Hi guys! Welcome back to Billions, another new series that I recapped from it's inception (awww lookit, I made it sound like I was involved!) and it's finally back! I didn't love Billions but I didn't hate it either and it definitely had moments of brilliance. Join me for season two, won't you? *awkward arm wave*
We open with Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) sitting in the dark in a large sports stadium (yay sports!), but he isn't alone. He's got high-priced help Orrin Bach (Glenn Fleshler) meeting him in the dead of night; Imma guess that isn't cheap. Bobby has called Orrin here because this is a place that shows winners and losers so clearly. And now he's going to explain how they're going to win.
3 Days Earlier
A Fibbie got on a plane! And everyone at Axe Financial gathered outside the doors; they would really like to get back to work now! Bobby played it off as a fire extinguisher malfunction but Maffee (Dan Soder), Dollar Bill Stearn (Kelly Aucoin) and Danzig (Nathan Darrow) aren't buying it but they're not getting past Deb (Ilfenesh Hadera) either. They're quick to shut down Ben Kim (Daniel K. Isaac) when he yells something about Bobby losing his mind: the lines are very clearly drawn in Axe's world. You're with us or you're against us.
Bobby's waiting for Wags (David Costabile), though, no rushing the man, Stephanie Reed (Shaunette Renee Wilson) finds out. But do they? Do they need Wags?
Chuck's (Paul Giammati who formerly had a lifetime pass for Sideways, and then Billions happened) figured out a new way to hurt himself in his off time now that Wendy (Maggie Siff - I've since seen Sons of Anarchy, she looks so DIFFERENT!!) won't burn and pee on him any longer; martial arts! Ah, it's a way of working on his fighting strategy, sure.
Wags is a little busy, see, he had pills to crush then snort and cigarettes to smoke and unfortunate cliches to perform in bathrooms
Stephanie isn't impressed. Bobby is waiting.
Chuck makes it to work just as our mystery Fibbie bursts into his office. Oh but he isn't a Fibbie after all, he's Oliver Dake (Christopher Denham with the very interesting face) from the Office of Professional Responsibility.
No notice means it's a formal investigation into Chuck's recent misconduct and it's about time, innit?
Chuck's calm demeanor confuses Dake, until Chuck leads him to an office with his name already in place; clearly Chuckles has been tipped off as to the investigation. He can't resist letting Oliver know he's smarter than him, that's Chuck's downfall, always.
Oliver blusters a bit and ends with my very favourite expression: 'KNOW THAT" after trying to eyehump Chuck into submission.
Bobby and Wags open up Axe Financial, there have been some changes since the last time they were in office! All employees have to wear magnetic ID bracelets, do they kill bugs?
And Dr. Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff but I said that above) has a new gig as a traveling motivational coach, her warm-up guy needs a little work , yes? Smarmy yet certain, ick. She's barely started her speech about Performance when some dbag jacked up on testosteroni and adderall makes some loud sexual advances. She shuts him down in about 30 seconds (he's gotten complaints about his Performance and he can't forget them: they haunt him like The Ghost of Boners Past) and then whips out a bottle of Viagra.
FROM WHERE?? There are no pockets on that dress! There's not even any underwear! ANYWAY
It's a two billion dollar enterprise, everyone wants the reassurance that they can "step up" as the situation demands, but if she threw it into the audience...nobody would dive to catch it. Nobody wants to thought of as needing help. Then more boner talk and I kinda zoned out
Axe is giving a much cheesier presentation at Axe Capital; a meteor is screaming towards rooms like this right now! Hedge funds are under siege and for good reason.
Ohhh and now we find out why Stephanie Reed said "do we need Wags?"; she's the new Chief of Staff and every single tip anyone brings to Axe (Bobby's nickname if I haven't mentioned that already) will be shared in her presence. Dollar looks slightly discomfited; this is not how the giant Bro-Club of Axe Capital has worked in the past. Bobby's a survivor, though, he'll do whatever it takes to dig his way back out.
For clarity's sake let's revisit exactly what Bobby is digging his way out from under. Last season he went from being the biggest player in the game to losing almost everything due to revelations that his success was owed greatly to profiteering during 9/11. This was all besides the main plot, which was the U.S. Attorney's concentrated effort to take him down for insider trading. I found the first conundrum much more interesting; how does a Man of the People come back from being revealed as war profiteer, especially over something as personally felt as 9/11? Unevenly, it turns out. Now back to our show!
Smarmy CEO Todd Krakow (Danny Strong) hands Wendy a cheque for 75k for her motivational speech, but wants a sweetener; a little info on Bobby. She's not selling Bobby out for 75 thousand or any amount, which makes Todd happy, she passed the test! I can't imagine why she doesn't want to work with this slimy manipulative jerkoff full time, can you?
But she's got her own office now, pass, Todd.
