We kicked off the festivities for Billions Season 3 with a detailed coverage of Billions at TCA 2018 last week. Now that we have an airdate and a trailer, speculation rules until Season 3 premieres on March 25 10pm EST.
Billions show creators and several cast members were asked on Facebook LIVE Interviews at TCA 2018 to summarize the new season in one word. While Malin Akerman and Maggie Siff went with “FIERCE”, David Levien chose “EXCITING” and Brian Koppelman said “FUCKIN’ GREAT.” I summarize it, based on the trailer, as MIND-BLOWING.
My earlier what to expect when we are expecting Billions Season 3 post was based on my own thoughts and hints from a few set photos. The newly dropped trailer, while answering one question I had, makes me ask hundred more 😀
They edit trailers in a way so they do not give away much but a taste of what is coming. So “reading” a trailer is not very different than reading the tea leaves, or in my home country, Turkey, the coffee cup 🙂 Still, I cannot help dive deep into the trailer, dissect it, try to put the pieces together and ultimately have fun!
A few seconds in, and we find Axe, in his own words, not hiding, not cowering, not defeated… However, indicted!
An indictment establishes, often via a grand jury, there is sufficient ground to charge a suspect with a crime. Then the suspect responds to the indictment with a guilty or a not guilty plea. I wonder if the short exchange between Axe and Orrin Bach implies Axe has already plead not guilty and they are discussing defense.
Axe (maybe talking about Chuck using Boyd to get to him): “What he did, it’s a fucking crime.”
Bach: “Maybe. But it’s not a defense.”
Axe’s disbelief in how he has ended up here is palpable. His frustration is all over his face. Does he still think he did nothing wrong? I doubt it. Whatever we may hear him say along the way, Axe knows he has taken the pissing contest way too far this time and seriously fucked up along the way.
Once indicted, you are usually prohibited from leaving the state and you need to ask for the court’s permission to travel. So now that Axe cannot go to Axe Capital in Westport, Connecticut as he pleases, Axe Capital comes to him 😀
Welcome to NEW Axe Capital Headquarters in New York!
This answers my earlier question about the set photos from September in which Axe and Wendy are talking on the streets of Manhattan rather than in the office 🙂 They work in New York now.
Axe also seems to live in the Axelrods’ city apartment, a luxurious penthouse downtown with a stunning view of One World Trade Center. Given Axe’s rise to glory started when the planes hit the towers, it is quite ironic it is his view right now.
Billion dollar question: Now that the boss is indicted, how is business at Axe Capital? Are the investors pulling their money or staying loyal to Axe? I have looked for clues in the real-life SAC Capital case. When SAC Capital was indicted, many speculated the fund would collapse. But the government did not freeze their assets and encouraged brokerage firms to do business with SAC to protect the fund’s investors and trading partners. While most investors eventually withdrew their money, the fund stayed in business since only $6B of the $15B they had at their peak was outside money and the rest was Cohen’s fortune and employee money accounts. Do we know how much of the money Axe Capital manages is from outside?
While indicted, Axe is innocent until proven guilty, so he can still trade. Yet, Wendy advises him to give up trading until the case is over probably to retain trust for the company. No doubt Axe is the talk of the street and it is hilarious Birchie is visiting Axe Capital maybe to welcome Axe to the club 😀
Still, Birchie is probably not as annoying a visitor as Ari Spyros who is living his dream arriving at Axe Capital, and filming every second of his visit, to take away Axe’s Bloomberg.
David Levien shares at TCA 2018 Billions Panel:
“That was a box that we wanted to put the character in. We had these characters that are super powerful within their worlds. It’s fascinating to us to put them in situations where they become vulnerable or less powerful. It’s a changing landscape. The question is how will Axe react?”
The expression on Axe’s face… I know that expression well. My three year old nephew looks exactly like that when someone takes away his favorite toy.
I mean, we are talking about a trade addict, here. Is Axe going cold turkey or what? 😀
Billions loves symmetries. The writers are now putting Axe in a box like they put Chuck in a box last season. And like we all knew Chuck would find his way out of the box we know Axe will find a way, too. HOW he will be able to do that is the real thrill.
Let’s revisit Season 2 Finale Ball in Hand to hear Axe’s final words to Chuck:
“When I am done, you won’t be governor. You won’t be the US attorney. You might not even be an attorney at all. Yeah I might go down behind all of this, but one thing is for sure, you are gonna be right there next to me.”
Chuck is keeping up the appearances in office:
“Axelrod is closer to jail and the order is restored in the universe.”
But he shows his true colors to Wendy:
“You know what I risked to get him. What will he give to get me?”
Chuck knows Axe’s threat is credible and so Axe being closer to jail, in fact, means that shit may hit the fan for Chuck. Given the incriminating evidence against him, it seems no defense can be good enough to save Axe. Axe knows it. Chuck knows it. Axe knows that Chuck knows it. Chuck knows that Axe knows it.
Bottomline: Both men know one possible exit for Axe may be the thread he says he will find and pull on and on until… maybe not until Chuck’s whole world unravels… but until Chuck cooperates… Axe’s optimal play may be to plead not guilty, find the thread Chuck has left out there and use it against him to stop the investigation.
What is Chuck’s Achilles Heel?
