Billions S2:E3 Optimal Play Recap

Hi everyone and welcome back to Billions, where Chuck has barricaded himself behind a precarious Spartan-Ives shaped wall. That's life, innit? Hanging on until the wind changes and you can move the pieces a bit? Let's see what Bobby's come up with

We open in yet another sports stadium (yay sports!); this one MetLife's home of the New York Giants and I know that because we saw "MetLife" one thousand times in the 30 seconds it was on screen. Bobby's gonna buy a sports franchise, just like Wags suggested! I'm guessing the guy showing Bobby (Damian Lewis) the stadium actually does own a team, given his timing and dry mouth. You did fine, Famous Team Owner! Like you care what I think

Dr. Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) and Chuck Rhoades Jr. (Paul Giamatti) are in marriage counseling, how is it going? Depends on who you ask, I guess, Wendy thinks it's going okay with the kids but Chuck's had some nocturnal visits asking for daddy to make vows to never leave. Oh and to get back together, please.

Nobody knows how to push your buttons better than a longterm partner; all those things that seemed so meaningful to share to promote closeness, now read back to you in point form in a sterile office populated by near-strangers. Yay divorce.

Because whatever Chuck and Wendy are doing, it seems to be more about dragging things out rather than actually ending their marriage. For one thing: be honest with the kids. Start there.

Wendy (I keep wanting to call her Tara!) tells the therapist: Chuck is a great dad. And then they say it to each other and it's all intense eyehumping and for sure Chuck knows his best play. I'm just surprised Wendy with her doctorate in psychology isn't picking up on it. Or maybe she still loves the trust-busting arsehole, I don't know. Maybe she doesn't. Divorce is hard.

Oh wait and here we go, Chuck doesn't want to keep staying at The Club any longer, what's going to happen there? Wendy tells him he better find his own place and he's all up in arms in an instant. "I GUESS I'LL JUST SELL SOMETHING." He really doesn't think they're going to divorce, does he?

Wags (David Costabile) is breaking down the 411 for FunBobs, Todd Krakow (Danny Strong) is baiting  Bobby on Twitter about an upcoming poker game, people of importance don't resort to mudslinging or name-calling on social media, do they?

Who does THAT sound like??

Wags thinks Krakow might even be a better player than either of them; Bobby has a way to reduce Todd's edge. Then he sends Wags to shower,  he dirty. From last night or this morning, don't care, you warsh your bum, Wags!

Bobby's meeting with Chuck's latest target; the eminent Lawrence Boyd (Eric Bogosian) of Spartan-Ives. Larry's wondering if he can use this to his advantage; Bobby suggests they burn the gallows down before it's old LB's turn.

Leaving, he gets into a car with Hall (Terry Kinney) who will be helping Lawrence out as needed. The surveillance on Rhoades (Chuck or Wendy?) isn't yielding any fruit, but he'll hang in there. Chuck! It's Chuck of course and he's deep under Bobby's skin, whispering to him in the dead of night. You need to take up yoga, Bobs.

Chuck's not getting any good news from his team either, Bryan (Toby Leonard Moore) and Lonnie (Malachi Weir) have come up empty while looking for dirt on Lawrence Oh but Kate (Condola Rashad) found something! It's small and not prosecute-able as is, but the stewardess who overheard a good tip on the company jet doesn't know that. Let's see if she can flip them into something a bit deeper. Chuck tells her to run with it and

This is why it's impossible to root for Chuck. Here he is, the supposed arbiter of all that is good and just in the world, going after a small fry on something he KNOWS wouldn't hold up in court to get something on a company that is by all account clean as a whistle. What about that stewardess' life he's messing with? Going to court is no big deal for him and now he's brought the weight of the US Attorney's office down on her because he's trying to find a way to not get fired for being the sanctimonious bastard he is. However. Do NOT get me started on "good guy" Bobby!

Chuck takes a moment to make sure Bryan knows he's on notice for not being loyal; at least he's noticed!

Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon) wants to know that this #AlphaCup trending on Twitter is exactly? It's the poker tournament that Krakow WAS gonna win until Bobby asks you to play, Taylor! Ben Kim (Daniel K. Isaac) explains while Mafee (Dan Soder) and Dollar (Kelly AuCoin) eavesdrop, woo hoo! Bobby DID ask Taylor to play, knew it! Bring in your Rainperson, Axe!

Dollar is not happy

He's been Bobby's wingman at the Alpha Cup the last three years! He almost made it to the big boy table, too!