She leaves while Bobby's number one henchman Hall (Terry Kinney) follows, her looking around for a tail was super helpful.
Lara (Malin Ackerman) is dropping her kiddos off at school when she sees a crowd of people around a young girl laying on the ground. Correctly diagnosing anaphylactic shock, she digs through the girl's backpack and administers an epi-pen while the school staff looks helpless.
Wow, Bobby's got a GIANT house! And his paranoid arse has all his top advisors crammed into the CCTV room, they don't do much other than exchange glances while he rants on about finishing off Chuck Rhoades. They're worried Chuck is too deep into Bobby's head (he so is) and a lawsuit will be a problem from a public relations perspective.
They want to focus on getting Wendy back and I started for a second; it sounded as though he was her spouse and not Chuck, which is actually the case. Chuck and Wendy are still separated and doing something stupid sounding (apologies if it works for you!) called Nesting, where the parents take turns living in the familial home.
Hall fills Bobby in on Wendy's movements, Bobby can't believe she's working for Krakow! More glances as he sputters on about getting her back. Wags already has a replacement in mind, but Bobby isn't giving up on Dr. Wendy and thank god for that, their scenes are the best on the show.
Lara gets the incompetent staff member fired; her cousin Mo will be there in 45 minutes to pick up the slack. And that's how the Axelrods roll.
Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore), Lonnie Watley (Malachi Weir) and Kate Sacher (Condola Rashad, yes THAT Rashad) listen to Chuck giving a speech about the newly available position of Head of Criminal Prosecution, they'd sure all like it! It's the best launching pad into the private sector that exists: seven figures anywhere to start. Kate wants it most of all, that women is pure ambition and I DIG it. Lonnie advises her to pay her dues; big cases ingeniously won and years of dutiful service.
Chuck has left the podium and come to play at their table now; he's been thinking there might be another way to the top. He had an epiphany while playing chess in the park the other day; he was scammed by a professional chess player in Central Park and just before he went all Hulk Smash on the guy, he regrouped and came up with another strategy.
He paid the cheat and leaned in close to deliver his blows. The cheat won't be pulling any more scams today, especially not on the kiddo waiting to play. Chuck wants him to have a good game, you see.
I can't be the only one uncomfortable with an extremely wealthy white man telling a grown black man hustling in the park to throw a game to a young white kid, can I? Won't someone please think of the poor white kids who might learn that they might not always win a game from someone who's trying to feed his family!?! Please! Because that could be a lesson in itself, you know, not a Chuck Rhoades lesson as such, with bombast and pulpit-spraying, but a lesson nonetheless. Even the part where Chuck monologued for several sentences and the chess player only got two words: "thank you." Left a bad taste in my mouth, but I don't know if I'm over-reacting.
Chuck met Ari Spyros (Stephen Kunken) in the park after; that's who gave him Oliver Dake's name. I think Chuck also referred to himself as an elephant, which is fine by me.
We're back at the party with Chuck reassuring his team that they have nothing to worry about with the investigation, as long as everyone holds the party line. Everyone see what he did there? Yeah they did.
It's time for Bryan to be interviewed by Dake, who even knows about his private meeting with Bobby at Bruno's Pizza place, hmm. Sharp as a tack, that one. Bryan did report that meeting, but a day later and it's slightly suspicious. Frowny elephant Chuck watches the interview from outside the room.
Bobby's come to see Wendy at her new office; she's not inviting him to sit down. He sits anyway and their glorious flow is back. She's shutting it down, but he doesn't accept that (of course he doesn't accept that, when did hedge fund bros become the new No Means Yes poster children?) and explains why while she just stares at him in the best way possible.
He needs her help, he's getting conflicting advice and he doesn't know which way to go. She knows he'll figure it out, though, and don't make her kick you out, FunBobs, just go. He goes
Wags is having fun shooting down absolutely every idea the hedgies are throwing at him, he's just looking for a way to get on Raya, the "Tinder for rich people." Further evidence of Wags' mindset is evident when he asks all the analysts for a "Traci Lords" of an idea, you know, "a barely legal market dominating c***sucker of an idea."
I'm pretty sure Wags hasn't gone ATM for awhile and it's making him edgy.
Maffee is talking to Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon - from Orange is the New Black, apparently she didn't just shave her head for that job), an Axe Capital intern who just saved them 10 million on the trade Maffee is running. Taylor is brilliant, but Maffee has her pigeon-holed already.
Besides everything? I get the feeling I should be using gender-neutral pronouns for our Taylor, I will do my best! Of course they're a vegan! Maffee really wants to keep Them, but most of his usual tactics are not going to work. He'll need to find something else.
Lara's tired of her brother's shite. Matthew (Kevin Isola) really doesn't want to find out what will happen if she gets mad.
"Under protest"! and he's gone. Mo's (Erinn Ruth) here, though! And she doesn't want the nursing job fulltime at the school, thanks, Lara. She needs to make a real change (but not that face - dem BONES!).
