Last week we left our discussion of Bobby Axelrod curious about the distance he would go to protect what he has… which brings me to his better half Lara and Team Axelrod! In an earlier post about Team Axelrod, one question I had was whether Lara was involved in the business, and, in fact, how much she knew about what’s going on. So, If we drop a few familiar names for convenience, the question is whether Lara is some kind of a Carmela Soprano (knows and looks the other way), Skyler White (she doesn’t want to know first but then is buried up to her neck) or Claire Underwood (an equal partner from day one).
I am happy to report that, in a nice YouTube interview, Malin Akerman gives a few hints about Lara that, in fact, answer my question: “Great character… Strong female character… just what I was attracted to… You know, it’s, instead of standing behind your man, standing beside your man in this show…” So, yes, even though we don’t know the extent to which she is involved we know that Lara is INVOLVED in business. You can see Malin Akerman’s interview about Billions in its entirety here.
This revelation about Lara being involved in business makes one scene in the trailer all the more intriguing: It’s the scene where Lara openly threatens Melissa Errico’s character June, who is, according to Broadwayworld.com “a widow with a connection to the brilliant, ambitious hedge fund king Bobby Axelrod.” Lara’s threat here goes back to the very “street rules” the Axelrods still operate on and this makes me think June and her deceased husband could be a part of their “extended family” 😀
Lara says: “In Inwood growing up, if someone has a problem with you … And they take that beef public, the ground just falls out from beneath them.”
Given that June is a widow, is this somehow related to her husband’s death? Could he be some guy that failed to stick to the moral code, and so he was, in Damian Lewis’ words “ruthlessly dispatched?” Who knows?
It seems to me Lara is not just standing beside her man, she is doing more than that… This brief scene is pretty telling about the distance Lara would go to keep what the two of them have built together. I wonder though… does Bobby know his wife is going around threatening people?
Bobby, as I mentioned earlier, seems to be a man of two worlds, somehow stuck between his blue-collar past and one percent present, with one world dominating at times with some inevitable collisions of the two worlds at other times… And, as I read between the lines in the full-length trailer, I see some distinct elements about Bobby’s sense of himself and his two worlds…
First… We see Bobby and Lara having pizza at a neighborhood place, maybe in their old neighborhood (FYI that scene was filmed at Rosa’s Pizza on Metro in Queens and again FYI Yelp reviews are good, so go have a Sicilian slice if you are in the area!) and even maybe it’s the place they had their first date… OMG my imagination just runs wild… I can write a novel called Axelrods: The Early Years just right now and right here!
Now… Pizza is serious business in New York and hats off to Damian for eating his NY slice so authentically! JaniaJania approves and says “ya gotta fold it to keep the grease from dripping and envelope that cheesy goodness right into your gaping mouth, amiright or amiright?” — you are damn right, partner!
Now… as he’s folding his pizza the right way, what else do you see? Yes, he’s so cute but what else? I see Bobby as the young boy he used to be, the young boy who is missing on things because his family doesn’t have the means but can’t wait to grow up and catch up with life!
Then we see him at an upscale restaurant… He is probably drinking some Chateau Margaux with dinner… At least it’s a Bordeaux bottle standing next to him… And I say, well, little Bobby grew up and certainly caught up with sweet pleasures of life!
Now though… look at the screencap in which Bobby sits at this upscale NY restaurant — what do you see that makes Bobby different from all other guys sitting with him or in the background? Yep… His clothes… All the gentlemen in the background as well as the men sitting on Bobby’s left and right (we only see their sleeves) have jackets where as Bobby is in pretty casual clothes… yeah not even NYC business casual! Now… My lovely Lady Trader had already hinted me about many hedge funds having relaxed dress codes today so I had buried my dreams over Armani suits for Bobby… And when we take a look at Axe Capital, we see a number of guys in suits as well as others in casual clothing…
However, I am seeing this now less of a hedge fund dress code and more of a statement Bobby is making about his background: I can even hear his inner talk… I MADE IT AND I CAN MAKE MY OWN DRESS CODE, TOO. Moreover, he’s carrying a Celtic Cross around his neck — all of which, Damian revealed at the TCA 2015 Billions panel, helped him to get into the character.
Now… In case you are not familiar with the Celtic Cross… It is a symbol used today in many contexts — religious and secular. So, we can only speculate about Bobby’s Celtic Cross… It could be a symbol of his faith… maybe a symbol of his Irish roots… Hmm… Axelrod is a Jewish name… Maybe Bobby has an Irish mother and a Jewish father… it’s not uncommon in New York… Or it could be just a constant reminder of where he started in life and the long, long way he came… Or all of the above…
One final point I want to highlight is that even though Billions, as the executive producers kept saying at the TCA panel, does not have a mission of “moralizing Wall Street” in any way, it still seems to address the “class problem” in a new and distinct light. For starters, it’s such a clever twist to have the billionaire guy coming from a modest background while I believe the U.S attorney — OK the Rhoades family has modest means in comparison to the Axelrods but they seem to be doing really OK in Park Slope — may have a more privileged background and possibly a TOP law school degree. Yale comes to mind first maybe because Paul Giamatti himself is a Yale graduate and his dad was a former Yale President 🙂
From the very beginning, living in the golden-age of TV filled with incredibly flawed characters, the so-called “anti-heroes” that feel so real that we identify with them and fall in love with them, I have been expecting Bobby Axelrod to not just be this brilliant hedge-fund manager but has some certain edge that, with Damian Lewis’ magic touch, would keep teasing us, confusing us and enticing us… And Damian’s BEST line at the TCA Billions panel has confirmed THAT when asked about if his character is a good guy or a bad guy!
“Stay more open-minded, dude!”
As my brilliant partner JaniaJania has pointed out in her utterly brilliant tweet which I have declared the BEST Damian Lewis tweet this year so far…
As we can’t wait for Billions and keep making BUZZ and have fun with it, there is a couple of ways to have even more FUN!
Last, but absolutely not the least there is a GREAT Billions fan group that you should join and chat about the show on Facebook and follow them @Billions_F on Twitter!
Let’s make it BIG for Billions together!