Billions on Showtime, Episode 6: The Deal

The King is back. He loves what he does. He, in fact, lives and breathes what he does. Real or not, he tries his hand a bit in having the good life  — collecting fresh eggs in the morning, quality time with wife and kids, prospect of getting on his new boat and sailing to Galapagos… And maybe, just maybe, there is really a moment where he thinks there could be another life he could be living.

But the fact is Axe Capital is where the good life is for Axe.

Source: Showtime
Source: Showtime

Maybe not the perfect life as the smug on his face is gone the moment he comes eye to eye with the Windbreakers raiding Axe Capital to get to “Dollar” Bill…  But it must be something about the game that he just cannot give up… Axe advises Danzig after his “deer shooting” spree: “What drives you does not understand enough.” It’s obvious what drives Axe does not understand enough, either. Is it the adrenaline? Is it the sweet feeling of winning? What drives Axe?

Damian Lewis tells NPR’s Marketplace that the hedgefund guys are “taking risks that others aren’t prepared to take…And in many ways they are (underdogs) because they’re betting against the market and they’re in the minority. But I think what was interesting mostly is that even though it’s a nice metaphor to think of Wall Street as just a big casino where the odds are set by the house and the house is Wall Street.” He also points out, in a Billions promo, that the hedgies he met to prepare for the role are a particular psychological type. They think “I think I’m right, nobody else has seen it, and I will back myself up to do this.” This is not necessarily a pathological type, but some particular type that is driven by risk-taking, adrenaline flowing and winning. Always winning. He LOVES it, and will not allow Chuck Rhoades “just walk around, using rumor and hearsay and destroy lives and businesses.”

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Hear the war drums!

Si vis pacem, para bellum. If you want peace, prepare for war. Those Romans were damn smart.

Episode 6 The Deal starts in a spa pool of all places with Hall courting Wendy there to meet Axe. Naked.

spatub

Axe: “It’s been a weird couple of days.” We’re going back 72 hours in time.

At General Chuck’s Headquarters:

War drums are rolling in General Chuck’s headquarters — Bryan can insert a General Tso’s chicken joke here! It is good to see Dollar Bill is not tied to a rack and being stretched until he sells out Axe. Still, Chuck and Bryan are grilling him with Orrin Bach, Mr. 1K an hour, sitting in as Bill’s lawyer. Axe is not taking any risks. Bill is taking no deal. Moreover, Bach advises their case does not have merit. Bill has made good friends with a farmer, and been moved by his sick child that he helped with transportation and medical care for her. No jury of citizens would think of this as constituting an illegal benefit. Bach’s argument seems compelling to Chuck that he is all over his team to get Dollar Bill. And he assures Bryan this will not end in a fine and a family office. Axe is no Steven Birch. Chuck vows to beat the 14 years Skilling got for Enron.

source: Showtime

Bill’s weak point is owning two identical minivans: “Nobody has two minivans.” Team Chuck is ready to twist a knife in this: Bill has a second family! Chuck and Bryan have a hard time containing themselves as they tell Bill about their big discovery, but the guy does just press the “send” button to share the email he prepared a day before with his wife: The whole story about his second life. Chuck is amazed that Bill is blowing up his family for Axe. Yes, Bill may be Keyser Soze – a great shout out to The Usual Suspects – arguably the best villain ever. And, Sandy, his wife, along with the email, receives a basket of muffins along with enough cash from Lara to cover their mortgage, property tax, insurance, and school tuition.

imageedit_51_3887878939Bryan’s disgust for Axe is quite amazing. The way he calls him a “filthy money pig” sounds way personal to me and even makes Orrin Bach remind him: “You know you just work here, right?” I just have got this impulsive hunch — which is probably wrong — that Bryan may have something personal against Axe. Or, he just hates rich people. Except for one certain trust fund baby 🙂

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Things do not go as planned for Chuck. It’s not just the frustration with Bill, but also Adam from Attorney General’s office says the “the maestro” is not very happy with Chuck’s involvement in this case. Adam pushes  “conflict of interest” as a problem; however, the real reason seems to be that it’s election year and, hey, the administration needs Wall Street money for the campaign. Politics. Finance. Law. Going hand in hand in the United States of America.

Home front is not much different, either. It’s not just Wendy asking Chuck to recuse himself from the case but it’s also his dad — who celebrates the good news Garth Sykes is now dumping Axe Capital for Vista Verde crowning Ken Malverle as the Highlander —  pushing him to have a plea deal with Axe rather than a conviction which could take years. I am telling you. That gubernatorial campaign will happen in Chuck Sr’s lifetime 🙂

At King Axe’s Headquarters:

The King, standing on a file cabinet is giving a history lecture. Bill’s arrest is Axe Capital’s Pearl Harbor and Chuck will regret what he has done. The king is determined to “mobilize the war machine.  “And those that are trying to bring down our house… will see their houses fall.” And he tells Wags to liquidate 2% of the fund to make their war chest!

