In case you missed it, you can read Part V here.
Wendy is totally right when she tells Bobby that Rebecca is a keeper. She brings out the best in Bobby. Thanks to her, Bobby sets Lara and the boys free. Thanks to her, Bobby makes a great gesture to Bruno. Thanks to her, Bobby understands one may sometimes take risks for their ideals. It is obvious that this is a match made in heaven. And it is up to one person to gloriously fuck it up: Bobby Axelrod – a man that lets his childhood shit run him.
While our golden couple takes control of Saler’s thanks to Sanford Bensinger siding with them against Taylor, the new year starts with a new problem for them.
Bobby and Rebecca find out in Episode 10 New Year’s Day that Taylor has bought a ton of Kling company stock on the very last day of the year which helped them go under the radar. This means Taylor is now in control of Kling – a house appliance manufacturing company that is the major supplier to Saler’s. Besides, it is the only cash-flow for the company at the moment — Kling sales account for 63% of the revenues. If Taylor cuts their supply, Axe and Rebecca may find themselves in a reverse takeover where Taylor controls Saler’s. Knowing Bobby’s soft spot – his commitment to Rebecca – Taylor is now pushing harder. As Rebecca checks if any of the major household appliance brands is on sale or ripe for a hostile takeover so they can have their independence from Saler’s, Dollar Bill feels the urge to tell the boss that any of those appliance companies will cost billions of dollars only to hear back that he needs to find their cheapest option!
Bobby and Rebecca make a deal with Pearlsang, another house appliance company but the deal is dead only a few hours later thanks to Cook, Taylor’s Hall, who leaks to the press information about Pearlsang’s “child labor” practices. And Rebecca, who used to go from one profitable deal to another until teaming up with Bobby, is obviously frustrated. She holds Bobby responsible and looks at him to save, in Bobby’s words, her “Barbie fucking dream house.”
It turns out there is another household appliance company, Cardinale, that they can buy. But since Saler’s has no cash readily available and since there is now one fewer rival – Pearlsang is out of the game – Cardinale’s price goes up to 6 billion dollars! Ken agrees to buy Cardinale for Barbie but he first needs to free up five billion dollars.
Bobby asks Dollar Bill to get out of their position in Corwell Pharmaceuticals which the latter sees as his stock pick of the year. Bill is adamant to protect the position with the most vulgar analogy of the year that even Axe, who uses “fuck” at least once in every other sentence, considers washing Bill’s mouth out with soap:
“Pimp 101: You don’t sell your best girl till she loses her hip flexion.”
While he does not approve the analogy, Ben Kim, who breaks in hives when he lies, admits to Bill that Axe is making a mistake getting out of Corwell.
Is Saler’s becoming a professional suicide for Bobby?
When Bobby arrives in the office to close the deal on Cardinale, he faces a protest. Spyros talks about the deal being very risky, Bach talks about by-laws, Ben Kim talks about the opportunity cost, Wags talks about Axe having no financial stake in Rebecca’s noble cause and Bill suggests Axe should tell their investors that he has been p-whipped. But Bobby has no intention to back down. Spyros has to modify the risk model, Bach has to paper the new by-laws, the positions are all his and the portfolio managers who talk about not being able to pick up returns should go fuck themselves. He finishes with a megalomaniacal statement:
“I am the sun that warms you and the air you fucking breathe. Don’t forget that.”
Wags’ last resort to put a stop to Bobby’s craziness is Wendy, and she, as usual, diagnoses Bobby right:
“You need an enemy. Or you think you do. Like without that gravitational pull, you’ll go flying off into nothingness. No edge, no drive, no Axe.”
Bobby does not even listen to her. He thinks the two of them are built differently and revenge may not work for Wendy’s system, but does for Bobby Based on experience, Wendy knows that the exact time Bobby fucks up is when he narrows his whole gaze to total retribution. And she does not even have to say that. We all know about Ice Juice, don’t we?
So it is Rebecca who ultimately saves Bobby from committing a professional suicide by doing the only thing that should be done. It turns out Taylor has reached out to Rebecca with a white flag in hand. They offer to supply the household appliances to Saler’s at the old rates and also agree to Rebecca’s deal that Saler’s will have control of Kling, but that she will not buy Taylor out so they will have stakes in Saler’s future well-being and not have any incentives to hurt the business. Ingenious. But Bobby is not impressed.
“You cut a fucking deal with Taylor?”
“I am grateful that you were willing to buy me the Heart of the Ocean but a gift like that that’s too much. Even if I am the one who asked for it. I saw the dynamic change, the friction that it already had created between us. So I let you off the hook.”
“You also let my arch fucking foe off the book.”
“And your company.”
