Billions on Showtime Season 5 Episode 3: Beg, Bribe, Bully

I love the saying attributed to Woody Allen that “90% of life is showing up.” And while I believe it applies to the 99% of the population, 90% of life for the top 1% seems to be begging, bribing and bullying their way into everything – business, art, and yes even education. Written by Ben Mezrich, and set around these three actions, this episode gives us a wonderful hour that provides food for thought about essence of a person – the soul – as well as fathers and sons.

As Father and Son– one  of the best songs ever written by one of the greatest songwriters of all times – opens the episode, we find out the apple does not fall far from the tree.

The son in question is Gordie Axelrod who is turning his dorm room into a bitcoin farm to make money – lots of it! But exactly like the bitcoin farm Kate busted in Episode 1 The New Decas, Gordie’s bitcoin farm needs so much power that it does not only cause outage in the school building but also in the entire town.

Axe, who has not received a call from the school about Gordie’s troubles yet, is having another major headache thanks to the cuddliest monster on Wall Street. It is obvious that Prince has found out about Wags arranging a preview for Axe to see the abstract painter Nico Tanner’s new “Implosion” series before the painter’s show starts. And Scooter secured the paintings for Prince’s beach house.

And I cannot help yell “Bullshit!” at my screen when Prince says he did not mean to scoop Axe and Scooter claims buying off people is a Wags’ move.

You paid Vanity Fair for the solo cover!

You paid the shaman to get him on your side!

Yes, you paid the dealer, too! I bet Wags is right,  you had to buy some “second rate dog shit” to secure the paintings!

Now, I am not saying Axe would not do it, he definitely would, but the thing is he  accepts who he is and embraces it while Prince is in complete denial that he is a monster. I think he truly deserves the Biggest Hypocrite awards he has been collecting from Lady Trader for the last two weeks.

As Wags is embarrassed to have failed the habibi and determined to send that dealer back to the armory like a disassembled M-16 in a crate, Axe is already thinking about his next move.

“If you can’t buy the art, buy the artist.”

While Tanner has the reputation of someone not giving in to collectors, and directly tells Axe that he does not paint for money, Axe believes he says so because nobody has paid him enough yet.

Axe starts with arranging an artist’s studio for Tanner to paint for him. He even moves his critical meeting with Ted Krakow and Robert “Hard Bob” Beaufort about how to get into banking to the artist’s studio.

As “Hard Bob” is harder than ever in telling Axe there is no federal bank in his future, life happens: Bobby now has to get on his plane and show up at Skinner Prep Academy to get into the bottom of Gordie’s bitcoin project. He makes Hard Bob and Krakow to accompany him and Wags on the trip so they can explain further and Krakow says it the best:

“As in all things, sequence matters.”

The bankers may have almost bankrupted the economy but the thing is they got their banking license way before they fucked the Average Joe! Axe, on the other hand, has had his share of legal troubles which would make it impossible for him to pass the FDIC background checks.

But we are talking about Bobby Axelrod here. Whe he asks for an alternative plan, Krakow recommends a state charter with different and fewer regulations, possibly more tolerant to “begging, bribing and bullying” but still Axe must have an airtight board, an unassailable CEO, high level of liquidity and get along with the corrupt state politicians. Ha! Did you know that the State AGs are the new bank regulators per Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act? This is going to be FUN!

So what did Gordie want to do exactly? Bitcoin mining.He set up the hardware to facilitate the crypto-currency transactions in the  decentralized bitcoin market. His plan was to receive bitcoin as a reward for completing these transactions and put the reward back into trading for bitcoin.

The downside for “bitcoin mining” is that the hardware is a serious investment, and the more powerful the hardware is, the more electricity it is going to require. So Gordie had to consider his desired hardware’s electricity consumption, and even though they thought about bypassing internal fuming – Gordie’s friend Siena who makes this point gets an instant job offer from Axe! – they did not expect their hardware to cause a power outage.

I believe the meeting with Headmaster Kessel could have gone way better if Axe had started with a sincere apology rather than treating the headmaster as Senator Leary – the corrupt US senator in The Godfather, and trying to figure out how many zeroes he wants on the donation check. It is totally Axe’s doing that the headmaster is now talking about Gordie dishonoring himself, dishonoring the school and that he is leaning to expulsion for something that is, as Axe also points out, not more than an “independent lab project gone bad.” And when Kessel who is determined not to let Axe put a price on Gordie’s soul, especially in front of Gordie, quotes The Godfather…

“I am no band leader.”

… he finds himself threatened by Axe that the last person who said these words had lost his precious racehorse! What the fuck? It seems it does not matter whether it is a bank, an artist, or a headmaster. Everything has a price for Bobby Axelrod.

