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 bottm. She wants her Chucky back! 😀
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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:
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.
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 😀