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.
Team Taylor celebrates at Sugarcane, a restaurant close to TMC headquarters at Empire Stores in Dumbo. Is it me, or Douglas and Mafee are leaving the dinner early to leave Taylor and Sara alone?
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.
33 thoughts on “Billions on Showtime, Season 4 Episode 6: Maximum Recreational Depth”
The Krakow thing might lead to a split between Axe and Chuck potentially…. On the other hand, Axe doesn’t exactly like Krakow all that much so I think it more likely he and Chuck stay strong and he hands Krakow over on a silver platter to help Chuck out, and allow Axe to crush Krakow’s firm in the meantime. Just an theory on my part anyway so we’ll see if it pans out.
I don’t think Bryan has anything on Chuck yet, Chuck didn’t help Senior with the permits. But the collaboration with DeGulio could hurt big time. That said Chuck has or should know Bryan is following him, so if he keeps the meetings random and inconspicuous he might be able to throw it off or use it to his advantage, we’ll see I suppose. They weren’t able to nail Axe for anything explicit regarding Ice Juice despite tracking him everywhere in the finale of Season, only ever getting photos of him being in the same places as his collaborators. So we’ll see how it goes. Or maybe Kate see’s what you’ve been saying regarding Jeffcoat that Bryan is putting blinders on for and decides to give Chuck his own heads up, she’s becoming as much of a wild card as Wendy now 🙂
Thank you for reading!
I am thinking more about Axe being collateral damage if Chuck, for whatever reason, decides to open the Krakow case. We know Axe paid Krakow his share from Natural Gas deal in bitcoin last year and to his Cayman Islands bank account. So his name could come up in a case against Krakow.
Bryan does not have anything on Chuck yet, but now he has wire tap on Chuck and he can now find things about him he has not known before. It all depends on who Chuck meets, what he talks about, and of course as you also suggest if he knows he is being followed, and accordingly adjusting his actions. And you are right, Kate could be instrumental in getting Bryan against Jeffcoat. But, for the moment, Bryan is certainly blinded by his hatred of Chuck. Dropping the case against Krakow is not something the “old” Bryan would have ever done. Maybe it’s the US Attorney desk that does it to people 🙂
My fear about the wiretap is that it exposes Axe, specifically in his plot against Taylor which may lead Bryan to revisit his previous conversation with them. A Connerty/Taylor vs Axe/Chuck battle could get interesting
Yeah it all depends on if Chuck says something on the phone that could give Axe away… I wonder if Chuck also has multiple phones like Axe… probably not, huh? For some reason I was thinking what if Chuck had to use the Krakow file and find Axe’s name in there? But a similar thing could definitely come out of the wiretap — Bryan may give up on Chuck and move on to other targets… like Axe! Or even Chuck can do something deliberately to have Connerty follow Axe if he thinks he is going under…. Well, before the new season I was thinking (and it’s in my “what to expect” post) if Bryan and Taylor could join forces against Axe and Chuck… but then there has been connection between them in the new season… you are absolutely right the wiretap may connect them. Billions loves half-season stories so it may be starting now! Cheers!
Here’s why I think Axe will give Krakow up to Chuck, because as stated in the case trial between Chuck and Brian, Chuck’s authority and ability to circumvent executive privilege is limited, hamstringing his ability to investigate as Brian accurately stated. So for Chuck to make a significant breakthrough, he needs inside information which Axe could provide.
The problem is there has been money transfer (in crypto currency) from Axe to Krakow. But yeah they have experts that can delete such information 🙂
I thought I was the only one thinking Rebecca was a ringer sent by the Russian to destroy Axe from within. Idk what her motivation would be though? She’s a self-made billionaire too. But if she proves disloyal to Axe after that conversation with Lara, it would be fitting for Axe to open himself up to someone only to be betrayed by his new love. I liked him and Lara together and think it’s sad he’s willing to let her and his boys go away now. It’s weird that neither one of them fought harder to make their marriage work out. They were super close and a good match. Lara doesn’t seem that happy with the money and Axe seems lost without a family.
