Billions picks up the characters exactly where we left them last Sunday, takes them to places they have never been before and leaves me with several billion dollar questions. HATS OFF!
Wendy meets Taylor at Morgenstern’s – synonym of YUM. She seems to be friends with Nicholas Morgenstern who makes a cameo and turns the ice cream shop into a speakeasy for his friend! 🙂 Well, Mr. Morgenstern is definitely a good friend. Did you know he named his peanut butter ice cream cake after his friend Brian Koppelman? Meet The Koppelman!
While neither trusts the other one, Wendy and Taylor talk. At least Wendy does: Many at Axe Capital tried to get into her mind, but only Taylor did. Because they listen and they deeply care. And that is why they were the only one who reached out when Chuck made their sex life public.
Wendy knows if she does not confide in someone who really knows her, she will end up in a bad place. Taylor does not have to talk at all, they only need to hear Wendy as she is trying to figure herself out. When Taylor rightly asks about what Axe would think about this meeting, Wendy is clear:
“This has nothing to do with him.”
While Wendy needs Taylor to hear her, Bryan needs Judge De Giulio to hear him. While I am a Liverpool fan, I am as offended as De Giulio when people call the best sport in the world soccer. It is called futbol, people, FUTBOL 😀 And did you know a certain star of Billions plays it quite well?
Bryan wants to have a wiretap on Chuck Senior as well as Chuck who he believes is a co-conspirator in Senior’s shady development business. De Giulio understands Bryan is like Big Earl in Diner who wants to have the entire left side of the menu. Yet, given the only evidence he has is a family portrait, the judge denies the request. And it seems he does not go back to his match but meets Chuck at Economy Candy to show his friendship and get his friend pay back with a juicy health care case: a politically motivated one the Supreme Court will cite and law students will underline for years. Every judge’s wet dream, I guess.
Taylor and Douglas are in a lab looking at the lattice fin Taylor has now have fabricated from carbon fiber per Douglas’ specs. But Taylor needs Douglas to hear them: They will have meetings with potential strategic partners and they have to be very careful with business hygiene so no one can find out what they are doing.
Taylor is vindicated as we find not only Hall but also Axe, whose obsession with Taylor seems to have peaked, on a rooftop close by. They are trying to see what $28M worth project is going on in the lab. Hall is obviously not comfortable about Axe being there as if he needs a supervisor and Axe’s response is hilarious when Hall reminds him of his date.
“Quit hacking my calendar.”
Chuck also needs a friendly ear tonight. He has been sleeping in the guest room for a while now and since the marital bed is not providing support, he asks Wendy whether he could see a professional dominatrix. Wendy’s “I’ll think about it” becomes a quick yes the moment she sees the rubber bands on Chuck’s leg and the safety pin in his nipple! This self-hurting should stop before he moves on to cilice!
So Chuck is allowed to see a professional — not somewhere else where the paparazzi can follow him but at home. Wendy is willing to pretend Chuck is seeing a sports trainer, take the kids out and give them space. I hope Chuck appreciates how lucky he is to have Wendy.
Axe is alarmed when he gets “it’s not a good time” from Victor when he calls him to share some new ideas. He makes a quick “strange things are afoot at the Circle K” call to Bach so he gets to the bottom of this.
Wags also needs an ear to hear his wonderful news! He has finally got an invitation from Kappa Beta Phi, a secret fraternity made up of high-rank financial executives like Michael Bloomberg, Kenneth Langone and Paul Tudor Jones. But Bach and Spyros interrupt this happy moment to report to Axe that Victor is in deep shit. The SEC is looking into him for insider trading.
Now Axe needs Victor to hear him! They meet at Haandi, a true cabbie joint, and bond over what looks like a sheep’s head!
Victor spills the beans: He got insider information from the research company and in return helped them to skew the numbers they report to competitors so they make bad trades. All without thinking his end may resemble that of Bonnie and Clyde. What Victor does not know about the law men is the following:
“They’re like these cabbies. They don’t just want cheek meat, they’ll take your whole fuckin’ head.”
