Welcome back to Billions, where Bobby's working on his new collection and Bryan's adding notches to his; what is it about these Hedgies. anti-Hedgies and their habits? I guess we're about to find out. Rolling S2:E4 The Oath after the break
We open with Dr. Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) walking/talking with the adorable Craig Heidecker (James Wolk) who is our latest billionaire caricature: this guy is our Elon Musk and he's built a rocketship to go into space.
When do we get Mark Cuban? You KNOW the real Mark Cuban would be down! Unless he's actually Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) already and I missed the similarities before.
He's hired Wendy to do a full workup on the astronaut going in his latest spaceship, unboxing Elena Gabriel (Melissa Navia - thank the gods and wee fishies that it's a woman: that should not be that exciting, should it? But it IS!) will take a couple of days but Wendy can build rapport however she likes.
Elena greets Wendy with a "dominant handshake", was that intention? You tell her, Dr. Rhoades!
NOBODY TALKS LIKE THAT
Guess who is on Billions??????? No, GUESS??!! Mark FECKING Cuban!!! Who I just said should star! I don't even. I do solemnly pledge to only use this power for good. *bringTheRockonBillions bringTheRockonBillions*
Mark's giving Bobby feedback on his acquisition of an unwilling NFL team, he knows all about that! He's also not from money and that's it, Bobby IS supposed to be Mark Cuban and I am a genius and must also have a rest because the power of my brain exhausts me.
Mark says the commission wont want to make Bobby the "Mark Cuban of the NFL" and if Bobby wants to get anywhere, he'd better hang up the gloves and leave poor old Chuck (Paul Giamatti) alone. Bobby just can't do that, Mark
Mark asks Bobby how he's gonna change hearts and minds TODAY?
It's weird watching Mark Cuban rock his Grecian Formula with a frowny face, why the long face? Throw some money on the court or something. ENTERTAIN ME, BILLIONAIRE!
Sorry, it's been a long day
Chuck's waiting and waiting and waiting for a word from his inside guy at the Attorney General's office; he gets it after food. He's alive as long as he's making progress on Spartan-Ives and Lawrence Boyd (Eric Bogosian), after that, he gets the Hans Gruber exit and DID HE JUST QUOTE DIE HARD??
This is the Best.Billions.Ever so far
Bobby parks screechingly in a garage; picking up his cell to ask for Benzinger. We meet Benzinger (John Boy!!!!!! Richard Thomas looks amazing, damn. Has he been bathing in the blood of virgin sea anemones or what?), the third richest man in America (Is he Bill Gates? Do we get Bill Gates or Zuckerberg? Come to think of it, Bobby's kinda Zuckerberg too, what with the hoodies and all. Maybe he's a composite) who is with Randy Kornbluth (Brian Berrebbi) who's writing an article on Benzinger.
He and Bobby will be hanging out eating "cased meats" later, sure.
Hall (Terry Kinney) takes Bobby aside to complain; Lawrence Boyd doesn't agree with his methods. His loss!
Thomas Skinner (still no name is IMDb, I hope somebody's paying this guy) would really like to help out the US Attorney's office, but since they started to investigate Spartan-Ives, Lawrence called a halt to all the rigged treasuring bids. His life is in flux, since he can't tell his wife he knows she's boning Lawrence or she'll tip Lawrence off but he also can't bear to be around her, so he's stuck.
Bryan (Toby Leonard Moore) takes a swipe at Tom's manliness, but Chuck surprisingly backs Bryan up. Tom is "all man. He's John Wayne and Liberty Valence." Remember when Chuck told the tale of the Liberty Valence in season one? Lemme dig it up. Dang it, canea find. You know what I mean
Chuck tells Tom to KITT; hang in there just a little longer. Predators return to their mien and they will get their man.
Bryan walks out to find Lonnie (Malachi Weir) celebrating yet another win; how's that Spartan-Ives thing coming? Bryan's realising in full that being assigned to Chuck's pet Stop Me From Getting Fired project isn't doing his career any good.
A fresh-faced Orrin Bach (Glenn Fleschler) shows up in Bobby's office; the lawsuit is going forward. He asks if Bobby really wants to go full bore ahead with the NFL deal on the line, but Bobby thinks he needs to show without a doubt that it was Chuck who was dirty, not him. He made it his life's work to take away reasons for people to say no to him and that's just poor self-esteem, Bobs. You're good enough, even if some people find fault. You get out there and keep trying!