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Things do not go as planned for Axe, either. Both Wags and his lawyer are slowly but surely embracing the idea of turning Axe Capital into a “killer” family office. Wags says it’s no problem downsizing the staff, he cannot stand half of them anyway. But Axe does not want to be another rich dick playing the market with his own money even if, in Wags’ words, he will be the biggest dick.  He is not taking his lawyer’s advise, either. He does not want the best deal Bach could put together for him. He will not give a win to the guy who cannot even take him to trial. What Axe needs right now is some public endorsement. If only one of the big guys, say Lawrence Boyd of Spartan-Ivers, who would never bet on a bad stock, has him at a game or at his box at Barclays Center. Wags sends Boyd a bottle of Chateau Latour ’61 and picks up his dinner courtesy of Bobby Axelrod. Axe will get into the healing waters of Lourdes at Barclays Center.

source: Showtime
trol source: Showtime

Wendy also openly tells Axe: “Open war is not good.” He is sarcastic with her: “For who?” “For noone.” Wendy obviously sees Axe more like a wounded animal on that file cabinet than a real king ordering his troops to live free or die… And she once again reminds me of Thomas Cromwell, in particular the first ever conversation he and Henry have in Wolf Hall.

source: BBC
source: BBC

Henry: “You said, in  Parliament, in a speech, some six years ago, that I could not afford a war.”

Cromwell: “Wars are not affordable things.”

Henry: “When I went into France, I captured the town of Therouanne which you called…”

Cromwell: “A dog hole, majesty?”

Henry: “How could you say so?”

Cromwell: “I’ve been there…”

Henry: “So have I, at the head of an army! You told me I could not lead my own troops. You told me if I was taken prisoner, the ransom would bankrupt the country. So what do you want? You want a king to huddle indoors like a sick girl?”

Cromwell: “That would be ideal, for fiscal purposes.”

I have said it before and will say it again. Wendy is a modern day Cromwell! And she will find a way to have these guys kiss and make up one way or the other… if only Axe lets her…

source: Showtime

The king is restless. He cannot meditate. He risks a blow on his Achilles as he is blowing steam on Jacob’s Ladder and getting paranoid about Wendy. His entering into her office without a knock to ask about why she did take 250K out of the fund (remember Wendy investing 250K with Saldana after her move to Zenobia Capital?) is way out of line. Knowing THIS will get only worse before it gets better, Wendy needs to take things into her own hands!

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Wendy, still pissed off with Chuck for having Bill arrested in her absence, is still ready to open “the book on Axe” to her husband. She tells him Axe needs to at least have a small win in every endeavor, every exchange. And if he can’t get THAT, he plays a different game, a game whose rules are unknown. He may get out of it with a loss but makes the other side suffer even more: “Axe comes from nothing. So he unconsciously fears, no, he may even expect, that he’ll have nothing again.”

Ha! This is typical new money, isn’t it? I wrote about this in my first Bobby Axelrod sketch; and it seems apt to revisit: Old money has been there for generations, and because they have been able to keep the wealth in the family for generations, they feel secure and confident about their status in the society even though there is always a possibility that they lose it all. Even when they lose the money, it takes time for them to lose status. Status is sticky! NEW MONEY, on the contrary, is always on the fence about losing. Because they know how hard it is to climb the socioeconomic ladder, they can do whatever it takes to protect what they have. NEW MONEY is anxious, NEW MONEY can be ruthless, and Bobby is exactly THAT. He can get completely merciless when wounded — an “Axe” in every meaning of the word!

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Chuck does not seem eager to play with THAT Axe. He feels he may just go ahead with a plea deal rather than hope for “12 random crazy people” to decide his way. It’s Bryan’s turn to get pissed now. He just needs a bit of time to make this a guillotine for Axe. Chuck was talking about the rack for Bill and now Bryan is talking about the guillotine for Axe. What is wrong with you, people? 🙂

Home front is not different for Axe, either. Lara is a card carrying member of Team Peace!

imageedit_49_8512087408Lara does not give a shit about Chuck Rhoades (she’d better do). Her reasoning is simple. Their status depends on what they have which is always the case with new money. And Axelrods, even before anything has really happened, seem to be in trouble already with their status… well at least,  in kids’ birthday parties! Dean and Gordie got uninvited to Bancroft twins’ party. What the fuck? Who does THAT to kids? Besides, I believe Bancrofts are acting a bit too fast on information, and it may (read “will”) come back and haunt them in the near future. We all know Axe NEVER forgets. Remember 16!

It seems Chuck is right when he tells Axe “they may be cheering now, but they are dying to boo.” Axe finds no miracle in the healing waters of Barclays other than a room of 20 year old “dipshits.” It is mailroom night. This major blow makes Axe reconsider “getting on bended knee and pledge fealty to the king.” And not being able to get into the healing waters of Lourdes, he tries his chances with the healing powers of Dr. Mojo…  which brings us back to the spa pool where Axe tells Wendy they are sitting there like that (read “naked”) so no one but the two of them is listening.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Now the creepy part: Before he meets with Wendy Axe has a conversation with Hall about ways to compromise Chuck. The easiest way is use the conflict of interest against him. They can show Wendy as being involved in fraud or as having an affair with Bill, or even with Axe. What the fuck? Axe does not say no. He just says he’ll let Hall know. So we have no idea if Hall was there taking pictures in the spa pool as Wendy is telling Axe why she is staying at Axe Capital. She put him back together after 9/11 and she feels she has built the company as much as he did. She has found meaning in it. She still does. And, as Axe is smiling at Wendy, and telling her that he is going to make a deal, I am just thinking: Is this genuine, or is he posing for pictures? Can you imagine these pictures as Breaking News? OMG.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime
source: Showtime
source: Showtime

I am just hoping Billions has just thrown us another curveball and no picture from this meeting will ever see the day of light!

