In case you missed Part III, it is here.
Wendy is back at Axe Capital with her “black magic” to influence minds and the first such mind she tries is Bobby. Bobby says Wendy is not comfortable being part of a plan that would destroy Sandicot. Wendy responds Bobby wants to talk about Sandicot just because he wants her to make him feel better about what he is about to do. Bobby may have a point, when turned down, thinking he may not be the only one putting his needs “above those of the good people of Sandicot” while Wendy may have a point, too, thinking Bobby does not have feelings when it comes to business. Their conversation feels like a thrilling rally between Nadal and Federer. Who do you think wins it? 😀
Danzig loses sleep about Russian Hackers, and is, in fact, concerned about what they are about to do in Sandicot. Wendy gives him the big picture: Axe Capital employees are constantly in the gray areas, morally and legally, but they can live with it because they do not exactly know whom they are hurting in the process. But, when it comes to Sandicot, they know exactly whom they are going to hurt and how. This is a Wendy quite different from the performance coach who tells Danzig “Feel it!” in Billions Pilot. And Danzig is a guy quite different from his boss who seems to have no feelings when it comes to business. When Wendy’s “magic” makes Danzig leave, Bobby tells Wendy her contract is very clear about her responsibility to help his employees perform at the peak.
“You made the deal, Bobby. You can get out of it anytime.”
Ha! This look speaks volumes for Bobby. Does he still think it was a smart move to bring Wendy back?
Wendy is soul-searching this season and we find her using her own self-reflection, her ability to think back, observe herself in action and learn from it, in her job. Accordingly, her first conversation with Taylor in Season 2 Episode 8 The Kingmaker turns to her backstory with Bobby.
“Everyone always assumes we were fucking.”
True. It is probably everyone at Axe Capital except for Taylor and probably everyone watching the show except for me and a few others 😀 I am in the tiny little minority who does not think Bobby and Wendy had a romantic relationship and I do not want to see them in bed, either. Their relationship is intimate, sexy and mysterious as is. I find it fascinating that despite their chemistry is off the charts, they do not pass the red line and keep dancing around it.
“We met at a similar moment, when we were both trying to figure out who we were going to be… In some ways, we did. And in other important ways, we maybe fell a little short.”
Wendy takes her time to think about the ways she fell a little short, and minutes after lying to Chuck, gives Taylor a call that night to answer their question about whether feelings are useful:
“More than any stock you’ll ever champion, more than any time you’ll impress somebody by being right. You haven’t noticed yet. By the time anyone notices, it’s usually too late, but that place has a way of obscuring, corroding, eating you from the fucking inside. And you have a rare chance to survive. You’re so far ahead of where Axe and I were when we were your age. We hadn’t made hard choices. You know yourself better. And your feelings are a lifeline connecting you back to that place, screaming at you from your core, “Don’t forget me. Don’t forget. I don’t like to lie.”
INTENSE. This is Wendy telling Taylor what happened to Bobby and to her, at least partially, along the way. And as she admits to Chuck later, her readjustment to Axe Capital has been bumpy. It seems Wendy cannot find the meaning she used to find in there anymore. She has a question neither she or Chuck has an answer for:
“When do you give up?”
Does anyone in Billions ever give up? 😀
The troubled work relationship between Bobby and Wendy gets personal when Wendy does not shy away from telling Lara, who is her usual wolf in a sheep’s clothing self at Bobby’s birthday party, that it was HER who set the current “no session” policy.
Wendy is taking pleasure, and who can blame her, in telling the truth to the woman who started it all with her snarky “Yeah, I have heard other people say marriage is hard.” She knows she is stirring the cup. However, I do not think she foresees Lara leaving home with the kids and herself finding Hall at her doorstep telling her to get in the car so Bobby could interrogate her about what happened.
Wendy finds Bobby in his office in a desperate state later in the day. Well, it makes sense the possibility of being walked out on is way more costly than losing a billion dollars for the boy whose dad never came back. Their conversation reveals Bobby talking about marriage only after one date with Lara. Wendy does not understand it at first but she knows Lara is THE one when she meets her. And while she does not say explicitly what she sees in Lara the day they meet, it is not very hard to imagine: an ambitious and assertive young woman who comes from nothing, wants to have everything, and is determined to do whatever it takes for it: Perfect life partner for Bobby Axelrod.
Wendy knows Bobby hates waiting and the professional in her, combined with the personal regret she may have, decides to take an initiative to shorten his wait time: She goes to tell Lara this is the first time she has seen Bobby in fear. Wendy just advises her to forgive if she can. Like she did. Lara seems to be listening.
What Wendy does not know is that her visit to Bobby has given him an idea to shorten his wait time, too!
“Just say the word and I’ll erase Wendy Rhoades from our world forever.”
While he wants Wendy back at Axe Capital, and that he cares about her, as the possibility of losing his family scares the shit out of him, Bobby is willing to ERASE Wendy from their lives forever should Lara pick up the phone and tell him to do it. I do not think he is bluffing at the moment. trying And, hey, he already told Lara earlier in the season:
“Babe, everyone in the world besides you, me, and the kids is cannon fodder.”
What happens next exceeds all the craziness we have witnessed in this show and in any show, and we will certainly be looking forward to THAT story folding out in the new season!
