And just like that – THEY ARE BACK!
Episode 8 picks up soon after Axe decides to go to war with Mike Prince. It sets the tone for the rest of the season, and is packed with Billions-y twists and turns, wonderful cameos, and some serious punches in the face!
So what is Mike ‘Thomas Aquinas’ Prince doing, in full costume, rehearsing lines before the mirror??? Look at his face, he can not have enough of himself in the mirror with that ridiculous hat…
It turns out that Prince is getting ready to be confirmed as the Ambassador Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary to Denmark – so the title of the episode! Wags hears about Prince’s new government post while retoxing at The Aviary (an import from Chicago – sadly closed now) and after a cost-benefit analysis (having Prince stay in Copenhagen versus him coming back to NYC as “the anointed one”) he decides to stop this post from happening.
While Wags’ 18-hour research shows that Prince keeps himself locked down Fort Knox style, his right hand guy Scooter, a sport bettor, is vulnerable.
“He’s leaking like a raft at a kid’s pool party.”
Tasked by the Honcho to destroy Scooter Joan of Arc style, Wags corners Scooter at 2nd Ave Deli as the latter is enjoying his turkey and chopped liver sandwich after instructing his runners who will place his bets. According to Wags, Scooter has two options: Give up Prince and go home or face the consequences.
As Wags has done his research on Scooter, Dollar Bill has finished his on Chuck. Chuck is the one behind the Krakow’s resignation but the good news is that Bill has a plan to get back to him! Axe, who is busy putting his country house on sale, and with a smirk on his face, tasks Bill with putting Chuck in a Crossfire Hurricane. We don’t know what this is about but we see Bill’s billion dollar smile and we all know this is going to be fun!
Honestly, it is not that hard to get Chuck in trouble since the guy is constantly getting punched left and right.
But first things first. Chuck shows up at his office looking slim and clean shaven. Well, we had Axe growing a beard earlier in the season so it is time for a beard-less Chuck! And here is the list of punches he takes in this episode!
Punch 1: Merle Howard (or should I say Dollar Bill???)
Remember the law school student who left Chuck’s law school clinic because he thought it was not ethical to investigate Krakow?
Well, as soon as he receives an anonymous email that has his picture burning ballots in a bathtub in a college dorm, Chuck knows it is Merle who sent him the picture… and we know that it is Dollar Bill who sent it to Merle!
Chuck, as usual with his legal matters, returns to Ira. So Chuck, when he was a junior in college, was a candidate for student body elections and involved in a movement to divest from South Africa as part of an effort to end the apartheid regime. The professor in me has to jump in here to tell you that divesting from South Africa started at the US universities first, followed by others, and put a great deal of pressure for a regime transition in South Africa. So I can understand that Chuck, as an idealist 20 year old, felt the urgency to suppress the turnout for his opponent who thought South Africa was not their problem. But, hey, it is still not right and him feeling the urgency to make a tribute to Landslide Lyndon is ridiculous!
I said it before and I will say it again. Ira is the best friend anyone could ever have. And he is confident they can turn this around arguing what Chuck did was only to stop institutional racism. Hmmm… Well, you may be a 7-figure earning lawyer, Ira, but this is weak! I find Kate’s way out more effective – finding a juicy case that Chuck can use to show his voters that they voted for the right man who is working his ass off every day to bring justice to the people of New York 🙂
When he gets to meet with Merle, Chuck tries an analogy with pots and pans that makes me understand why my husband prefers cast iron to non stick! Then he shifts to how Chef Guy Fieri created an empire as he finds out Merle would go to Fieri should he need advise about cooking equipment 🙂 While Merle agrees that sending an anonymous email was weak on his end, Chuck has a day to resign or face the consequences. And what is interesting here is that, even then, Chuck does not get into his usual carrots /sticks shit. Is he really keeping his Dexter honor code? 🙂
Punch 2: Cat
Chuck tells Ira over Mamoun’s falafel that it is over between him and Cat. Now, remember the sex worker Cat hired for them to have a threesome in the previous episode? So Chuck liked the threesome, yet he thinks he is not cut for it.
“It’s just too many limbs. Too many questions.”
It sounds like Cat can be as direct in a romantic relationship as she is in the classroom…
…but blaming Chuck for wasting her time is beyond me! I will add that my hunch is that the writers had to end this relationship because of the pandemic and time conflicts Julianna Marguiles may have with filming.