Axe and Chuck are in the same room for the first time since their “Fuck You Money” conversation at Delivering Alpha conference. In an interview with Elle Magazine, Billions costume designer Eric Daman says “when Axe does wear a suit, it’s like a punch to the face.” Not just to the face, I’d say. To the stomach, too. SIGH. Axe is looking terrific in his Cifonelli pinstripe.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

And he has the check ready: Biggest “insider fee” to be ever paid. He will turn Axe Capital into a family office and Axe Capital will plead guilty for conspiracy.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

As Axe and Wags chat about the fine not being a shark bite, not being a bee sting, not even a horsefly, and maybe a red ant that cannot ruin the picnic, Chuck brings out his game theory playbook: We see another perfect textbook “signaling game.” Axe is a man that has constantly said he would never settle. He should not agree to settle to signal he has nothing to hide. So, if Axe says he is not settling, he signals he is innocent, but if he settles he signals he is guilty. This is not cheap talk at all. Axe taints his public image by agreeing to settle. So, no family office for Axe. He will not be able to manage even his own money. Chuck does this deliberately knowing Axe will not agree to it and he can now tell others he tried a plea deal but it did not work out. Chuck is determined to take the case further and put Axe in a cell. Why Axe? Nobody knows. What we know though is that whatever drives Chuck does not understand enough, either.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Last straw for Axe. Here’s to the paper wars!

Hearing the War Drums.

Axe is in that room “to do the right thing for all.” Leaving that room, he probably does not feel like someone else anymore. He seems to FEEL IT again as he drives his Rolls Royce (Bentley) convertible like crazy on Henry Hudson Parkway to home in Connecticut. He may seemingly have lost this one battle, but he is there to win the war. And as Wendy points out to Chuck earlier, he’s most likely ahead of Chuck. He will play his OWN game with unknown rules.

imageedit_1_8777188125

Chuck, for the good of his marriage, recuses himself from the case and has some good sex with his wife. Then he walks the dog and secretly meets Bryan who is now running the case! Chuck is “out of the game” exactly like Axe was out in Episode 5 The Good Life. Bottomline: This isn’t France. It’s America. Nobody quits while they are at the top. As Metallica sings “Master of Puppets” Chuck seems to be ready to pull the strings behind the scenes.

Billion Dollar Question: Will Bryan obey his master?

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!

72 thoughts on “Billions on Showtime, Episode 6: The Deal”

  1. LOVE this recap! You hit all the marks and provided such excellent links to all the references that anyone watching closely would be compelled to look up (eg ME!) eg Water at Lourdes!
    Perfect choice of music to end this episode. Felt so much like a season finale. Loved it and loved your recap of it!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, partner! I LOVE thinking and writing about Billions in the wee hours – this show has one of the smartest, if not the smartest, writing I have ever seen in my life that I am just so fascinated by the twists and turns and the curveballs it has constantly been throwing at us 🙂 And, I am having so much fun as I look up new stuff such as Waters of Lourdes. I agree the end of the episode was perfect with Metallica singing Master of Puppets and Chuck planning how to pull the strings behind the scenes. I don’t think it will be as easy as he thinks it will. I can’t believe we are done with the first half of the season. I just cannot get enough of this show and his characters.

      1. I love love Billions! Damian Lewis has immortalised his role.
        So many amazing actors. Taylor is an amazing character.
        This is one of the greatest TV series i have ever seen.
        Truly amazing! A cast of stars.
        Damian Lewis must be one of the greatest actors of his generation.

        1. He certainly is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, actors of his generation. Each and every character Damian brings to life is different from each other — have you seen him in Homeland?

  2. The pool scene is definitely for adulterous pictures. Poor Wendy. Am I the only one who thought Axe was trying to get Wendy to say she was staying for him??? I am glad Wendy is thinking about herself.

    1. That’s what I think they are for, too, but I just hope the show is throwing us a curveball again and Axe will not let Hall make them public in case there are any pics. It is, in fact, Wendy, that wants to have an in-person meeting with him first. She is doing some shuttle diplomacy between the two to make the deal happen and Axe arranges a private meeting through Hall. He says it’s hard to trust anything or anybody anymore and wants to understand why she is still hanging around. With Hall present, anything can happen. That guy is ruthless and anything to make law enforcement get off Axe’s tail is fair play in Hall’s book!

        1. So you are sure the pics will be released? I am not that sure. Even though Axe might give a nod to Hall for taking pictures in case they need an emergency plan for later, he genuinely likes Wendy and besides, he’s a very loyal guy – to his family, friends, co-workers, etc. On the other hand, he may get ruthless if there is no other way out. So I am on the fence about what could happen and this makes the show even more intriguing and exciting. Anticipation is half the fun IMHO! I just cannot get enough of this show and am looking forward to the second half of the season!

          By the way, Denise, thanks for visiting and reading us and hope you keep the feedback coming! The more the merrier!

          1. Thanks:) for having me!!!
            Yes I think the photos are coming out. I don’t think he will release them on news but I think Chuck will see them. Also last episode Axe lied to Wendy, Wags and Lara. He is Citizen Kane a cipher where everyone is life knows a piece or part of the puzzle. If you don’t fully know someone then you don’t know what they will do. I do think he cares for Wendy but he also cares for Lara and purposely let her think they were leaving the country when it was a ploy for a stock trade.

          2. Fans and readers like you make us keep going so thank YOU!

            Oh yes he does not need to have them published, the blackmail should be enough to get the ball rolling. It would be a very low blow. Let’s see what happens. I think Axe has not shared the info about Constantine with anyone since this is his agreement. He would not tell Wendy due to conflict of interest. I think he lied to Lara to protect her. But yeah I am totally with you about Citizen Kane. The reference is very apt!

