Billions on Showtime, Season 4 Episode 9: American Champion

Well, it’s holidays and love is in the air in Billions for some! But they never let love get in the way in our favorite show, do they? The boxing match in the ring may be over but the one off the ring is going full force with our “boxers” constantly punching left and right.

Boxing Game 1: Chuck versus Jeffcoat/Bryan

The woman, who asked her husband to give up on his political aspirations because she was not willing to make their personal secrets public, is now asking him to “kill for her” when her own career is in jeopardy. Wendy does not want Chuck the lawyer, Chuck the husband, Chuck the power bottom. She wants her Chucky back! 😀

CHILD’S PLAY, Chucky, 1988

Wendy has become someone she had sworn not to be and she does not think she could go back to who she has been unless she is a doctor. Fair enough. Being a doctor defines her. But then how come did she ask Chuck to quit running for the State AG seat knowing his career defines him as well? I do not know about you but this looks like some serious double standard to me!

Chuck still seems to care about “future of his dynasty” while Ira tells him manipulating the State Medical Board and failing would not look good at all for his political future. Ira’s advise, as an attorney, is for Chuck to help Wendy prepare a defense and win it. And we find out Chuck already knows a former medical board member who should know about the loopholes in their disciplinary procedures like the back of his hand. And, lo and behold, hello, Dr. Gilbert!

We find out that the good doctor, while in medical school, used to call dentists “little brains” and lawyers “little hearts.” For obvious reasons he now thinks he has given too much credit to lawyers but he, exactly like Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, is willing to put practicality over vengeance today! He can help with Wendy’s situation if Chuck can get him out of prison first… Oh yeah even though his wife has divorced him and does not allow kids to visit their dad, the good doctor still has a former colleague that he talks with regularly exactly like Dr. Lecter. So even though Chuck pretends like he is asking for a friend, Dr. Gilbert knows this is all about Chuck’s own wife. And now Chuck turns the tables on the doctor and becomes Lecter himself and threatens Clarice: If Dr. Gilbert does anything to make it harder for Wendy at the board, Chuck will have Gilbert’s ex-wife prosecuted for ill gotten gains and their kids will end up living in a housing project. YIKES!

Chuck’s next stop is Chuck Senior’s construction site. It seems if the site stays closed, the banks will make Senior feel like a steel worker in a hydraulic press! YIKES! But guess what? The change of wind brings shit smell:  It is coming from the portable toilets and Senior gives the best ever life lesson: putting Vicks under your nose to keep the shit smell away. We all need to use portajohns from time to time after all!

The smell makes Chuck wonder where New York’s shit goes to. Allerd explains the mechanism: There are long industrial hoses that extract the waste from portable toilets into sanitation trucks. Then the waste goes into New York’s sewage system, get dehydrated and turn into solid and compressed waste. Then they get loaded on trains and travel all the way to a landfill in Santa Fe.

Once he knows they can redraw the route for the shit train, Chuck flies to West Texas to visit the Pharaoh, ahem, Jeffcoat, and warns him that if he does not free his dad from the bonds, the plague is coming.

Jeffcoat has no clue that telling Chuck that the 12:02 train passing by his home is Chuck’s “cue to vamoose” means extending an invitation to the shit train! 😀 Well, it takes several “carrots and sticks” calls with mayors from Fredericksburg, VA to Fayetteville, NC to Meridian MS but the train is finally on its way. And Chuck’s call to the inspector about a leak on the train makes it stop in front of Jeffcoat’s property catching Jock and his wife over prayer at lunch table. Is it me of Jeffcoat first thinks his wife farted? 😀

Jeffcoat’s favorite son seems to be into spin cycling but he is not as good as Dr. Gus at it. As Bryan aka GMan827 and Dr. Gus aka KamikazeDoc say hi to each other, the doctor does not shy away from giving him some free advice:

“You need to sharpen your odachi and slice a hole in the universe between you and where you’re going. And if you don’t cut down everyone and everything that gets in your way then they will return and they will cut you to shreds. And then they will cover these shreds in bukkake

Bukkake is an interesting word I learnt while playing Cards Against Humanity)! Highly recommended. Not Bukkake. Cards Against Humanity!

Bryan does not only listen but he also finds himself repeating doctor’s words to Jeffcoat when the latter calls from his West Texas home that is full of shit smell! Jeffcoat believes what Chuck has done is a war crime! 😀 Kate suggests they can tighten the controls at the construction site or they can just put aside the “JV shit” and start with getting Chuck Senior for bribing Biancarosa. But Bryan does not want “marginal junk.” So Kate serves him Dr. Gilbert!

