“From the Trader’s Desk”: I have questions…. Billions S7E9 “Game Theory Optimal”


What you gonna do
Time’s caught up with you
Now you wait your turn
You know there’s no return
Hand of Doom – Black Sabbath


It’s Friday, so it’s time for “From the Trader’s Desk” to dive into Billions S7E9 “Game Theory Optimal.”

This was a great episode that had all the characteristics of what we love about Billions – drama, double crosses, and bold moves. I chose the lyrics from Black Sabbath’s “Hand of Doom” because as a viewer, I felt the impending doom of Wendy, Taylor, and Wags. Time caught up with our brave trio, but they have two aces in the hole that will hopefully help them save the day.

I try to change up the Trader’s Desk every once in a while to make it interesting, so this week my approach is “I have questions…”. I’ll state my question, then discuss what I think may or may not be the answer. Please share what you think in the comments.

Before I get to the Q&A, I thought I would check the score card on our “Our Top 3 Billions Characters We’d Love to See Return” post we did at the beginning of the season. Gingersnap has 1 point for her call on brining Bryan Connerty back, Damianista has 1 point for her desire to see our favorite fixer, Hall return, Holliedazzle is in the lead with 2 points for getting both Bryan and Bonnie right, TheTailThatWagsTheDog also gets a point for a Bryan call back, and in last place is yours truly with a big fat goose egg. We do have 3 episodes left in the season, so there is a chance I could get a point, but it’s not looking good.  Also, hats off to Damianista for the foreshadowing of Scooter finding out where Taylor really was on the “Redemption Tour”. Great call!


Was that a beautiful opening montage?

Billions has always made New York City a supporting character throughout all seven seasons. The homage to all the restaurants that have been featured was a nice touch, with a fitting song, “I’ve Loved These Days” by Billy Joel, playing in the background. I also loved the beautiful shots of Manhattan that were peppered throughout the episode. “The City” is a unique place, and no matter how many times I get to see it in all it’s glory, it will never stop being special.

Did Chuck really just admit he is a criminal?

Why yes, yes he did. While I admire Chuck for putting all his past transgressions on a drive as a way to give trust to Wags and Taylor, I was just happy to hear him admit that he is no better than anyone he has targeted. He’s been cutting corners since he was line prosecutor, so we know that how he operates has less to do with “rich guys bilking the system” like Axe and Prince, and all about his own ego. He is willing to cheat to win for his own benefit. He can soothe his conscience by telling himself it’s for the greater good, but that’s a lie. It’s a good thing he has bent the rules now and then, because I believe him admitting them and giving them to Taylor and Wags was the only way they would agree to bring him on to their team.

Is Kate playing the real long game?

Damianista’s theory that Kate is trying to take down Prince makes sense. We know that she has had big political aspirations since the very first season when she told Bryan she wanted to get to the White House. Prince is in her way, and she’s certainly been in the inner, inner circle at MPC and knows where all the bodies are buried. Her being the one exposing the attempted coup by Wendy, Taylor and Wags undoubtedly makes sure Prince never doubts her loyalty. If she is playing the long game, I will be very interested to see her final moves.

Is taping your employees without their knowledge even legal?

When Scooter quotes Warner Wolf and says “let’s go to the video tape” I’m shocked. MPC has had the place bugged the whole time? He says they didn’t record the trading floor or the bathrooms, but do we put anything past Prince and his paranoia? I did do some research, and in New York State, it is only legal to video tape your business for security purposes and the employer must post a visible notice stating a video surveillance system has been installed for that purpose. Also, NYS is a one-party consent state, which means it is a “criminal offense to obtain, record, share or use electronic, wire or oral communications without at least one party’s consent during that interchange”. Since either Wendy, Taylor or Wags gave consent I do believe that the taping is illegal! I’m hoping Kate knows this and that this ties into the way she is going to take down Prince.

Did Chuck realize that maybe Axe wasn’t that bad after all?

Chuck’s white whale for 5 seasons of Billions was Axe. His desire to catch him at any price made him throw his father and best friend under the bus and cost him his marriage. But I think he now understands that guys like Axe, billionaires who just want to make money and make deals, are nothing compared to a megalomaniac who is willing to push the nuclear button. His perspective has changed so much that now he wants and needs Axe’s help!

How did Rian not know that Mental was owned by Prince?

Out of all the MPC employees, Wendy chose Rian to do the research on Mental. Wendy knows that Rian is thorough and good at what she does. When she gives Wendy the all-clear to work with Mental, she even says she may invest in the company herself. I’m sure she would have done a deep dive into the ownership of the company, and once she found out it was owned by a shell company, would have done the research on who was behind it. She definitely would have done a real deep dive if she was going to pitch it to Prince. Something just doesn’t seem right about her not knowing Prince owned Mental. Is she in cahoots with Prince? Why was it so important to get her tablet back from Prince? Did she need his fingerprints for something? Rian is a wildcard in my opinion, and I just can’t read what’s her deal.

Is Dr. Mayer working for Prince?

When Wendy tells the good Doctor she is thinking about leaving MPC and removing herself from the whole situation, Mayer tells her that her avoidance of the risk may be stopping her from doing what needs to be done. Can Wendy live with seeing Prince on television all the time, knowing what he is? She basically tells Wendy to find a way to keep going. But why? I have questioned the motivation of Mayer from day one. And I did find it curious that when Wendy signed the contract to become the CEO of Mental in front of her, Mayer said, “I will go home tonight knowing that I too have made a small difference”. Did she help Prince set Wendy up? This is what Billions does – makes you question everyone’s motives!