      1. Yes, I didn’t even think of the pictures angle until you mentioned it.

        If Hall is going to do something like that, I have a feeling it’ll be without Axe’s explicit consent. Or not, can never be too sure with such great performances!! Damian’s performance is clouding up the entire thing; never lets us be sure of Axe’s motives. He never gives us everything at once. If there were a “Most Able to Keep the Audience Guessing” Award, DL would go home with it every time.

        1. Exactly. Even the one person who seems to know Axe – Wendy that is – explicitly tells Chuck – nobody really knows Axe, and of course Damian just does what he does very well and keeps us guessing and guessing and I think THAT IS the beauty of it all. Isn’t it? Speculation ROCKS until we find out. My hunch would be Hall would do whatever it takes to keep law enforcement get off Axe’s tail. He may try to use other ways upon Axe’s request until there is no other way out and if it finally comes to that we may see that Axe giving the green light to the lowest blow — or not. I just can’t get enough of this show!

  3. I thought that was a dream sequence when they first showed a the beginning of the pool scene then said “72 hours earlier”. Why on earth would Wendy get nude in a pool with Bobby her employer??? If he doesn’t trust her what is she doing working there? Or just have a woman frisk her. This scene was absurd. This was not believable at all.
    She’s too smart not to know she could be framed with this. Very weird.
    But Damian was very good as usual. Very intense. Can’t remember him in any role this intense. Very on the edge character. Like people who do dangerous sports for the thrill that others can’t understand.
    Does it classify as an addiction to adrenaline? Are they a bit insane? Their ego is their Achilles heel?
    When Bobby complains that everyone does it, he just does it better – I thought of Lance Armstrong.

    Ann
    NYC

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Ann!

      Lance Armstrong is a great analogy. Axe did not need to do the insider trading he did in the last episode. it’s just that whatever drives him does not know enough, either. Yes, his ego seems to be his Achilles heel. As I point out in my recap, I don’t know what drives these people. But adrenaline could be one reason. And winning may push you to push yourself even further to win more. Even when you don’t need anything else anymore. Just for the fun of it.

      I, in fact, find the pool scene quite believable. Wendy is dying to arrange that deal between the two and tells Axe’s secretary she needs to see him. Axe does not trust anyone anymore and Wendy is on top of that list because of her conflict of interest and she knows THAT. So, when Axe communicates to her his conditions for a meeting – nude in a pool – through Hall, she accepts THAT. That basically shows me HOW MUCH she wants to have that deal happen between Chuck and Axe so that she does not need to be stuck in the middle of them anymore. And it also shows Axe how much she really wants the deal to happen as well. Besides, I think she still believes Axe — after all, it is Wendy who put him back together after 9/11 and as Chuck says she may be one person that really knows Axe. She, at least, may trust her instincts about what could happen.

      Thanks for visiting and reading!

      1. I know Showtime likes any or no reason to make actors drop trou, and call me slow, but why did Bobby want Wendy nekkid in the pool? All reasons.

          1. I’m stubborn. He should have made her go completely underwater. Her updo could have a mic in it.
            I pick at believability sometimes but it’s just a show.
            They could have gone in a bug swept soundproof room in paper clothes but how much fun would that be?
            I thought of Shakespeare’s Henry V when Bobby jumped on the counter and gave his declaration of war – Once more unto the breach….!!!
            I loved his confession afterwards that he was actually shaking in his boots.
            Bobby & his sidekick should have known better than to act cocky in front of Chuck. Chuck just had to have the last word and then banned him from trading of any kind.
            Chuck is ultra-sensitive to disrespect.

          2. You have all the rights to be stubborn! And you are talking to someone that is the antithesis of stubborn. I am open to all ideas and opinions since different points of view make this much more fun! Ha! Henry V is great analogy. You are right that Chuck is ultra sensitive to disrespect but I still think Chuck would have done that no matter what once Axe said OK to settlement and company pleading guilty for conspiracy. Both were in the room just because they were forced to a deal by everyone around them. I think they both leave the room happily

      2. I think adrenaline and very risky situations are very addictive for some people, like Axe. Many soldiers say war is horrible but when they go back to civilian life they miss combat and their comrades terribly.
        They feel fully alive and laser focused when under fire. And the adrenaline is part of that. Like a drug.
        Running a hedge fund with the constant threat of making a mistake and keeping so many plates spinning is like being in battle. Trusting your traders not to screw up. Everyone has each other’s back.
        It’s sad they make all this money but don’t fully take the time to enjoy it.

        1. Decker’s description of Axe in Episode 5 was close — how he is like a nation state complete with his army and fleet ready to turn left or right with him! It’s also similar to gambling since you most of the time bet against the market and gambling is also about adrenaline flowing in your veins. If you are a billionaire, I don’t think it could be about the money anymore… And the community seems tight if the relationships between hedgies in the show is as authentic as in real life. And do I want that life? Hell no! 🙂

      1. I agree with you that Showtime does naked scenes just because they CAN DO IT as a premium channel; Damian was talking about this in the context of Homeland a few years ago! But I love the backstory to this particular scene.

        1. Yes These two have chemistry and that was the reason. There are other ways to check for listening devices. Also so we could see Axe totally check Wendy.

          1. I am not Jewish but for a second I thought Wendy was walking into a mikvah (the ritual pool for women). And I also thought it was a dream sequence. Hall following her?
            Anyway she was indulging Bobby’s extreme state. And maybe she didn’t mind checkin’ him out also. She’s pretty attracted to her husband’s power, though. He was feelin’ frisky after his machinations.

          2. It seems Wendy is attracted to power, huh? But then again who is not? 😀 I admit though I am not envious of these lives. Not a bit!

