Hi everyone and welcome back to Billions; where Bobby and Chuck continue to fight over right and wrong and to pass Wendy back and forth like a brilliant, sultry shuttlecock. Rolling S2:E8 The Kingmaker after the break.
So the big story is still Sandicot, where Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Damian Lewis) is still sorting through the ashes to find out what the hell happened to the gauranteed casino license headed there; I wonder if he'll figure out this episode that it was Chuck Rhoades Sr (Jeffrey DeMunn) who casino-blocked him? Fingers crossed!
Sr.'s on the phone with BlackJack Foley (who I recognise but isn't listed), who isn't happy with Chuck Jr. (Paul Giamatti). It seems Adam DiGulio (Rob Morrow)'s late breaking moral compass insertion has blocked BlackJack's daughter's clerkship, so BJ will not be backing Jr.'s run at the Governor's chair. He and Sr. are still good, calm down, Sr!
The Remington has arrived! Deb (Ifenesh Hadera) and Mafee (Dan Soder) are beside themselves, but none more so than Wags (David Constabile) who runs straight to Bobby's office. Bobby doesn't care about a hunk of bronze, find out about Foley! Foley was able to hurt him badly without leaving any breadcrumbs, how?
We're at Nat Sherman's Tobacconist of the World; I like watching Chuck Jr. and Sr. roll around in their wealth while extolling their virtues as men of the people; it's Old Money with a side of Irony.
It's also a map to Where To Go Breathe Rarefied Air in New York, so I'm keeping a list. Purty! I like the wooden Indian out front; cultural appropriation only means Tradition to Old Money.
Sr. has his own cigar locker because of course he does; rich people must get so bored, having to find new ways to spend all their money. Exhausting. After examination of his funky 1998 fundadores; they get down to it. Sr. is pissssssed that Jr. didn't comply with Blackjack getting "his balls gargled"; he was supposed to show fealty! Jr. counters that they live in a democracy
Jr. persists: "The age of the Kingmaker has passssssed" and he doesn't need Blackjack's power, he has his own and then there will be pants zipping and meaningful eye contact. Huh
Kids: never appreciate anything you do for them
Wags can't get Bobby in a room with Blackjack; he can't even get himself an audience with the Iron King, does that sound like someone whose acts were unintentional? Nope! Bobby wants to go old school on BJ, rough him up a bit.
Wags asks Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon) to find out where Foley gets his ore; Mafee's side conversation about steak leads to Wags setting himself up on a blind date to hear a pitch from a rival bank of Spartan Ives.
Taylor listens as Mafee suggests that Wags is just innit for the hardcore night of partying and gets ALL his wobblies handed to him on a platter. Mafee just didn't want Wags relapsing on his watch, ya know?
Kate (Condola Rashad) has dug up a fun-sounding seminar on releasing your inner warrior (hard pass); lookit who's teaching! Dr. Gus (Marc Kudisch) and she's willing to bet that he's just DYING to spill the beans on Axe Capital. Since he's not actually a mental health professional, he doesn't have client privilege either.
Bryan (Toby Leonard Moore) wants none of those apples; even though he knows what Chuck still wants more than anything (even more than a PONY!) is to nail Bobby. Because he's out of the Guessing What Chuck Really Wants business and is staying right in Doing What Chuck Actually Says Land where it's safe(r). Or at least more legally defensible.
Lara Axelrod (Malin Akerman) is off in the corporate jet to scout locations for the Charter School they're building in Sandicot, it's so cute how they almost pretended to care about the town they completely wiped out because they got shit information.
Oh, excuse me, Lara's going in ONE of the corporate jets, Bobby's taking the (one of the?) other one(s).
Chuck takes a run out to see Buffalo Bill Sweeney (Matt Servitto) who Foley will be backing in the next gubernatorial race. Chuck makes sense, but he's full of shit and stumping for his own run, so Sweeney blows him off. Whatever you think of politicians, they DO work their way up and Chuck hasn't done that whatsoever.
Hey guess who's at Dr. Gus's Kamikaze workshop?? Kate AND Bryan, who swore he wasn't going! See that flowery speech above? Yeah, it's this kind of thing that...Kate stops. What, like me or dump me, asked Bryan? Both. They wait
Bobby meets with Foley's ore guy, who took the meeting so he could nicely say "no thank you" to Bobby's self-extorting offer. Y'see, whatever Bobby has, it's nothing compared to the hurt that Foley could rain down on scrapyard owner (Ken Marks - really??? Really, Billions, you have THIS GUY listed but you don't have BLACKJACK FOLEY? Is there just a giant wheel and your intern shoots darts as to which names you're going to release to IMDb??). The other penny drops for Bobby
But dude would have taken a billion dollars, bet your ass he would. Bobby's not THAT insane.
Dr. Gus isn't willing to snitch on Axe at first, but some well-timed martial arts references (whut?) proves two things: Bryan has varied interests and that Kate would have gotten exactly nowhere with Dr. Gus; good thing Bryan did try to snake her lead.
Dr. Gus never got access to the inner sanctum, so he's essentially useless for that, but he gives them one big lead: Stephanie Reed (Shaunette Renee Wilson), the former Chief of Staff that Bobby axed after the almost-down-quarter fiasco.
Taylor's come to see Dr. Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) for a session, woot! One disclaimer first
Taylor's worried about Mafee; he's not been doing a great job as their executing trader since their promotion and they're wondering if that's connected and if they can use that guilt productively. Wendy asks about Taylor's connections at work; they think they're good because Axe likes them, so people pretend to as well. Why does Bobby like them? Because they recognise a part and maybe because they're useful, you know, the usual reasons.