Wags who has not been even able to find one DUI ticket in the headmaster’s past, recommends the reform/rehab schools he attended in his youth for Gordie, but Axe is determined to bully his way to make Gordie stay at school. Axe is not pissed with Gordie because he ran a scheme, he is pissed because he ran a scheme with such a high risk/reward ratio. They now need to ruin a good man so Gordie stays at school. And since they cannot squeeze the headmaster they have to squeeze the school through donors.

When Axe talks to a donor who made a $800K donation to the athletics department, he learns that the donor actually made a $1M donation. So where did the $200K go? As Axe and Wags believe they got their break, Hall arrives with bad news: Headmaster Kessel is actually Robin of Locksley aka Robin Hood. He redirected the excess $200K to a scholarship program for Syrian refugees that the school refused to set up. Three of these refugees reside on campus this year with their families.

An envelope passed under his rundown hotel room at The Campus Inn late at night brings Axe what he needs to ruin Kessel. And my hope that this crisis might bring Axe and Lara closer for the sake of their kid fades away when Axe calls Wendy, a professional, rather than Lara, Gordie’s mother, to ask whether he should fix it for Gordie! I may actually have to give Axe the benefit of the doubt here since he knows Lara will tell him to do whatever it takes keep Gordie at Skinner.

As Axe enters Kessel’s room donning his Rainbow t-shirt the following morning, he is there for destruction – whenever Axe puts on one of his old metal t-shirts, he is ready to rock and roll the world… and the school auditorium, too, in this particular case. The headmaster, who takes newly arrived immigrant families in, gives in to him because Axe is right that these people helping around the house may look like cheap labor, even worse, slavery!

Yet… isn’t it interesting to see that Axe is a Keynesian when it comes to his own child? The man who believes in markets coming to the right equilibrium when left alone cannot let the markets decide his son’s future and takes an interventionist approach. I think Axe knows, too, deep down that invisible hand is invisible because it is not there.

When Wendy explains to him the pros and cons of letting the market do its work, it seems that Gordie will end up with a drinking problem when he is 28. And Axe cannot stomach that. And that is what I cannot stomach the kind of capitalism he promotes on the school stage where he encourages young people to be like him: to be hungry, to be greedy. While I agree with Axe that capitalism has been the most successful economic system in the world, I argue there are varieties of capitalism  and I support the version in which the government looks out more for its citizens’ basic needs: housing, health care and education.

And while I am at it… I mean – what kind of a life lesson is Gordie taking from this experience? That his father always has his back. And that he can “beg, bribe, bully” his way into anything. I hope Gordie proves me wrong, but the look on his face (Hats off to Jack Gore!) is that of a child who will grow up to be an adult with serious issues.

Axe closes the evening with Nico Tanner at the artist’s studio with take out pizza from Una Pizza Napoletana  – probably the best pizzeria in the city where Axe and Rebecca had a double date with Chuck and Wendy in Season 4 Episode 5 A Proper Sendoff.  Note that Anthony Mangieri, who believes his pizza should travel from the oven directly to the mouth, lets the pizza travel only for Axe. And while Tanner who could care less about the praises Ben Kim has to sing for Bobby Axelrod earlier in the day, seems to come around as he finds out more about the man who thinks of himself as The Medicis and Tanner as Michelangelo. The argument is simple: Do we like the Sistine Chapel less because Michelangelo did it on commission? No. Tanner does not need to sell his soul to Axe, he will just create his next eight paintings for him and leave.

Remembering Axe had convinced Mr.Purkheister to remove the CEO of Yum Time in Season 1 Episode 3 Yum Time with a perfect slice at Capparello’s, I bet Mangieri’s pizza helps Tanner, too, with understanding that Axe knows greatness when he sees it. And Axe saying Mangieri is his new pizza guy makes me wonder if he still keeps Capparello’s open.

The Rhoades side of things also presents a father and son story this week in which the son is looking for his soul, which he lost long ago, at his alma mater.

Now that he has lost his budget, along with his criminal cases, to the Manhattan DA’s office, Chuck is after civil cases with huge settlements. Kate brings him cases worthy of $5M and receives the compliment of being Hector Elizondo, the proud plumber who is very good with his hands in The Flamingo Kid yet another movie reminding me of my childhood.

Chuck who cited Yale Law School Library as his safe place at his ERDM therapy in Episode 2 The Chris Rock Test, is now sitting in the Dean’s office at his alma mater discussing his visiting professor appointment at the Law School. And I laugh out loud when the dean talks about Chuck probably picking up the tools he needed to ascend to the job at Yale. Well, I think Chuck got some home-schooling for that! 😀

Speaking of Chuck Senior – the Dean has a favor to ask from Chuck: While Rhoades family is woven into the tradition at Yale, Chuck Senior who made a pledge to give $100K every year to the school has never paid it.