        2. Talk about “open kimono”.

          (Business term for opening the books for inspection or not hiding anything. Although I’m reading some think it’s a sexist and racist term and should be dropped from the vernacular).

          1. Hahaha. This is a GOOD ONE! Open Kimono indeed! Both men and women wear kimonos so I don’t understand the sexism there but it may be racist. I sometimes can’t figure out what’s politically correct and what’s not, I have to admit.

          2. I had never heard that term but I was watching “Too Big to Fail” the HBO film about the 2008 market crash and one character says “[Somebody] says it’s open kimono”. And the other guy shuddered and said “That’s an awful image”.
            It was funny. I love Michael O’Keefe. He was one of the characters.
            They have their lingo in business like any other field. I think Jamie Dimon of Chase was quoted saying that during the scrambling to keep the banks from failing.
            I don’t understand finance much but I’ve been around business in NYC and DC for years and some of it seeps in.
            Giuliani had worked at a big law firm I worked at before he became Attorney General. He went after the mafia. He had left by the time I started there but they really had tight security to get in the bldg.
            People angry at the firm would actually picket outside sometimes.

          3. I genuinely thought you were somehow in the business – you know the lingo very well! Then you seem to on the legal side of things!

  4. Great recap! I just finished watching the episode and I loved it! As I posted previously, “Master of Puppets” is a perfect song for Bobby! Who is the master now? Bobby or his need/obsession to win? Again, the song is about drug addiction, but it can be about any addiction.

    I was literally yelling at my iPad “Don’t settle! Don’t settle!”. But then, good old Chuck just had to push one inch too far! He was trying to take Bobby’s oxygen! What a putz! He is just so insecure. I think by now you know I don’t like him!!

    I also got the Cromwell vibe from Wendy. And I know you don’t think Bobby would turn on her (use pictures from the meeting in the pool). But, Henry needed Cromwell, until he didn’t, and then he was sent to the block on Tower Hill!

    Question: if Wendy is Cromwell, is Lara Anne Boleyn? And if so, well, we all know her fate!

    1. You love my recaps and I love your reactions! My dear friend, I would not believe you if you told me you liked Chuck – it’s against the nature 😀 I love the way you interpret the Cromwell story. You are completely right. I am on the fence about Axe. I don’t know if he would use Wendy for his interests or not. I probably want him to turn out to be the good guy on the matter but something inside me – as I have also written in the recap – tells me Axe can turn really REALLY ruthless if need be. And he has Hall to do the dirty work anyway. Do you think Chuck did it impulsively? I thought he was forced into that room and knowing that “agreeing to settle” means guilty Axe he wanted to go further with the case and prosecute anyway. But Axe and Wags talking about bees and red ants have made it easier for him 🙂 Oh my – is Lara Ann Boleyn? Maybe. But you know if Ann Boleyn had given Henry two boys, she would have stayed as queen probably all her life. Nature has helped Lara! So she stays with her head intact. Hehe.
      And it’s so interesting about Master of Puppets. Love your interpretation. I thought more of Chuck – he was trying to be the master of puppets *Bryan and co) in my mind but you are right the song also accompanied Axe as he drove on Henry Hudson… so yeah any addiction counts!

    2. Yep, it was all about Chuck not leaving well enough alone. Not being able to keep from gloating and pushing things too far. And we know from previews, that Wendy WILL find out exactly what happened in The Deal.

      Chuck’s father and the way he takes these little jabs at his son’s confidence have done a number on Chuck for sure. Great father son dynamic between those two.

      Lara as Anne? Mother of Elizabeth. This idea requires further exploration. I too see Wendy as Cromwell-ian, but, luckily, Axe is no Henry. 😀 (or at least I like to think he’s not….)

      1. When I watch Billions I now know that i am just one of millions loving every minute of every episode.
        All my girl friends are in love with Axe. would leave home for him in a heart beat.
        What does Wendy see in Chuck?

        1. Hope no one is leaving home for Axe – he’s taken 😀

          I think Bobby and Wendy are two completely different people. They have a special connection, but their relationship seems to have never been sexual. And I love it that the show is able to make this relationship personal and professional, friendly and flirty, sincere and strategic at the same time.

          Chuck may not have the looks Axe has, but he is a very high level public servant that may have a future in politics. And, besides, until he started chasing Axe, I believe he has always been open and honest with his wife. Their marriage has been damaged because Wendy was in the middle of the boys’ pissing contest.

          Thanks so much Veronica for your notes, keep your feedback coming!

  5. Need a recap of Giametti’s father’s story about his friend as a kid and the Dalton school. What was the reason for this story? Love this show. Spectacular acting, superlative writing, a psychological stunner. Best show on TV.

    1. Hi Katie! Thanks for visiting and reading us! I completely agree about the show – it’s one of the smartest writing, if not the smartest, I have seen in quite a while. Plus the super talented cast and we’re in heaven! Regarding Chuck Sr: I love that guy – a big ball of filth! 😀 So there was another child that was competing with Chuck on the field (baseball?) when they were kids and he leaves the field thinking Chuck is his best friend where as Chuck’s dad prevents him from getting into Dalton (maybe you know it already but it’s an elite prep school in NYC). Just because he was better than his kid or something. Amazing. I think he was trying to imply that he always had his son’s back – like he did in Short Squeeze! Please keep the feedback coming – the more the merrier here!

      1. Chuck’s father is a great source of comic relief.

        We hear about the type of person who does what Axe does but what about Chuck? What drives a person to be so passionate about bringing people to justice for insider trading? Backbreaking work with not much financial reward, not glamorous, not much glory or credit. A stepping stone to higher office?