“And that. C’mon you already understand the wisdom of the move. And in time, you’ll appreciate that it was the best thing for everybody. Let’s talk about what you can do with the few billions that you don’t need to spend anymore. And why aren’t we drinking yet?”
I knew it was the beginning of the end for Bobby and Rebecca then and there. I tweeted about my concerns that night!
Loyalty is EVERYTHING for Bobby Axelrod. Now that Rebecca has cut a deal with Taylor, look at his face, I don't think Ken thinks highly of Barbie anymore. #Billions #DamianLewis #BobbyAxelrod #RebeccaCantu #NinaArianda pic.twitter.com/vltFk7yFYU
— Fan Fun Damian Lewis (@FanFunDamian) June 3, 2019
Taylor has reached out to Rebecca because they think Rebecca will be their shield in business. Taylor expects that, given Bobby is committed to Rebecca, he would not attack someone whose interests are aligned with his girlfriend. OH MY GOD. Neither Rebecca nor Taylor, who believe they ended the ridiculous war masterfully really knows Bobby Axelrod.
As Bobby is seemingly having a romantic evening with Rebecca – they are drinking wine and chatting about Gauguin’s “Two Tahitian Women” hanging on the wall – he is in fact putting his cunning plan in action.
Bobby kindly asks Rebecca whether she can organize a “state changer” for Wendy who has lost her medical license. Maybe a spa retreat? His chopper is at their service. Ah, what a gentleman, you may think… for a second… Ah the bad man “Behind Blue Eyes” – an amazing song selection for the scene!
And Rebecca leaves the apartment in the morning for her day adventure with Wendy as I yell at my screen “don’t do it girlfriend!” It is heartbreaking to see her smile at Bobby from the elevator.
Rebecca is still new to Bobby’s world. She does not have the four year experience we have had with the man! She does not know about Bobby’s daddy issues. She does not know that he actually lets his childhood shit run him. She does not know that Bobby threatened Wendy, the person he may trust the most, when he thought she was sharing Axe Capital information with Chuck in Season 1. She does not know that Bobby threatened Lara, his once beloved wife, and kept his family hostage when Lara considered moving to California with the boys to start a new life. She does not know what Bobby did to John Rice whose only sin was to try to part ways with Axe Capital. Loyalty rules Bobby Axelrod’s world. And his perception of Rebecca negotiating and ultimately partnering with Taylor, someone who walked out on him, is an action against him. A betrayal. And lo and behold, he is having pancakes with Sanford Bensinger as Rebecca and Wendy experience Extreme Sandbox where they drive construction equipment to literally move dirt and crush cars!
My jaw drops as the two men talk about getting the chest of gold before Saler’s sinks to the bottom of the ocean and saving “kind-hearted and good” Rebecca. What the fuck? And then they just pass the syrup like there is no tomorrow. Un-fuckin-believable!
And so as Wendy tells Rebecca over a couple of beers that while most people let their childhood shit run them, Rebecca does use hers to propel her, Bobby Axelrod has already let his childhood shit run him once again.
Rebecca, clueless, arrives at the Saler’s board meeting the following day with a smile on her face which disappears pretty quickly. Bobby interrupts her to break the news: Saler’s locations will be closed effective immediately. The real estate will be transferred to a real estate investment trust controlled by him and Bensinger and will be sold off at market value. The brands the department store carries, from clothing to shoes, to autoparts, will be spun off for top dollar to private equity buyers. Last but definitely not the least, the toxic debt Saler’s has will be dumped to Kling’s balance sheet and Kling’s will be put to Chapter 11 bankruptcy immediately! Oh, and Rebecca does not have any power as the CEO anymore. Bensinger has converted the debt Saler’s to him into shares with voting rights and he, together with Bobby, convinced the other board members with a carrot — a one-time dividend payment from the sales proportional to their shares in the company — to move with them. Well, this is what Bobby Axelrod calls extreme sandbox, doesn’t he? Why would he crush cars where he can crush people? Right?!?! Bobby Axelrod has the capacity to kill your trust in the human race.
I do not know what the exact medical diagnosis is but I am sure that Bobby is not right in the head. As a game theorist who studies rational behavior, I can definitely understand most of his business decisions – yes, including his 9/11 airlines shorts. And I can see trying to get out of Saler’s as a rational move as I see Rebecca’s decision to partner with Taylor as one. But Bobby doing this to the woman he supposedly loves in such a sneaky, cold and calculating way is beyond outrageous.