I know they're setting us up for a head to head between Dollar and Taylor and I don't like it. I'm sure the writers will handle it with taste and sensitivity and use it as a teachable moment, not an exploitation of super trendy non-binary status. Remember when Gender Fluid was everything and we had to sit through an entire season of Ruby Rose's execrable attempts at acting on Orange is the New Black? She's gorgeous, BUT. I like Taylor and unlike Ruby Rose, Asia Kate Dillon can ACT, so I am withholding judgement. I do think there is value in bringing concepts and more diverse casts into the light, but not when its just randomly shoehorned in there to get some extra clicks coz: trending. That doesn't aid the subject OR the show. And Ruby Rose was just terrible onscreen. I'm pumped that Taylor is turning into a major player in our profane sausage fest.

Bobby veers off in to another subject while Dollar is still reeling; you know what he likes about NFL teams?

Dollar: the cheerleaders?

Bobby: yeah, when I was TWELVE. Now I'm all grown and I was gonna say the contracts


That's the thing, most of these guys are like preternaturally aged 13 year old boys.

Dollar's having trouble adjusting to the 20th century

This is Kelly AuCoin's episode, I can just FEEL it!

Krakow's come to see Wendy, envelope in hand. No, I wouldn't say Wendy looks like she could use $5,000.00 worth of spa treatments but I DO! She asks if he thinks he's her Dalai Lama and when says he hung out with Rinpoche I legit jumped. That was the leader I grew up with! But there must be more than one, because the Rinpoche I remember has moved onto another stage of consciousness. ANYWAY (let me shut up or this recap will take you forever to read) he wants to hire her as his coach for the Alpha Cup and

can I bitch about Alpha Cup now? Seriously, if you have to win a poker game to call yourself the alpha, you aren't.

He makes a pretty good case for her helping him; it will help her be seen as an independent.

I would usually say it was misogyny how they're treating her like a chewtoy to be won or dragged back passed back and forth, but they do that with men, too. Let's just call it immaturity. Also, if she truly was an independent and someone came in asking her for help in this challenge, of course she'd take it. It's gotten murky. Krakow never hears no, he must be a great smarmy motivator!

Investigator Oliver Dake (Christopher Denham) is interviewing Kate; he thinks her detailed and meticulous notes absolve her completely of any guilt in unethical actions and


Kate could write a BOOK! A meticulous detailed book about how to work around the edges and play dirty to get ahead. Especially since she "doesn't have much of a social life." Was that a shot at Bryan?

But surely someone with her sensitivities must have noticed something? A hard no from Kate and she's gone, Oliver's eye still lingering.

Taylor doesn't want to play in the Alpha Cup, longtime complex gaming time aside; this whole "my dick is bigger than yours thing" isn't for Them. But Bobby already knew all that, he had someone investigating Taylor's past gaming history this morning. When Taylor said They did "fine live" I bet it was much better than "fine" and so does Bobby.

Taylor would prefer not to play, in the way that Dollar used "we are not uncertain." It made Them sick

Which I had to capture because it's such a strange way to talk about malaise, which is not a strong affliction by definition. Why not talk about breaking out in hives or something? Bobby won't force Them.

Kate and Bryan and putting the screws to McKayla (Gia Crovatin) over her investing in potash stock. Well, Kate is, Bryan's just watching. Chuck pulls Kate so Good Cop Bryan can get in there and pave the way to gold. McKayla bites HARD.

Chuck breaks it down for his team later, Bryan will be running point on this, not Kate who actually suggested this move and found the pigeon they are currently fleecing. It seems McKayla's bond with Bryan and his skillset honed over long years (if you didn't think of Liam Neeson in Taken just then you're totally lying to yourself) trumps her actual interest and knowledge in the case. He's a better finesser.

Bobby finally gets home where Lara (Malin Aklerman) questions how much he's doing for Boyd. Why this guy? Why now? Ahhh, Bobby's using Lawrence as cannon fodder, checking out Chuck's weaknesses and strategies and hey! If Lawrence brings down Chuck, all the better. But he doesn't care about anyone but her and the kids. Just as they're getting smoochy, an email from Wendy draws him away. Oh Bobby.

She just wanted to give him a heads up about being Krakow's coach at the Alpha Cup so he wasn't surprised; no response required. He immediately calls Taylor, They're playing! They warn him: competition doesn't bring out the best in Them, so Bobby suggests a session with Dr. Gus first. I would suggest literally anything else.

Kate's rehashing everything with her dad Frank (Harry Lennix); he advises her to play the long game. Chuck is clearly not going to make her Head of Crim, but his successor might. That looks a lot like Bryan right now, so keep everyone close and "ride two horses with one behind" which is dadspeak for get up in there.