Speaking of Senior, who knew he and Wendy could form a united front after so much has happened between them? Well , this is Billions, and if stakes are high enough, there is no one that could not do the most unbelievable thing. So why not Chuck Senior and Wendy?

It is Kevin’s birthday at Chez Rhoades! Senior gives him a slinky and tells Chuck and Wendy that they have to devote all their energies to the girl if the boy still plays with the toy the next day!!! And then he and Wendy start the main act: How fucking unbelievable that Wendy, who always puts the blame on Senior for all of Chuck’s flaws, is now wholeheartedly supporting her father-in-law’s motivational powers over his son! 😀 These people are cracking me up!

Bryan gets to meet his former mentor after paying a visit to Dr. Gilbert in prison — which Chuck knew his former protege would do. Bryan also seems to have talked to his superior and is ready to make a deal: They will free Senior and save Wendy if Chuck moves the shit train away and gives up on his mobile voting pilot program.

Ha! This means what matters most to Jeffcoat, maybe even more than the shit train, is mobile voting and Chuck needs to find out WHY. As Bryan cannot believe Chuck is saying no to a deal that would save his wife, Chuck’s answer is there are things more important than marriage. Democracy? Well, I agree with Bryan that it is bullshit but I like it that Chuck reminds Bryan that if he finds out why mobile voting matters so much to Jock he could be a valuable ally, a worthy opponent or maybe fully corrupt. You know I have been rooting for him to join forces with Chuck and take down Jeffcoat for months! Who will Bryan choose to be? That is the question!

Chuck telling Wendy that the medical board is a no go  and that she will need to appear before the board is not quite different from Wendy telling him he should give up on election and they will find their next adventure together. But the thing is Chuck has had an opportunity to save Wendy’s ass and he decides not to.

WHY?

I understand finding out about the reason behind Jeffcoat’s opposition to mobile voting  is more important than anything else for Chuck now. But how can he give up on solving Wendy’s problem? Because Wendy puts her career over his and so Chuck feels he can reciprocate? Because he thinks they can prepare a defense and win it before the board? Because he thinks Bobby can certainly help Wendy win this so he does not need to? Because he wants Wendy to suffer more and understand how much she needs Chuck? My head is spinning. What will Wendy do if/when she finds out about this?Given that the banks will eat him alive soon, how will Senior react to this? Is this another “Ice Juice” situation where Chuck is willing to throw his loved ones under the bus to get what he wants?

As UFO’s “Doctor, Doctor, Please” aptly plays in the background, I am applauding as Dr. Gus, who is busy tending to his bonsai, finds Bryan at his door. I love it that Bryan was listening when Chuck was talking about Project Mercury and having the right stuff or not. And KamikazeDoc is the right shrink for Bryan thanks to their common interest in Japanese culture! So in Dr. Gus I trust to re-make Bryan. Well, do I have any other option? 😀

Boxing Game 2: Axe versus Taylor

Since Axe has done the courtesy of buying the Saler’s shares Rebecca needed in Episode 8 Fight Night, Rebecca is now taking control of the company. As the two are standing in front of the run-down looking Saler’s headquarters, Rebecca believes her magical touch will transform the company and restore it to its former glory. And while Axe advises her to “fire all the cocksuckers” on the board, Rebecca seems to know her Hoffa well:

“You’re gonna can a lot of people, make sure you do it the first day. That way, the ones that are left don’t feel insecure, you see. What they feel is grateful.”

Yet she will not do that — which seems to surprise Axe. He always squints his eyes when he is surprised about a business decision, doesn’t he? Rebecca knows she needs to convey stability to the street because she will make a lot of changes to the business. And so she will keep the board intact. What she does not know though is that Taylor is making moves behind the scenes to make sure her first day as CEO of Saler’s is a bad one.

Sara and Lauren have already approached the company’s three largest individual shareholders and purchased their positions. But they still need more to be a threat to Rebecca. And one person they believe as key to TMC taking control of Saler’s is Sanford Bensinger. Remember him?

Short trip back to Season 2 Episode 4 The Oath: Axe pretends to contribute to Bensinger’s “Giving Oath” foundation thinking that he could get the headlines today and maybe give later. He is there for the photo-op, not for the oath.

source: Showtime

And Bensinger, who is disgusted by Axe’s strategic manipulation, reciprocates by killing Axe’s plans to buy an NFL team.

“Sports franchises are how we knight people in this country. And you’re not royalty. You’re a robber baron.”