I haven't seen any of this "give them no reason to say no" attitude; he throws money at people and as with most fairytales: it usually works.
Orrin decides to test Bobby's readiness for a deposition, he trips himself up almost immediately with protesting that he would never pay off cops for Mick Danzig...eeeehhhhhabchjbskj. Wrong answer! Let's not give them a perjury charge for free. Orrin advises Bobby to not answer if he gets rattled; slow it down and ask for a break. Moar practice!
Wendy's building rapport with Elena the old fashioned way, by picking apart everything she says AS she says it. Hmm, Elena quotes Shakespeare, which Wendy notes out loud, as you do: why does Elena want to go into space anyway? So she can look at another planet and say "I used to live there." That makes Wendy very happy, she doesn't getta see well-adjusted people very often.
Chuck Rhoades Sr. (Jeffrey DeMunn - Dale from when The Walking Dead did not suck!) has been indulging in a little tit for tat too; with a tail on Bobby. He's been checking on a federal employee too, is that information on Chuck on that little flash drive? Brian? Oliver Dake? The AG?
We see Chuck Jr. receive that flash drive right after, show us! Let us see!
Okay, Oliver Dake (Christopher Denham) is just getting weirder and weirder
Is what he tells Bryan, who would like him to just stahp. We're all creeped out, Olly, but he gets another screw-turn on Bryan: who's career is moldering now? Chuck's not getting anywhere with the case on Spartan-Ives. He thinks Bryan should "earn some death points" and "deliver the death blow" and NOBODY TALKS LIKE THAT. David Mamet would roll his eyes.
John Boy is swearing and it's making me sad. He wants Axe to donate all of his money and it's making Axe sad. Why does he make so much money? Because it feels good and the only cure is giving it all away, and then he swears some more as Benzinger and I feel gross again. The typecasting is too strong!! Anyway, making money is gluttony and it hollows you out; the only way to fix it is to give it all away.
Chuck Jr. is getting another lesson in what SEEMS like martial arts, but really: it's about attacking in the boardroom. Chuck *insert cool New Zealand accent* needs to learn the difference between "naive aggression and effective aggression."
Bryan's spotted something in Spartan-Ives' accounts; he rushes right over to see Kate (Condola Rashad) who looks gorgeous and has her bewbs out, so Bryan and I don't know where to look. Hot date, Kate? Bryan is sooooo smooth
Oh and your dad is hiding money in the Bahamas. She knows, though, it's not illegal, he didn't "stash" it but what really bothers you, Bryan? That her dad hid that money there or that he had $12,000,000.00 to hide? *closes door in Bryan's face*
Lara (Malin Akerman) and Mo (Erinn Ruth) are pondering barbecue sauces while discussing the future of their medical boutique business. Wags (David Costabile) has a standing order with them but he got an email from another firm cutting in on their prices. Mo wants to retreat, but
I fight getting an IV whenever possible because most nurses mess it up, something about redheads veins or something ridiculous, I can't even imagine having one daily to detox booze.
Chuck directs Kate and Bryan to start the first lawsuit against Spartan-Ives for bid-stuffing, which is something Bryan brought up a year ago and is almost certain to fail. Chuck calls it the first wave at Normandy, it ensures the second wave lasts. I'm not sure that's how lawsuits work, one proven to have no basis doesn't necessarily mean the second gets through, but I will defer to his judgement since he plays a lawyer on TV. Bryan wonders aloud to Kate if Chuck knows what he's doing; either way it's good for him, though, so smile.
Lara's popped by work to see Bobby and some clients; Bobby knows all about Wolfe and his Mercy Squad targeting her clients. He offers to make some calls; she will handle this herself, she's a businesswoman.
See, this show is actually quite feminist-friendly, except where they talk about someone "heaving his seed" into someone's property, aka dude's wife and when the Hedgies talk at all.
Bobby may have known about the Mercy Squad but he didn't know Wags was hitting the IV every day; looks are exchanged between husband and wife. Wags will have to be dealt with. The whole point of the Benzinger meet makes sense now; Wags freaked when he saw Bobby in the news with Benzinger and talking about taking The Oath. The publicity is now, the actual giving of money is later. Much, MUCH later.