This is clearly strategic on the dean’s end because the kind of pledge Chuck Senior has made will help the future generations of Rhoadeses to get into Yale and we already heard Chuck telling De Giulio that his daughter is going to Yale in a fun, if pretentious, exchange in Season 1 Episode 8 Boasts and Rails 🙂

DeGuilio: And the sad thing is, it’s so competitive now. Half the Chinese are applying to the Ivies. All our kids are gonna end up in second-tier schools.

Chuck: Not Eva. She’s going to Yale.

DeGuilio: Like I said.

Chuck: Oh, you fucking Harvard guys.

Oh, you fucking Ivy League guys! 🙂

When Chuck visits the newlyweds – so Chuck Senior remarried and also kept the apartment?!?! – he realizes that it is more Roxanne than Chuck Senior himself who does not want legacy donations to Yale. And, no, this is not anything to do with Yale mistreating the indigenous peoples, this is about the Rhoades family mistreating Roxanne and her young child. This is enough information for Chuck to talk about sanctity of family, and visit Wendy to trade favors. Not that he openly says that…

…but Wendy knows he needs something in return when Chuck tells her he knows putting a restraining order on their marital assets was an overreaction. What a motherfucker! You know what? Axe and Chuck are long lost twins. Remember Axe dropping the civil cases he brought against Chuck to make Wendy return to Axe Capital in Season 2 Episode 6 Indian Four?  Chuck is now doing the exact same thing to Wendy – lifting the ATRO to make Wendy join a family gathering which ensures Chuck Senior keep his financial pledge. And while her baby aunt confuses Eva a bit, her granddad delivers yet another piece of wisdom:

“The world is whatever the hell you make it.”


As Chuck saves the academic pledge Senior committed to, Kate saves the $5M Governor Sweeney asks them to write a check for through a guy – I cannot stop laughing about the Florsheims!

Kate looks into it and finds out Chuck does not need to propose Sweeney a duel at dawn in New Jersey! 😀  It turns out the State AG office can designate the funds they get before they land with them – before the governor can redirect them – to a public good, say to “a law school clinic earmarked to do certain work by a certain person.” Bingo – Chuck is now going back to his alma mater and taking the funds with him! And, yeah, when Kate cuts a joint, it stays.

The third and final father and son story in the episode comes from Wags who is constantly inspired by Axe’s exemplary(!) parenting during the crisis at Skinner Prep and decides to reach out to ALL of his children!

So Mandi is not Wags’ only child. He at least has another 14 year old daughter who says “whatever” when her dad tells him he will call her again soon and two older boys who cut their contact with Wags long time ago. He  heard Georgie, his eldest, had a legal cannabis business in Colorado at one point but he has not heard from him since his business crossed state lines!

While Gordie may have Winklevoss aspirations, Georgie who arrives at Axe Capital late in the episode definitely does not. That said the apple has not fallen far from the tree! And not only physically… Georgie is into spiritual experiences like his father. But while Wags has a religious experience eating ortolan and meets “the creator of souls” at an Ayahuasca retreat, Georgie has his personal relationship with Jesus Christ himself. I have to say the look on Wags’ face when he gets the good news is as priceless as when he found out he failed The Chris Rock Test.

I have kept the story that I find the most fascinating to the last. I really think Taylor is playing the long game!

Winston is running a Natural Language Processing software to see whether the Chancellor at Lawrenceburg University, a potential investor they want to approach, means what he says in a speech. The student body is putting pressure on the administration to divest from fossil fuels in the university endowment  And the software Winston uses “reads between the lines” if you will and finds that even though the chancellor says he and the board of trustees will not let the students run the university, he does not mean it. How about having Lauren set a pitch?

Sara imagines this is not an easy sell to some of the board members that she knows. According to her, Taylor has not been an effective leader for some time, losing Oscar’s money has been bad enough for the company, and so it is high time that Taylor shines!

Taylor visits Wendy to ask for help in convincing the Lawrenceburg Chancellor to do what is rational. They think there are people who are rational and who are not. Wendy corrects them that there are people who are not rational and who think they are…

…and a quick demonstration based on Jonathan Haidt‘s The Righteous Mind shows that even Taylor is not a computer – even though Taylor does not believe in soul, they hesitate to sell it – and there is a gap between their rational thought and rational rational action! The Lawrenceburg chancellor obviously hates it that the pressure to divest is coming from the students and Taylor has to make sure he understands the regret he will have if he makes the wrong move. Before leaving, Taylor reminds Wendy she should have asked her about Lauren before appointing her as the Head of IR.