Chuck had his dad access his trust fund to invest in Ice Juice. We see Chuck Sr at a table with the two Eastern District boys. Is he taking full responsibility for accessing Chuck’s fund without him knowing? Axe knows, thanks to Taylor’s research, Chuck Sr’s cash is tied up in real estate and so it is most probably Chuck’s trust Chuck Sr used to invest in Ice Juice. Would it be worthwhile for Axe to give a heads-up to Mike Dimonda and stir the pot? He can definitely tell him Charlie Rose’s slot is open, too!
Axe knows Chuck sacrificed his best friend in Ice Juice play. Ira can sue Axe for his losses but only after (and if) Axe is convicted, which may take years. While Chuck tells Ira he will benefit from having a friend in the Governor’s mansion soon it may be worth for Axe to make Ira an offer that may benefit him NOW.
We see Lonnie packing at the end of Season 2. I wonder whether he would be willing to talk about Chuck’s methods of conduct in return for a 7-digit salary, say, at Bach’s law firm.
While what you do in your bedroom is nobody’s business, BDSM may not play out well in public eye when one has political aspirations. Axe knows about Wendy’s bedroom toys since they hacked into her computer in Season 1 Finale. Does he have anything on “Mr. Martinez”?
This is my favorite. While Chuck has no idea about Wendy’s Ice Juice short, Axe knows about it and Dake will see it in trading records. In fact, Dake may be referring to Wendy’s short when he asks Chuck over drinks whether he is sure he and his wife have no secrets. Wendy went to Chuck’s office, violating her contract, to warn him about Ice Juice and shorted the stock on her way out of his office:
“As much as I can get.”
Should there be an eye witness, she may, god forbid, look like an accomplice. Yikes!
So if Axe finds that thread he is looking for, Chuck may become Axe’s reluctant ally trying to dig him out of this shit to keep his own job, reputation and prospects to be the next governor of New York! Well, that would give me a good cry-laugh! 😀
Axe seems to get a little help from two new friends in his search! Can these two guys add up to one Hall?
I cannot help think whether Axe is buying a new car so no one can follow him as he goes to meet his new friends at Republic Jet Center or WNYC Transmitter Park. Am I stretching a bit? Yes, I am! 😀 It may also be that he buys an outrageously expensive car to signal to the street he is doing just fine. Or it may be that he is buying it just because he can!
Season 3 official blurb talks about new forces and powerful enemies in both men’s lives.
On Chuck’s side, one such character is Waylon “Jock” Jackcoat, the new Attorney General portrayed by Clancy Brown. It turns out we will get to meet him and his Lucchese boots in Season 3 opening scene.
Regarding other colleagues, Chuck finishes Season 2 on a very high note with Kate, Bryan and Dake, but they may not play along when they have their own reputations on the line. As a side note, Terry from the FBI is back! I wonder whether she thinks Bryan has matured since their time together 😀
On Axe’s side, we hear him say he needed total loyalty and got less than that. Hmmm.
His newly minted CIO seems to have Axe’s complete trust at the moment. Damian describes Taylor at TCA 2018:
“He has a lieutenant now and they are the avatar of everything that he likes and believes in.”
The lieutenant is ready to lead but they want a little bit more control. And I wonder if Taylor’s request for more authority is the reason for Wags’ first words of wisdom in the new season 😀
“Your ego just wrote a check that your body cannot cash.”
I agree with Asia Kate Dillon arguing on Facebook LIVE interview at TCA 2018 that Axe sees something unique in Taylor and that they have no ulterior motives. They are also right that Taylor is fully able “to titrate their emotions to get a desired result.” And that is why I find Taylor hard to read and cannot help ask what if what if…
Wendy seems to be back to her confident and formidable Season 1 self. She is keeping her promise to Axe from Season 2 finale that she would help him find his way back. Maggie Siff shares at TCA 2018 that Wendy finds herself between Axe and Chuck once again, but this time on different terms: Is she talking about the transparency in her relationships with them?
One character that comes across completely cold in the trailer is Lara and the only words we hear from her are about money:
“The Money, Bobby, just don’t lose it.”
Lara signing papers in the presence of Axe’s legal team and maybe her own is probably the moment most open to speculation. A separation? Worse? Are they splitting their assets? Orrin Bach tells Lara in Season 2 Finale that once they go through the freezing of assets, since there is no prenup, half of everything belongs to her. Is that why Lara tells Axe not to lose the money, her money?
Malin Akerman shares at Facebook LIVE interview that the deceit in their relationship does not sit well with Lara and Axe telling her he would come home to give her a hug before his arrest and then not showing up is the cherry on top! So, she adds, Axe should not expect a warm welcome when he returns home.
Axe knows he failed his family and, coming from a broken home, losing them is probably his biggest fear of all. I believe, despite the dark clouds over their marriage, Axe and Lara will get out of this mess as a team. The attack on what they have built together may trigger the “rally ’round the flag effect” and get them closer. I would not be surprised if the Axelrods choose to give an impression to the outside world that they are separated, as Axe is handling the shit, while they are not. I know I may be so off the mark here but it is all Billions to blame for the way I think about the possible scenarios!
In closing, may I just leave a personal note here for Axe? It’s time to put aside the measuring tape, get your shit together, save your ass and get your smug back. It is going to be epic and I am so looking forward to it!