Is Wags the man you want on your team?

The only answer to this is yes. If Michael Wagner is your friend, then you are extremely fortunate. We know how loyal Wags has been to Axe when that dynamic duo worked together. But it has been wonderful to see the fidelity and friendship he and Wendy have this season. From their dinner at Wo Hop, to Wags threatening Chuck’s life and limb if he hurts Wendy, he has been nothing short of the most devoted compadre. Wags can be loud and blusterous, but he is all heart when it comes to his friends.

Has Prince made enough enemies yet?

Mike Prince has burned almost every single person that is close to him this season. He took away Scooter’s dream of conducting the New York Philharmonic, closed down Taylor’s ESG fund, decimated Philip’s mentor, stopped Kate from leaving MPC to focus on her Senate run, abandon his wife’s friend on a Chinese mountain, has whipsawed his traders and made it tremendously difficult for them to grow their returns and book, and last but not least, played Wendy into a CEO job that he controls and took all power and authority from Taylor and Wags. That is quite the enemies list, and that is without adding Chuck and Axe to that list. No wonder he ends up throwing a computer through a wall – making that many enemies is bound to come back to haunt you.

Did Philip really sign a waiver before he spoke to Wendy?

When Wendy tries to protest about Prince video tapping her office because of doctor-patient privilege, Scooter tells her Philip signed a waiver before he spoke to her. Did I detect Scooter giving Philip the “just go along with the plan” look? Philip did seem to hesitate before saying yes. I know he said that he did not want to be a part of Wendy’s plan, but now that he has full control of MPC, and he has time to see what a monster Prince truly is, maybe he will become part of the conspiracy.

Is Prince stupid enough to go to Haddon Hall and confront Axe?

Because Prince knows Taylor was at Axe’s castle, he naturally assumes that Wendy, Taylor, and Wags are working with his enemy. He has no clue that Axe turned them down when they tried to enlist him. Prince is going fly 6 hours just to go kick the hornets nest. He is going to wake the sleeping giant for no reason. For someone who thinks they are the smartest person in the room, he really does make some foolish decisions.

The final three episodes are going to be a wild ride. With titles like “Enemies List”, “Axe Global” and “Admirals Fund” I think we are going to see some of the most Billionsy episodes ever.

Author: Lady Trader

"Lady Trader" is a Brooklyn girl, and a Wall Street lifer! Recently fought cancer, and won! I love heavy metal, history, sci-fi, oh, and blogging about Billions and it's great lead actor, Damian Lewis!

One thought on ““From the Trader’s Desk”: I have questions…. Billions S7E9 “Game Theory Optimal””

  1. LOVE the way you change the format of Trader’s Desk and keep things interesting. And it’s my pleasure to play along.

    1. Was that a beautiful opening montage?

    I really think it is impossible to beat the visuals of NYC skyline at night. Simply stunning.

    2. Did Chuck really just admit he is a criminal?

    Is there anyone who is not a criminal on Billions? 🙂 That should be one long recording given that Chuck started to bend the rules when he was a line prosecutor!

    3. Is Kate playing the real long game?

    In Kate, I trust. And I always think that it’s about what we don’t see in Billions, not about what we see. After watching Episode 10, I think Kate may have planted Amanda int he Southern District and she can be the go between for Chuck and Kate as they coordinate across alliances. Kate will win Congress by taking down Prince and becoming a public hero!

    4. Is taping your employees without their knowledge even legal?

    I’m with you. It should be illegal. And I’m also with you that I’m sure they’ve also bugged the johns! Disgusting.

    5. Did Chuck realize that maybe Axe wasn’t that bad after all?

    Chuck makes the exact same comment I have made a few episodes earlier when he compares Prince with other billionaires he chased – read “Axe” 🙂

    “Others of his general stature bilk society while padding their own pockets but not a one of them I have personally chased had the desire or capability to get to where his hand is on the nuclear button…”

    6. How did Rian not know that Mental was owned by Prince?

    I think Prince bought the controlling shares just after Kate, Scooter and Bradford told him about Wendy, Wags and Taylor. And, yes, those fingerprints will come handy somehow!

    7. Is Dr. Mayer working for Prince?

    It is fishy that she drops everyone to take on Wendy as a patient. She may be reporting to Princ but via Scooter so tat Scooter picks and chooses what to tell Prince. Since I believe Scooter will also be in the alliance to take down Prince, I think he’s been sort of finding out about Wendy’s operation Take Down Prince via Dr. Mayer. If Dr. Mayer had been reporting directly to Prince, he would have confronted Wendy and others earlier in my opinion.

    8. Is Wags the man you want on your team?

    YES. He’s a ride-or-die!

    9. Has Prince made enough enemies yet?

    A few more needed. I always go to Murder on the Orient Express reference Wendy made earlier. It should be 12 people who have been hurt directly or indirectly by the victim.

    10. Did Philip really sign a waiver before he spoke to Wendy?

    I’m with you. Philip just said yes because of the way Scooter looked and talked at him. He’s not a fan of Prince especially after how Prince has messed with Philip’s professor.

    11. Is Prince stupid enough to go to Haddon Hall and confront Axe?

    EXACTLY like you say – 6 hours flight just to wake up the enemy!!!!!

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