Wendy is surprised that her husband, all of a sudden, gets interested in the stock market and is investing in Ice Juice along with his dad and best friend. And as soon as she finds out Bobby is shorting Ice Juice, she, violating her contract, goes to Chuck to tell him to get out of Ice Juice immediately because Axe will crush him. Chuck is disappointed Wendy has no faith in him and that she is looking at him like she would at a pathetic dog in a shelter. Given Chuck is acting like an idiot, Wendy calls Mafee to tell him to short Ice Juice for her, too. Axe grills Mafee for doing what Wendy tells him to do without checking with the boss first, but he also finds Wendy’s bet as a bold one against THE family. He does not know at the time Wendy’s action could, in fact, be his life saver.
I believe what Wendy has done is insider trading and it may look even worse when the Ice Juice story becomes public. And it seems Maggie Siff and I have different takes on Wendy’s motivation in shorting the stock:
Siff tells Variety:
“Is that insider trading? I think it is. She, too, is corruptible. How can you not be in that world when the stakes are so high and things happen so quickly? People fall into all kinds of traps and she’s not immune.”
I do not think Wendy shorts Ice Juice for the profits per se but to compensate the loss she believes Chuck will suffer by the end of the day. I would even go ahead and say she might be doing it with a maternal instinct. After all, she has no idea about the crazy play going on and she does not want her stubborn husband, who does not know shit about stock market, to lose their children’s money for the fuck of it.
As Boyd returns the favor and shows up at Bobby’s door to let him know he will get arrested later in the day, things get complicated at Axe Capital. They do not exactly know why Bobby is getting arrested but they certainly know it is Chuck pulling the strings. Wags needs Wendy even though he does not know whether he should trust her. Wendy tells him she will be there for them TODAY. Taylor, exposed to Wendy’s soul-searching more than others at Axe Capital, bets 7-to-3 she will not stick around. Wendy believes Taylor will get Axe Capital to its best, with or without her.
The only person that can possibly keep Wendy at Axe Capital meets her at 9/11 Memorial. We do not know if Bobby wants to meet her because he owes her an apology or if it is Wags or Taylor who call to say it would be a good idea to talk to Wendy who might be leaving.
We know the entire Axe Capital story kicks off at the World Trade Center, on September 11, when the planes hit the towers. And Bobby will now face what he has feared the most, windbreakers, at the exact location his rise to power began. DELICIOUS writing.
“Would you help me find my way back?”
“Yes. I’d like that very much. That is exactly what we’ll do together.”
Axe and Wendy find meaning in what they built together and draw the best out of each other. And, I believe, especially after admitting to his children, and to himself that he fucked up, and even if he gets to meet Wendy strategically, Bobby is sincere at this meeting. While he may go back to his ways as soon as the trouble is over, he means every word he says right there and then and their reconciliation is up there with my all time favorite Don and Peggy reconciliation in Mad Men.
Wendy has tears in her eyes as the windbreakers are taking Bobby away. Is she touched by the apology? Does she feel guilty because she did not let Bobby talk to her and let him run wild? Or does she know she will not be able to help him because she is quitting? When does one give up? And, the billion dollar question: what does Wendy whisper into Bobby’s ear?
I wonder what Dake is thinking as he looks at Bobby and Wendy during the arrest: From his perspective, Bobby Axelrod has just hugged the woman whom he was willing to sacrifice only a few hours ago through his lawyer bringing the $5M “bribe”back to the table. And it was this woman’s husband, who happens to be the US Attorney of the Southern District, who told him if he wanted to find Axelrod he would better put a wire on his wife’s cell. It may be too much to take in for Dake at the moment but I imagine he may want to take a closer look at Bobby and Wendy’s relationship in Season 3 and help reveal some of the backstory for us.
And may I just say I LOVE the symmetry in Billions? In Season 1, when Hall thinks they can corner Wendy through pictures showing her naked with Bobby in the spa pool, Bobby does not want to do that. However, he, of course, KNOWS somewhere deep inside Hall will take those pictures. And he is ready to use them the second he thinks it is the only way to save his ass in Season 1 Finale The Conversation. Similarly, in Season 2, when Orrin Bach raises the possibility of destroying Chuck with the $5M “bribe” check, Bobby says he does not want to send Wendy to jail. But when he thinks it is the only way to save his ass, he does not shy away from bringing the “bribe” to the bargaining table… only to find out that offer is not on the table anymore. Wendy does not know THIS, not yet; however, now that Chuck sort of “owns” Dake, she may find out about it soon. I am dying to know whether such news would put “disgust” on the table when Bobby Axelrod is concerned for Wendy.
Bobby already knows Chuck Sr is involved in Ice Juice and that Wendy has shorted the stock. He is probably playing with a number of scenarios in his head while he talks to Chuck in jail. So it may be his confidence talking:
“I might go down behind all of this, but one thing is for sure, you are gonna be right there next to me.”
“Wow. Like I said before, Bob… Worth it.”
Is it, Chuck?
This is not over yet. As Wendy and Chuck take the stairs home hand in hand, they seem to have had their own reconciliation.
However, we do not know what will happen in five minutes! Chuck has no idea about Wendy’s short on Ice Juice and Wendy has no idea about either Bobby bringing the $5M “bribe” back to the table or Chuck risking and, in fact, losing his trust fund to put the cuffs on him. It would be really FUN if the next season picked up right when they entered their house and find out about it all 😀 Wendy will probably be disappointed but not surprised by Bobby’s action where as Chuck may have a fit upon learning about Wendy’s short. And we may, in fact, find him as Bobby’s reluctant ally trying to dig Bobby as well as his wife out of this shit to be able to keep his job, his reputation and his prospects to be the next governor of New York! Can you imagine Chuck frantically trying to stop not just Dake, but also Bryan from putting Bobby (and Wendy) behind bars? I think the next season opening will be a dynamite!