        1. Chuck Sr cracks me up every time he appears on the screen!

          There was a conversation with Paul Giamatti about this and it turns out he prepped talking to people in US attorney’s office. You know these people work for relatively lower salaries compared to lawyers in big law firms, etc. Like Orrin Bach in Billions is 1K an hour where as the AUSA Connerty cannot rent a decent apartment in NY without a guarantor. Giamatti was explaining that the people in the US attorney’s office love the power side of it and especially the higher ups in the office aspire for even higher offices. Rudy Giuliani was a US attorney of the Southern District, for instance. Or Eliot Spitzer was the AG of New York and became the governor. So I am with you that it is a stepping stone to higher office, and in Chuck’s case, it is definitely so!

    2. That was a great line and the biggest reason Chuck could not leave well enough alone in the meeting.
      Chuck’s father saw Chuck being bullied and beat in some sport as a kid. Chuck did the right thing (and mature thing) and made friends with the guy who was bullying him and the kids resolved the issue between themselves (something you LOVE to see happen as a parent). But his father wouldn’t have it, and pulled strings to kept the bullying kid out of Dalton. Him reminding his son of that was his twisted way of showing his son that he’ll always be on his side….but it was also a reminder to Chuck Jr. that whatever he did was never good enough. Then, in the meeting, when it is nearly done, the check was nearly in his hand, Chuck pushed it….wanting to do more….and, ta-da, no deal afterall.

      1. I, in fact, believe that the phone talk with Chuck Sr made Chuck decide to derail the deal! We all know about his daddy issues and now he sees that Chuck Sr again is sort of backing him up with his “convictions take years, go make a deal” blurb. So he goes and makes one offer that Wendy earlier told him that Axe would never accept. I think he made that decision long before Axe and Wags started joking about how they could make 1.9 million I really think Axe was there genuinely to make the deal and Chuck was there genuinely to derail the deal. He will go against his dad and prosecute!

        1. I don’t think that Chuck walked into the deal with the knowledge that it would fail. He did what he did, kept pushing Axe, despite his better instincts. He did what he did thanks to the voice of his idiot father in his head. The scene was a remark on one of the basic tenets of psychology: a parent’s voice becomes an inner dialogue in a child, and if the child doesn’t process that at some point (via someone like Wendy!), the voice stays a part of the child’s subconscience forever and that child acts on THAT voice in his head, despite his own independent voice he may have developed while growing up. This form of parental abuse is mild, but that doesn’t make it less a version of parental abuse. Children who are REALLY abused never do develop their own voice at all. In those cases “Daddy issues” do become something much more large and persistent.
          Other commenters who are saying that Axe was goading him on need to go back and watch that scene again. Chuck totally instigated the blow-up. Then he went home and lied to Wendy that Axe was nearly flipping tables. Yes, Axe was nearly flipping tables, but Chuck left out a crucial detail that HE started it. And he started it because he couldn’t help himself. It wasn’t a controlled decision on his part.

          1. No wonder I still do my best to make my mom happy 😀 I just think Chuck never wanted a deal. He would do it, though, until he talked to his dad on the phone. I could be wrong but that’s how I interpret it. I believe he went into that room to make that deal not happen. And he exactly knew what to offer to Axe for the deal to go awry. That is how I interpret it (calculated action), and you interpret it differently (he can’t help it) and this tells me the show is so rich that everyone may have a different interpretation of what s/he sees! Whatever he did, in fact, sort of set Axe free because even though he was really there to make the deal, his heart was not there. But I don’t think it was Axe that made the deal go bad, either.

  6. I love reading your reviews and comments,! It’s a little too complicated for me to make as interesting comments, but, know that I learn a lot by reading them!
    Merci beaucoup
    monique

    1. Thank you so much, Monique! And if you tell me about parts you have difficulty understanding, I am always happy to explain more. How do you like Billions so far? Much love!

  7. Great recap and great episode. I was blown away when Dollar Bill nuked his family from orbit for Bobby. That poor woman. To be so crushed, then rescued from it by Lara, and then crushed again. I hope someone is watching her, that’s the kind of betrayal that makes people snap.

    And speaking of Lara. I loved her in this episode. To stand up to Bobby like that? Tell him like it is? LOVE. Trying to get him to see the big picture, to think outside of himself and to his children, their legacy and reputation, and their financial security. She tried like hell to reason with him, and appeal to his heart, but he was not having it in that moment. BUT he did listen, he didn’t just shut her down in mid sentence. I am a lot like that, I will bristle and be pissed off at honesty like that, but after I cool down I do think about what they said.

    1. Thank you! Does the show get better and better every week or what? I find myself saying “that was the best episode” every week. Hehe. Dollar Bill’s loyalty is mind-blowing. I don’t know if all Axe men are like that. Dollar could be a special case — and maybe most trusted because of that — since Axe and he share a similar past. Blood brothers sort of thing. They both come from nothing. Or maybe Axe chooses his men accordingly.

      I love the women of Billions. All of them. Wendy, Lara, Kate, Terri. They are all STRONG women. Lara is tough cookie. She is not the plastic trophy wife you may expect from a billionaire’s wife and this also says something about Axe that he is married to a REAL woman. And yes, he does not cut her off mid-sentence, he respects her, it again says something about the man. But as Damian says in an interview, Axe seems to be a particular psychological type. He’s a believer in his own instincts and winning most of the time probably feeds it further. His ego is his biggest enemy. I see him thinking of himself as the sun and everyone and everything revolves around him.