Wendy's still conducting the most unrealistic psychological prep session ever; does Elena worry about leaving her family, friends behind? She's an only child, though, and a long Wilco metaphor takes us to: no significant others. Her work is her life.That's it! Meeting over and Elena is going to do great things. And that dominant handshake? Elena's dad taught her because he wanted her to have a measure of control. She smiles after and it's glorious.
Chuck's watching a video from his dad's flash drive; on it is Oliver Dake outing Bryan for ratting Chuck out. Oooohhhhhhh, good call, Sr.
Paul Giamatti's face looks different; he looks like a Dr. Suess character, an elongated oval. This is new!
Bryan comes in just then; Chuck makes the decision to keep the information of Bryan's betrayal for later and directs him to set up a meeting with Lawrence Boyd. He's going to meet with Lawrence alone and ask him for a favour; that's how you build a relationship with someone. Not doing a favour, but asking for one; it imbues the askee with a sense of power.
Chuck's getting all Sun Tzu up in here these days, hey?
Lawrence Boyd has chosen a literary club as the place of their first meet; I love how Chuck thinks he's gonna ask a favour of the guy whose entire filing system he just forcibly removed. Lawrence has written a book, though "Steady At the Helm" but Chuck doesn't like other people quoting literature at him, HE'S the windbag on the show! Somebody get his agent on the phone! He gets profane instead.
Watching these two size each other up before commencing battle was a beautiful shot.
Some light banter back and forth, some thrusting, some parrying and then Chuck makes his move. He concedes that he doesn't have much on Spartan-Ives and he'd like Lawrence to run an internal sweep with Chuck signing off in a year. Lawrence doesn't want to take this sturm und drang with him on vacation to somewhere expensive (with Shayleen, perhaps?) so he takes a pass. He WILL hand over a few upper level guys that his Compliance Team has already flagged, though, he can do that.
Can you imagine, in any scenario ever: Bobby handing over any of his guys? Bobby being flattered that the US Attorney wants to make a deal and needs his help? Because Chuck was right about that; asking Lawrence for a favour has made it look like Chuck's open for a deal, a little sugar shake.
Wags has good news on the NFL deal; one of the bidders has dropped off, the other can't afford it so the team is as good as Bobby's! Stephanie (Shaunette Renee Wilson) will draft out a letter for Bill (Clinton and / or Gates) to read.
Lara's schmoozing in her favourite old dive; picking up muscle from some of her brother's friends? A girl to mess with Mercy Squad anyway, apparently this is being a businesswoman. Terry (Michael Stoyanov) will be doing the arranging, he has a GREAT voice! She needs this to stay all the way quiet, so she throws a white envelope stuffed full of cash across the bar at him, sure!
Lawrence lets Bobby know right away at least, he has one other source to check but he thinks Chuck's offer is legit. It's not that he doesn't want or appreciate Bobby's advice, but not everyone is a savage out there.
Me and Bobby:
Good luck, moron!
Chuck's lawyer Ira (Ben Shenkman whom I adore) is also concerned about how Chuck might mess things up at the deposition of Bobby 'Axe' Axelrod, he shouldn't come, nope. Chuck thinks it will unsettle Axe, Ira does not want a misstep. I will say Ive never heard of depositions being such a big deal before, I should go watch one maybe.
Kate interrupts then, Ira says it's okay because he needed a cup of coffee and for a second, I thought he meant KATE should get him coffee and I came thisclose to a totally typical feminist meltdown. I've calmed myself, what does Kate want?
Ah, she wants to tell on her father and I can't figure out if she had the best poker face EVER with Bryan or if this is her way of getting ahead of the issue in case Bryan says something. He counsels her to deal with her dad directly and we get his narration over a montage of him dealing with his own dad of the secret spying missions on Bryan.
Chuck Sr. doesn't think much of the deal with Lawrence Boyd, but Chuck doesn't tell him about the second wave or anything, hmmm. Why?
Oh and now we see why; because Sr. was the source Lawrence had to check with about whether the lawsuit was over or not and now Lawrence is gonna put in a good word at the AGs office for Jr. on Sr.'s behalf. What a twisted web indeed. Lawrence compliments Sr. on Jr.'s knowledge of the lay of the land, awww.