OUCH.

Lauren has already been able to arrange a meeting with Bensinger’s son Landry who can in turn get Taylor a meeting with his dad. Lauren does not do shots or nightclubs for this one, it is all PG-rated at Kellogg’s of all places! It turns out Landry’s favorite flavor was “Honeysmacks” while Taylor’s was “Frostflakes” and the two bond over their child-like parts which they find creative and engaged that help them grow. By the end of the night, Landry is not the only one impressed by Taylor’s sharp intelligence 😀

But why does Lauren not want Sara to know  she and Taylor slept together? (1) Because the rules were broken? (2) Because she thinks Sara also likes Taylor? (3) Or because Lauren has also slept with Sara? I wonder whether this certain violation of rules will bring some tension to business relations at TMC.

Axe and Rebecca find out that several Saler’s shareholders have sold their positions to Taylor. And in addition,Sanford Bensinger is holding lots of company debt which he can convert to shares and control Saler’s. So they know they are in deep shit. Also knowing Bensinger’s condition for peace would be having his head on a pike, Axe needs to find another way to reach out to him.

Wags finds out that the particular reason Bensinger has come to town is to buy the Chrysler Building — which a Chinese Consortium has been in negotiations to buy for some time. Bensinger who values American heritage believes that landmark buildings should stay American owned and buying the Chrysler building will genuinely make him the American Champion — the title of his biography to be published soon. And Axe cannot find a better way than buying the Chrysler building to get Bensinger visit Axe Capital!

As they try to solve the “Bensinger” problem, a new problem pops up at Axe Capital! It all starts with Ari “the prominent invader of personal space” Spyros harassing Bonnie over a cup of espresso followed by Dollar Bill talking to her about the vibes he has got from her in the meditation room as he sparred with her before the boxing match. Bonnie goes to Wendy to vent and as we find out that she may in fact be interested in Bill as a sex partner, Ben Kim intervenes! Ben is extremely frustrated to have found out there exists an elite fund called Flagship at Axe Capital for the “elite” employees and that he is not a part of it. And Bonnie uses her axe-throwing date with Dollar Bill at Bury The Hatchet to learn about The Flagship: It is like the Fight Club.

“The first rule about Flagship is you don’t talk about Flagship.”

And the second rule about Flagship is that it is for people like Eric Roberts and Chris Penn in Best of the Best. Axe, Wags, Bill, and Wendy are in it.

Ha!

So the younger PMs start a protest complete with the Inflatable Rat, NYC’s symbol for unionized labor, and choose Ari Spyros of all people as their leader 😀 The hilarious part is that when they go to his office collectively, Spyros first thinks it is about a #MeToo moment! 🙂 Spyros believes his words traverse Axe’s ear canals like a vaporetto gliding to the Piazza San Marco,  but he does not know his colleagues think of him as Rambo: No, not because he has PTSD and can tear down the office, but because he is expendable 😀

As the “grand vizier” makes his grand entrance into Axe’s office, he learns that he is no Lech Walesa or Vaclav Havel. And while Spyros may have no idea about them, as a political scientist, I do! They are political dissidents that played prominent leadership roles in transforming the political regimes in Poland and the former Czechoslovakia, respectively. Axe’s solution is simple: He has just dissolved Flagship! And when Wags offers a Paths of Glory style firing squad execution, or mass firing, Axe says the last thing they need right now is more distraction…. followed by:

“Oh, shit.”

Following the breadcrumbs starting from Ben Kim to Tuk to Danzig to Dollar Bill to Bonnie back to Ben Kim again, Axe pinpoints the responsible party: Danzig.. As they were playing basketball, Mafee has asked Danzig about Flagship. So this is a true psychological operation, courtesy of Taylor Mason — who has already met and told Sanford Bensinger to convert his debt to shares and back them on Saler’s board against Rebecca.

When Bensinger arrives at Axe Capital, the strike is over! And Axe is open with him. He is ready to sell Bensinger the Chrysler Building at his own cost and give him all the credit for protecting American heritage. He only wants him not to side with Taylor Mason against Rebecca Cantu who Bensinger seems to know through her good reputation.

As Axe leaves the stage to Rebecca to talk about her plans about Saler’s, Bensinger is more than impressed. Rebecca will keep the ice cream fountain and is adding an artisanal coffee bar. Coffee is good business and ice cream is the perfect reward for anything. And ice cream fountain?

Rebecca: “That makes you feel free and young like…”

Bensinger: “An American. You want Saler’s to be America.”

