As we cannot wait to welcome the Season 3 Premiere of our favorite show in a few days, how about getting into a Billions state of mind with a fun visit to the BEST of Billions Season 2?
Damianista: Its crazy pace, incredible twists and turns, and the killer closing scene make Golden Frog Time my favorite! Everyone needs to see it for a second time to see what REALLY happens! Sure, it has been done before (Sixth Sense is a great example) but Billions matches the brilliance under the direction of great Karyn Kusama, who also directed Quality of Life, my most favorite episode in Season 1.
JaniaJania: “With or Without You.” Because it showed the Axe Lara relationship clearer than we’ve seen it anytime we’ve seen them together. Letting Damian have a go at all those monologues, running the gamut of emotion. And I liked that Wendy “ordered” Chuck home that night, too. It was a good relationship episode.
Lady Trader: Asking to name my favorite episode is like asking me what my favorite Black Sabbath song is, but since I have to, I’m going to say “Dead Cat Bounce”. Not only was there a lot of “fin speak” of which I live for, but we were introduced to the brilliance of Taylor. Their call on what Krakow was doing was pure genius. We were never disappointed in Taylor since!
Holliedazzle: “The Kingmaker.” Damian on a motorcycle. Need I say more?
TBkWrm: ‘Golden Frog Time’. It was non-stop, do not get off until you reach the end of the tracks. A wonderful hour of TV. Paul Giamatti takes a bow for that laugh. The joker would be proud.
Gingersnap: I cannot choose just one and you can’t make me 🙂
1) The Oath – loved me some JohnBoy
2) Golden Frog Time – the pace of it was off the charts!
Damianista: I waited for Axe to say it FOR WEEKS. He, finally, in Ball in Hand, admitted to his kids, what he would not admit to many, in a brilliantly written and acted scene: “I fucked up.”
JaniaJania: Bobby and Wendy at the memorial. The immersion of it, the feeling that time stopped.
Lady Trader: For me, if there’s heavy metal involved, there’s a good chance it’s on my favorites list! So my favorite scene is from the Megadeth episode, (“The Oath”). After finding out Axe will not be getting his NFL team, he tells Chuck “You cost me a pro football team.” The look of defeat on Chuck’s face is classic! And of course the choice of “Peace Sells” as the credits roll is brilliant!
Holliedazzle: I’m gonna go into darker territory here, and go with the scene in “With or Without You”, in which Bobby eats his dinner alone, and then has a lot to drink and proceeds to leave more scary voice mails for Lara. It’s intense, and so well written, and Damian plays it so real. That whole episode was a HUGE trigger for me, as someone who has survived an abusive relationship or two. Having been on the receiving end of conversations like those, I can attest to just exactly why they are so disturbing: they are firmly rooted in reality. Someone in that writer’s room has seen some shit.
TBkWrm: The jury scene in ‘Indian Four’. Bryan gets to make use of himself and gets a result, but more importantly the scene highlights issues that surround jury selection on both sides of the equation and I love the writers for it. In this instance Bryan takes advantage of some of those issues very well and Boyd caves.
Gingersnap: Epic fail at this game again. I have three:
1) Axe and Chuck’s deposition scene in The Oath episode. The way Damian smirked, walked (or should I say prowled), coupled with the phone call he received from JohnBoy “No football for you!” #Megadeth
2) Axe explaining the ‘Kevlar of knowing the answer’ to his employees in the Currency episode. “You are all selfish, MOTHERFUCKERS!” See video below.
3) Wags showing Axe his ass tattoo of Yosemite Sam in The Oath episode. See video below. You’re welcome 🙂
Damianista: “The moral of the story is you get one life, so do it all.” Not only that it applies to any context, but it is also my own life motto!
JaniaJania: I liked a couple of great throwaway ones. Kate with “I can see books are a trigger for you” and Wags and Axe on their walk and talk:
You been on Twitter today?
Assume I haven’t.
Lady Trader: “This is some fucked up universe we’ve decided to live in.” Well, because it’s true since what Axe and I do for a living is just bizarre on normal days!
