ball right in the face of the ringleader who was catching, Minchak knows to spin this story as a strong anti-bullying stance for the campaign!
“By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll be signing baseball bats every time you appear in public.”
Finally, knowing that the only candidate Foley backed and that has not cooperated with Minchak was Spitzer, Chuck submits his “biggest potential vulnerability” to her: the laptop owned by the dominatrix who calls Chuck “Mr. Martinez” stolen by the former FBI guy Chuck Senior hired. Does this mean Senior knows about Junior’s BDSM tendencies?
While Chuck is busy getting vetted, Bryan is playing Ed Harris to Taylor’s Tom Cruise (The Firm, anyone?) at City of Saints Coffee. And I REALLY have to make a personal note: Tom Cruise is my all-time LEAST favorite actor and it is an on-going joke in our house that if Damian made a film with Cruise, I would have to watch it. And here is the whatsapp message I got from my husband tonight as we watched the show in parallel 😀
Bryan believes he may turn Taylor because they donated to Urban Justice Center and were active in Occupy Wall Street while in college. What Bryan does not know is Taylor is about to rent a fancy apartment at 8 Union Square South. The real estate agent needs a quick decision because once the listing goes online, the apartment will go by lunch time. A 26K a month apartment in Manhattan does not even stay for a day on MLS. Right!
When neither Ben Kim nor himself can see the short on Klaxon, Mafee goes to the “golden child” who sees things differently. Taylor sees through Axe: He needs justification FOR LATER to be able to say they had a reason to short Klaxon. Taylor finds it in Klaxon’s “stretched” lending department assuming there are “other factors” Axe takes into consideration for a short 😀 The Head of Crim seat is still vacant, but the Head of Research seat has just been taken by Taylor with a 500K mid-semester bonus!
Taylor, before putting their signature on the short recommendation, makes sure the US Attorney has nothing on them. And Bryan trying latte and a cookie plate along with “you’re an intelligent, a good person” on Taylor is no Ed Harris : D Taylor gives him a lecture on stocks as living organisms along with the finger. Job promotion. Fancy apartment. Is Taylor, who was talking about the air being toxic at Axe Capital a few episodes ago, ready to do it all in the one life they get?
Chuck has his ways to charm Wendy, but Axe, without knowing, gives him a real hand today! Wendy talks to Chuck about feeling lonely and scared over green and yellow “Ice Juice” drinks with nine antioxidants in the afternoon, and the two are like high schoolers skipping class as they skip couple’s therapy for dinner in the evening! We now find out why Chuck received a file on Antoine Casson early in the episode. Remember the bistro they always went when they were first married which Chuck found out has been closed for four years in Victory Lap? Well, Chuck uses “the long arm of the law” to pursue Chef Casson who now greets Monsieur Le Prosecutor and his “college girl” in his new restaurant!
Chuck tells Wendy about his potential run in gubernatorial elections and Wendy tells him her experience with Lara without naming her. Chef Casson and his yummy food bring back good old memories that the evening ends up with Wendy telling Chuck to come home. The dominatrix is back and I agree with the Chef, too, she is “shaming the angels.” Wendy is a keeper and Hall seems to be keeping notes about her.
As he has no family waiting for him home, Axe stops by Bruno’s for a slice and a chat. Bruno puts it very clearly:
“You’re my business partner. So, you get the slice and a coke on the arm. pizza and a coke. But that don’t buy you a conversation with me.”
Axe had to think twice before breaking this old man’s heart with his “there will still be a finder’s fee” when Bruno drove all the way from Yonkers to tell him not to screw Sandicot. THAT was when Axe forgot where he came from. And now that his only remaining “family member” has also turned his back on him, Axe gets creepy on voice message:
“I teach the fucking lessons and you are about to get one. I will lock you the fuck down and operate you by fucking remote control with a flick of my motherfucking fingers, Lar!”
Well, Matt may want to call to remind Axe what happens to guys who abuse their wives. What the fuck?
Despite his very bad day, Roberto still makes time for Boyd who brings a brief ray of sunshine to his day and earns the Michter’s he gets. Chuck Senior has taken a sizable stake at Ice Juice. The company is going public and Axe has an opportunity to be the “turd in the punchbowl.” As they shake hands, I am concerned if this is Boyd’s plan to take revenge or if this is somehow Chuck’s plan to get Axe. We know he is not in Ice Juice to help Ira or dad but he is in it to get to Axe.
While he buries his sorrows in his own Michter’s bottle, Axe leaves the longest and the dumbest message of the day on Lara’s phone: Oh, “the fucking opportunities” he had! BIG SIGH. While he is still yelling into the phone, front gate calls to let him know Lara and the boys are back. While the boys are happy to be back, Lara coldly reminds Axe of Apollonia’s fate when he tells her he thought a lot about the thunderbolt today. No, the family crisis is not over yet and I am concerned about how Lara will handle IT.
I have said it before and will say it again: I LOVE the symmetries in Billions! Axe is now doing to Lara what Chuck did to Wendy last season. But when you come to think of it, Chuck sneaked into Wendy’s private patient files where as Axe has just deleted his own messages 😀 So I forgive him for that! And it feels good to see, as much as he claims he is a “terminator”, Bobby Axelrod is a human being after all. And a very flawed one at that. And, With or Without You, giving us, above all, what money can and cannot buy, is now my favorite episode of the season.