BINGO! Oh My God, these two know how to write an “American story”! I think every word in that speech has been chosen carefully and the speech itself has been rehearsed several times before delivery! Do you think they could have left anything to chance?

One thing that attracts my attention is Rebecca’s reaction when Bobby says he will give up on his board seat and Sanford can take it. Rebecca knows the company needs Bensinger but she needs Bobby to help her. Hmm… this makes me THINK of possibilities. (1) These two planned the entire conversation and they thought their commitment to each other would seal the deal which actually turns out to be true: “What really sold me is the two of you.” (2) This is a spontaneous conversation where Rebecca really wants Bobby to get involved with her company and help her. (3) My earlier suspicions about Rebecca are true and he wants Bobby involved in Saler’s to make trouble for him later.

And I think while the relationship could totally be true and lovely, and look at Axe, he is in love, I admit Billions has made me such a cynical person that I could not really take anything at its face value anymore. Besides, have we ever seen Rebecca saying she needed Axe for her business before? So (2) is a long shot, pick your favorite between (1) and (3) 😀

The bad news arrives at Taylor Mason Capital. It is either Taylor is really not intimidated by the last blow, or they pretend to keep their cool so their COO and PR-expert-turned-girlfriend do not get disappointed with them. The data Taylor gets from this episode is that Bobby is emotionally committed to Rebecca. So if they push hard enough they can get results. And it turns out Bensinger just added himself to Taylor’s fucking list — this is some Taylor “Arya Stark” Mason right here!

As he observes his employees from above, Axe figures it all out. The way her colleagues talk to Bonnie. She is the smartest. A natural leader. Bonnie should be the one Taylor is after. So Bonnie goes on the Flagship Fund that operates under a new name now, and proudly lets Axe tell Taylor Bonnie is staying at Axe Capital when the latter makes her a job offer.

OUCH.

Oh and Bonnie does not only get the Flagship but also the man! As Funkadelic’s  “Funky Dollar Bill” plays in the background, we find out about the advantages owning a van 😀

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!

31 thoughts on “Billions on Showtime, Season 4 Episode 9: American Champion”

  1. Great summary as always. I just want to point out that I called that Taylor-Lauren-Sarah love triangle in this past week’s MVP session. 🙂

    1. Thank you!!!! And your calling out Taylor – Lauren – Sara triangle means you need to give yourself the “Best Predictor” award this week! I remember you underestimated yourself before!!!

  2. This was a very funny episode. What I found interesting was Wendy motivating Chuck to help her with the NY State medical review board. “You are a killer” __ Chuck takes her to heart and goes after Jock and his enemies. Brian Connerty caves in. But at the end Chuck decides that going back to zero, the way it used to be w Wendy, is not good enough for him. He wants to go past zero, to where the balance of power is in his favor as far as Jock and Wendy go.
    Chuck is becoming like his father. Chuck is getting rid of any masochistic thoughts.

    Thus despite Wendy pushing him/ motivating him/ inspiring him/ …He has left her out on the ice flow to defend herself in front of the Med Board. Though he might find a way to rescue her in the future, thus getting many many xxxxx more Pokemon appreciation points from the woman who coldly shunned him. Millions more than if he rescued her now.

    btw…… Taylor and Mason Capital is out after this season. Her arc is done. The tell was Taylor saying she was going after Bensinger, late in this episode. Though Bensinger is an odious smarmy unlikable POS. And his lame son bonding over eating frosted flakes with Taylor? What a laugh. At least Taylor got her big girl kiss right after.

    1. Thank you for reading! It was a funny episode with a couple of very key things developing!
      —Chuck leaving Wendy on the ice as you have suggested. I have several explanations for it that I have listed in the post. Looking forward to getting the answer in the rest of the season!
      —Bryan going to Dr. Gus. Will the re-made Connerty give up on Jock and join forces with Chuck? (AMEN!)
      —Bobby Axelrod is in love. Should we trust Rebecca or not? I am still torn (and believe me I am not a cynical person at all IRL!)

      I don’t think Taylor is going away at the end of the season. But yeah putting Bensinger on their fucking list is a bit extreme. Business is business and Axe and Rebecca did it better. Only three more episodes to go!

  3. Great re-cap! You have just as many questions about people’s motives as I do! And, yes it is totally due to the fact the Billions makes you question everything and everyone!

    I want the Rebecca-Axe (ReAxe) relationship to be real, but I’m with you – I don’t know if she can be trusted, or if he can be! Just as we saw Chuck choose revenge over Wendy, I can see Axe doing the same thing to Rebecca! All these relationship are built on sand, and we know what happens when the sand shifts!