So… Bye, Chuck!
Punch 3: Dr. Gilbert
Chuck needs to find a kidney for Senior asap. He tasks Allerd with going through the medical records of all prisoners Chuck put away at SDNY and State AG office and find a pristine kidney for his dad.
Allerd: “How is he doing?”
Chuck: “Like Clint Eastwood… Straight-backed but, uh…
Allerd: “But sometimes, he just gets that lost look in the eyes and starts talking to the furniture?”
Chuck: “In a sense.”
😀 😀 😀
The moment Chuck thinks he has finally got the kidney, he receives yet another punch in the face. It is not Aman Dekel, the prisoner Chuck is hoping to meet, but it is Dr. Gilbert himself who welcomes Chuck to prison.
Well, Chuck… You reap what you sow.
Using his medical expertise for the prison workers and residents, Dr. Gilbert has become the prison boss! He can get a La Croix or tell a prisoner to trick the State AG whenever he feels like it… So Aman Dekel is not seeing Chuck today or any other day. Oh, and besides, reminds Dr. Gilbert, organ failure is beastly. I cannot stop laughing as Chuck leaves the prison saying every prison visit is a fucking punch in the face for him.
And it is still not the last punch for Chuck today! Wendy, who receives a picture of Senior and herself at Senior’s wedding with a note “you’ll always be my daughter” on the back knows Senior needs her help. And it turns out Senior trusts Wendy to pull the plug when she thinks it is right. He does not trust Roxanne since she is young and she would not let Senior go and Chuck could pull the plug while Senior is in middle of a sentence… WTF? 😀 I mean, this is not a punch in the face, a serious punch in the gut for Chuck, who eavesdrops on the conversation!
Axe and Wags get their share of a punch in the face, too, when Scooter, who Wags was sure caving in, appears in Axe’s penthouse with Prince! We find out that Prince is the real sports bettor and Scooter manages the runners who place his bets at upstate casinos. Prince’s accounts are in order, his taxes paid, and there is nothing in there that Axe can use against him. And it is quite insulting when he asks Axe whether Rande Garber (aka Cindy Crawford’s husband) designed his place – Garber designs night clubs, doesn’t he?
As Mr. Ambassador-to- be is not very Hygge-like to Axe, Axe is not very Hygge-like to Wags when Prince and Scooter leave. Wags will always be his guy but he should not make Axe get another guy to whom Wags will report to! Yikes! Have we ever seen Axe say something like this before? I think he knows Prince is too big to fuck with and so there is no room for sloppy research.
Even if Axe does not think of Prince as too big to fuck with, Wendy reminds him that when the latter comes to her office with Spyros, the compliance officer, who caught Wendy doing a search through Axe Capital employees’ medical records.
Well, I guess I am not the only one who noticed that Wendy addressed Senior as “dad” during her visit. Wendy is emotional not only because the old man sees him as a daughter but also trusts her with pulling the plug when he has to go. But the billion dollar question remains… is there a match?!?!
While she has him in her office, Wendy tells Axe to let it go about Prince. Axe may think that he beat him in Yonkers, but I agree with Wendy that Prince saw Axe’s public presentation in Yonkers and just gave up on that opportunity zone project. And I am all smiles when Wendy comes up with a movie reference that brings back sweet memories: Tin Cup is the first movie I watched in a movie theater when I moved to the United States with two luggages and big dreams 25 years ago! <3
Wendy: “You think he is Tin Cup McAvoy and you’re Don Johnson, and you’ll let the quirk in his character defeat him, but it might just be the other way around.”
Axe: “Not gonna keep putting balls in the drink.”
Wendy: “That’s why Roy thought, too.”
Wendy is right. Axe may actually be Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy who has a tendency to self-destruct and Prince may be there to witness it. Ugh.
I have to note – this is the fourth reference to a Kevin Costner movie (the previous ones being Dances with Wolves, Field of Dreams, and The Untouchables). Long-time readers of this blog know that there was Kevin Costner way before Damian Lewis!
Wendy strongly encourages Axe to look into his past, find who he is still pissed at and go for that. Axe seems to hear the word PAST only.
“It’s always the fucking past.”
Not his. Prince’s.
And Dollar Bill, it’s always Dollar Bill isn’t it, who delivers what Axe needs. Bill remembers a Fortune article that he once read on the crapper… And it is hilarious that Axe holds the magazine only after making sure this is not the issue Dollar Bill read on the crapper!