Holliedazzle: I have to go with Damianista here, and agree that “You only get one life” is a line that has been resonating with me. I lost a friend, recently, and it could be said that he lived his 31 years here on Earth by that very motto. (Side note: I know it seems, at times, that I re-center everything to make it “about me”. But this is how I digest art, how I take it in. I relate to it, and resonate with it. It’s how I appreciate it, and I never mean to take away from the art, itself, in doing so.)
TBkWrm: “You don’t own it any more than you own her.” A line I was very grateful for in this episode (‘With or Without You’)
Gingersnap: “You can’t go to bed with Jenna Jameson and wake up with Snow White.” – George Minchak
Damianista: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Even the Losers” playing to Chuck’s cry laugh in Golden Frog Time will stay with me for a long time.
JaniaJania: “Goddamn Lonely Love”, Drive-By Truckers.
Lady Trader: Megadeth’s “Peace Sell (but Who’s Buying). This was a running theme for Axe this season: he wants peace, but Axe is a man of war.
Gingersnap: Goddamn Lonely Love by Drive-By Truckers. Still play it on repeat to this day and this is coming from a girl who doesn’t listen to country even though I’m an Okie 🙂 Runner up: Tom Petty’s Even the Losers. It’s bittersweet now.
Damianista: Dollar Dollar Bill y’all! A believer in Ayn Rand shit, a true entrepreneur from sponsoring young baseball players to running a dry cleaners, and a loyal soldier for Axe Capital. He is, in his own words, “cheap as fuck.” It is HILARIOUS when Bill gives Axe the Klaxon deal as a birthday gift and does not spend a dime from his pocket 😀
JaniaJania: Wags. His calling Axe “hefe” was always fun.
Lady Trader: Wags. Wags. Wags. The man is loyal. And wears a pinky ring. I need not say more.
Holliedazzle: #TeamTaylor 100%. Though Taylor is a little bit more than a minion, since they pretty much end up running the firm, in the end.
TBkWrm: Dollar Bill. I don’t think this minion sleeps between working at Axe Cap, his own business enterprises and his two families. His admission to Taylor that “I’m as cheap as F**k” while handing over a bag full of his own dough was brilliant.
Gingersnap: Wags. I dedicated an entire post to him here.
Damianista: With or Without You. THAT voicemail extravaganza alone makes Damian display an incredible range of emotions — calm to romantic to angry to crazy to desperate to scary — in a single episode! I called Willie Reale, the writer of this episode as well as of Quality of Life, genius before and I stand behind my words!
JaniaJania: See above, “With or Without You.” 🙂 Also my favorite episode.
Lady Trader: I’m going to have to go with “Risk Management” written by the big dogs themselves, Brian Koppelman and David Levien. The speech Axe gives about the death of hedge funds was just so spot on.
Holliedazzle: “With or Without You”, again, for the reality of it. I really wanna hug whoever it is in that writer’s room that shared that experience when writing. I cannot imagine that anyone who hasn’t experienced that could have written that.
Gingersnap: With or Without You aka voicemail hell. I can still hear him saying “Lare.”
Best Wendy/Chuck Scene
Damianista: “180, Chuck.” in Dead Cat Bounce. It changed everything and made Chuck “dead cat” Rhoades BOUNCE!
JaniaJania: Same one as Damianista. Here’s what I wrote about the scene — Wendy offers some coaching of her own. Not in a smarmy derisive way, just matter-of-factly, as an extension of the knowledge she’s gained from working with lifetime gamblers. She tells him the key is to know when to pivot. Some folks have the ability to look at loss and pivot 180 degrees away from it while some absorb the loss and even give up trying. When she’s giving him this tidbit (not really advice, per se), there is sympathy in her face and in her posture and maybe even a bit of resigned love.
Lady Trader: In “Victory Lap” when Wendy basically tells Chuck she wants to see other people. Yes, I hate Chuck that much.
TBkWrm: In ‘Currency’ when Chuck and Wendy are at marriage counselling discussing appropriate dress for dinner and it becomes clear that, Wendy so quick on the uptake with other, is oblivious to her husband’s insecurities.
