Billions on Showtime, Season 4 Episode 2: Arousal Template

Billions creator and show runner Brian Koppelman tweeted earlier today that the first two episodes in Season 4 are the warm up. Well, if this is the warm up, I cannot imagine how crazy the best stuff will get!

Now that he has decided to put out the fire not by pouring water on it but by sucking oxygen out of the room, Axe is busy cutting off the credit lines to Taylor Mason Capital (TMC). We find him with Wags at an ambitious robotics raise by Patriot-Trust Bank where they claim the product has the brains of Will Hunting and strength of Artis Gilmore during his American Basketball Association days. The robot company is looking for five investors to put in $100M in this round that includes anti-dilution rights.

Enters Rebecca Cantu, a venture capitalist.

I do not know about the robot but Rebecca has the brains like Will Hunting! Being the daughter of a mechanic, she understands how engines work, and questions the robot’s hum that tells her there is a combustion engine in it. And, no, Rebecca does not buy the “proprietary power source” bullshit. A combustion engine means the robot will have no use for the military due to efficient, cost and security issues. So they need to develop the battery technology but then the profit margins there are “as thin as Kate Moss on a juice fast.” Axe is impressed.

As we expect Axe to leave the room since this robot is the new Mechanical Turk (not the Amazon one!) he goes to talk to the bank guy. Axe knows nobody in the room is now willing to invest in the shitty robot but that the bank cares about this investment. So how about Axe does them the favor of getting a piece of the project while they return the favor?

And this is only his first stop. Axe makes the rounds, cuts the checks, shakes the hands to make sure Taylor can get nothing from any investment bank in NYC other than more eyes going cold on them than Agent Bill Tench had in a season (I am not surprised Taylor is a Mindhunter fan) and a koozie!

While Axe does not give a shit about Spyros’ mood ring he needs to listen when both Wags and Wendy say he should not let the street think Axe may be putting revenge over making money. While Wendy refers to 1995 film Heat that she does not want Axe to be Neil McCauley to Taylor’s Waingro, Wags believes in meaningful relationships and knows where to find them. The Axe Capital team will now put together a list of all private companies Rebecca Cantu has invested in and look for new ideas in there.

Tuk, a new analyst, who seems to be too intimidated by Axe to speak in his presence, comes up with a bright idea that Ben Kim conveys to the boss. Eureka Building Solutions is a new janitorial services company chewing up the competition. Tuk has relatives without green cards working there and the company paying $16/hour wages and providing benefits is a complete hoax. Eureka is making its employees kick back salaries and threatening to report those that do not comply to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And Rebecca is invested in Manifest Cleaning Solutions, Eureka’s chief competitor. While they cannot short Eureka since it is a private company, they can finish it and make Rebecca’s firm own the market. While Axe is calling Rebecca to arrange a dinner for two, Tuk needs to go get a job at Eureka and bring back video evidence. Me thinks he may need to do some elevator dance to build some confidence first!

The big shots of NYC law enforcement are in a room hearing Kulbinder Darcha, the interim state AG, announcing his run for the seat he is currently occupying. Chuck is in the audience with Ira discussing linguistic issues, namely whether it is “champ” or “chomp.” Well, google it and you will find a number of discussions on this. But I am sold on Ira’s practical explanation: New Yorkers would like to see an AG who talks like a New Yorker! So forget about William Safire and say “chomp.”

Chuck’s new found friend Commissioner Sansome has Mr. Brogan’s gun permit ready for Chuck but he also gives him new homework: Sansome thinks Raul Gomez of the Police Pension Fund has got too rich and someone independent should look into it. Given that Gomez has a lot of connections in the city, this is risky business for Chuck. But Darcha is not Sansome’s “boy” yet and if Chuck gets the commissioner what he wants, Sansome may adopt him as his “boy.”

So Chuck starts with Michael Panay who has been able to take the Police Pension Fund business thanks to Axe and been paying him half of his 2 and 20 half of which Axe pays to Gomez in crypto. But Chuck does not know what we know so his first idea is that Gomez may have seen a desperate man in Panay, whose fund was deflating like a “Tijuana breast implant” last year, and gave him a lifeline in return for some kickback. But when he learns from Panay that Gomez is as clean as they come and observes the absolute nervousness on Panay’s face when he asks him about Bobby Axelrod, Chuck has his answer: Panay is a patsy and Axelrod is still managing the fund through him. But when he cannot get a word from Gomez except that his is just a theory like flat earth Chuck decides to pay a visit to Axe.

