We kicked off the festivities for Billions Season 3 with a detailed coverage of Billions at TCA 2018 and now that we have an airdate, a trailer, a teaser and the new season poster, speculation rules until Season 3 premieres on March 25 10pm EST.
I wrote about what to expect when we are expecting Billions Season 3 based on my own thoughts and hints from a few set photos before they dropped the first few Season 3 promos. But now that I have seen the promos my head is spinning and my imagination is going wild. And as I keep the focus on the trailer and the teaser in this post, I leave the forensic analysis of the new season poster to Gingersnap. Stay tuned!
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 and the teaser, as MIND-BLOWING.
They edit the promos in a way so they do not give away much but a taste of what is coming. So “reading” them 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 them, dissect them, try to put the pieces together and ultimately have fun!
A few seconds into the trailer 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 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!
And this new location answers my earlier question about why on earth Axe and Wendy are talking on the streets of Manhattan rather than in the office in set photos we saw back in September 🙂
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? 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?
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, 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, Axe is a trade addict. Will he go cold turkey?
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 is going to do that is the real thrill.
Brian Koppelman shares at Billions TCA panel:
“By the 3rd episode of this season it’s pretty clear that he’s not going to accept that that’s his modern life. He’s going to work really hard to change that.”
Well, well, well… Some hard work seems to take place at Daniel of all places where Axe does not only dine and wine Spyros but also tells him he cannot threaten to turn them in. Ever. Ha! Where do Spyros’ loyalties lie?
To get a better feel of Axe’s options, 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.”
While Chuck is keeping up the appearances in office…
“Axelrod is closer to jail and the order is restored in the universe.”
…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 trouble for Chuck. Given the incriminating evidence against him, it seems no defense can be good enough for 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 force him to stop the investigation.
What is Chuck’s Achilles Heel?
Chuck Sr is sitting 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 so it is very likely he used Chuck’s trust to invest in Ice Juice. Would it be worthwhile for Axe to give a heads-up to Mike Dimonda? He can definitely tell him Charlie Rose’s slot is open, too!
Axe knows Chuck sacrificed his best friend in Ice Juice. 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. Well, Axe reminds Ira that his best friend sold him down the river in the new teaser.
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 look like an accomplice. Besides, we hear Wendy’s voice in the new teaser:
“One of us goes to prison, we all do.”
So when Axe finds the thread he is looking for, we may find Chuck as Axe’s reluctant ally trying to dig him out of this shit to keep his own job, family, reputation as well as his prospects to be the next governor of New York! That would give me a good cry-laugh! 😀
In his search, Axe seems to get a little help from two new friends. Can these two guys add up to one Hall?
Could it be that 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! 😀 He may be buying an outrageously expensive car just to signal to the street that he is doing fine. Or he may be 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” Jeffcoat, 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.
Chuck has finished Season 2 on a high note with Kate, Bryan and Dake, but their loyalties may certainly shift when they have their 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 😀 And mature or not, Bryan is certainly getting rough with someone. Who is he?
On Axe’s side, a new power (and a possible enemy) is Grigor Andolov, a Russian billionaire portrayed by the one and only John Malkovich who appeared earlier in two Koppelman and Levien projects, Rounders and Knockaround Guys.
And we find out Axe needed total loyalty and got less than that. Hmmm.
His newly minted CIO seems to have Axe’s complete trust. 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 Axe sees something unique in Taylor and that they have no ulterior motives. Dillon is also right Taylor is fully able “to titrate their emotions to get a desired result.” That is exactly why I find Taylor quite hard to read and cannot help ask “what if? what if?” as Axe tells Taylor “I trust you.”
Wendy seems to be back to her confident and formidable Season 1 self. She is keeping her promise to help Axe find his way back and tells him to trust her. 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 she finally has in her relationship with them? Or is it about Wendy holding the reins on both men this season?
All in all, loyalty or lack thereof is a central theme this season. One extreme example comes up in a set photo in which Dollar Bill is dropping his pants on the street probably to prove he is not wired-up. Axe is like “sorry, bro, but I had to do it.” 😀
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 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 off the mark here but it is all Billions to blame for the way I think about the possible scenarios!
In closing, here is a personal note for Axe: It’s time to put aside the measuring tape, get your shit together, save your ass and get your smug back. And, hey, this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship 😀