I said weeks ago that the Rhoades marriage was done. Wendy is realizing how little control she has over Chuck. She must have been hurt that he didn’t want to have sex with her but was willing to go to a hired domme even though they aren’t even sleeping in the same bed. Chuck can go to a domme to have his needs met and is willing to humiliate her to save his career. I don’t know how much more she can take.
Wags being humiliated made me kind of said for some reason. I feel for Mafee too but for some reason I think he’s gotten hip to Wendy’s manipulative ways. I hope he was playing her but who knows.
Thank you for reading!
I have been uneasy about Rebecca since Hall said someone that has visited Axe Capital planted the device that hacked Axe Capital computer systems. I also like her so I will be very happy if I am totally off about her! And you are right if she turns out to be a mole, I am not sure if Axe may have a real relationship with a woman ever again. I am also surprised neither Bobby nor Lara tried hard to get back together. Maybe the bond was not as strong as we thought it was, maybe it was more money than love at some point. And at this point, both have moved on. But I think Rebecca helped Axe to see some mistakes he has made and he at least corrected one and removed the lock up on his children. Better late than never. But, still, Lara is right that he did it on his timeline, his way and what suited to his needs.
I am not sure if Rebecca should have a motivation to be a mole other than an agreement with Andolov in some big business. She is almost a female Axe. She’s a bit too good to be true. But maybe Axe is just very lucky 🙂
Wendy does not have the control over him that she had – I think she can get it back only if she becomes the dominatrix in his life again. But I don’t know if she will give in and get back to their normal. Or she can just let it go. The marriage is at a critical juncture and probably the second half of the season will help Wendy figure out what she should do.
It was sad to see Wags getting humiliated. But it will be delicious to see his revenge. Looking forward! And Mafee… I don’t think he can play Wendy. But again time will tell!!!
Thank you for your amazing recap. I have never heard of the Kappa Beta Phi, so you gave me an education there!
I have so many mixed feelings about this episode. Just when you think you know someone, you don’t.
I cannot for the life of me get a read on Wendy! As much as I have never really liked her (but that had more to do with the whole “performance coach” thing; I think being the head of HR makes more sense), she seemed like the only one who had feelings, and would bring Axe (and Chuck) back from the brink. The times those men didn’t listen to her, is when they got into hot water. Now, she is behaving just as badly. Now, it’s not that I don’t love a bad-ass woman – last night’s GoT was chock full of them! But those ladies are fighting for their “houses”, their family (oh, and to survive against the White Walkers!). What is Wendy fighting for? Axe Capital? OK, but as she even said, no one there reached out to her in her time of need. She’s willing to destroy Taylor – not just TMC – for a firm and a group of people who really don’t care about her? I know she has her own anger towards Taylor, but her wanting to decimate Taylor (and their relationship with their Dad) just seems like overkill. I guess I don’t want Wendy to go down the same road as Axe and Chuck and become a killing machine.
Thank you for reading!
Well, Kappa Beta Phi is completely new to me as well. I just don’t get this whole fraternity business in this country — starting in college. I get it of course that it is about networking that continues as they graduate college but I don’t understand the weird rituals, hazing, etc. And I am glad Axe does not give a shit about it!
Wendy can hold a grudge. And even though she was softened by Taylor’s Facetime call after Chuck made their sex life public and that her meeting with Taylor at the ice cream shop was sincere, not strategic, then things have changed… She learnt that Taylor changed the agreement with Victor’s firm. And Wendy said in the meeting that Taylor knew them all. And so she went to her meeting with Taylor at Four Freedoms Park with a strategic plan. I think Wendy now believes that because Taylor knew her, even their Facetime call was strategic and Taylor wanted to manipulate her — even if Taylor may have the best intentions in their call. And we know Wendy can get as bad as her two boys. Maybe worse when needed for defense. She has just broken her medical oath for a second time to deliver for Axe Capital. Axe is proud. Hall, I should say, could be a little bit embarrassed 🙂
Oh I get why Wendy is going after Taylor now, but what I think is interesting is that when Axe and or Chuck do the same thing to their “enemies” it’s not something that is seen as a positive. But now Wendy is behaving the same way, and it’s fine. The lack of humanity (or the losing of it) in her is disturbing. I don’t know if Axe or Chuck ever had it, so when they crush people, it’s par for the coarse. Wendy was (to me) always the person who wasn’t going to let the worst side of her win. Axe being proud of her actions – is that really a goal she wants to achieve? And being better than Hall, when we all know what he is, is not a compliment.