While Taylor the boss is dealing with capital problems, Mafee the partner is having lunch at Emmy Squared Brooklyn with Rudy who has finally realized he is no Bruce Willis in Unbreakable. Rudy’s wife is super pregnant, and he needs a job. And, oh, his lawyer has told him his non-compete is not binding. Hmmm… Is that so or has Axe sent you, Rudy? Because Bach was very confident about the new non-competes being “tighter than AC/DC in 1978.”

Capital problems may be forcing Taylor to leave the statistical arbitrage opportunity — basically a project concerning heavily quantitative and computational approach to securities trading — on the table. And as they work to clear their mind with Tai Chi, a knock on the door brings them their own Mighty Mouse who is here to save the day!

Andolov has friends who can help Taylor with money and it seems he will not accept no as an answer.

Spyros is in Wendy’s office to save the day, too! It is Bonnie’s birthday and she has got an email from Mafee offering celebratory drinks. So the head of HR, while she puts Spyros in his place, needs to show up at Bonnie’s party at The VNYL and gets to the bottom of this. And Bonnie is smart enough to get it: She is not one to share everything with mommy but she agrees to not keep secrets as long as mummy stops snooping. Deal.

The conversation at the party turns to sex from Danzig’s “COAT” (chance of action tonight?) text to his wife to Bonnie telling the boys women may just want to get railed sometimes and Wendy seconding her that nobody wants to fuck a sexual panhandler. And Eveready, after a number of drinks, is brave enough to ask Wendy how things work in her bedroom.

“Action when one of us fucking wants it.”

It seems casual sex conversation turns Wendy on. But as she just wants to get railed, Chuck begs to have the “box.” And when she tracks down Miss Dominatrix — who seems to have moved after the incident with Black Jack and Chuck Senior —  to ask her about people who switch roles in their sexual relationships, she does not hear what she probably expects: The people who reverse roles are role players, they are experimenting, but that is not Chuck’s arousal template. So, like Bonnie, Wendy laces the sneakers and runs to forget what she wants.

Talking about arousal templates, how about tall, blonde, smart, ambitious, bad girl with blue collar roots for Axe? Axe is at Broken Shaker, a roof top cocktail bar, with Rebecca. We learn that Rebecca left a shopping network and started her own business when she could not tolerate her bosses who did not only listen to her ideas but also had very basic thought process. When Axe offers partnership, Rebecca complains about men in business: they constantly said no to her ideas because she was a woman, and then when she was looking for capital because she was a woman, and now that she is successful and does not need them, they all want to partner with her.

Axe is very interested in half of Rebecca’s shares in her janitorial services company at 1.5 times the market price for obvious reasons that he does not share with her! But Axe is different from the other children and he is one red hot flirt!

Rebecca: “I saw value. I took. Do you think this makes me bad?”

Axe: “Yeah I do. In the best way.”

Well, it seems both fucking want it tonight.

I yell at my TV “What the fuck?” when another young woman gets into Axe’s apartment after Rebecca leaves to have the paperwork ready to give Axe his stake in Manifest. Well, it is no secret I do not like single Axe. And as much as I have been rooting for him and Lara get back together, I know it is a very long shot given Malin Akerman is not a regular on the show anymore. So I would take a committed Axe over single Axe any day! Imagine my relief when I find out at the same time with Chuck that Kelly is just the best stretcher in town.

Chuck may not have an office anymore but folks who do have asked him to look into Raul Gomez who may be using the Police Fund like Chris Stapleton using his Tennessee Whiskey: to satisfy his thirst. Axe offers a practical solution in which Panay will be the loser and he will be the winner. Oh, and, what about Sansome?

Well, Chuck assures him that keeping Gomez but having him fire Panay is his best play going forward to get what he really wants. Chuck is sure Samsone and the next manager of the fund, Bobby Axelrod, will hit it off immediately. And now that Chuck has scratched Sansome’s back, it is the commissioner’s turn: How about him and his union backing Chuck for the state AG seat?

While Mafee has said “Done!” to Rudy  it is easier said than done. And when Taylor gives Mafee their full blessing for hiring Rudy on the condition that Mafee will take responsibility for Rudy’s performance, Mafee turns 180 degrees and ultimately says no to his friend who has come to their meeting at Walter Foods assuming he has a job. But leave it there, Mafee, no need to bullshit about the baby gift!