Raul (Reuben Santiago-Hudson) is there treating Bobby like a human being too; I can't remember if the Police Fund got moved or not. He tells a story about investigating drug dealing by Hell's Angels back in the day and getting his arse beaten; Matt finishes the story for him. After hours the cops swarmed back and got all the bikers back and there was no drug dealing there for a long time. "It's hard to defend against numbers" is the moral of that story. You only have to learn it once.
Wags is working on Axe Capital's next big move to rebound their company back into the top echelons of society once again; no, just kidding, he's trying to convince the IT guy (Ryan Barry) to hack him into Raya. Surely there are some high-end escorts kicking around just WAITING to help you get your mind back on track, right Wags?
Oh it's worse than that; Raya is super tough to hack given it's *blah blah encryption blah blowfish blah blah 128 bit something something* so Wags pulls the IT guy off ALL his other duties, including monitoring all their software, etc. No way this will go south because Wags is thinking like an ATM.
I smell a red herring, though, no way Billions would draw a straight line like that, so I'll stand down. FOR NOW.
Chuck calls Attorney General Adam DeGiulio (Rob Morrow who is aging nicely, rounding off those sharp edges) looking for information about who assigned the erstwhile Oliver Dake to investigating him. DeGiulio gives him a lesson in semantics (billet! From the French word and COME ON), pushing back, but Chuckles reminds him of exactly WHY he's no longer Deputy Attorney General so Adam will cough something up.
Stephanie's had enough of Wags' lack of focus, she's released the IT guy back to his work, grabs Wags' phone and logs him into Raya. It's all Chatham House Rules up in there and I had to look it up. So. Either Wags is having some kind of a late mid-life crisis or he's going downhill. I'm certainly not seeing any of his usual decisiveness or laser focus, just the profanity he usually weaves between the two.
Dake is poring through Chuck's taxes and since that means Wendy's taxes, he's found the $5,000,000 Bobby gave her for letting him listen to the recording of her husband selling himself down the river. He looks suspicious.
He tells Chuck know he was juuuuuust about to wrap up his investigation when he found a $5,000,000 payment made the same day that Chuck dropped his investigation into Axe Capital. Well, sure, it sounds bad when you frame it like that! Dake wants to lick Chuck's almost-bribe?
Chuck goes home to ask Wendy about it; Nesting is a complete joke of a separation, innit? And yeah, maybe she should have mentioned it so he wasn't blindsided but that was also the same day she skidded his ass for betraying her trust in a major way, so suck it, Chuck. He complains about Axelrod's poison killing him without him even having to ingest it: it works within proximity.
She does not care, she's out with a holler the kids (not kisses? Or even hugs?), Daddy's home!
We're back in the stadium with Bobby and Orrin: what's the winning game plan, FunBobs? He talks about gambling; the good bettors did their research, bet late and heavily. Oh and it's a horsetrack! Not a sports stadium; there's even a horse and rider on the track right now. In the middle of the night.
This is the crux of Bobby's plan. He knows he can't win against Chuck as things stand. He's a private citizen and Chuck has the office of the U.S. Attorney behind him, not to mention all those long-term relationships with other agencies. HOWEVER; what about all the other people Chuck screwed over? He could buy up the claims of the ones with legitimate grounds and aggregate the lawsuits. It's essentially a class action lawsuit; Orrin thinks people will stop taking about Bobby then and focus on ol' Chuckles.
Bobby brought that horse and jockey out to prove a point to Orrin; he's turning into one of those Jump When I Say Jump rich people, hmm.
The next morning, Chuck is served in spectacular fashion by a young man on a bike: 127 lawsuits to address before breakfast!
Chuck brings that passel of papers to Adam, who warns him that he'll be fighting on several fronts now, Oliver Dake is very much there to stay after he found that extry 5 million dollars. Adam calls it "sort of unspinable, I fear, Chuck" and I could not have said it better myself. The Attorney General calls and that's it: we have Chuck Rhoades Jr. on the run and probably losing his job on Thursday.
Hey, guess who called in that tip that set Oliver Dake in motion? GUESS!!?? No, I wouldn't have guessed Bryan either, so I'll just give it to you. Bryan. Chuck's right hand man and Number 2. And we're out.
Woot! I would not have expected to enjoy Billions so much (it's kind of a profane sausage fest, amirite?) but it had great energy and I like the direction they're taking this season, plot-wise. We still have some caricatures *coughWagscough* and I'm wondering what will happen with Wendy, but I really like how the secondary plotlines are developing, with Lara et. al. I like how Bobby's character is fleshing out a bit more, but slowly and realistically. It felt like the first season was about making an expensive and showy splash *coughVinylcough* and the second appears to be settling in to draw up into a complex story. I'm in! Until next time, cheers!