    And, I’m so glad I was not the only one who thought of Arya’s list when Taylor said that Bensinger is now on their list!

    Also, (and you probably know this) the birthday cake for Kevin’s birthday scene was a Kopplelman!

    1. Thank you for reading! Billions has made extremely cynical. And when you think about it, the relationship between Bobby and Rebecca could be all real but because of those little tiny things that happened on the way — the bug in the office, Rebecca insists Axe should be on the board — I still do not have 100% trust for Rebecca. And as the great Sansa Stark has said men do stupid things when women are concerned 🙂 But I also want their relationship to be real. It seems like Rebecca is a female Axe when business is concerned. But then it feels she is too good to be true sometimes.

      Oh yeah Arya came to my mind as soon as Taylor mention their list 😀

      I had no idea that Kevin’s birthday cake was a Koppelman. So you knew it when you saw it? Bravo. I honestly did not even pay attention to the cake hahaha.

      1. I wish I could take credit for the cake reference, but I saw BK tweet it!

        I also want the ReAxe relationship to be real, but I think it may sour not because of Rebecca, but because Axe does a Chuck and chooses his own interests over his lady’s!

  4. I must say I enjoyed this episode so much more than last week’s, although I still want to see as much of Axe as possible and we don’t get as much of him now as we did in the first two seasons. Anyway, he is softening a bit (thanks to RC?) whereas Chuck is getting nastier, if that is possible. I do think Chuck wants Wendy weaker, not stronger, which is where she wants to be. Charles Sr. giving his grandson that Slinky was almost a slap in the poor child’s face. Who was he trying to insult? It reminded me of people who are unhappy with their wait person’s service in a restaurant and leave a tip of only a few cents. Where has Mrs. Charles Sr. been lately? I would be much happier if this season ended Taylor. The Taylor staff just gets on my nervous. While playing the Devil’s Advocate, which I seem to do a great deal, Bonnie and Ben needing their performance coach this epi just made them appear childish. They were like two grown children still running to mama with a tiny splinter or stubbed toe. However, I usually cannot get enough of Bonnie….love that character. She is giving Wags a run for his money in terms of “attitude”.

    1. Thank you for reading, Connie! You are right these two episodes have been more of an ensemble act than ever.

      Yes, it seems Axe is head-over-heels in love with Rebecca! And we all know guys can make terrible mistakes when women are concerned. So… as much as I want their relationship to be real, I still do not trust Rebecca 100%. We’ll see how that story folds out! Interestingly, Chuck is my favorite character this season. The relationship between him and Wendy is very interesting. While I love Wendy (and I know you don’t!) I think she applies a double standard when their careers are concerned. I am looking forward to seeing how their story will evolve.

      Mrs. Charles Sr: Last season she had cut her travels around the world short just to come back and support her son’s run for governor 🙂 She probably picked up her travels where she left 😀 Which should be a good opportunity for Chuck Sr to have a good time, no? That baby was a real surprise last week!

      Bonnie is smart and strong. I think Axe has also seen her potential and she’s in The Flagship 🙂

      1. It is always well written dialog, but Wendy and Chuck spend a lot of time insulting each other. Honesty is essential in a marriage, insults and name calling are cruel. Do any one of you out there have exchanges like theirs in your marriage? (No, I am not expecting a response.) I find some of their conversations just beyond belief. Before my hubby passed in 2014, we had been married almost 53 years and had been a couple for 5 years before that. We certainly disagreed many times, but neither of us was ever that unkind to the other. The Rhoades marriage is unrealistic at this point.

        1. I am happy to give a response: No, never. But I think we never had such huge stakes in our relationship, either. We never had a situation where one’s behavior could affect other’s career. So even if I do not intend to make a case for Chuck and Wendy I think people can act in unexpected ways when stakes are extremely high.

  5. Hey there, great recap as always. Chuck’s machinations seem to be the real focus of nearly every episode this season. This episode was no exception. In many ways he’s smarter than Axe and Taylor combined. I was convinced on first viewing that he chose to defend free voting on principle alone over helping Wendy. But, more probable, is that he has more complicated other motives. Does he want Jeffcoat’s job ultimately? Maybe.

    Axe-Rebecca-Sandy scene baffled me. I’m torn between the three possibilities too, and i lean towards (2). But, please clarify what you mean when you say this: “BINGO! Oh My God, these two know how to write an “American story”! I think every word in that speech has been chosen carefully and the speech itself has been rehearsed several times before delivery! Do you think they could have left anything to chance?”