Taylor succeeds in conveying the message to the chancellor, yet he cannot convince his board of trustees – especially the chair, one retired admiral Bill Karrass known as “Wild Bill” in the Navy. This is Sara’s moment to shine and she comes back not only having made the general “crumble like a rock candy” but also with a smart plan: How about taking the same position they are unrolling the university endowment from and making a backdoor deal with the oil companies to avoid the publicity that will come from the divestment?

Now, the Taylor I have come to know in the last three seasons would not say no to this. They may not be a computer but they are extremely rational when business is concerned. It was Taylor who proposed to fuck Sandicot in Season 2 and kept Andolov’s money to protect TMC in Season 3. And I am sure they know as much as Sara does that they are not here for a climate rally! I bet they have a plan in place and they are sticking to it when they tell Sara it is the not the right play! Yet when Axe implements the exact plan Sara had in mind, Taylor cannot keep Sara at TMC. I wonder if Sara has taken her idea to Axe, if she is leaving the building or just moving over to Axe Capital right now and whether Taylor wants to make sure their best people have key positions at Axe Capital so they have access to the information they need to take down Axe.

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!

34 thoughts on “Billions on Showtime Season 5 Episode 3: Beg, Bribe, Bully”

  1. This episode was boring compared to last week’s. Kate did great as far as cleverly shifting the five million away from the Governor’s greedy, grasping schemes and over to Yale, where Chuck will be teaching. How fortuitous! This gives Chuck extra fame and influence at Yale. Chuck was very impressed. Kate will get another MVP. Sara folding up her expensive laptop, you know this can mean only one thing. That she is exiting Mason Capital. I hope she is not gone for good. I like her look and how she has presented herself in Billions. Her laptop was impressive, I need one just like it.

    I did not like how Axe dealt with the school’s principal. Boring. About the artist. The Billions style joke here was how horrible the paintings are, but have deca-Billionaires fighting over them. Axe bromancing the artist was extended with a predictable outcome. Seeing Anthony Mangieri getting some face time along with his lovely oven and his pizza was the best part of this silly affair. All pizza should be out of the oven and on the table within 30-60 seconds. Eating lukewarm pizza, especially Anthony Mangieri’s, is a crime against humanity. I got wobbly and sea sick from watching this.

    I didn’t catch the artist’s name but I think he just might have an affair with Wendy. Is this season only seven episodes? Wikipedia says so.

    1. Thank you for reading – interesting that you found the episode boring relative to last week’s. This is my favorite episode so far in the season. I especially loved the family connections, toxic fathers and their hopeless sons. Gordie is a good candidate to be an adult with serious issues. The look on his face as his father is ruining the headmaster tells me the life lesson he gets there and then: his dad will always have his back and he can get away with anything.

      Kate is the character to watch this season – she’s always been smart and she’s more forthcoming than ever this season. Go, girl!

      Sara is definitely leaving TMC but is she leaving the building or taking a position at Axe Capital? Lady Trader has this brilliant idea in the comments that Sara would be a good candidate for the unassailable CEO Axe would look for the state bank he’s considering to establish…

      The paintings are abstract but they are very popular in the art world. I am not sure if the show creators wanted to mock with them. I find the work very Pollock-like and yes I noticed the scenes between the artist, Nico Tanner, and Wendy in the season trailers. What will Chuck do? That is the question 😀

      Agreed about Una Pizza and Mangieri – it is a crime to have his pizza reheated!!! Now that Axe calls him “my new pizza guy” it seems Una Pizza is the new Capparello’s!

  2. “I hope Gordie proves me wrong, but the look on his face (Hats off to Jack Gore!) is that of a child who will grow up to be an adult with serious issues.”

    You can say this about every kid on the show. None of the adults are going to win any parent of the year awards. They’re too busy pursing empty goals, screwing people over and being conniving to be good parents. Also, this season has been really boring. I think this show reached its natural conclusion back in season three when Chuck finally arrested Axe. Now we’re back to spinning our wheels. Chuck is pursuing Axe, while Axe plays mind games with another billionaire and dodges Chuck. Wash rinse and repeat. I actually like Mike Prince. He maybe a phony but he ain’t dumb. I just don’t care to see billionaires play around anymore.

