Axe needs to stay away from trading. He does not. Chuck needs to stay away from the Axelrod case. He does not. As both suffer from insomnia and operate behind the scenes to remove any uncertainty in their way, I cannot help think they have so much in common that they could have been BFFs in another life.
We find Axe where we left him at the end of the season premiere: His terrace. No wonder he said he might as well give up his license to breathe when advised the only way to make Axe Capital liquid immediately was for him to give up his license to trade. Axe feels suffocated and his phone call to Wendy in the middle of the night brings nothing but an idea that this is an opportunity for him to realign who he is.
The man who does not regret the crime he committed and feels rage for only getting caught believes the law has got in his way. But I agree with Wendy it is not the law that made the deal, which Axe sees as a mistake, necessary. His disregard of the law did.
As he went down to the crossroads, Axe notices some breaking news.
Seeing an opportunity where everyone else sees a disaster made Bobby Axelrod. Not being able to act on this should be eating him alive.
Well, you can take the boy out of the trade, but you cannot take the trade out of the boy. As Axe approaches his “satellites” (Hello, Carly!) with a plan, his lawyer is standing next to the Eastern District Boys to find out what judge the wooden wheel will draw for United States v Robert Axelrod.
Leonard Funt, or in Bach’s words, the prosecution just got Funted. Funt is known to champion free markets.
Chuck meets Dake at Kossar’s to discuss how to get the case de-Funted. If Funt does not take the case, there is no more wheel of fortune, and it is up to the chief judge to decide who will take the case. And more often than not the judge who lobbies the chief judge first gets it. Where Dake sees “tempering” Chuck sees “finesse.” And this research article argues even though assigning judges at random is widely assumed in the SDNY, “finesse” seems to take precedence.
Chuck gives Wendy the detailed description of the judge they need:
“…that believes the rich has gotten away with too much for too long, and one that won’t allow Axelrod to create a distraction that I set up a roach motel to lure him in.”
Has Chuck just called Axe a cockroach? Well, Damian is probably used to his characters being called a cockroach by now 😀
Wendy points out to Chuck, exactly like Bach pointed out to Axe earlier, that Axe cannot expose what Chuck did to suck him in because that would be admission of guilt. But I believe it is Axe’s words from Season 2 Finale that is keeping Chuck up all night.
“I might go down behind all of this, but one thing is for sure, you are gonna be right there next to me.”
Given what he risked, Chuck wants to know what Axe will give to get him. Wendy’s answer ensures the stakes are extremely high and she imposes her will on Chuck for him to impose his will on Funt. Chuck did a favor for the judge years ago without him asking for it and it is payback time! We can only hope a Funt always pays his debts (Game of Thrones, anyone?) 😀
Axe Capital has its money back and Taylor has invested 9 billion into the market in phases. Now that they want to invest another 2 billion they are told by Spyros that Axe has put a “velvet rope” around it. Spyros, who may still be mad he could not get into Xenon, thinks Axe is hedging against Taylor.
Axe has two new friends who seem to have a combined background of Stanford, DARPA and the military. And while they are as knowledgable about the new food trends (“the smashed spring pea toast is the new avocado toast“) as about counter-intelligence, I am not sure if the two of them can add up to one Hall.
Wags, who we have never seen criticize Axe, puts El Jefe, The Liege, The Nagusi, The Sahabi aside and gets serious: He knows what Axe is up to and he is worried Axe’s money will make the funds it lands in as hot as Farrah Fawcett in 1976 and can burn them all.
Because one email, one phone call, one trade that tracks back to Axe means the end of Axe Capital: Hassan Chop!
So why not Axe go satisfy his urges in other ways? Why not add that vintage Cheetah he has been eyeing to his modest collection?
Axe agrees it is dangerous to hide the money. But what he plans to do sounds more dangerous: Taylor could invest the money in outside shops for him in a perfectly legal way. Wouldn’t this make them a partner-in-crime if there was a leak? What is in there for Taylor?
“They get to keep their princely fucking job.”
Still, he gets Wags’ point, he says. And when Axe arrives at the vintage car dealer, we, for a split second, think Axe may be taking his advice.
But Axe is there to talk to Mark Cuban. Axe did not listen to him when Cuban told him not to fuck with Chuck last season and now Cuban does not want to play with him. I cannot believe Axe’s arrogance with Michael Panay seconds after Cuban kindly puts him in his place but I love it Axe was watching Flintstones growing up, too. Yabba Dabba Doo!
Bryan’s “Me llamo Bryan Connerty” is cute but he and Terri certainly terrify Maria Gonzalez, a vulnerable immigrant from Guatemala, about her Green Card application and make her sing: Mr. Victor made her drink Ice Juice. He is a monster. But he is a careful monster. Victor knows something is cooking when Maria is late for work for the first time ever.
While Axe is facing the billion dollar question “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” Taylor is facing more than a billion dollar crisis at Axe Capital. A tsunami has hit Brazil affecting Axe Capital’s new investments in Brazilian sugar and shipping. Taylor has taken some initial steps but they still need good ideas to make up for the losses. Taylor finds the answer to the test in being a true doppelgänger: If it is a money maker they will do it no matter what.
Chuck knows the judge who fits his description and needs to have him ready to lobby the chief judge the moment they get Funt off the case. So he puts himself in Adam DeGiulio’s debt! There is nothing Adam can ask that Chuck refuses for the rest of their days should Adam take the case. Chuck believes Adam has to take it because he cannot be bought, bent, or worked. Well, isn’t Adam, who is taking Chuck’s words as gospel, being bought, bent and worked at this very moment? And I wonder why Axe should not try the same with him.