The new counter-intel specialist at TMC reports that the Kozlovs are “real animals” who do not only order murders but also commit them. Taylor and Sara calculate that with the Kozlov money coming in, Andolov would have a lot of power on TMC and put them in a Zugzwang position meaning any possible move Taylor would take will make them weaker.

So how to get rid of these two cutie pies?

Well, it is official, Taylor Mason is a genius, too! Their idea to use Axe to get rid of The Kozlovs is BRILLIANT! Taylor knows the only way they can get rid of the Kozlovs is when the brothers do not have the money to give them. So they call Theo at Patriot-Trust Bank to tell him that they now have the money they need in a Russian accent and that Theo can go fuck himself.

Voila! When Theo confirms it is not a Russian bank who is lending money to Taylor,  Axe thinks it should be The Kozlovs. And the moment Theo finds out Axe may consider making him his prime broker if he fights as hard for him as he does for his bank, he turns off the credit lines for The Kozlovs.

Taylor scores BIG!

Bryan knows exactly what is going on when he learns from Kate that Darcha has cancelled his appearance at the Feast of San Gennaro but Sansome is still scheduled to appear! And as he gets into Chuck’s private office we find out Chuck and Axe do not only share Wendy for advice nowadays but also Kelly for stretching!

Chuck does not take Bryan who tells him not to run seriously because the words that come out of his former protege’s mouth are what Chuck taught him. And he is merciless with Bryan.

“I am running. And when I win I’m gonna roll over you like it’s Tiananmen Square.”

Tuk gets the job done but the celebration in Axe’s office for Randy Kornbluth’s exemplary piece of journalism blowing Eureka up is cut short when Rebecca storms into Axe’s office. She is wondering why Axe invested in that shitty robot as well as if she fucked an idiot or someone deceitful.

The smile on Wags’ face is priceless!

It turns out Theo, to prop up the business for the bank, called Rebecca to tell her that Axe has invested in the robot company.

Rebecca threatens to give Taylor leverage unless Axe gives her back half of the shares he got from her. Well, I can swear this heated exchange turn these two on. Is EAT a code word, too, like COAT? 😀 I think they end up at Axe’s penthouse!

Taylor meets Andolov who breaks the bad news that The Kozlovs no longer have the money to give them. Despite the fear on their face as they get on the elevator to go meet Andolov, Taylor keeps their cool and more than survives the conversation at Russian Vodka Room. And may I just say I love Kalinka on the piano?

Taylor suggests Andolov take Kozlovs’ assets for nothing now that “Axe has cut them to digestible bites.” And while Andolov thinks only the nastiest of The Bratva (Russian Mafia) would do it, he likes what he hears. Well, it seems he wanted this to happen to the Kozlovs.  Now what does Taylor hope to get from him? Well, Taylor knows Andolov is happy that Axe shut the doors to them making Taylor more reliant on him. Yet they are a Bob Ritchie (Kid Rock) fan who believes in independence and they ask Andolov, who seems to be a Kid Rock fan himself, to use his connections with banks to get independent leverage for them. He agrees.

It seems the Who is Who of NYC is at the Feast of San Gennaro tonight eating junk food and throwing darts. And FYI:

The police commissioner Sansome gives the audience their next State AG who is “chomping” at the bit to be NY’s next AG like a New Yorker! And while Bobby Axelrod who is applauding will probably vote for him, we know that there is at least one audience member who will not.

I wonder if Bryan “The Angriest Sandwich Eater” Connerty imagines himself as that brave protester standing alone against the tanks on Tiananmen Square.

Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

19 thoughts on “Billions on Showtime, Season 4 Episode 2: Arousal Template”

  1. Lesson learned everybody. Any type of sex, no matter how kinky, gets boring if it’s the only kind you ever do. Hope Wendy and Chuck talk that particular issue out before it becomes a major issue. Nice to see that isn’t the issue for Axe and Rebecca for now at least 😉

    1. Thank you for reading. I’m not sure if it is only about kinky sex being boring. Wendy’s story this week has hinted to me that it was always Chuck that was more into BDSM in their relationship and Wendy went with it. But she is a woman that sometimes, in Bonnie’s words “just wants to get railed” and she does not have that. I wonder whether she was accepting what she had when she was running at the end of the scene since Bonnie had told her she ran to forget anything she wanted… The episode did a brilliant job in showing us their arousal templates in an hour…

  2. You know I always rely on your recaps to get me through most of the pop culture references. And boy, did I need it this week.
    My hat is always off to you chasing down all these references, and the restaurants as well. There may be other recaps of Billions out there, but they pale in comparison to your detail and dedication!