    Do you mean that one possibility is that Denzinger and Rebecca are in cahoots and rehearsed the all-American story? Or were you referring to the show runners knowing how to write an “American story?”

    Denzinger showed his adherence to old school values in the prior season as you summarized, so it’s understandable that Rebecca’s story of her journey from not being able to afford anything in Saler’s to controlling the entire store would appeal to him. That’s the American dream after all: come from nothing to make something big. He didn’t approve of Axe’s move towards owning the NFL team because he saw Axe act like a two-bit hoodlum trying to manipulate public perception. Rebecca, on the other hand, has gone thru legitimate channels to get her win and comes from with a much cleaner reputation. Denzinger approved of the exchange he witnessed between them in that he saw Axe actually perform an act of humility, bowing out of the board, and saw Rebecca want him to stay anyway. Rebecca effectively knighted Axe in that scene, making him worthy of Denzinger’s trust. Rebecca clearly was overjoyed by the win, in a way that shared that joy with Bobby. I mean, it didn’t look like she thought she got her win at Bobby’s expense. That said, I’m also with you guys in not trusting Rebecca completely. I think Bobby’s with us too. The perplexed look on his face when Rebecca insisted he stay needs a lot of unpacking. She’s doing really nice things for him, admittedly for her own good, but seemingly also because she really likes him. Maybe he just doesn’t know what to do with a relationship that is not transactional.

    1. A thought on that Axe-Rebecca-Sandy scene: I suspect the exchange between Axe and Rebecca in which he bowed out and she insisted he stay on the board was a well rehearsed gambit on their part. Well done!!!

    2. Thank you for reading! I absolutely agree with you, Chuck drives this season more than anyone. I am not 100% sure what he is trying to do by saying no. Does he know that he got under Bryan’s skin so that his former protege will learn about Jeffcoat’s reason to oppose mobile voting and ultimately share it with him? If it had been only about the train, I think Chuck would have said yes to the deal. It was that mobile voting that made him say no. And now that Dr. Gus will re-make Bryan, let’s see if he will go against Jeffcoat!

      I am talking about Axe and Rebecca writing an “American Story” for Bensinger — to impress him so he makes the deal with them and not with Taylor. Bensinger seems to be all about American heritage/legacy. I think Axe and Rebecca have prepared Rebecca’s speech about ice cream fountain and artisanal coffee bar combining new and old, and restoring an American brand, Saler’s, to its glory days. Even Axe intending to leave the board seat to Bensinger and Rebecca stopping him from doing that, as a sign of their commitment to each other, could be a calculated part of their marketing plan. So I completely agree with what you say in your last paragraph and add that Axe and Rebecca strategically presented it to Bensinger so it would appeal to him.

      1. Okay, got it. The meeting was obviously planned in advance with how Rebecca entered and Axe handed the discussion over to her. And I thought it was Bensinger who said “you want America”? So that was not a part of the Rebecca Axe script, right? IDK, Bobby’s confused look when Rebecca asked him to stay thru me off. Maybe that wasn’t a part of their original plan and Rebecca added that bit at the last minute to get Bensinger to accept Axe on the board too. So the board shuffle didn’t seem planned, to me. I guess we’ll see! 🙂

        1. I completely agree with you, I am not sure if the board part was planned. That’s why I said that exchange between Axe and Rebecca could be part of their marketing… or not. Axe definitely had a confused look when Rebecca insisted he should stay on the board.

  6. Thank you very much for your interesting and informative recap.
    The series’ creators are usually very accurate in all professional details of the script. But what confused me in the previous Episode was the easiness of the permission to wiretape the both Rhoades, especially if one of them is an NY State Attorney General.
    I’m reading Black Edge by Sheelah Kolhatkar (on investigation against SAC Capital hedge fund). I quote: “Permission for the government to listen in on private phone conversations is not something courts give lightly. The application is first received reviewed by the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., before being submitted to the court with jurisdiction over the area where the crime is alleged to be taking place. For the request to be granted, the FBI must show the evidence that a crime is in progress over the specific phone line they are interesting in tapping that other investigative methods – such as reviewing documents and finding cooperators- have been exhausted or are not likely to work. They must show that a wiretape, known as “Title III”, is the only way for the government to put stop to the criminal activity”.
    But Connerty got the permission if not from the first, but from the second judge without any above-mentioned formalities.
    Did I miss something (the rules are different for the US Attorney Offices and for the FBI or the results of this wiretipe of the Rhoades can’t be admissible?). I’m neither a lawyer nor an American. Could you (or any of other fellow readers) be so kind and explain the matter to me? Thank you.