But what about Axe’s head? While Dollar Bill is not uncertain Victor will be loyal to Axe like John McCain in Hanoi Hilton (I visited the Hoa Lo prison over Christmas Break – a fascinating site!) Bach confirms Axe’s head is also on the chopping block. It turns out Taylor fucked Axe Capital “Spacey style” before they left: They changed the terms in the agreement with Victor making Axe Capital a co-owner of Victor’s firm. So Victor’s actions are now legally attributable to Axe. But how could Taylor do it unilaterally? Oh, Mafee is the co-signer. While Bach is sure it is a “Darrell ‘Dunkenstein’ Griffith slam dunk” that this case will be prosecuted, Axe believes it needs to be prosecuted by a certain AG.
Oh that certain AG has his own very busy schedule today!
As Allerd and T dig into Jeffcoat’s travel records, they find out Jeffcoat’s plane made an unplanned stop at Cayman Islands to refuel. Further research shows Jeffcoat has never left the plane, but the airport staff remembers another member of the cabnet, Todd Krakow, on several occasions, taking a town car with tinted windows to Banco Esencial.
On his way to the state jet that will take him to Cayman Islands, Chuck takes Axe’s call: While Chuck is not his “barristerial footman” he is willing to put a conviction on the books for Victor and make sure nobody will look into him or people connected to him again.
The war room is now set in Axe’s office with Hall showing them the three men Taylor and their dad have scheduled meetings with.
A defense contractor who sells solar field shields to NASA and missile guidance to the military. A billionaire with $50B worth of stocks in aeronautics. And a sharp investor who focuses more on start ups than the other two. Hall will find out which company Taylor decides to make a deal so they can kill it. As he makes Wags leave with a wink, and Wendy follows him, Hall shares with Axe that he had Wendy and Taylor at the same location. He knows Axe does have no doubt about Wendy’s loyalty but given her current emotional state he is concerned. Axe asks Hall to monitor the situation more closely.
While Axe does not give a fuck about Kappa Beta Phi (KBP), Wags does and we find out why: Wags is the son of a former KBP “Grand Loaf” who thought his son was a disappointment when Wags got into his first rehab! Wags has been carrying his father’s photo in drag since the president of the fraternity “The Grand Swipe”sent him the invitation.
Kappa Beta Phi is now filed under things I never knew existed before Billions. It turns out the new members called the “neophytes” are required to wear dresses, complete with costume wigs, and perform some variety show following the cocktail hour. Wags is now preparing for the event in his office: He is wearing high heels, he has wall-to-wall women’s clothes, and wigs and jewelry to choose from. He is also kind enough to give comfort to Spyros and Dollar Bill that if they find the greatness in them and nurture it, it would be seen 😀 I cannot help wonder what greatness in Wags has brought on this precious invitation 😀 In case you want to read about a real-life Kappa Beta Phi dinner, go here.
With his Super 150s wool suit on, Chuck may be sweating in Mr. Abington’s (hello, Elvin!) office on Cayman Islands but it is Mr. Abington who will break out in a cold sweat soon. Chuck knows about his cyber currency business which is nothing but the good old “pig in a poke.” Mr. Abington needs to travel to NY in his island outfit today to appear before a Grand Jury and talk about Krakow’s accounts.
But guess what? Bryan does not hear Kate’s protests at all and organizes a “welcome back” party for Chuck at the airport. The U.S attorney gets the witness from the state AG and they will see each other at the court.
While Douglas is presenting himself as the Babe Ruth of “pitching or being pitched to” to his child, Taylor knows he is nervous and tries to calm him down: Taylor will talk about the numbers, Douglas will talk about the science which nobody in the room knows better than him (this is my self-talk before any talk I give — nobody knows your work better than you do!).
Team Mason pulls it off seamlessly and all three companies are on board. The problem is that Douglas is not. He sees Taylor bringing in partners as a sign of his child not trusting his work and, more importantly, him. Mafee goes after him as Douglas leaves the meeting and realizes he cannot help this man who thinks he is the smartest man in the room even when he is in the same room with Taylor.