Now it is time for Axe to throw the punches. He makes sure the story Dollar Bill lands is contributed to the big TV feature on Mike Prince in a timely manner. And Tom Petty’s “It’s Good to be King” is perfect background music as everyone in the financial world is getting ready to see this big TV feature on Mike Prince like it is the famous Dallas “Who Shot Jr?” episode 🙂
Prince’s past seems to be as dark as, maybe darker than that of Axe’s in making his fortune. You can participate in my Twitter poll here.
— Fan Fun Damian Lewis (@FanFunDamian) September 6, 2021
Mike Prince and his partner David Fells worked countless hours in Fells’ garage to create a company together. According to Mrs. Fells, Dave was a genius and Mike was the face of the company. When Dave had alcohol and drug issues, Prince bought his shares for $200K, sold the company to Microsoft shortly after and made hundred times more than what he paid David for his shares. Mrs. Fells is confident that Mike Prince knew about the upcoming Microsoft offer before buying Dave’s shares. And Dave felt betrayed, depressed, and died within a month in a single car accident. WOW.
Was David Fells really the brains of the company? Did Prince really know about the Microsoft offer before he bought Fells’ shares? While we don’t know the answers to these two questions, Mike Prince paying Mrs. Fells and having her sign an NDA is a red flag – good enough forPrince to forget about moving to Copenhagen!
I have to add I wonder what Taylor thinks about the story as well about their boss messing with their new business partner!
Still, for me, the biggest surprise of this episode is the NEW Chuck. No, not because he is slim and clean shaven, but because he is not giving in to his instincts. Chuck decides not to deploy the materials Ira gathered for him to make a case for himself even when he receives another punch in the face in the form of Dean Walker asking for his resignation from Yale Law. He goes along with it, and after that, even though he does not need a big, juicy case anymore, Chuck agrees to go after Plaintif-Full (what a bad, bad word play!) a predatory payday lender Kate brings to his attention, because it is the right thing to do.
I am impressed by Chuck doing the right thing three times in a row (Merle, Dean Walker, Plaintif-Full) but I have to see a few more episodes to believe that our State AG is sticking to Dexter honor code. Because, as Chuck admits to Ira earlier in the episode, the bugs he thought would go away as he grew up, are not bugs. They are him.
What Chuck does not know is that another punch in the face is coming towards him. Fast. Because it was Victor Mateo that brought the news about Plaintif-Full to the media’s attention in the first place – Axe Capital wants the State AG to take care of Plaintif-Full so that they can buy it cheap!
It’s too late to pull the company’s corporate charter, Chuck. And it is not the value, it is the asset. Plaintif-Full, has a BANK CHARTER! I cannot stop laughing. Chuck has just given Axe his bank charter! I cannot stop laughing!
Billions, thanks to its subject matter, typically shows us a world in which assholes do anything for power. And while it is good to be king, I appreciate the show acknowledging a number of alternative life styles and choices.
Jason Isbell: I got to know Isbell and his beautiful music thanks to Brian Koppelman being a great fan of his. I have been to his concerts since – actually one time at Beacon Theater in NYC only a few seats from Mr. Koppelman and his family. And I appreciate that Isbell is not only a great musician but also a politically and socially responsible citizen. And his words in Tanner’s studio when Axe invites him for a private viewing party are my sentiments, too, when Axe’s world is concerned.
“I don’t ever feel comfortable around the financial set, right?”
Rian: It was a funny moment when Rian served mock tuna wraps to Taylor and Lauren at City Winery. It turns out she cannot leave her friends with whom she has been doing the Party Down thing 🙂 I understand Taylor’s concerns and see that the two have come to an agreement but I still believe Taylor cannot own Rian outside work hours. And I certainly do not think filling the void of friendship with work is a healthy choice for anyone. I am curious to see if/how this storyline will unfold.
Tanner: Wendy is right that Tanner has recently been more interested in money and what it can give him – freedom. And he is fooling himself that he beats Axe Capital employees when they pay him $3,200 for a signed doodle! But I think Jason Isbell’s words about not wanting to be anyone’s trick monkey coupled with Tuk’s stupid questions at Axe’s place has made Tanner remember who he is. I think we will see more of him in the next episode Implosion since Implosion is the series of paintings Prince bought from Tanner for his summer home. Till next Sunday!