    1. Vindobona — Yes the Billions series creators are fairly accurate but they took “artistic licence” here. Sorry to say but lots of Billions is a comic book and a caricature. This is done for dramatic value. No one one would want to see (on TV etc) the dull stupid proceedings that really go on in NY State AG offices and Brian’s Federal AG for Southern NY offices. What goes on inside galloping (for the season or the moment) hedge funds would be more interesting.

      1. Thank you for your reply. Yes, I suppose you are right about some extent of the “artistic licence”. But still they keep the authenticity of the most proceedings rather remarkably. To the credit not of Brian Koppelman
        David Levien only, but to the third co-creator Andrew Ross Sorkin too. As you know he is a financial columnist for The New York Times AND author of brilliant book Too Big To Fail (the film adaptation of the year 2011 was excellent too).
        For sure Billions – one of the smartest series I’ve ever seen- so far. Always gives both plenty of “food for thought” and laughs and excitements.
        I’m waiting for what Connerty and Sacker will do with this tapping, or will they? With this show you never know 🙂

        1. By the way, Andrew Ross Sorkin is one of the creators, and I believe he is also a producer on the show right now, but he has not contributed to the show itself since Season 1. I so agree with you that Koppelman and Levien and the entire cast are giving us the smartest show on TV!

          1. Damianista – Thank you for clarification with A..Sorkin current status. I didn’t know that he restricted his role to producer on the show only. Pity though.

    2. Hello – welcome to the blog and thank you so much for reading my review! Hope you keep your feedback coming. The discussions here are always interesting!

      I agree with you that a lot of stuff is quite accurate in the show — especially the details that always impress me — e.g. how judges are assigned to court cases (remember the lottery wheel?) or 99.9% of the “financial speak” at Axe Capital (I am not a trader but one of the bloggers here is) — they pay huge attention to details that impress me big time. The show takes its audience very seriously. That said, some of the things are done for its dramatic value. Just to give an example: what happened with Ice Juice in S2 is not accurate because IPOs are “restricted” on very first day for initial investors and company employees that example Axe would not be able to short it on the day it was released. But he did! Because it has much more dramatic value for sure. I believe it is the same for the wiretap. Because I have also read Sheelah Kolhatkar’s Black Edge so I know that permission for a wiretap is quite hard to get! Still, they showed us that Connerty did not have enough evidence to get the permission but the second judge, who did not like Chuck, gave him the permission. So I think that scene was more about Bryan knowing whom to go for the permission 🙂

      1. Damianista – Indeed, a lot of financial or the law-enforcement details are very accurate, what makes me really appreciate this professional approach in our days of vulgar and simplistic dilettantism. I’m not a stock trader myself, but I’m a crypto-trader 🙂 and in this field one can operate not with IPO, but with ICO (Initial Coin Offering) – no such restrictions you’ve mentioned about the IPO’s first day.

        I’m still very disappointed how vindictive and non-rational Taylor is getting more and more in their feud with Axe. They turned out to be the spitting image of their mentor in his worse. Instead of thinking rationally and concentrating on making money they are just mimicking Axe concentrating on revenge. It will be better to “break damned stick”. For both of them.

        Hope we will see more Wags in this season. It looks like his role was diminished to some extent. Can’t wait to see how he will punish those guys from the Wall Street fraternity. Hope the creators didn’t forget about this part of the script.

        Wendy in her confrontation with Chuck at the very beginning of this episode showed her worse self. See, it is rather easy to be (or pretend to be) moral and good if no danger around. It is the easiest thing in the world to sell one’s soul. Much more difficult and noble to keep it. Wendy failed. Human dignity can’t rely on doctor’s title/degree only. So, don’t strip her license for prof. misconduct and she will try to be good, to be herself. I was totally agree with Chuck when he mercilessly showed her shortcomings in general and in relation to him too. He isn’t good Samaritan himself, but she needed to get this blow both from Chuck and from Mafee. Although I’m expecting sometime the time for Taylor will also come to their moral decay too.

        1. Vindobona – yes the show is very professional in showing the financial as well as legal aspects as accurate as possible. I believe they have many advisors on both sides. They talk to hedge-funders and financial experts as well as lawyers and prosecutors and such.

          I don’t know if you have read my earlier posts (pre-season) about Season 4, my expectations if you will, but here is an excerpt:

          “In Season 4’s first teaser, we hear Axe say we now live in a universe split down the middle and we have got to pick sides.