Bobby “Gordon Ramsay” Axelrod arrives at Axe Capital as soon as he sees the company losses on his phone. Wags is waiting at Axe Capital entrance not because he thinks the company is getting crushed without Axe, but because Axe needs to know he will find a different situation once he gets out of the elevator. For one, he may forget about feeling like Washington Crossing the Delaware since he is not allowed to lead his men anymore.
“It’s 12:09 pm I am here with Robert Axelrod and we’ll stay with him anywhere he goes inside these walls… ” followed by men coming to Axe’s office to take away his Bloomberg. And Wags calling Spyros “Zapruder” is everything.
Bryan and Terri cannot intimidate Danny Margolis, who greets them in his birthday suit, about the “unexplained coincidences.” And Axe gets a phone call from Margolis about his poolside chat about “beverages” as Spyros keeps lecturing about how to find a good flat white outside Australia 😀
Axe Capital employees are intimidated by Axe’s presence in the office and are confused about who is running the shop. Ben Kim not knowing to sit or stand is the cutest thing. And Rudy not wanting Axe to know about his new idea – not because it is illegal to talk shop wth him but because he may hate the idea – is the last straw for Taylor.
They know they should have anticipated the tsunami. They know Axe knew it right away but could not act. They understand it must be very hard to have things to say but not allowed to say them. But he is not allowed to.
If you can’t live with that, I can be the one who leaves, you’ll probably make up the losses, but get yourself banned for life or worse.”
Taylor is not bluffing and Axe is pulling his 2 billion.
“1:53 pm. Robert Axelrod has left the building.”
He may have left the building but Axe cannot shut it off. Wendy, who catches up with him outside, tells him he will lose the battle and the war if he cannot. Axe telling Wendy to stay with Taylor tells me he has said he would pull his money just to push Taylor to do better. Axe fires his driver (Is “you’re fired” a reference to Trump?) and drives his Porsche to Transmitter Park to meet his new friends about his urgent needs. He is too distracted to remember that his”princelings” need to be at the Little League game so it is the chopper for “Edward” and “George.”
In their search for Maria Gonzalez who does not show up for her appointment, Bryan and Terri end up at Varick Street detention center only to find the wrong Maria Gonzalez! Their Maria was put on a goodbye charter earlier in the day. Bryan knows it is Axe and pushes Dake to ask Jeffcoat if they can bring Maria back. Dake, a guy who watches Decalogue every year, cannot catch the AG’s quote from The Departed but we certainly catch Jeffcoat rivaling Wags in Virgin Mary references:
“Next time… Instead of asking me to undo your fuck-up, maybe just see to it that he situation remains like our mother of mercy – blessingly unfucked.”
Taylor finds a high risk/reward play thanks to Ben Kim who is not brave enough to voice his findings. But they are hesitating since this is the single largest investment they will make as the CIO. They pull the trigger when Wendy advises even a loss will be good in the long run: It will be a horrible feeling Taylor will do everything not to feel like that ever again.
Whoever hesitates should take a dose of Wendy’s magic! When Chuck is terrified he will be exposed if he screws up with Funt, Wendy telling him she knows he is not a coward does the trick. We find out Chuck helped Funt’s son with medical school admissions. The judge first thinks Chuck is trying to dictate his rulings but when he realizes what Chuck wants is for him to recuse himself from the case, he complies.
As soon as Bryan hears their case just got DeGiulio-ed, he knows it is Chuck. Dake may not have the habit of rejecting gifts but Bryan knows this is Valentine’s Day and White Day is coming. What Bryan does not know is the favor Chuck promised to Dake arrived at the SDNY in a trench coat: Karl Allerd is Chuck’s new AUSA.
Dake is not the only one receiving gifts today. Axe appreciates the CIO has done the best that could be done and is not pulling his 2 billion. And if this is a Valentine Day’s gift, what Taylor gives him is a White Day one. They will invest in outside funds (read “satellites) and become a passive investor so Axe could use his private channels to trade. Axe knows Taylor is not doing this just because he needs it but they could benefit from his moves in case of an emergency.
“I’m your hedge.”
Indeed. And it is such a pleasure to hear the dialogue between two smart people outsmarting each other with every word.
As she gets off the bus in her village, the American Dream is over for Maria Gonzalez. And it is one down and several more to go for the man who is the depiction of the American Dream.
Two episodes into Season 3 and we see both Dake and Taylor adapting to ways they seemed to dislike earlier. Bryan Connerty, on the other hand, is still the conscience of the show. I have recently seen an interview with Damian in which he says Bryan is such a lonely voice on Billions: He tries to do the right thing and no one seems to care. But I want to think Bryan will dig into Chuck’s involvement in Ice Juice and some will care.
One character that is growing on me this season is Lara. The way she describes marriage – partly her feelings and partly handling her fake friend Lily – shows Lara is trying to find out who she is without her husband. I completely agree with her that boys arriving at the baseball game in the chopper is mortifying and that they do not know to be embarrassed is unacceptable. If Axe does not want her help, it is his problem.
In closing, I have a theory about “single Axe” I want to run by you: Knowing how hard he tried to bring Wendy back to Axe Capital in Season 2, I cannot believe Axe is not doing anything to steal Lara’s heart again. And my hunch is he may be doing what he is doing for his family without anyone, including Lara, knowing. Could it be that the move to Manhattan, the bachelor pad, and the women, especially the women, are a show to make the outside world believe in the separation? And so a divorce transferring at least half of the assets to Lara would not be perceived as fraudulent conveyance? Just saying – not that I know if this could play out fine legally.