From the Trader’s Desk: Trust No One! Billions S4E6

Yes I know the secret that’s within your mind
You think all the people who worship you are blind
You’re just like Big Brother, giving us your trust
And when you have played enough you’ll cast our souls into the dust
Who Are You? – Black Sabbath

Trust: firm belief in the reliability, truth or strength of someone or something

Happy Friday and it’s time for another view From the Trader’s Desk, and what this trader would short this week is trust. There is a lot of talk from this group of loyalty and trust – but that is all that it is, talk. And we all know that talk is cheap.

A little housekeeping before I get into my trust meter:

I have never heard of this organization Wags gets rejected from, Kappa Beta Phi so I have not a thing to add. It’s a secret society, so that explains it. However, I would love to see these titans of the financial world dressed in drag, because anyone who knows me knows that I love RuPaul’s Drag Race! I am anxious to see just how Wags gets his revenge! It will be one for the ages!

This week, everyone was double crossing, side-eyeing, or just plain Paranoid. Let’s rate our Big Three, shall we?

Willing to Trust: 2 out of 5 (and will probably go to zero after Wendy’s plan is exposed!). Taylor wants to believe, but is more Scully than Mulder!

Trustworthy: 3 out of 5. Overall, I think Taylor is more true to their word than anyone else on Billions. That being said, devalue them, and watch your back!

Taylor wants to trust. Their Dad, Wendy, that man-boy Mafee (in Seasons 2 and 3, Axe). But, every time they do, it does not end well. It is most likely the reason they keep their emotions out of decisions. When your trust has been betrayed, it hurts. Taylor has been betrayed by people very close to them. People they let their guard down to. But instead of seeing the betrayal as a flaw in the person who perpetrated it, Taylor sees it as their flaw, and will compensate by leaving emotions out of things.

Taylor trusted Axe, so much so that they didn’t go to business school, so that Axe could be their mentor. They lied for Axe, was complicit in most of Axe’s schemes, and what did it get them? CIO in name only, and their relationship with Oscar used. Taylor realized that even though Axe had told them he trusted them in a way “I almost never trust anyone”, his actions were the exact opposite. Taylor does not trust Axe, but they do know him, and has been able to counter and/or predict his moves. In this case, not trusting Axe is actually an advantage to Taylor, as they will try and not get caught in his traps.

Taylor wants to trust their Dad, but if they really did, would they have gotten his old employee records? That shows the distrust in the relationship. The funding of his project is Taylor’s way of trying to bond with him, but it’s still a business transaction. Taylor won’t fund it, hence the need for partners. They don’t trust their Dad enough to go whole hog.

I think Taylor trusts Mafee and Sara. We know that trusting Mafee is a big mistake; not that he would purposely hurt Taylor, it’s just that he’s too naive, and too vulnerable to a woman batting her eyes at him. How he doesn’t get fired after this latest transgression, will be beyond me! Sara seems to have Taylor’s back at every turn. A true supporter and not just telling Taylor what they want to hear. But this is Billions, so sometimes things that look too good to be true, are.

Taylor and Wendy. Oh boy. These two could be such a great team together. Taylor’s brilliance, enhanced by Wendy’s ability to help them see the bigger picture would be dynamic! But, there is way too much damage, perceived and real, to this relationship for it to ever work again. They have both betrayed each other (although Taylor doesn’t know this yet), and what little trust there was at the ice cream shop is probably now gone. What I find interesting is that the double crossing these two did to each other was because of one person: Axe. One for loyalty to a man who was willing to throw her under a bus to save himself (Season 1 Ep. 12, The Conversation); the other to hurt the same man who undercut them at every turn (just watch Season 3!). Could these two have a real bond if Axe were not the fly in the ointment?

Willing to Trust: 1 out of 5. Axe trusts no one. Maybe he’s letting Rebecca in, but only on a need to know basis.

Trustworthy: 2 out of 5. You can trust him, as long as your goals line up. If you are not 100% on his side, 100% loyal, you mean nothing to him. He truly sees the world in black and white, and if you are not a follower, you’re an enemy.

Bobby Axelrod trusts no one. The first sign of this was in Season 1, when he didn’t even tell Wags what he was up to with the telecom move (Season 1 Ep. 4, Short Squeeze). He pretends he’s closing shop, when he really is just using insider info to get out of a sector. And, if he doesn’t trust Wags, well, what chance does anyone else have?

Axe’s marriage breaks up because of his lies; he doesn’t trust his wife enough to tell her the truth. And even when there is finally closure with Lara in this episode, what was the thing he most valued in her: loyalty. Something he expects (not necessarily earns) to be given to him. Axe is a taker, and only sees value in what someone can give to him. It looks like he may be letting Rebecca in, but does she know about his plans for Taylor? Rebecca is a whip-smart business woman. Why not get her take on bringing down TMC? I don’t think he trusts her enough to be that exposed – to show how much Taylor’s leaving really hurt him. However, on this one I just might side with Axe. I’m really liking Rebecca as a character, because a strong businesswoman that is almost Axe’s equal is refreshing to see on television. But, I still don’t have a good “sense” of her, so I do not trust her either!