    1. Thank you for reading. You are not the only one that finds this season boring. I have enjoyed it but I think Episode 3 was better than the “warm-up” Episodes 1 and 2 which introduced the new characters and storylines. I understand the repetitions you are talking about but I think the show is doing a good job in demonstrating the new trends in the hedge-fund world (bitcoin, banking, etc), I wonder how Taylor will work behind the scenes to get Axe and when Bryan will show up again. It seems from new episode teaser that Axe is getting in some alliance with Kate’s father which could create some conflict of interest between Chuck and Kate. I have fate in this show 🙂 And the show creators seem to plan more seasons but I hope it ends while it is still good.

  3. I think I’m going to give you the MVP of recaps from now on! This would be your third!

    As always, thank for the explanation of the references. I had never heard that Father and Son song (and never heard of Yusf), but then again, anything songs after the year 2000 I probably haven’t heard or know! And, I had never heard of the Flamingo Kid either. I used to to the movies twice every weekend in the 80’s, so I’m trying to figure out how I miss this one! I was never a big Matt Dillon fan, so that could be it!

    When I read M-16, I first thought it said MI-6. That tells you where my head is at!

    There were a lot of Godfather references this episode, and I was almost certain you were going to put the clip of the horses head in the bed as your link! That would be something Axe would do!

    Do you think that Axe has a new pizza guy because Bruno is now officially retired?

    As for Sara, I may be mistaken but I was under the impression that it was her to gave the idea about the oil companies to Axe. I could be wrong, since I still have my rewatch to do.

    I knew you were going to hate Axe’s actions regarding Gordie, and hate that speech too! I’ll go into in on Friday, but I agree with what he did regarding Gordie was a mistake. but I think I love his speech this week even more than last weeks! Maybe I’m a monster too? 🙂

    Did it seem odd to you that Chuck, as AG for NY would be giving funds to a school in CT? As a tax payer in NY, I would rather that money go to a NY school. Just my take.

    I have a “professional” question that you may know the answer to: is it normal for a sitting government official to be a visiting professor? I would understand if they gave a lecture, but (and I don’t know because I never went to college) wouldn’t a professor have to teach a class at least once a week for a semester? Wouldn’t that take him away from what he was elected to do? And in another state no less?

    1. Lisa – I think there are government officials who have guest-lectured before – as long as the commitment isn’t too much. I think it is much easier for it to happen at the state level than at the federal/national level.

      And why would Sara go to Axe? Why would Axe sign Sara? They don’t need her.

      1. Thanks Paul. I was just wondering how a sitting AG could do classes (if I’m not mistaken Chuck wanted to be a visiting professor) while still doing their job. I don’t know what the difference in schedule would be btw a visiting professor and a reg one (as I said, I never went to college so I don’t know how it works).

        I just thought Sara brought the idea to Axe because she had even said it was a good move for the bigger picture. I just assumed she meant the whole firm. I wouldn’t be surprised if Axe hired her – if he wants to have a bank, and needs a strong CEO, she would be perfect. No way Wags would be seen as a good choice, and Sara would be seen as someone outside of the Axe Cap culture (and was not around when Axe’s legal issues were happening).

        1. Quick answer now – I will write a longer response later. Yes, Paul is right it can be done and professors can hold classes at night as well. So if Chuck holds his class once a week b/w 7:30 – 9:30 at night he can definitely commute to New Haven after working hours. I don’t think a sitting AG can teach during the day but it may be possible in Billions since it is fiction after all!

          I agree that it may be Sara who brought the idea to Axe because she had also said they had to do it through the main house. Oh, Lady Trader, you ROCK, I did not think of it but Sara Hammon would be THE unassailable CEO for the bank for sure! Oh no Wags cannot even be the doorman at the bank (kidding but sort of true!!!!)

      2. You are correct, sitting government officials can work as university professors. My son just graduated and one of his professors was a sitting judge.
        I have a question, who would s the artist that painted the 3 pictures In the last episode?

        1. “Who would s the artist that painted the 3 pictures in the last episode” The question is in the s so if you clarify, we would happily answer (if we could!)
          Congratulations to your son!

    2. I am honored to have the MVP award, Lady! 🙂

      Let’s start with Father and Son! It’s a song from 1970. And it’s Cat Stevens. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the name or his more popular songs like Lady D’arbanville or Morning Has Broken. He’s absolutely one of the best songwriters of all times. After he had a sea accident and a near-death experience he found religion and converted to Islam (he became Yusuf Islam) and lived a very pious life for decades. So he was like one of the greatest musicians that died young. I think he did some religious music but I don’t know who listened to that. He came back to his old music only a few years ago and actually gave a couple of concerts in the US – even though I tried I couldn’t get tickets, they were all sold out. My favorite Stevens song is probably “Where do the children play?”