      I am a good listener, too, and people usually never believe I could get pissed off. I am mostly very calm. But when I get pissed off, then it’s a total disaster 😀

      1. Someone needs to caption that gif of Bobby ripping the check to read…

        “Paying my student loan every month like…”

        I just sent it to my husband with that caption as the subject, and he said “ACCURATE.”

    2. YES! Axe may not be vocal or admitting of his limitations, but I do think he knows his limitations. His feeling was that what was happening was just another stock deal…a matter of tolerating risk. He didn’t look far enough ahead to see what is at risk, and Lara schooled him on that right good. He may have rolled his eyes, but he heard her. (I’m like that too, I’ll roll my eyes and fight back, but I always take what was said to heart :))

  8. Perhaps I’ve been reading too much John Le Carré (in preparation for the film distribution of Our Kind of Traitor, of course). BUT, have we considered the possibility that Wendy knew what she was getting into when she emerged in her robe over naked body from the dressing room at the underground spa? We keep thinking she is the smartest character and if she is truly steps ahead of Axe (who she says is many steps ahead of his opponents), maybe she thinks that she could cool everything down between these two alpha males. Maybe she knows that Chuck would not compromise her by letting the naked photos become public – so, he backs off his aggressive stance. Of course, she didn’t know at that moment that the litigation would be led by Bryan after Chuck’s recusal. How loyal is Bryan to Chuck? Would he compromise Wendy and Chuck for his goals of justice and personal advancement? It’s a dangerous gamble, but Wendy is a risk taker. What does our game theory expert, Damianista, say to this elaborate twist, as posited here? Too convoluted? Just right for our brilliant Billions writers?

    1. Hi Lynda, thanks so much for the feedback and hey the game theory expert would bow in front of you. I never thought Wendy might know what she was getting herself into. It is such an elaborate twist! It is, in fact, right for the brilliant (THEY REALLY ARE!) Billions writers. My take on Wendy has been that she does not have much alternative than having this deal happen so she can move on with her life. She is completely sick and tired of being stuck between the two of them. So she first talks to Chuck and seeing that he may agree to a deal, she wants to meet with Axe in person. She knows Axe does not trust her completely at this moment, so she is ready to take a costly action and go meet him under HIS conditions. As I talk about Chuck understanding about Axe’s type (guilty or not guilty) from his actions, I think Axe is also trying to understand Wendy’s type from her actions: If Wendy does not come to meet him in her robe, she is not to be trusted, if she does, she genuinely wants to help him. Because coming there is not cheap talk but it is a costly action on Wendy’s part which tells Axe she genuinely wants to help him… Now coming to your twist: Wendy knows she is taking a costly action. If she also KNOWS (she was told or she at least makes an educated guess) about Hall’s plan to compromise Chuck and goes with that plan as a back up – in case the deal goes awry and Chuck proceeds to prosecute Axe — it is simply brilliant. For some reason, I feel like even though Wendy is the smartest person in the room and is a rational player, she would not ethically let Axe do this to her husband. Even the most rational players have emotions which game theory sometimes fails in taking into account… Having said that going with such a plan may well be the second best for Wendy! I just LOVE this. We are all screenwriters in our own right!

      Re Bryan: I don’t think pulling the strings behind the scenes would be as easy for Chuck as he thinks it would be!

      Thanks for reading us – please keep the feedback coming. The more the merrier!

    2. Brilliant suggestion that Wendy knows the score from the get-go. I’d LOVE if that were the case. But….I may be in the minority, but I really don’t believe there are pictures or video. That thought didn’t really even occur to me when I was watching the scene. Hall already pulled the video trick with that girl in Chuck’s office with the cocaine. I tend to give the writers more credit than to pull the same scenario again. I HOPE I’m right!

      1. Who IS Hall? Some deep throat guy? Someone in Justice who hears things? In government or just some kind of spy? He blackmailed Chuck’s staffer to spy for him. Why couldn’t Chuck find out who he is? Does he work exclusively for Axe? Why does Axe trust him? Am I overthinking it? Just accept him as some Deep Throat fixer guy? I can barely keep up with all these characters.

        1. We don’t have any idea about how Axe met Hall. Maybe we’ll find out at some point. We don’t know if his people know about Hall, either. Axe uses a different phone to talk to him, too. When Hall meets Wendy to take her to the baths, she asks if they met before and he says “we did not and we have not met now, either.” Hahaha. I think you are right questioning the character, that is the FUN, Hall’s a interesting personality, probably yeah the ultimate fixer exclusively working for Axe.

          1. I think he is working exclusively working for Axe.
            I think he has likes kinky sex with dwarfs.
            At least that was the impression I got when the dwarf lady entered the sauna.

        2. Yes, deep throat fixer guy is a good assessment. We may learn more about who he is later, maybe? I somehow doubt it though. It’s a bit of a writing cheat to put in a character who seems to be omniscient without really explaining why or how he’s omniscient. Remember the real life Deep Throat was never revealed until his death bed confession. And his identity never had an effect on the bigger story of Nixon’s fall, which, as we know, played out fine without that knowledge.

  9. Thanks for your fascinating analysis here, Damianista. I want to think about Wendy’s ethical dilemma (and emotional tug of war) in driving Chuck to a true conflict of interests, the blackmail scenario I posed. I love being part of this conversation – and speculation. Lynda

      1. I am loving the war drums and such a great comparison of Wendy and Cromwell. It is great to hear what you think about Wendy in all of this as she does in deed shuttle (even though she says she won’t) between the two. When Chuck and Bryan were doing their “routine” on Bobby, I did think how you would appreciate that. As you know, I think the lines are blurring for Bryan and Chuck may well find it harder to control him as a result. Bryan may get to the stage where he sees little difference between Chuck and Bobby.