          What side are you on?
          It goes without saying that I sincerely believe Axe and Chuck asked for what came their way from Taylor and Bryan, respectively. Yet, as a middle aged woman, I know that even when you want to do the right thing you should always have to negotiate your way and make compromises to get just a fraction of what you want to get done. That is why I am on the side of life experience.”

          So I am not surprised where Bryan and Taylor are at the moment. They do not have the right stuff. Not yet. They both have great potential and they have very good intentions (in contrast to Axe and Chuck) but they do not have the experience. I think experience is a very important part of the right stuff.You are right, breaking the stick is the right way to go: Both in Taylor/Axe and Bryan/Chuck cases.

          Wags has a big role in Episode 1 (the embassy story), Episode 4 (the cyber attack on Axe Cap) and Episode 6 (Wall Street Secret Society meting). I believe David Costabile had a movie shoot as well as a show shoot (Better Call Saul) at some point during the Billiosn shoot and maybe he was not as available as before. But I have not felt that his presence has been diminished. Exactly like you, I am looking forward to seeing his revenge against the ambulance chaser!

          I LOVE WENDY. I am writing in caps for a reason 🙂 That said I have not supported her when she told Chuck he could not tell the world about their personal sex life. It was the only way for Chuck to get out of that mess and keep his political aspirations. Wendy knew how important it was for Chuck but still said no. And now that her own career is in jeopardy, she tells him to go kill for her. This is some double standard in my book.

          Hope you come visit again and keep your feedback coming.

          1. Damianista – Thank you for very interesting and detailed reply. But I’m afraid I can’t be entirely with your opinion.
            I love this show for its sophistication, for avoidance of linear script of “bad guys against good guys”. Here like in a real life – nobody is ether hero or scumbag all the time, not black or white like in polar stories about saints or serial maniacs.
            I quote you: “It goes without saying that I sincerely believe Axe and Chuck asked for what came their way from Taylor and Bryan, respectively.”
            The thing is that I can’t accept that Taylor or Bryan could be considered as moral nemesis to both their respective counterparts. Bryan lost his integrity in my eyes when he behaved himself like a “rat” behind the Chuck’s back, then meekly gave up any resistance having a carrot of the possible “Head of Crim” position, then Chuck gave him a chance to do smth. good in Eastern, but Connerty preferred the attempts to nail Chuck out of personal (not noble) reasons. Then even worse – fool betrayal of own principles at service for Jock. “Idealistic young man” of the very first episodes of the Season 1 has been almost disappeared in this new monstrous creature. No real integrity, just servility of the parvenu.
            About Taylor I’ve already written earlier in my comment to your excellent recap to the Episode 8. First signal was their merciless calculated readiness to sacrifice this small town. The only moment I really rooted for them was the situation with Axe’s devilish use of their love and business connection and devastated look on their face.
            But that’s it.
            So, in my opinion, how bad or cynical both Axe and Chuck (and Wendy) are, neither Connerty, nor Taylor and no Sacker could be their judges. Nobody in this series live up to the code of the Ten Commandments and Golden Rule. Nobody is innocent, nobody is person of honour.

          2. Yeah it seems our individual takes on Bryan and Taylor are different. I believe the two mentors suffocated them to a point that they did what they had to do. But both of them changed this season, I agree with you. I don’t know if you read my earlier posts this season, but I have especially been disappointed with Bryan. Now that he has knocked on Dr. Gus’ door, there is a flicker of hope.

    3. Good observation Vindobona! I think with Jeffcoat at the helm in the Justice Dept there is an environment of corruption not normally seen in the US government. So, although law states a warrant for a phone tap must be justified in specific ways, when the highest offices are run corruptly, the laws are not difficult to overlook.

      Did you watch/remember Homeland when Carrie wanted to get surveillance on Brody? She had to go to Saul to get the warrant and he, in turn, had to cozy up to someone higher up in order to get it. When Carrie failed to find evidence against Brody, Saul was not able to renew the warrant when it expired and Carrie was left to her own devices (ie following Brody around herself :)). Such situations, of course, provide great drama.

  7. I did read your posts for the Season 4 and I will also read your previous recaps for earlier seasons. Great task you accomplished! I am glad I found this blog on the Internet. The regular recaps which I”ve read at New York Times were and are good, but it was interesting to know the different interpretations.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I never read the recaps in other publications not to get affected by their take and interpretation. But I am sure NYT and Vulture are doing a great job since I read and enjoy their recaps for my other favorite shows.

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