      I think Axe has a new pizza guy (who is also Brian Koppelman’s friend and pizza guy) because Bruno moved to Florida. I wonder if Axe is keeping Capparello’s but my hunch is we may not see that pizzeria again. I was so lucky to catch them there last season! After this is all over, let’s have pizza at Una Pizza together!

      We didn’t see Sara letting Axe and Wags know about her idea. They are probably seeing what Taylor is doing and may come up with the same idea Sara did. I am wondering if Sara is leaving the building or moving to Axe Capital – I LOVE your suggestion about her being an ideal CEO for the state bank Axe may establish! Impeccable record from the Navy – enough said!

      I completely understand Axe supporting his child and I actually think what Gordie did was not that bad. The problem is how Axe tries to solve the problem. He gets into the headmaster’s office and makes an offer! Huh? Where is the apology? Where is the “I am sorry, it will never happen again”? So it is Axe that provokes the headmaster to say all the nasty stuff about Axe in return. And the life lesson Gordie takes away from the whole experience is that you can beg, bribe, bully (actually bribe and bully only!) your way into anything. I can’t imagine any parent doing what Axe did to the headmaster.

      The speech: I have to say I did not hate it completely. I agree that capitalism has been the most successful economic system. But there are varieties of capitalism and Axe and I do not agree on what kind would work better 🙂 What I did not like about the speech is that he tells the kids to be hungry and greedy. He could instead say “be ambitious, dream big, be creative, be original, be innovative” and so on. But I think he does it deliberately just to drive the headmaster crazy! I think he would have given a different speech should he have been invited by the school to talk to the students another time.

      Your question about Chuck allocating state funds to a school in CT is certainly legit. I would say because the money will be earmarked for a certain project done by a certain person, they probably hav to demonstrate that the project has to be done by this certain person who happens to be in CT then the money goes there since the project’s results will benefit the NY state. But this is my hunch, I have no idea how this works. And as I said earlier, a state official teaching at a university on a weekly basis is quite possible especially if he plans to teach outside working hours. Professors typically love teaching grad classes at night, too, so their research day is not interrupted so that students are used to taking evening classes. And it goes without saying that teaching at Yale is very prestigious.

      1. Thank you for answering all my questions! Sorry if I asked too many! I just always know who to turn to for the answers when it comes to Billions!
        It seems this season (so far) has been either a hit for fans or a miss. I do think the pacing has been slower than other seasons, but the introduction of a few new (big) characters needs explanations and set ups (and we still haven’t met Cat, which I think is next week?). I’m sure the major twists and turns will be upcoming.

    3. Lady Trader – Yusuf’s (Cat Stevens) girlfriend was Patti D’Arbanville (Axe’s mom)! He wrote several songs about her. I know you’ve heard of his song Wild World (for her) and probably heard of Peace Train and just didn’t realize you knew the songs after all 😉 Check em out on iTunes. We’re supposed to see Patti again this season.

      1. Oh so she is Lady D’Arbanville!!!!!! I never knew the connection. I agree I’m sure Lady Trader knows some of the songs without knowing she knows them!
        Cat Stevens is so up there for me as a musician and you feel the soul-searching in his songs.

        1. Patti D’Arbanville……..Axe’s mum! I knew her connection with Cat Stevens. Also Don Johnson of Miami Vice. Andy Warhol productions too. Let’s just say she got around back in her salad days. She was part of the scene. For more info you can look at her Wikipedia entry, Here is one Warhol movie she was in. >>>>>

          Flesh (1968 film) – Wikipedia

          Also appearing are Geraldine Smith as Joe’s wife and Patti D’Arbanville as her lover. Flesh was first shown at the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theatre at 152 Bleecker Street, Manhattan, New York City on September 26, 1968. Flesh is the first film of the “Paul Morrissey Trilogy” produced by Andy Warhol.

          Produced by: Andy Warhol
          Budget: $4,000
          Starring: Joe Dallesandro, Geraldine Smith
          Release date: September 26, 1968

          1. Thanks – yeah I knew about her and Don Johnson but I didn’t about her and Cat Stevens – I mean she’s THE Lady D’arbanville!!!

      2. Thanks Damianista and Gingersnap! I have heard the name Cat Stevens, but had no idea about his history! I guess I’m just the metal girl here! I have heard of Wild World, but not of the other songs. I’ll check them out on YouTube. And I love the connection to Axe’s Mom!

    4. In law, this is done all the time – I have a “professional” question that you may know the answer to: is it normal for a sitting government official to be a visiting professor. When I attended law school, I had a class taught by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

      1. Thank you for responding! Like I said, I never went to college, so I didn’t even realize how common it was. I know CEOs sometimes guest lecture at Business Schools, but that is usually just a one day thing. I guess if you pay Yale $$, you get top professors!