        1. Thank you! There is something almost in every episode about Wendy that reminds me of Cromwell. I think it is essentially the way she can get into someone’s mind. The way she talks to Victor about if it’s a good idea to give away the “secret sauce” and the way she talks to Axe about “war” not being good for anyone are just so Cromwell! Lady Trader has made a good observation saying that, she knows I think Axe would not sell Wendy out, but after all Henry kept Cromwell as long as he needed him… I am just hoping Axe would turn out to be a better guy than Henry, I think!!!! 🙂

          Your comment about Bryan is SPOT ON! Wow. Can you imagine him leaving the US attorney’s office to go to the dark side in the season finale? After all, Axe and Chuck are not very different from each other but hey Axe pays much better! 😀 😀 😀 I think Chuck’s fantasy about pulling the strings behind the scenes through Bryan would not work as easy as he thinks it would. And I cannot wait to see THAT. Hehe.

  10. Damian likes to sing at wrap parties. I wonder if he did for this show. I think his Homeland wrap party singing is online. The crew made up the band. Malin Akerman (Lara) sings professionally with a band so they would have fun singing together.

      1. Tongue in cheek performance, sort of Elvis-y, but it becomes sad and real too. Filmed in Morocco where Brody got the noose.

      2. Yeah, I used that clip for the Make Music like DL post. It’s from Rabat when he shot the last episode of Homeland S3. Those people in the hotel bar that night just don’t know how lucky they are. And maybe they do 🙂

  11. Oh. Oh god. God Bless you, youtube. That was great!! Is there anything he can’t do??? I heard he took tap lessons during Homeland, too……

  12. I’ve been re-watching “The Deal” and reading all the replies to this site. Great recap. Thanks so much!
    I have a different take on the Wendy character ( brilliantly played by Maggie Siff). This character is being painted in some ways as the ‘smartest person in the room’ but I don’t really see this. Yes, Wendy is very intelligent. She is also a master manipulator. Her ability to be a dominatrix tells that she knows how to control a person by any means necessary. But Axe cannot be controlled. When she suggests things in her manipulative psychiatric way, such as steering Saldana away from Wags & company or talking Ben out of doing something drastic after he has been fired, she is exerting her power of control. She gets off controlling her husband in the sex club by depriving him of pleasuring himself until she says he can. But even when she thinks she has Axe going one direction, he changes course. And I think this is a challenge she rarely has encountered. And that may be very exciting in her world where control is power.
    As for Chuch and his father. I find it curious that Chuck talks about Axe breaking the law so much when his father has broken the law several times in the show so far and has been bailed out by his son who could be considered culpable in covering up a crime(s). So far we’ve seen his father try to broker a deal to get his buddy out of jail time by using his influence with his son in his son’s office! And then the short squeeze with Axe. If Chuck didn’t stop him it would have been an outright crime. If the father wasn’t the father Chuck have had him dead to right to prosecute. I’m pretty sure Chuck’s father has made a career of breaking the law. He is despicable for black balling the child friend of Chuck. I don’t care how much a bully the kid was, the father was an adult who went the distance to destroy a part of his life. That’s not having his son’s back, that’s exerting power for power’s sake.
    I’m hoping that the show’s writers don’t take the cheap way out, like showing that Bobby knew about 9/11 from his crazy sources and deliberately didn’t show up at the office the day of the hits and didn’t warn his coworkers, leaving them doomed. This crazy opera will be interesting to follow. So far, Dollar Bill is the strongest character. Maybe that is why Bobby had the dry run with the law, to weed out the wimps. Dollar Bill came out the strongest. Interesting he was made the sacrificial lamb by Decker. This show could have been called ‘mind games’. Remember ‘House of Games’ starring Lindsey Crouse & Joe Mantegna? Just who is playing who ?

    1. Hello and welcome to our blog, and thanks much for reading us!
      I completely agree with you on Wendy. I think she has also confessed about Axe to Chuck when she opened “the book on Axe” to him. Even though she is one person that knows Axe really well – with his strengths and weaknesses – she still cannot always predict which way he will go. We saw that when he was teased he went ahead with the house mansion purchase in the pilot even though he was first convinced by Wendy not to buy it! So, yes, Axe is uncontrollable and as Wendy told Chuck earlier, now he will play his own game with rules unknown. Exciting!

      Chuck has daddy issues and yes his dad is despicable in many ways. Jeffrey DeMunn is killing it as Chuck Sr. I agree that if the father was not the father Chuck might go after him. But at the same time, if the father was not the father, Chuck might not be the man that he is today – the US attorney. I think the father has been pushing him hard all his life and now he wants him to be the governor next. It’s a life-long plan!

      Thanks to a spoiler given by an actor in an interview, I in fact know what happened on September 11. But no worries I would not give you the spoiler other than saying that, no, the writers have not taken the cheap way out in any way. In fact, this is one of the smartest writings I have seen in a long while. There is no conversation that is there to kill time. I really need to listen very carefully to understand what’s going on. As someone that loves puzzles, this is the best entertainment for me out there 🙂

      I LOVE Dollar Bill. All his one-liners would make great tshirts. “Lawyer.” “I am not uncertain.” “I am Keyser Soze.” 😀 Absolutely a character to follow. The show has remarkable cast all-around and I think they are lucky to be in NY where a lot of stage actors are available.

      Thanks so much for visiting and reading us – hope you come back and keep the feedback coming! All the best.

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