Taylor's session with Dr. Gus is...bad and then surprisingly gets good! They felt bad for beating all their friends but Dr. Gus (Marc Kudisch) cuts to the heart of it. "Every time you walk away from something that makes you feel great, even though it also makes you feel sad, something inside you dies." That's kind of beautiful, Taylor and I can appreciate it, right until Dr. Gus brings up sexwork.

Chuck did indeed have to sell something to get an place of his own, a set of signed Churchill WWII books that Chuck would read to himself every morning before work. "Never yield to force" etc etc. He sells them to Harry (no name in IMDb, in fact, no name for a lot of people, BILLIONS, get your intern some coffee and point him at it first thing!) at a super fancy bookshop while the most obvious tail in the world watches. He has until April to get $40,000 back to Harry to recover his books, but if someone comes in before then...he's not a pawnshop, Chuck.

It's time to wire up McKayla for showtime, but she's freaking out a little. Wire-guy Clarence (David Neal Levin) leaves and Bryan makes to follow, but she'd like his assistance in strapping it onto her upper thigh if that's okay? Bryan well, Bryan is only too happy to help and watching him watching her bend over I was worried he might acquit himself in an unprofessional manner. With throwing and such.

It's time for the Alpha Cup! This is why I like Taylor, everyone else is schmoozing; Bobby's prepping himself and kissing Lara (who is apparently just a kissee this episode, that's it) but They're centering Themselves. I love the hands!

A whole lot happened right here

And then Lawrence Boyd walks in and a ripple moves through the room. Nobody's talking to him but Bobby but everyone sure is looking. Lawrence is just taking a lap and names and then oot for a bit. Ohhhh, taking a trip on the company jet, then. Krakow comes over and Bobby and he get into it AGAIN. Honestly. Bobby gets a jab in at Wendy too, when they have a second alone, comparing her to a masseuse or nail technician.

Lawrence isn't there for the hugs or lack thereof, however, he's come to meet Hall. Bobby leaves them to it and really? He's gonna loan out his best guy?

The game begins! Bobby's doing well, of course, but lots of other people aren't.

Like Bryan, fidgeting in his hotel room thinking of that stew-bum. Chuck calls, he really REALLY wants Lawrence Boyd and that's just not good strategy, Chuck. That's where mistakes come from.

Finally Krakow and Bobby are at the same table; Bobby suggest they make it interesting to the tune of half a million dollars.

Wendy must know how she looks, right? Who would take a gig as a performance coach at a charity poker game? It's ridiculous and she looks like a side piece standing right behind the teeny Krakow. It gives her a great line of sight between her and Bobby, though.

Wags' is excited, he's about to meet his Raya match! He orders some $800/glass booze to celebrate; I'm curious as to who would want to meet this lecherous wee troll. Someone with a Breaking Bad fetish?

Oh ffs now we getta watch a poker match between Krakow (who just got his third eye massaged by Wendy) and Bobby (who watched and glowered) card by card and bet by bet. Where's Taylor? I need to calm down. I hate gambling, watching or doing but soon enough everyone is all in and we're away.

Bobby goes down hard, and he's out. His only play is Taylor lasting longer than anyone from his firm, now we're really to it.

Wags' ladyfriend Prianca (Sara Sampaio) and he are off with another bottle of the $800/glass booze, Lara wants to know how he functions? Wags has a "concierge" service with IVs and 45 minutes after... he's a new man! I think Lara's found her and her cousin's new line of work!

Chuck is getting more distressed by the moment, all he's heard back from the Boyd plane is that an unnamed guest boarded in Chicago.

Taylor and Krakow are in the final two, of course. Bobby has a million dollars on the line on Their back. Five minute break! Lara "happens" upon Wendy at the bar, sooooo awkward. I wouldn't be flaunting your marriage at Wendy, Lara, Bobby lied to you about Wendy earlier and in the past.

Taylor and Bobby talk while overlooking the milieu; They didn't leave playing live, They were kicked out and it was BULLSHIT. Taylor doesn't want to win, but Bobby thinks that's because it puts two important things at odds: being thought of in a good way and winning. Taylor would like to be like the rider in the bicycle movie who does all the work and then just gives up right before the finish line, letting everyone pass them. Bobby does not understand.

Is that American Flyers? I loved that movie even though I hate Kevin Costner with the fire of one thousand suns.

ANYWAY, Bobby doesn't think Taylor has a choice, they're the same and they have to win. That's who they are. He tells Taylor to go down and if They see a chance to maybe make friends with Krakow, go ahead and give up.