Now Taylor needs a friendly ear which Wendy provides at Four Freedoms Park.
Billions uses analogies brilliantly in its story telling and the conversation between Taylor and Wendy about Louis Kahn, the architect of the park, is no exception. As they talk about Kahn and his estranged relationship with his son, they actually talk about Taylor and their relationship with Douglas. And, if you have not seen the Oscar-nominated documentary My Architect which I saw at least a decade ago and still remember vividly, please do yourself a favor and see it. Made by Nathaniel Kahn, Kahn’s son, it is an effort to understand a brilliant innovator, a flawed man, and an estranged father. Sounds familiar?
Lucky for Taylor, Douglas comes around when his child confronts him about his pathology. Taylor has got their dad’s personnel files from his old firm and learnt that the story is different than what Douglas shared with them. Douglas was fired after a disciplinary investigation in the firm because he did not believe the higher-ups believed in his project and tried to find another home for it. Now he agrees to do it Taylor’s way.
Unlucky for Taylor, Wendy is not their friend. The first meeting at Morgenstern’s may be sincere on Wendy’s part. But as soon as she hears about Taylor and Mafee fucking Axe Capital, Wendy knows Taylor knows them all like the back of their hand that even Taylor reaching out to her could be a psychological trap. So she goes to the second meeting with a strategic plan. And it is her who starts their casual conversation about Louis Kahn 🙂 Wendy will now study her session notes on Taylor from two years ago.
While Axe is ready to chill, cook dinner and more with Rebecca after a “three-alarm fire” day, Chuck arrives to make it a “four-alarm fire” day. Chuck’s enemies are working hard to take him down that Chuck helping Axe right now would only hurt Axe. Axe appreciates Chuck delivering the news in person, but his mood changes, and when Rebecca asks about what has happened, she only hears he does not want to talk about it.
I applaud Rebecca for being direct with her boy friend. She wonders if Axe is willing to have more than a “Maximum Recreational Depth” relationship with her. Can he go to deep enough so they can talk business which seems to be more personal to Axe than sex? Wendy is right, Rebecca is a keeper. And as she leaves, I am hoping Axe can think a little bit about why his marriage ended in the first place.
Thank God he does!
Axe invites Lara for coffee to tell her she and the boys are now free to move to California. It is quite sad to see whatever has remained of that once very strong marriage — their conversation reminds me of Brody and Jess’ car conversation in Homeland Season 2. Honest. Open. Heart breaking. It takes quite a long time for Axe to see his mistakes, doesn’t it? Should he have seen it a year ago, he may still have had his family. Oh well…
What Axe valued in Lara was loyalty. I think what he values in Rebecca is brains. Axe rushing into Rebecca’s office while she is in a meeting shows he is ready to go deeper with her. And he knows he had to talk to her earlier as Rebecca solves the Victor problem immediately:
“I like messy. I take control instead of the mess controlling me.”
Axe goes ahead and buys Mark to Market Analytics with a high premium to buy the CEO’s silence. Now that it has lost its utility, Victor loses the firm and he should be grateful that he has a desk at Axe Capital.
Axe is getting into the “intimate” territory with Rebecca – business. But can he completely trust her? I have been uneasy about this since Hall said it was someone who visited Axe Capital that planted the Russian-made circuit that hacked their computer systems. Am I being too cynical?
Chuck is getting into the “intimate” territory with “Mistress Cassie” – BDSM. And when things get a bit out of control, Chuck ends up having a purple eye and multiple wounds on his body. But guess what? He is already talking about his next meeting with the dom.
I wonder if Wendy will give in at some point and the marital bed will provide support for Chuck, or will Chuck at least partially give Wendy what she wants in bed? And if there is no middle way, will their marriage fade away?
Wendy is concerned people will attribute Chuck’s bruises to her but Chuck is ready to use Jiu-Jitsu as an excuse. And he does next day in court when Bryan raises the subject!