Rebecca obviously has not get into the partnership with Taylor just to keep her relationship with Bobby intact. But I believe it is a significant factor in her decision since she knows business is very personal to Bobby and that a conflict of interest could shift their relationship quickly. Moreover, she knows, Bobby repeatedly points out in the season, how much Bobby admires Taylor’s moves from a strategic point of view. Information is power to some of us. And using the information she has at hand, Rebecca does the right thing. Yes, she may have asked Bobby for help but now that there is a solid solution to the problem she does not want Bobby to put billions of dollars that could be invested in some profitable way into buying a house appliance company.
And how does Axe pay back? By lying in bed and plotting his move against the woman who sleeps next to him! Damian’s face alone deserves an Emmy here! I feel the cold turning hot, to rage, there. He blows me away.
Bobby is at his most arrogant when he pontificates to Rebecca in the boardroom as the others leave the room to them. When Rebecca wants to understand what he told himself to justify what he just did, Bobby talks about romance and that he assumed their relationship would end up in marriage and kids… but then Rebecca did what she did and Bobby cannot take it as a normal man:
“…I felt something go cold in me. And I knew the truth was in that cold. And that eventually, it would turn hot. To rage. And when it did, I would blow the whole fucking thing up, kids and all. ‘Cause, sure, your choice was rational. But to me, it was traitorous. And I wouldn’t be able to live with it. I’d wreck everything we had over it. I would make you suffer tenfold for what I had suffered. Especially if I waited, without crushing Taylor. Because by then Taylor would be rich and safe. So I decided: fuck it. Might as well get my revenge and rip the scab off this fucking thing between us at the same time. Then we’d be even, too. Each fucked over. Each aware of who the other really is. Then we could find out what was still between us.”
Oh, I am sure Rebecca is now very much aware of who the real Bobby Axelrod is. A control freak? A megalomaniac? A psychopath? All of the above? Pick your favorite!
Rebecca: “What is left between us is nothing.”
I cannot comprehend the shock and disappointment Rebecca goes through. The man he loves sends her on a girls’ trip so that he could bankrupt Taylor and ruin her business project along with it behind the scenes. And he does not stop there but adds that Rebecca will soon see the wisdom in his plan; he actually knows that she already does. A snake motherfucker indeed.
Bottomline is that if you want to live in Bobby Axelrod’s world, you need to accept that he knows it all and he makes the decisions – minor or major. It does not matter what someone else may want, think, or feel – be it Lara, Bruno, Taylor, John Rice, Rebecca or anyone else. One scene that has made me feel very uncomfortable about Bobby as a boyfriend was earlier in the season. In Episode 4 Overton Window, Bobby and Rebecca do a Mercedes AMG GT Coupe test drive and then Bobby casually asks Rebecca what color she wants. How does he ever know that Rebecca wants that car? Bobby in that scene makes me feel uneasy and Damian flawlessly portrays the character’s dominating, possessive side there. And when Bobby tells Rebecca in Saler’s board room that he has been planning to marry Rebecca and have kids together… Okay. I first think how come Bobby can assume that Rebecca wants to be his wife… but then again what else can we expect from a guy who thinks of himself as The Sun God warming the people around him?!?!
Bobby is a control freak. Rebecca has gone into business with Taylor thinking that this would stop the feud between Bobby and Taylor but also both she and Bobby could benefit from Taylor’s brain. And guess what Bobby does once he is finished with Rebecca? He brings Taylor back to Axe Capital because he wants to put their brain to work!?!? So even though he cannot admit it, he knows deep down Rebecca was right.
So what Rebecca is left with now is a broken heart and a Barbie dream house broken by her own Ken. She has probably now realized Bobby Axelrod is not different and may be even worse than all those men whom she had to fight – the guys who tried to stop her first and then tried to partner with her when she became successful.
But I know she can do VERY WELL without Bobby! I recently took my mom to see her favorite show “My Fair Lady” (with a feminist ending) at Lincoln Center Theater. And as Bobby gives his outrageously bullshit monologue, all I can think of is Eliza singing “Without You”:
There’ll be spring every year without you
England still will be here without you
There’ll be fruit on the tree
And a shore by the sea
There’ll be crumpets and tea without you
Art and music will thrive without you
Somehow Keats will survive without you
And there still will be rain on that plain down in Spain
Even that will remain without you, I can do without you
Mr. Axelrod, Rebecca Cantu can do without you!!!!
Honestly this ending may be a blessing in disguise for Rebecca. I think she is way better off getting out of this relationship before she gets deeper into it with a marriage and maybe with a kid. And I am rooting for her to show up in Season 5 and kick Bobby’s ass big time. For starters, does she know that Axe keeps the real Impressionist paintings at home while he keeps the reproductions in the Freeport? 😀
And I know I always said I would take committed Bobby over single Bobby any day. Now I am totally content with single Bobby so he cannot hurt any other woman and her dreams ever again.