Gingersnap: Scene from Golden Frog Time episode where Wendy goes to Chuck’s office for an undercover Ice Juice visit. She goes out on a limb to save his ass, he puts his feet up on the desk, rooting himself in like a petulant child. Yes, she’s probably, and oddly, turned on by him saying no to her in that fleeting moment.
Best Axe/Wendy Scene
Damianista: Axe and Wendy reconciliation in Ball in Hand is up there with my all-time favorite reconciliation scene — Don and Peggy dancing to My Way in Mad Men. Axe may forget all about it and return to his ways soon enough but his HOPE to find his way back with a little help from Wendy is GENUINE there and then.
JaniaJania: Bobby and Wendy at the memorial.
Lady Trader: In “With or Without You” when Axe gets Hall to grab Wendy off the street, throw her in the backseat of the car and scares the shit out of her. I have watched that scene several times. Yes, I hate Wendy that much.
TBkWrm: In ‘Indian Four’ Wendy and Axe meeting as Eva has her skating lessons to discuss Wendy’s return to Axe Capital. It shows the worst of the two of them and how they can’t do without one another. Bound together.
Gingersnap: 9/11 memorial scene from Ball In Hand episode.
Best Axe/Lara scene
Damianista: Closing scene in Sic Transit Imperium. Can two people be physically this close physically and mentally this far away? Axe’s obliviousness to Lara’s pain breaks my heart. Malin Akerman is killing it in this scene.
JaniaJania: In the car when he’s picked her up from his party. Her nascent fear there was well done.
Lady Trader: In “Currency” the scene where Axe schools Lara into what really being a business woman is all about. Loved it! Yes, I dislike Lara that much.
TBkWrm: I hated this scene, but it was brilliant in its own way. At the end of Victory lap, Lara saying what her man needed to hear.
Gingersnap: Indian Four episode when Lara leaves Axe to fend for himself at the outdoor restaurant and takes the helicopter, leaving him stranded. “Fuck me.”
Best of the Rest
Damianista: Chuck losing it when he finds out Axe bought not only his books but ALL first edition Churchill’s WWII on the market. Well, don’t mess with Chuck’s books or he gives you Ice Juice! 😀
Lady Trader: When Axe tells Steph he is the Terminator, I expected to see a red beam coming from his eye. That was the scene that said “Axe is back!!”
Holliedazzle: Ok, the scene with Wags revealing his ass tattoo. I was CACKLING. I laugh harder every single time I watch it.
TBkWrm: Chuck Snr telling Jnr in ‘Ball in Hand’ that he is done with him.
Gingersnap: Scene between Axe and Chuck at the Yale Club in The Kingmaker. Was more intense than the final scene between the two of them in the finale. Axe rode a motorcycle–it was sexy. Clanking testicles were discussed. We got a glimpse into how old Axe was when his father left.
Damianista: Ira. He did not only represent Chuck at “friends and family” rate but also brought him lunch from Katz’s. And look what he has received in return!
JaniaJania: Wendy and Wags have a good thing going. She gets him and he doesn’t seem to find much objectionable in her either (as he finds in every other non-Bobby person).
Lady Trader: Taylor. The thought in giving Mafee the signed wrestling poster was so kind. It was just what Mafee needed.
TBkWrm: Ira for me as well. This guy stepped up for Chuck time and again. He was a calming influence, a steady support and Chuck has thrown it away.
Gingersnap: Ira Schirmer
Most Appetizing Food
Damianista: I craved that Katz’s pastrami sandwich Ira picked up to share with Chuck for lunch for weeks… Finally, I had the opportunity to have my own! YUM! And stay tuned for our Season 2 Dining Guide – coming up in two weeks.
JaniaJania: As Chuck devours fully loaded carbs at the Mile End right after he’s arrested Boyd, it’s not just the great food, it’s the damn near orgasmic sensuality of consuming great food. Pastrami on rye with mustard, goodness, with errant bits of meat dipped into the garlicky gravy of a heaping plate of poutine? God bless us every one: to the joy of the now.
Lady Trader: That lobster feast that Axe served Everett when listening to the Nigerian currency deal will never leave my dreams. Those had to be 5 pounders, at least!
Holliedazzle: Gotta agree on that Lobster. Although every time they show someone folding a slice of Bruno’s pizza, I die a little (I can’t have gluten.)