  4. As I have already stated in a couple of places elsewhere, I LOVED this episode. This could be since I understood it better than some others, or because I hated episode 1 and felt only lukewarm about epi 2. However, mainly my enjoyment was because the characters came off as human, rather than people just spouting facts and figures, most of which I care not a fig about.
    Okay, Axe’s parenting was awful, except that he was supporting Gordie, and some parents in this world wouldn’t do that even if their kid was right. I know this is Showtime and no one pays much attention to the language, but Axe’s use of the infamous “f” word with his kids has always offended me. Using it around adults, eh, so what, but in an auditorium with the student body; I could have done without that. Overuse of it always implied to me that the speaker simply has such a poor command of the language that he can’t express himself any other way. Did the writers come up with the whole Gordie thing just as a way to get Axe in position to make that speech? I’d rather think they wanted some family time in this season, but I’m probably wrong.
    Speaking of family time, Chuck’s father’s turn around this season is interesting, but why did Chuck even care if his father neglected to send promised money to Yale? That seemed quite “unChucklike” to me.
    Now we get to Sara and the Navy; not a realistic connection. I won’t bother going into the why of that, just that it seemed like the writers had no other way of solving that little problem for Taylor. But then the truth is I don’t care for Taylor, Sara or Lauren and why does Mase Cap still exist as such when it is under the thumb of Axe Cap?
    No one will believe I liked this epi if I don’t stop complaining (dislike Prince BTW), so I must add I am happy to see more of Hard Bob. The casting for this character is perfect, as it is with Krakow. (But then I enjoyed Jock and Drake in previous season, so it is a bit hard to account for my tastes. Also glad to finally have some background, meager as it is, on Wags, who lights up the screen every second he is on it.
    If nothing else, episode 3 has saved this season for me, since I was about to give up and only turn up the sound on my TV when Axe was on the screen.
    Stay safe out there folks!!!

    1. Thank you for reading, Connie!

      Thanks for asking – we’re doing well and hope you’re doing well, too. Billions is such a GREAT distraction during the Covid-19 quarantine! I agree that this episode has been the best so far in the season and it had, I believe, fewer references relative to the earlier episodes.

      Axe may not be aware that he is poisoning his child. As a father, and the kid did not really do anything bad, I totally understand him defending Gordie. But the way he handles the situation is so unacceptable. The man is a firm believer in buying off people. How come he can get into a headmaster’s office, treat him (and calling him) as Senator Leary (a corrupt senator in The Godfather) and make him an offer?!?! I’m sure that meeting would have gone way better if Axe had started with a sincere apology. What is the life lesson Gordie took in that room as Axe used pictures to blackmail the headmaster? That his dad has his back and he can get away with anything. It is not hard to guess he will have issues as an adult. I think I was thinking of these so much that I did not even notice the f word. I believe the writers had that story in there for some family time but also with the purpose that we see Axe puts a price on everything!

      Sara is directly connected to the Navy. She came to Taylor from her position at the Naval Academy. And I believe Taylor is playing the long game to take down Axe in the end.

      Chuck wants his dad to keep his pledge because these are legacy donations – which means it will facilitate it for Eva and Kevin to get into Yale which Chuck definitely wants to happen. Ivy League people want their kids to continue the tradition in attending their alma mater – Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and so on. I tried to explain it in my review, too.

      1. The Sara/Navy connection makes sense if she was at the USNA in some capacity other than a Midshipman. If she attended I can’t imagine she would have any influence with an admiral. To me this is incidental anyway. I am far less interested in the characters from Mase Cap, except in the ways they affect Axe and apparently very soon, Chuck and company. You are certainly right about Axe poisoning Gordie. Axe has always been so successful in buying people off, why should he change tactics now?

  5. And Hall is back, though for too short a time. We need more Hall stealth and skulduggery, played by the very accomplished actor Terry Kinney. I also got a kick out of the return of Hard Bob, who “brooks no bullshit”.

    “Hall is a “fixer” in the employ of Bobby Axelrod. Whatever issues his boss has, Hall is the one Bobby reaches out to when a certain skill set is required to solve it. Hall will often be asked to attain information or make arrangements for other people, especially of an illicit or devious kind. Not much is known of Hall’s origins, only that he is clearly highly trained and intelligent.”

  6. Hi. I’m reading the comments about people saying the season is boring. While there may be less “action”, this really isn’t an action genre show for me. It’s more about the people, characters, actions and consequences, so I’m not bored at all. As long as the writing stays good and the characters develop, evolve and stay interesting. it’s great entertainment.