Wendy is rejecting the perfect Elena for Craig's space program; she's never faced adversity and won't know how to deal. You want someone with connections, because connections build strength and Elena is a leaver, a ghost. Reject her a couple of times and if she comes back again: she might be ready. But Wendy won't be back to do any of that testing, she wants to work for a firm again. IS SHE GOING BACK TO BOBBY???? Go back to Axe Capital!!!!!!!!!
A bunch of other words about him telling her to "choose your truest calling" and she leaves, telling him if he ever wants to get over his "hairless 21-year-old-girls" (who all oddly have long hair in the pictures...) and idea that his happiness is light years away, call her. She can fix that quick.
Speaking of laughing, everyone is really enjoying the news that the Mercy Squad CEO just got popped for pimping, I guess that was what the girl was for! Bobby knows who arranged that right away.
Hey, Bruno (Arthur J Nascarella) makes pizza deliveries now too! But really it's so his nephew Mark (no clue as to actor name, thanks IMDb!) can meet with Bobby and sell him on picking up their distress loan to revitalize his corner of the state. Plus there's a casino, which is the only thing that gets Bobby's attention.
The second part of Bobby's plan has moved into action, he's showed his belly, just a little and it was just enough to coax Lawrence back into rigging bids again, where Tom can dutifully capture it on his wire. Stay away from the upper-thigh area, Tom, the sound quality is no bueno.
Bobby sends Taylor (finally! Taylor! Asia Kate Dillon) after information on the Albany gaming license; stopping to poke at Bobby along the way. Stephanie and me definitely have noticed that FunBobs has a new fave. You know who isn't doing well? Wags. He looks like ten miles of puked on road and he's late, missing meetings all over.
He's also in sweatpants, because he woke up in a dive in the morning with a burning bum
Axe needs to see. Not WANTS to, but NEEDS to and I can't figure out from the remarks what exactly it is...a vagina tattoo? Bobby's sending him somewhere, no, not rehab, but to Wendy
And as funny as all that is, Wags reminds us how scary it is to not remember something life and body changing like a tattoo. Blackouts suck and they aren't the least bit funny. Trying to piece together an hour or several hours based on before / after stuff, other people's memories (you know, the ones talking to you) and your own physical condition? Not cool, man.
So she'll help him, but not right now, he can call and make an appointment.
Bryan has all the renewed faith in his boss now, so he tells Oliver to go suck a rope; he's sticking with the Titanic, thanks. Full steam ahead!
Deposition time! Bobby WAS gonna dress up, as Chuck is, but at the last minute throws on a Megadeath shirt and heads on in.
I'm just gonna put it out there that no way would someone who goes through as much hair product as Bobby Axelrod does would actually be into Megadeath.
Chuck strides through the office, stopping to yank Dollar Bill's (Kelly AuCoin) chain a little, we didn't even get a single word from Dollar this week, sigh. (Full disclosure, Kelly AuCoin retweeted last week's recap AND a Broadchurch recap of mine last week for absolutely no reason other than the fact that he is AWESOME so I look for him on the screen now)
The deposition starts with a bunch of mudslinging; Chuck cannot resist turning the knife a little and neither can Bobby. He only stalls at one time; when Ira suggests that Bobby not opening his books for them to assess damage amounts to Bobby claiming for personal damages. Did Chuck hurt Bobby emotionally or mentally? Blink blink
While taking a moment to cool down, Benzinger calls. He doesn't like being used, Bobby, and hey, he won't be getting that NFL franchise, he asked to make this call to Bobby for screwing him around. Sports franchises are how they knight people in America (I cannot say how much I hate everything about that) and Bobby isn't royalty.
It is in this frame of mind that Bobby returns to the boardroom, ohhhh, don't do that, call it a day, Bobs! But now he has concrete evidence of money Chuck has cost him, let's get this deposition rolling again! We're oot
A lot of maneuvering this episode, giving us all kinds of places to go. Bobby and Chuck: they always rise to the top. Good thing Chuck knew his dad was shite, though, or it could have been a mess. Bryan's happy to be back in the fold, but I wonder how long he'll be allowed to stay now that Chuck knows how loyal Bryan truly is.
I don't really buy Eric Bogosian's Lawrence; he lacks gravitas. Or charisma. Or just is currently unable to draw the eye in this role, he's a non-starter for me and I think it's the actor's fault.
Until next time! Which will be a long time, unfortunately. I've got a lot going on offline and I need to take a wee break. Take care all you robber barons! Cheers