Gingersnap: Pastrami on rye from Katz’s Deli. I’ve tasted it myself! All that was missing was my favorite sauerkraut, Canada Dry ginger ale and pickles. Sssshhhh don’t tell anyone, but I got a parking ticket outside the restaurant. It’s also the moment in life when I learned it was pronounced house-don street, not hue-sten street, like the Texas city.
Damianista: Can it get any better than Ice Juice?
JaniaJania: Ice Juice.
Lady Trader: As much as I hate to admit it, it has to go Chuck and the trap he set for Axe on Ice Juice. Sad!
Hollidazzle: The Ice Juice play is incredible. I did not see it coming at all, and it was some next-level Batman shit.
TBkWrm: Ice Juice play. Thought Chuck had been done up like a kipper again only for it not to be the case.
Gingersnap: Ice Juice play.
Best Character Development
Damianista: He may claim he is a fucking terminator but Axe is more human now than ever: flawed, insecure, selfish, vulnerable. The writers have peeled him like an onion this season — layer after layer after layer.
JaniaJania: Torn between Taylor and Bobby. It’s not so much Bobby’s character development as it is Damian finding the fit he needs to inhabit Bobby’s skin in this season. The character is not like others he’s played, so there was a learning curve, I think. But, yeah, watching him grow, change, evolve, or devolve, is hella riveting. And Taylor…boy, they get some great lines! The anti-fragile stuff, the ability to see what Wendy means to Axe, the ability to read Krakow at the poker table. Good stuff.
Lady Trader: Taylor. Not only did they go from intern to CIO in 12 weeks, the character became more than just a brilliant numbers cruncher. Taylor is the character I can’t wait to see more of in Season 3.
Hollidazzle: Taylor, for sure. They are so smart, so efficient, but still show so many ways that they have so much to learn. And they are OPEN to learning, and being wrong, and I love it. I just wonder how long it will be before their conscious gets the best of them.
TBkWrm: Bryan. I feel like he is growing up in front of us. Sometimes seems more likely to sink than be what he can be, but there are plenty of scenes this season providing balance to that. No loud protests (with Chuck re Sandicot) that will get him nowhere and leave him infuriated about something he can’t change at that moment.
Gingersnap: Bobby Axelrod. From learning about his earlier days at the racetrack to learning a little bit more about when his father left, forcing him to grow up. And then witnessing the honesty between him and his two boys about fucking up and going to jail, to seeing how desperate and out of control he can be when certain triggers occur.
Best Snarky Moment
Damianista: Giggling as I am typing this. Chuck Senior to Ira who is feeling sick in Golden Frog Time: “Well, you did have that Ice Juice today.”
JaniaJania: When Bryan is using all his Go terms, Bach answers: “I know none of those words.” Fun, dry, snark.
Lady Trader: Taylor telling Bryan he can’t make them flip on Axe with cookies! Cookies! This is why Bryan is clueless.
Holliedazzle: Bryan losing it on Axe’s attorney/his former mentor. “Fuck your client, and fuck you, too!”
TBkWrm: “That’s right you’re in DC tomorrow”. Bryan to Chuck in ‘Dead Cat Bounce’
Gingersnap: “Did Morgan at the front desk not offer you a courtesy blazer?” – Chuck Senior to Axe in The Kingmaker episode. His condescending way of letting Axe know he doesn’t meet the Yale Club dress code. Senior gets all the best snarky, shady jabs.
Damianista: This man was born to ROCK Axe Capital dress code.
JaniaJania: Wendy, oh, goodness. I want her entire closet, and the bod to pull it off. And her jewelry too.
Lady Trader: Wags is the best dressed man on the show. While the others at Axe Cap dress like they are going to a picnic, Wags dresses for success. “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” Wags must want to be on the cover of GQ!
Holliedazzle: Lara’s clothing choices are always stylish, comfy and unique. I really dig how feminine yet comfy she is, while being such a bad ass.
Gingersnap: I usually don’t like the majority of Lara’s clothing, but I’m going to have to agree with Holliedazzle on this one only because I loved that coat so much! See above.