He also has a limited amount of trust in Wendy. We have seen that in Season 1, but even in this episode when he finds out that Wendy met with Taylor, he makes sure Hall will “monitor the situation”. If he truly trusted Wendy, why not just ask her what’s going on? No, Axe is a liar, so he perceives everyone around him lies as well. He knows that Wendy will go to the wall for him, so he uses that to his advantage. He trusts that Wendy will do the right thing – for him. Has he let Wendy in on his “asks” of Chuck? I doubt it, since she’d probably not be on board. He doesn’t trust her enough to tell her he is “working” with her husband.

And speaking of that work with Wendy’s husband….. Do we really, truly believe Axe trusts Chuck? Again, Axe trusts Chuck to be loyal to him and do his bidding, since Axe feels that “I did earn your seat as much as you did.” There may be a certain level of respect of Chuck, but that surely is not trust. Axe knows Chuck is just as much of a user of people as he is – so he knows he can’t trust him. This was always an alliance of convenience; both men were down and out, defeated by their mentors: “At night a candle’s brighter than the sun”. In the harsh light of day, when it really comes down to it, these two wolves will rip each other’s faces off. It’s their nature.

Axe needs to keep everything and everyone in their own separate boxes, so that he can try to control them. He also sees opponents as “enemies” and his employees as his “troops”; Axe is the God of War. Axe Capital is not just an office, but a fortress. But what happens to someone who is constantly distrustful, deceitful and paranoid? They end up alone.

Willing to Trust: 3 out of 5. The nature of her profession makes it imperative to establish trust with a patient/employee. As we have seen though, Wendy’s trust has been misplaced several times, and I think it is making her lose herself.

Trustworthy: 2 out of 5 (with the change to move up a notch if she can get back some of her humanity). Again, she’s a therapist; you’re supposed to trust her. But how can you trust a therapist who uses your own words to destroy you?

I have not been the biggest Wendy fan, and I have been extremely vocal about it. This season, something changed. Wendy seemed more human, more vulnerable; it made me see her in a different light, and start to “get” her. After this last episode, sorry girl, you’re back on my naughty list!

I have read that the character of Wendy is perfectly named, for that is the name of a character from Peter Pan, and that Wendy was trying to save her “lost boys”. (I’m going to freely admit I have never seen or read Peter Pan, so I’m only going on comments I’ve read here on the blog). That may have  been true about Dr. Wendy these last few seasons, but I think now it is she who is lost.

Let’s start with where Wendy places her trust most: Chuck and Axe.

Wendy and Chuck have had a rocky relationship these last few years. We can go back to Season 1, where Chuck steals session notes from Wendy’s laptop, just to try and take down Axe. If that is not a betrayal of trust, I don’t know what is! They separated for a while, but she loves Chuck, and they reconciled. But maybe Wendy made a mistake – the biggest betrayal of her trust was also the most public. Wendy asked Chuck not to make their personal life public, and he agrees only to turn around and announce it at a press conference the most personal, intimate details of their marriage! Wendy was completely blindsided! (Maggie Siff does an amazing job of conveying that pain without uttering a word! It’s also the scene that made me feel for Wendy for the first time, ever!)You should be able to trust your spouse, and as we have seen, she has not truly forgiven him, and I don’t think we really know if she will. She has been burned twice by Chuck. Does she need a third strike to throw him out? I think it’s only a matter of time before Chuck throws her under the bus once again. You would think that her relationship with Chuck was her biggest trust issue, but Axe may be an even bigger issue.

Wendy knows exactly who Axe is. She has been with him for a long time, and knows him probably better than anyone (even better than he knows himself at times). Wendy was also blindsided by Axe – when he accused her of giving her session notes to Chuck. She was so upset, that she even left Axe Cap for a while. But, just like Chuck, Wendy forgave Axe (oh yeah, and his promise of dropping his case against Chuck), but was that a mistake as well? Wendy is 100% Team Axe, especially after Taylor’s coup, and has offered to hand Axe the weapon that will not only destroy TMC, but Taylor as well. This loyalty to Axe, this total trust in him is making her do things that I just don’t know that she will feel good about going forward. Wendy grappled with manipulating Mafee to take the fall for her in the Ice Juice scheme; how is she going to feel about destroying someone who they know is vulnerable? Why does Wendy put her trust in these men, when she knows they are untrustworthy? Her blind loyalty just may be tested this season.

I also thought Wendy was the moral compass on Billions. Chuck is bad, Axe is devious, and Wendy was the balance. That seems to be changing. Wendy is on a mission to destroy Taylor, and using session notes to do it. Finding Taylor’s weak spot – not in an investing strategy, but in their tense relationship with their Dad. I think Taylor trusts Wendy, or why else would they meet with her, and try to build some type of relationship? But, I guess Mafee isn’t the only one who can’t trust Wendy! Seeing Wendy become just like her “lost boys” is, for me, sad. I really thought she was better than this.

Chuck and Axe going anything to advance their own agendas is something we have come to expect – that’s who they are. Wendy going down this dark road as well begs me to ask: is there anyone that can be trusted on Billions? And, if not, then maybe that’s the point.

Author: Lady Trader

"Lady Trader" is a Brooklyn girl, and a Wall Street lifer! Recently fought cancer, and won! I love heavy metal, history, sci-fi, oh, and blogging about Billions and it's great lead actor, Damian Lewis!

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