    And, in music to your ears, I really felt for Wendy this episode. She was vulnerable, raw, and relatable. This “softer” Wendy is someone I can like. I think if I can separate Wendy the woman from Wendy the “performance coach”, she’ll have a fan in me!

    1. Thank you so much reading and for your kind words! You make my day! Hahaha yes your take on Wendy is music to my ears. She was very human. Want to, hope to see the same with Axe at some point. He was vulnerable last week thanks to Andolov but I want to see a bit more. My guess is Wendy will be more than a coach – maybe a partner in Axe’s Operation Destroy Taylor this season. She really feels very much manipulated by someone who tried to help. Can’t wait to see more!

  3. Love the post. Watched the episode three times. Amazing what I missed each viewing. Anyone know what “sapphire balls” meant in terms of the context between Raul and Chuck? Why would seeing fear turn Chuck’s balls sapphire? It’s the “sapphire” that’s throwing me….

    And Tiro? Is that some sort of shooting range?

    And Chuck throwing out half a sandwich was beyond! WeightWatchers, Rhoades style?

    1. Thanks for reading! I don’t know about sapphire balls. Maybe a movie reference that I don’t know about?

      Tiro is a members only Italian club and shooting range in NYC: Tiro A Segno of New York.

      Yes, Chuck is certainly on a diet but he could have given the half to a homeless or something. Throwing away food is a no-no in my house.

    2. I’m going to venture to guess it’s a more sophisticated way of saying blue balls, since sapphires tend to be blue (it’s my birthstone),

      1. Right, I thought that at first. But why would blue balls (which hurts) be the outcome of Chuck seeing fear. Chuck loves seeing fear, OH wait a minute, he loves fear, his balls turn blue, which hurt, which he loves. He loves pain.

        1. I think I get it. I didn’t know “blue balls” meant erection without orgasm. It is apparently a medical term, too 🙂 Gomez says that Chuck had an erection thinking he got Gomez through him flying private to Kentucky Derby but now that he sees Gomez has no fear and that Gomez tells him he has never been to the Derby Chuck will not have an orgasm and so his balls will turn blue.

    1. My first thought was rose wine. But they were not drinking from wine glasses… it should be something else. I wonder if Broken Shaker serves its handcrafted cocktails in bottles? And, oh boy, they were sponges! 🙂

  4. I too have watched both these opening episodes 3 times each, and probably will watch the second one another time or two before this coming Sunday. Things moved very fast in them and Gingersnap is right, it seems to take multiple viewings to get it all. For me the jury is still out on Rebecca; really miss Lara who seemed to have more class. (But then I was one of those who wanted Brody with Jessica, not Clare.) Do love the mellowing between Axe and Chuck but wonder if it will last the season. Also glad to see Raul back in the picture and hope Hall shows up some this season. That bottle Axe and Rebecca were sharing did look inviting, and that comment coming from a beer drinker! Hopefully one of you will identify it.

    1. I also rooted for Jessica in Homeland until I knew it was not possible. And I have been rooting for Lara, too, in Billions, but it turns out Malin Akerman will not be a regular on the show so I think Axe and Lara getting back together is a long shot at this point. Given that I am not a fan of single Axe lifestyle, I would take a committed Axe over single Axe any time! Rebecca seems to be his type, that is why I said I figured Axe’s “arousal template” in the post. That said she is very smart and ambitious and unlike Lara she would be his equal in business. I do not know if Axe could take it. Time will tell!

      Axe and Chuck are even sharing a stretcher 😀 They are BFFs… yes we are clueless how long their honeymoon will last!

  5. Combustion engine driven robot ??? What planet are these script writers on in order to accredit specialised knowledge in such as divisive and corny manner

    1. As far as I understand they build robots running on combustion engines.

      Here’s a quote from an MIT professor working on leg-standing robots:

      “Kim points out that most leg-standing robots are powered by internal combustion engines with hydraulic transmissions, which are noisy and inefficient. “People believe that internal combustion engines and hydraulics are the only way to make a legged robot run and support itself,” he says. “People believe that electric motors are not powerful enough. This is the first time we show that an electrically powered robot can run and jump over foot-high obstacles.”

      And that is basically what Rebecca Cantu points out in the episode. That the humming hints that the robot runs on a combustion engine.

      You can see the entire article here:

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