Best New Character
JaniaJania: Taylor. Where Wendy brings the emotional intelligence to the Axe crew, Taylor brings the logical. They’re counterparts, polar opposites, both of which are necessary for any good business to thrive. Also, it’s too much for Axe to have all the answers all the time, he needs Taylor to outsmart him every now and then, keep him on his toes.
Lady Trader: The introduction of Taylor Mason was groundbreaking on many levels. Every week, they surprised and awed me.
Gingersnap: Oliver Dake or his glasses, it’s a tie.
Damianista: Axe and Wags! I continue to see in them an old and odd couple where two people do not need words to communicate but there is always time for a good tease. They are delightful together.
JaniaJania: Er, Bobby and Wendy. Anytime you can actually sense time stop is when you know two people belong on screen together.
Lady Trader: This is going to sound crazy, but it has to be Axe and Chuck. The chemistry is combustible, but it is what you wait for every time they are in a scene together.
Holliedazzle: I really enjoyed how Chuck and Wendy could believably go from “OMFG I hate you!” to “OMFG I love you!” in the blink of an eye. It was staggering! And the pain they could each experience with one another, in reaction to one another, was palpable.
TBkWrm: Same as last year for me, Axe and Wendy.
Gingersnap: Axe and Wags – a modern day Shaggy and Scooby Doo.
Best and Worst Axe Moments
Damianista: Best is when Axe is being truly honest with his kids. Wonderful father. Worst is when he tells Bruno there will still be a finder’s fee.” Terrible son given Bruno is the father figure in his life.
JaniaJania: Best Axe moment is the memorial scene in the finale. I like it when he bears his soul, and he almost never gets to do it. Worst Axe moment…oh, there’s so many. Probably his pawing the Churchill books. Books are a trigger for Chuck and me both!
Lady Trader: Best Axe moment: when he decides he’s not going to run from the law. If he did the crime, he’ll do the time. Worst Axe moment: going to the three flunkies Krakow, Malvern and Birch on the Nigerian currency deal. Axe thinking straight would never go to people he didn’t respect.
Holliedazzle: All of “With or Without You”. Best AND Worst, in one episode.
TBkWrm: Best is admitting to his kids he did something wrong. Worst is difficult to choose, but I will go for the messages left for Lara.
Gingersnap: Best Axe moment was with Wendy at the 9/11 memorial. The worst Axe moment(s) was all the voicemails he left Lara. Although, the way he treated Bruno broke my heart.
Best Single to Catch
Damianista: Ice Juice has left him sort of broke so I am leaving Chuck Sr for Wags! Well, from his vintage Mercedes to his ass tattoo, what’s not to like? 😀
JaniaJania: Oh, goodness, I’m like Wendy with Wags ass tattoo. Now that’s something one wishes one could unsee. I like the lax guy, Mafee, if he can still be considered single. Laughter is *everything*. He’d be a bit whiny and needy maybe, but he’s funny as heck, with a lax guy’s bod to boot.
Lady Trader: It would be a hell of a ride, but who wouldn’t want to go out with Wags? You know he’d show you a good time!
TBkWrm: Same as last year, Wags.
Best Wags Words of Wisdom:
Damianista: Wags fondly remembering his first shitcan: “It tasted as sweet as Matahari’s armpits.” I believe him 😀
JaniaJania: “I drink with pricks I hate all the time, it’s the job. It’s the ones who aren’t that stand out like giants.” True that.
Lady Trader: “There is no one in this business who won’t sell you out if they think there is a nickel in it!” And that folks is what it’s like to work on Wall Street.
Gingersnap: From Ball in Hand episode – Wags to Wendy: “I don’t need you to be the team doctor who stops people from playing and puts them in the concussion protocol. I need you to be the team doctor with smelling salts, cortisone shots, steroids, and fucking Lasix for their lungs who tapes them back together and shoves them back in!” See the other dozen that made my list here.
TBkWrm: Exchange with Taylor
Wags: “Axe doesn’t take attendance but he knows who is in the room. I’ll leave it at that.”
Wags: “Did you just say F**k?”
Taylor: “I did.”
Wags: “You’re one of us now.”