Wendy was supposed to be the moral compass for the series. There is none now. It’s just a lot of smart people beating the crap out of each other. I like the complex relationships, and the many layers of those relationships in the previous seasons. This episode just seemed too much like Rock’em Sock’em robots.
I love this back and forth – it makes me think! Thank you!
I think it’s the opposite. The show creators have repeatedly said that the viewers like Axe and Chuck more when they do bad things 🙂 And they were surprised! And I’ve been seeing tweets and comments about Wendy betraying Taylor. So my perception is that people tend to tolerate men more than women when they do bad stuff which I think the show is sort of testing with its audience. I just think Wendy does not crush people just for the fun of it – that may be the difference: Axe does, think about John Rice. Did he need to do that? No. But he did it and took pleasure in it.
I think now that Wendy believes Taylor is on attack, she will be the villain she can be like last season. And, no, I do not think she is doing what she is doing to make Axe proud. Wags or Dollar Bill can do things to make him proud, not Wendy. But Axe Capital is her baby as much as Axe’s. She has built it as much as Axe has. Axe openly says Wendy is the spirit animal of Axe Capital, and he was ready to go to jail for her. So she is right now protecting the baby. And there is nothing she cannot do to protect what is hers – exactly like Axe. What I mean when I say “better than Hall, I mean she can do what even Hall cannot do as a “fixer”. Not a compliment when you think of morality – absolutely right – but an accomplishment when you think of business getting done.
“I think now that Wendy believes Taylor is on attack, she will be the villain she can be like last season”
But that is my issue. Wendy should not be the villain. This season she was showing humanity and growth. I absolutely hated her last season. If she reverts back to that, then I feel the character has regressed. Wendy was the only person on the show who you knew had a soul. Now, not so much.
This was the first time I have ever been disappointed in an episode, and questioning where exactly they are taking these characters. Everyone seems to be a hatchet, and no one seems to be a scalpel. I’m hoping that this is a one-off – an episode where everyone is one-dimensional and predictable.
Wendy was the moral compass for two seasons but then she started to show her dark side which we did not know existed when the stakes got very big – she got into a survival mode. And then in the second half of Season 3 she was more human than ever, she felt guilt for what she did. But when Taylor left she was the one to tell Axe in Season finale “fuck them over” after Taylor talked to her in the garage. And you are absolutely right, Wendy has shown her human side as well this season especially in her personal life. So I think someone could be a human in her personal life and then a killing machine in business. Because she is a professional, Wendy could be better than anyone in compartmentalizing her emotions. I think she’s multi-dimensional. And I think Axe also showed a human side last night especially when he had that convo with Lara. It was sad to see what remained of that once strong relationship. And Axe came to terms with the end of his marriage — but of course on his timeline and his needs, that is for sure. Still, better late than never. And we have seen Chuck, too, hopeless and desperately hurting himself. All of them can be humans in personal life but the kings and queen of rationality in business. Some kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Let’s see what you will think of the rest of the season.
I think that maybe what is messing with my mind this morning is watching GoT last night. That episode was so deep, so complex, and the female characters so strong, so rich, so deep. I know I should not be comparing since they are way different shows, but since I watch them within hours of each other, it is kind of hard. Also, it was an episode about bonding before possible death, so it made the characters a lot more introspective and vulnerable. It was a joy to watch GoT, as I said, this is the first time I didn’t feel that way about Billions. This makes me sad.
What the heck was that? The Wendy/Taylor show? More Taylor than Wendy and I have rapidly totally tired of that character. In three and a half seasons I have never felt so strongly about an episode. At first merely confused, but on second viewing, just plain disappointed, and that is an understatement. There was not enough of Axe and what there was, was completely out of character. I am remembering his concern in season two when he had to tell his boys about going to jail. Did the writers forget that Axe? Except for the more extensive back story about Taylor, I felt like I was being served a few bites from a buffet table, but never allowed to enjoy any one dish to my satisfaction. Yes, there has always been several story lines going at one time, but episode 6 was so disjointed that for me it was a failure. Wags in drag was tossed in there…. why? Just to embarrass him? What a waste of his talent. I get the impression the writers are trying to see how clever they can be when they should be working on a cohesive few plots to hold everything together and let the individual stories flow. I can’t blame the actors themselves, but I sure hope the things Damian is working on now will be available here in the States. He is, after all, the reason I tuned in to Billions in the first place.
