I have repeatedly said Billions is the smartest show on TV and I stand behind my words. A smart show starts with smart writing and Billions’ plot, a true roller coaster ride with mind-blowing twists and turns, speaks volumes in this regard. And I am particularly impressed by the way the show is served peppered with some delicious sense of humor. We wrote about why we love the sense of humor in Season 1 earlier here and it is time to take a closer look at some of the fun moments Billions brought to us in its sophomore season.
To repeat what I said in my Season 1 post, I believe humor derived from life and delivered at the right time and place can make a TV show. And, using bits and pieces from life, from “Emergency Deodorant” to “Coach K bullshit” to “You have hands!” Billions gave us some Seinfeld-esque fun that I absolutely fell in love with in Season 1.
Brian Koppelman, asked about the moments that stood up for Taylor in Close-up: Asia Kate Dillon in Billions Panel at the Split Screens TV Festival in New York, made a comment that stayed with me: He highlighted the “I’m, of course, a Vegan” scene in Season 2 Episode 1 Risk Management where we meet Taylor for the first time. Even though they knew the line sounded funny on paper, they did not know how it would play out on screen. And Asia NAILED it!
This is exactly the kind of humor I LOVE in Season 2. I find it confident. While Billions continues to derive humor from every day life, the writers choose to use some dry humor that relies on the delivery. Knowing nothing can go wrong with the magic touch of their brilliant cast probably helps them to write these lines with utmost confidence.
So please come join us in a fun tour visiting some of the most hilarious bits in Billions Season 2. We would love to hear about your favorites, too!
Episode 2: Dead Cat Bounce
Taylor introduces themselves to Axe.
Taylor: “Hello. I’m Taylor. My pronouns are they, theirs and them.”
Axe: “OK. You have two minutes.”
Such a smart and equally funny line that perfectly depicts Axe as a character. He does not care about who you are but only about what you bring to the table…
…while his work-better-half Wags is greatly offended by people that do not appreciate the chef who worked for years to put THAT food on the table. And I SALUTE him for what he does at Sushi Nakazawa.
“Fucking Cell phones. In this temple.”
And the guy with the fucking cellphone makes the biggest fucking mistake of his life when he does put ginger on the fish 😀
While it is a hilarious scene, it also conveys the message. I am pretty sure, given that there are serious foodies in Billions’ writers room, this scene has been inspired by some real life experiences 🙂 And, even though I personally would not take the next step and tell the guy to eat his food right, I would certainly tell him not to use his cellphone. Yep, you guessed it right. I am the person who reminds people we are not in their living room when they text in the movie theater or eat chips during a play.
Episode 3: Optimal Play
In my humble opinion, Axe and Wags have the most brilliant chemistry on Billions, and, believe me, off screen, too! The way they work off of one another, in every scene they appear together, feels just right. They build the moment together. They are believable, relatable, and, oh yeah, extremely funny together. I sometimes feel like I am watching this old and odd marriage in which two people know their own place as well as their better half extremely well and they deliver seamlessly. There is no need for words to understand each other but there is always time for a good tease.
Exactly like this:
Axe: “Well, maybe shower before heading to the office.”
Wags: “I already did.”
Axe: “I’m thinking maybe you hit it again.”
I always talk about and LOVE the symmetry in Billions, and this bit may be symmetric to the “emergency deodorant” bit in the US attorney’s office in Season 1 🙂
Episode 4: The Oath
Building on my most favorite chemistry on the show, the moment Wags shows up in Axe’s office with his “Yosemite Sam” ass tattoo is priceless!
Axe: “You got an ass tattoo?”
Wags: “All evidence points to that being the case.”
Axe: “I need to see it.”
Wags: “You wanna?”
Axe: “Don’t want to, no. I need to.”
Axe: “What the fuck is that? Is that Yosemite…?”
Wags: “I think so. I was a fan.”
I don’t know how the actors are able to keep their faces straight in such scenes. Well, it should be about being an actor after all, shouldn’t it? I would REALLY love to see the outtakes from this scene! 😀
Episode 5: Currency
Here is my top three from a humor-heavy episode. No commentary needed!
Chuck to Kate:
“Have you ever been hunting, Sacker?”
“Uh no. I’m black.”
I think this bit may be a little tribute to Mad Men, not just my but also Billions creators’ all-time favorite show (or I may be totally off the mark and both shows could be paying a tribute to some classic movie or show that I have no idea about :D)
Wendy to Wags:
“This is your third divorce but your first ass tattoo. Any ideas?”
Dr. Gus to Axe:
“Let me into that kitchen.”
Episode 7: Victory Lap
Axe arrives at his Hamptons house with the family to prepare for war only to find Chef Ryan in a “make love, no war” mode! Despite all the craziness going on in his life, this could easily be the most surprised expression we see on Axe’s face! And I cannot stop giggling as Ryan makes his case to the Axelrods:
“and you did not call…”
Honestly, when the windbreakers raided the Axelrods’ Hamptons house in the season finale, I expected Ryan to tell them “and you did not call…” as well 😀
Episode 8: Kingmaker
Whatever you can say about Chuck Sr. you have to give him credit for being as much a bullshit detector to Chuck as Wags is to Axe… like in this intimate father and son moment at Nat Sherman Tobacco.
Chuck is surprised to find out Black Jack Foley will support a second-tier candidate in the primaries because he could not deliver the internship for Foley’s granddaughter. And when he claims we are living in a democracy and “the age of the kingmaker is the past” and that he knows Foley “wants his balls gargled” and he will not give him that… Chuck Sr does not buy his son’s bullshit…
“You sound like a fucking hippie.”
…and steals my heart all over again 🙂
Episode 9: Sic Transit Imperium
Bobby Axelrod is the birthday boy in this episode, and Sean Ayles is in his office with his own birthday gift: Why wouldn’t Axe have a permanent foundation in his name like Carnegie or Vanderbilt? Ayles may not be the first to visit Axe to double his salary but he is lucky today because Axe is ready to write his name on the ages today. The interval between Axe making an job offer to Ayles and Ayles accepting it could be the shortest unit of time ever measured in human history making me laugh my ass off!
Another good one comes from the first ever conversation we see between Lara and Chuck — on the phone! Lara is determined to have Wendy at Bobby’s party. She personally calls her only to find Chuck at the other end of the line. When Lara says she would have liked to invite him as Wendy’s plus one but she cannot do it under the circumstances, Chuck’s answer is priceless:
“There is such a thing as too weird, even for all of us.”
Yet, my favorite fun moment of the entire season comes up when Chuck is beyond himself when he finds out about Axe cornering the market for Churchill’s Second World War first editions. Kate’s eyes get bigger and bigger as Chuck compares Axe to a shark waiting for the faintest smell of blood to attack.
“I can see books are a trigger for you.”
Well, don’t mess with Chuck’s books. Or he gives you Ice Juice! 😀
Episode 11: Golden Frog Time
With its crazy pace, incredible twists and turns, and the killer closing scene, Golden Frog Time is without doubt my favorite episode of the season! And while the entire Ice Juice plot is beyond hilarious, there is one line that will probably stay with me forever and has already become a standard in our household conversations.
The Armageddon hits Ice Juice investors and Ira is apologetic to both Senior and Junior. Senior reveals the fact that he invested Chuck’s entire blind trust on Ice Juice and IT IS GONE. As Ira feels like he is going to throw up, Senior, HATS OFF to the great Jeffrey DeMunn, delivers my favorite line of the episode:
“Well, you did have that Ice Juice today.”
Indeed. 😀 😀 😀