A lot of predictable bantering ensues but I like how Taylor points out that a million dollars to each Bobby and Krakow means less than nothing, essentially.

Krakow's having trouble reading Taylor, so he calls for a timeout and goes and yells at Wendy. He's also called Taylor "It" and "That" just in case we forgot why we hate him.

Taylor takes him down beautifully, reading him exactly his cards and causing him to lose faith and throw in his cards to Their...nothing. Ten high. Krakow does not go down easily but I think Taylor can take that. They don't seem to like the physical aspect of everyone's joy, though, Dollar grabbing Their head and everyone TOUCHING.

Same at the office next day, everyone wanting fist bumping and touching Them and hey, there's the trophy: sitting on Taylor's desk. They MAD.

Meanwhile, Lara's wheeling in a bunch of IVs with her cousin Mo (Erinn Ruth) to freshen up the crew.

McKayla's information wasn't all that awesome; it seems Lawrence is having an affair with one of his co-manager's wives but the sound quality of her recording makes it unusable. Good thing she took a video all on her own initiative!

She explains to Bryan later; she knew what she did wasn't illegal (thanks, Google!) but went ahead anyway, just for him *meaningful eye cuddle*. Hmmm, she's only listed as being in one episode and that's too bad because there is some SERIOUS chemistry there. I'm looking at Bryan trying to suss out exactly what is making everyone wanna jump on this particular bandwagon, and I don't get it. BUT. Three women at work have dug it, so it has to be something.

Chuck brings in the co-manager to listen to the recording of his wife screaming and moaning all over Lawrence Boyd; it's fair to say Thomas McKinnon (I don't know! Thanks IMDb!) did NOT know his wife was a Lawrence's johnson fan. Chuck gets HELLA creepy up in Tom's face, calling Lawrence a "venal beast of the first order" who established his dominance by "heaving his seed into (Tom's) bride." Everyone listening, including Tom, Bryan and me: "Jesus f*ck." Dial it back a notch, Shakespeare! Tom's confused: Lawrence didn't use a rubber?

Honestly, Chuck. Know your audience

Tom's in, though, he's down for metaphorically throathumping Lawrence and splashing around his own seed (you guys) and tells Chuck and Bryan that Larry's been rigging Treasury bids. He'll get them whatever they need.

I'm just gonna say: nobody on Bobby's team would fold that fast. Remember when Dollar (was it Dollar?) got busted for having a second family and he made the call outing himself AS they were trying to turn the screws? They're hardcore.I appears Lawrence's wandering seed hasn't led to such a tight team.

Mo's business is taking off: Mafee asks if they make house calls? For $1,000 a drip they do!

Taylor's had enough, storming carefully into Bobby's office to return the trophy. Taylor calls Bobby a hypocrite, while telling Them not to have any attachments that preclude them from winning, what about Wendy? He kept staring at her. Taylor thinks the whole point of destroying Krakow was to do it in front of Wendy, so she could see what she'd aligned herself with.

Bobby counters that the only way to beat Krakow was to destroy him; Taylor asks "was it?"

Bobby didn't listen to anything the Famous Team Owner said in the opening minutes of this episode, so when Wags tells him the NFL would prefer he doesn't bid, he doubles down like always. The Famous Team Owner specifically said it's NOT about money, more about overall and Bobby's overall: 9/11 profiteering, recent investigation by the US Attorney's office etc etc is not attractive. Maybe he could make some really poor choices re: domestic violence and racism and then give them a call! (That's just my idea, Wags didn't say that)

Oh ho, they're interrupted by the watcher from the bookstore; it was Bobby who bought Chuck's beloved Churchill books. In fact, he wants to buy ALLS the signed Churchill books in the world, he directs Stephanie (Shaunette Renee Wilson); she reminds him that it will be expensive.

And we're oot. Hmm hmm hmmm! Taylor has a massive part, which I'm quite glad about (better than Mafee, who was borrrrinnng) and it seems to be moving beyond caricatures or tokenism, but I have my eye onnit. Bobby's enjoying himself, Chuck is NOT but I can't figure out the plan is for Wendy. I'm not quite sure what I want to happen with Wendy and Bobby; they have this...thing. I can't tell if it's chemistry or THAT'S MY TOY or not, but there is something there for sure. It's the one thing Bobby keeps from Lara; one thing of that size can be enough. His commitment to his family is yet another difference between him and the doomed Lawrence Boyd, however, so that will be a factor. I think I would like them to never knock boots, but who can tell where the story will take us? They've already been naked in a very nice bath together. Until next time!