Thank you for reading, Connie!
As much as we like to see Damian more on the screen, this is an ensemble cast. Wendy and Taylor almost have as much screen time as the two lead actors — which I actually like. You have said it yourself, you are watching it more to see Damian’s acting than anything else. I think the show’s fans — including me — likes the ensemble cast structure of the show.
Wags’ story was to tell about this secret fraternity society which exists in real life. So people like Mike Bloomberg dressed exactly like Wags did last night when they attended their first dinner at the society. This is like the fraternities/sororities in college. And the first dinner should be the new inductees’ “hazing” ritual. So the guy who took his revenge because Wags got his burial plot is now in trouble. I think it will be delicious to see Wags’ revenge from that “ambulance chaser” lawyer Nussfaur 🙂 if you want to read about a real life Kappa Beta Phi dinner, I have put a link in my review.
One question: Why do you think Axe was out of character in this episode? I thought him figuring out forcing the lock-up on Lara and the boys was a mistake is typical of Axe. And I like it that Rebecca has the capacity to keep him grounded.
Damian is doing a factual called Spy Wars with A&E Networks, I think History channel is also involved, but there is no announcement about when it will come to the US. He will be filming Dream House in Wales with Toni Collette this spring/summer which I think will be a good movie and will come to movie theaters late this year or early next year. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will open on July 26 — but I think Damian will have only a few scenes as McQueen, still I am very excited!!!
I understand the concept of an ensemble cast of course. Obviously some of us prefer some characters over others. I have always liked Wags and Hall and now Carl. Ooops, don’t mean to forget Dollar Bill. But the main question regarding Axe is that he seems to be writing off his family completely. It was the family man facet of his character that softened him from the almost super human person at the head of Axe Cap. It made him more likeable and enabled me to relate to some of the things he did. I also question why he has suddenly seemed dependent on Rebecca. Perhaps he really needs a female supporter in his life and Lara is gone. Wendy can’t really fill that need. I suppose I just liked Lara more than Rebecca, just as I preferred Jessica over Carrie back in Homeland. Of course I will continue to eagerly await new episodes each Sunday, but do hope the remaining six are more satisfying to me personally.
You are right everyone’s favorite characters are different. Lucky me, I like every character even when I don’t like what they do! 🙂
I don’t think Axe is writing his family completely. He is just allowing Lara to have the life she wants with her kids. He knows the kids will be okay with their mom. And the boys will probably spend summers with dad, Axe can visit them every month. He has a private jet after all. He is not a mortal like us 🙂 At least for me, this made Axe more likable than the Axe who forced a lock-up on Lara and the boys’ life.
Rebecca: I think Axe needed a real closure in his marriage to get into a real relationship with Rebecca. And the closure was the conversation with Lara. It reminded me of Brody having that car conversation with Jess and then knocking on Carrie’s door. He needs Rebecca as his counsel like he had Lara — we had learnt he always made “comp” decisions with Lara.
Brian Koppelman has said Episode 7 is the best of the season — at least according to him. So I’m excited!!!
Well, after reading all the comments it seems I am in the minority. But that’s okay…we all have our similarities and our differences. That’s what makes this blog so great. For us to share our ideas. For me, this was one of my favorite episodes of season four. Chucky Rhoades’s Greatest Game and Chickentown being the other two. Whereas others in our group and on social media really took a liking to episode four, Overton Window. Even the writers told me on Reddit to watch for episode four and episode seven. When I watched episode four I was like, meh. We all respond to something different, don’t we?