    However, let me offer up a different view. I find myself a little more detached this season because of the COVID situation. I may be a voice of one here, as my views are never typical of the rest of the world. I work in NYC, on Wall Street. I deal with lawyers, investment bankers and therapists regularly. Of course, Axe-Chuck-Wendy-Wags-Taylor have always kept a social distance away from me, even pre-COVID. As such, I find it harder to invest my passion in art dealers, school issues, oil investments, etc, while my whole routine has been turned on its arse. I’m working remotely from home for the longest stretch ever in my 30 year career. NYC is basically closed, and again, I have been commuting there daily for 30 years, and life just isn’t the same for me right now.

    Yes, I know shows and movies are meant to be partially “escapism” to get away from the general problems of life. However, Billions for me has never been about escapism, the way Star Trek/Star Wars/Dr Who/etc are. Because the people and
    the situations are so real to me. I know all of these people in real life, again, from a reasonable social distance. And, while I am TeamAxe, I can fully understand and appreciate all of the characters on the show, their unique viewpoints, motivations and goals, and the way they each interact with each other in such a genuine and complex way.

    Again, this may be a singular view, but that’s my two cents. Only worth a cent at the moment, but some day to be worth three cents if the economy recovers and if my team is as good as team Axe-Taylor. Thank you for the wonderful analysis, recaps, engagement, humor and general wonderfulness that each of you brings to the world. (PS – I grew up loving Wild World, I knew Father and Son, but only had Wild World on my ancient iPod (I won’t go back to the Walkman days, as I now find the songs I had on tape to be mildly embarrassing). Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much for reading, Davros, and I hear you my friend. I think I still have Billions as a “sanctuary” which I need very much these days. We are obviously luckier than many – because we still have our jobs – but I completely understand you, we’re in the same boat, that the whole routine is upside down, and in addition we face a huge uncertainty where I do not think we see the light at the end of the tunnel. Not yet. Besides, I wonder how much of the change Covid-19 has brought into our lives will remain after this is over.

      I’m with you about this season. I am more interested in character development than in “action” because it is so much fun to try to get into those characters’ brains and figure out their motivations and decision-making process. Besides, Billions being Billions there will certainly be action. I wonder if people are less patient in these times of coronavirus. The show has been setting up the season in the first few episodes – that said there are some repetitions the die-hard fans cannot help notice 🙂 But it is still GREAT entertainment. The characters and the storyline being so real to you is yet another confirmation that the writers are doing a real good job depicting the situations these characters find themselves in.

      Guess what song is playing here now? “Oh baby baby, it’s a wild world” 🙂

      Looking forward to going back to the days you catch “Billions” signs downtown!!!

  7. Damiansta, Even after looking up second law of thermodynamics, unable to see what Axe implies to Gordie. Your help would be great.

    1. I intended to write a few words about it in the recap but then it slipped my mind. I believe it refers to an article that discusses economic activity in the context of the second law of thermodynamics:

      “From this thermodynamic perspective, decision making is ultimately about choosing the action that causes energy to flow along the most steeply descending energy gradient. For example, when faced with two identical products where one is cheaper than the other, a consumer will likely choose the cheaper product.”

      “When investing on the cheaper but equally good product, more energy (in one’s assets) is left to be dispersed by buying other goods,” Annila explained to “Also, when the cheaper product sells better, the energy used in its production gets consumed faster.

      However, decision-making is not always this straightforward because consumers, producers, and other players in the market make decisions based on their subjective views of energy gradients, which are affected by diverse and often conflicting factors. Each player in the market may prefer a particular series of actions (their strategy) to move from one state to another that is higher in entropy production. When the circumstances change, for example due to other players’ actions, a player may revise their strategy in the quest to optimally consume free energy.”

      1. Thanks Damiansta.

        Although Taylor’s question of bridging the gap between rational thought and rational mind was abstract, Wendy’s response was not abstract but more of the situation.

        Is there a abstract response for that question? Just curious.

  8. I don’t know about boring, I thought it was silly. The scene with Ax giving an updated speech from Wall Street and the principal sitting there and taking it was absurd.
    It would have been much more interesting to see him as having the principes that he espoused rather than just being another stooge for Ax. It actually reminded me of House of Cards – we just knew that there would be no opposition; simply make everybody else incompetent or hypocritical. Though Billions does have the saving grace of having opposition elsewhere. But I simply knew Ax was going to win this. What I didn’t account for was the sillyness.
    And the artist wouldn’t have needed to be told that even the greatest artists needed to dirty their hands with money. No artist worth his/her salt knows that. The best just try to control it, rather than it controlling them. Show me an artist in history who has not been aware.
    But maybe he is aware and he’s playing a long game. I’m not hopeful though.

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