While Chuck insists they will never know if it is real incompetence or if Bryan is covering for his boss when he loses the case. But Bryan has the access to federal files Chuck does not and he has the witness. So De Giulio rules in favor of Bryan in KingKong vs Godzilla 😀 And as I think De Giulio has just lost the juicy health care case, we find him celebrating with Chuck at Economy Candy! OMG this was the plan all along: Bryan will want to prosecute Krakow, Jeffcoat will say no, Bryan will not listen to him, and there you go: civil war.
What Chuck forgets though is that Bryan has learnt from the best: Chuck himself. It takes some time for the penny to drop but as he fights with Jeffcoat over the possible Krakow case, Bryan realizes this is all Chuck’s doing. And Jeffcoat, who declares every desk in the DoJ is his desk, says maybe this desk really belongs to Bryan when the latter is ready to drop the case against Krakow to focus on taking down Chuck.
Bryan seems to be blinded by his hatred of Chuck that he is not able to see Jeffcoat is the real villain. Or could it be that it is the US Attorney’s desk that does it to people? Because from Jose Lugo to Federal Day to giving immunity to Foley who has committed a crime in return for information about Chuck’s unusual sex life which is not a crime, Jeffcoat is the depiction of what Bryan has come to dislike in the system.
Krakow case is back in Chuck’s hands. While Chuck does not know what to do with it, Allerd is sure he can use the offcuts to make something indigestible for Jeffcoat. We all know Krakow gave tips to Axe about natural gas and he paid Krakow his share later in crypto currency to his Caymans Islands account. What if Axe’s name is in the file? Can Axe be the collateral damage in the fight between Chuck and Jeffcoat?
Digging into her notes from two years ago, Wendy figures Taylor is the child who does not want their dad to walk around with plans but would never see it turning into a reality.
May I just say Wendy is the NEW Hall?
While Hall can only monitor from afar, Wendy can sneak into TMC.
Mafee proves once again he is not the smartest guy in the room when he bumps into Wendy at his nightcap bar and believes she is there to meet a friend. I mean, if Wendy knows about Douglas being in town, and he and Taylor working together from Facebook, she probably knows about your nightcap bar from Facebook, too, no? In three minutes, Wendy is ready to report to Axe TMC is working with the start-up guy.
My jaw drops as Wendy talks about how they should deal with Taylor: Just killing the deal with Dana will not cut it. They have to make sure it is Taylor that kills the deal which would be a huge betrayal to their dad and neither the father nor the child would be able to come back from that. Wendy breaks her medical oath once again to deliver for Axe Capital. Axe is proud and Hall is probably a bit embarrassed.
Also, is Taylor really a “trusting person” like Axe has suggested at the end of Episode 2 when they offered a truce? Taylor is smart enough to know Wendy can get what the entire Louis Kahn story is about. They also know Axe Capital is following the $28M they diverted for unspecified business. Could it be that Taylor wants Wendy and Axe to follow the breadcrumbs because they are preparing a surprise for them?
As I was thinking Mafee may be the loser of the week, Wags scores BIG in that department. Wags, who arrives in her fancy dress, wig and high heels at the fraternity dinner, is surprised his name is not on the list until… Nussfaur, the guy Wags tricked to get his burial spot last season, shows up with a huge smile on his face and a Page Six photographer by his side. It turns out Nussfaur are buddies with the Grand Swipe and the whole invitation was to humiliate Wags as a trespasser. Mr. Wagner should be turning in his grave. And I am dying to know how Wags will return the ambulance chaser’s “True Grit” revenge!
Chuck tries to reconcile with Wendy when she comes home but she is not hearing him. Me thinks Chuck should have listened to his wife when she warned him about getting followed! The video showing Chuck and De Giulio leaving Economy Candy within a few minutes of each other helps Bryan to get the green light for a wiretap from Judge Funt who we know is not a Chuck fan.
Well played, Bryan.