I loved seeing the exploration into several of the characters’ behaviors this episode, giving me a sense that something is afoot at the Circle K for many. The episode shed light on so many possible plot twists that may lay ahead. For instance, I’m wondering if Mafee played Wendy and it’s not the smaller start up after all? Therefore, Wendy took the wrong information back to Axe Cap headquarters. If so, our Mr. Dudley Mafee learned from his and Wendy’s past encounter. What a twist that would be! I’m also wondering so much about Taylor’s dad Douglas. Is he bad, is he not bad? Him being so adamant that Taylor use their money, their funding (even though that did not come to fruition) had me second guessing. The episode also made me think more about Rebecca. First her weird departure from Axe’s office for ice (a previous episode) and then setting a strong boundary with Axe about her needs and wants from their relationship (open, honest communication). Was she setting Axe up so he’d spill the beans in order to garner information to be used against him at a later date? Another – Chuck and Wendy’s relationship – this episode had me thinking for the first time their marriage may not survive in the long run.
Billions creators and writers have always claimed their show is much different. The Billions recipe is not about deep dive character arcs or story lines. They do dive, but not DEEP dive. You almost can’t with an ensemble cast as vast as theirs. Their formula has always been throw everything into the kitchen sink…every reference (easter eggs), everything THEY like, regardless how arcane it is. They’ve been pretty open and honest on social media that they are, indeed, trying to be clever. I honestly believe they made the show for THEMSELVES. Something THEY would love. And that’s okay. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Moreover, if the audience happens to like their Billions formula, too, well then that’s just icing on the cake. I really grasped onto the Billions formula. It’s my kind of show.
I happen to be one of those fanatic audience members. I tell everyone: “Billions brought me to Damian. Damian did not bring me to Billions.” I’m one of the few on the blog who watched Billions because it was on my radar as a cool-looking show that I wanted to try out. I had no clue who Damian was at the time. At the end of season one I was blown away by Damian and chewed through his filmography within months. Damn near everything. I think there are five things I haven’t seen on Damian’s IMDB because they just aren’t available (yet?)
Part of being an ensemble cast is seeing our Ginger Prince in spurts. Bummer, but we’re at least seeing him! When Billions goes away, if he turns to more production projects with Rookery Productions and/or theatre, we in the U.S. are going to be devastated. I’m taking what I can!
Thank you for reading!
I love that we have different taste so we see different things in different episodes and this is definitely reflected in our Wednesday MVP posts! My favorite this season has been Episode 5. It was very contained and a lot of fun. I also know that when others tell you to watch a certain episode, it meddles with my expectations and I sometimes get disappointed because I do not find what I expect. So now that Mr. Koppelman said Episode 7 is one of the series’ bests, I have my expectations very high. We’ll see what I think next Sunday. But I can confidently say we’re watching a very strong season.
Regarding twists and turns: I don’t think Mafee can play Wendy. I like him a lot but I also think he is not the smartest person in the room when it comes to relationships. But I think, I am not positive, and will check it again, Sara says that they are officially partnering with Brian Dana, the start up guy over their celebration dinner. So I think Mafee was honest with Wendy. Regarding Douglas, I agree with you that there is room for a good story there. Here’s mine: If Wendy and Axe can make Taylor betray their father (they should have Taylor destroy Dana, I guess) then Douglas, betrayed, may take his multimillion worth product to the enemy – Axe! Because we knew he tried to do it in his former company and was fired. This is my take, but there are so many possibilities. This is the first season where I cannot really see what will come next because the possibilities are endless. Regarding Rebecca, I said it already, I know I am being very cynical, but I have been uneasy about her since Hall said someone that visited Axe Capital planted the device that hacked the computer system, and this week even though I liked her being direct with Axe, insisting to talk about business, her asking about details were also along the lines we’ve been suspicious about her. The show creator may also be doing it just to manipulate us. Rebecca could be the love of Axe’s life. She’s such a female Axe and it sometimes feels she is too good to be true. I do not mean it is unrealistic but it is fishy that all of a sudden he meets this woman who is exactly someone he could fall for. Well, time will tell! We are on the same page about Chuck and Wendy. Either Wendy will give in, or she will let it go — which may bring Chuck back to his senses but it could too late. Wendy has lost the control she once had over her husband.
I agree 100% with you about the show Koppelman and Levien create – they make the show they love. Every single detail in the show is coming from them. The show is very scripted, no improvisation on actors’ part. As you say they build it around a formula they have — some may like and some may not, but this is the show — lucky me I enjoy it a lot. And I love it that it is Billions that brought you to Damian <3
Ohhhh, you’re right! Sara did announce over dinner celebration that TM is officially partnering with Brian Dana, the start up guy. Watched the episode 3 damn times and still forgot that LOL
It’s not the typical scene one pays so much attention. Ok then I remembered correctly, still I did not feel positive about it.
Gingersnap, you are absolutely right about taking what Ginger we can while we can. I’m one of those that came to Billions via Damian. I was surprised when he took on Billions so soon after Homeland when his heart is obviously home in London with his family. Hopefully, he doesn’t give up acting, no matter how successful Rookery Productions becomes. I would hate to have to revert to the days when we saw nothing from him for ages (the years after BoB) and could only rewatch earlier work. I lost count of the number of times I’ve watched BoB and Forsyte, then Keane because there was little else. I’m wondering what you haven’t seen of him? This September it will be 18 years that I am following his career.
Connie – I have not seen the following:
1. The Big Impression
2. Jeffrey Archer
3. The Script
4. Life Force
*List does not include these because they haven’t been released yet or were never made:
1. To Appomattox (never made)
2. Run This Town (will see upon release!)
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (will see upon release!)
4. Dream Horse (will see upon release!)
5. Damian Lewis: Spy Wars (will see upon release!)
I’ve seen the first 2 of those 5. Wasn’t impressed with The Big Impression. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that!) Jeffrey Archer was good though. In your second list, I always wonder why they keep listing To Appomattox. Wasn’t there one about an astronaut that was mentioned but never done?
Connie – Ha! Impressed, impression. The astronaut thriller was called Alone and announced back in 2013. Either it never came to fruition or Damian passed on it for scheduling reasons. Not sure. A similar movie called Solo aka Alone came out in 2018 but did not have the same screenwriter, directors or producers, so I think that was an entirely different project altogether.
I should have Jeffrey Archer on a DVD somewhere in the house. I will look for it.
It’s amazing that you’ve been following his career for 18 years, Connie! What was I doing 18 years ago? Checking what the next Kevin Costner movie would be 😀 I think Damian may not commit to a TV show that takes 6 months to shoot after Billions, but I am sure he will continue making films and doing theater.
Thanks again Damianista for the recap and review. I missed four things that you filled in for me. I guess the high point was at the end when Wendy reports on who Taylor Mason Inc. will be doing their big new Dad project with. Outscoring Hall, who is taken aback. Then shocking everyone with her superior strategy on what to do next. To find a way to get Taylor to destroy her own mega project and her relationship with her father. “To a point they cannot come back from”
Starting the show Wendy is semi-fraternizing with the enemy, Taylor. But when she sees how these “ethical” goody two shoes, Taylor and Mafee, inserted hidden bombs in one contract and probably others.This is when Wendy goes as predator as Axe. Just in a different way. Wendy preys on Taylor then Mafee at the bar. Score! You know who I am rooting for.
By the end of the season we will find Taylor and Mafee availing themselves of the recession special at Grey’s Papaya.
AS economic indicators, the myriad colored signs above the registers at Gray’s Papaya, the Manhattan hot dog chain, leave something to be desired. They have advertised the stores’ “Recession Special” — two franks and a drink (anything but pineapple and orange) — since the late 1980s, through boom and bust, high times and low.
‘Recession Special’ at Gray’s Papaya on the Rise – The New …
Thank you for reading!
Yeah I really think Hall was slightly embarrassed there. And I certainly agree with your episode arch — that Wendy started sincere but turned strategic as soon as she knew what Taylor and Mafee did to Axe Capital. Wendy knows her strengths and plays them exactly like Axe to protect their baby — Axe Capital. She has scored indeed.
With Bryan getting permission for the wiretap, we are getting into the second half of the season. I wonder, and another reader also referred to that, if a Bryan/Taylor vs Axe/Chuck match could be in the horizon!
Congratulations Damianista! Look how big your “baby “ has gotten! More traffic than ever
I know! It’s CRAZY! And yeah it makes me very very VERY HAPPY 🙂 I think this month will be the one with the highest number of visitors since the blog’s launch in 2015. Thank you! We’ve done this altogether.