Wendy laughingly suggests that it might be because another person has something they're lacking, Taylor turns it around fast as a blade bevel: is that what's behind Wendy and Bobby's "connection"?
Ooooh, Taylor and I know what's up!
Wendy's a little taken aback; people usually just assume they're f*cking. But Taylor sees more than the average bear; being an outsider, and a brilliant one, will do that.
It's Wendy's turn to be analysed; she thinks Bobby and her are connected because they met at the same point: at the precipice of ultimate possibility. And now Taylor is there; Wendy can't believe they came in asking about someone else's feelings.
It's glorious to see that huge smile! Wendy suggests they say "good job" at Mafee, but their reluctance to lie leads to a more prosaic suggestion.
Wags listens to the pitch, but they aren't doing it right! This evening is just food!
And he's drinking
Mafee knows this night is going off the rails, but I have to laugh that their first stop is to get Vaportinis, because I'VE had a Vaportini, 2 years ago with my cousins in Indiana. My god I love my cousins, but those Vaportinis were shite. Just say when, Wags! *death eye stare*
They're at a strip club, sorry, "show lounge" with college-educated entertainers grinding on banker laps. Martha (Kristina Cole) likes Wags mustache at least! "I have a mustache??!!" makes me laugh out loud. Not laughing is Tommy Barco from Spartan Ives across the way, he knows a bank-jump when he sees one. Awww, sad lap dances are the WORST.
Chuck and Ira (Ben Shenkman) are having expensive cocktails at the club; Ira's even got a truffle in his! Which leads Chuck into a speech about "the things we most value, the things we pay most dearly to ingest; they're grown in shit" and he must be talking about the governor job. Start rooting, Chuckles!
He wants to send Ira after Bob Sweeney, surely you know that Blackjack will not allow for any messing with his people? Surely Chuck knows that? He can't be that naive. Plus, sending your friend up against Foley is exactly what led Bryan to call the AG's office on your corrupt arse, Chuck. You're a bad friend.
Ira's just figured out what this night is about; f*ck it, he'll do it
Wags had a specific reason for taking the lead on this night out; he WANTED Spartan Ives to see him with his new banker friends, to "spice up the relationship." What's Spartan Ives gonna give him to stay?
Wags goes straight to Bobby with the good news of Spartan Ives' 20% discount; he really wants to know what's up with the Man. What's up is that Bobby just got his first taste of fear, that metallic taste at the back of his throat. You know what also tastes like metal at the back of your throat? Stress. Bobby's embracing this new layer of consciousness; he cannot rest until he knows why Foley messed with him. Because it appears for the first time: Bobby's opponent cannot be messed with in return. It's like a tank sideswiped him and he needs to know how he can start sleeping at night again.
Stephanie Reed is willing to honour her past West Point medal of service (good eye, Kate!) by talking through her Non-Disclosure-Agreement, but they'll have to subpoena her.
Bryan brings this to Chuck, who TALKS LIKE NOBODY TALKS and refuses; he wants that Governor's mansion! Bryan's so happy to be back when he hears stuff like that.
Bobby's come up with a new plan; he's going to accept an offer to be on an animal conservatory board on the condition that they give Jack Foley a Man of the Year award and HE gets to present it. Awww, New Money working like it thinks Old Money does it.
Ira's come through already, sending Chuck a truffle and background on Sweeney, Chuck is very, very interested. He goes straight to see Bob, who sent his seventeen year old son to camp to "pray away the gay." There are letters, even.
Bob knows when he's on the ropes; I can't seriously believe CHUCK has out-thought Blackjack Foley, the mythical creature from the wilds of Washington, the Kingmaker.
Bob does not back down; he'll see Chuck in the Primaries.
Taylor got Mafee a wrestling poster with the Undertakes and Mankind; I'm with Dollar Bill (Kelly AuCoin), those guys pfft. Mafee's not sure how to take Taylor's present.
Bobby gets a mysterious call; is he getting his Blackjack meet? He is! Foley's having a party, Bobby and Sr. AND Jr. are invited! Cage match time! Somebody get the Undertaker to bring some ladders and folding chairs!
Jr. isn't sure what this means, but Sr. does: Bob Sweeney was all bluster in his office; he quit the race right after Jr. left. Let's go pick out some tails!
Oh wait, Bobby wasn't invited to the party, his meet is scheduled for before and he meets poor Danny Margolis (, who's just been promoted to cater waiter. He can't come back from what he did and DAMNIT I'm gonna have to look it up, I don't remember from last season. Probably being a ratfinking stooge. No, no, it was something else...I'll remember.
There is this glorious dance of a meeting with Foley; Bobby now know that Foley has nothing against him personally. Foley appreciated Bobby's fluidity of tactics but he LOVES taking sides and will not entertain Bobby again. This avenue is now closed to him.
Bobby came up with a use for Danny after all! Guess who's getting their house paid off when he reports that Chuck and his dad are partying with Foley?
Chuck looks great!
And they have a great talk, the kind of which cannot be duplicated in a lawyer's office or a therapy session. They mutually apologize for their last fight when they decided to see other people; see, Chuck was feeling defensive because he'd already been on a date. Wendy says she has something to admit...and then doesn't tell him so maybe she heard me screaming "DON'T TELL HIM ABOUT GETTING RAILED BY HEIDECKER!!!!!" because it's never equal with men. It's all fun and games and whatever they do is fair game, but they find out you nuzzled one wobblie and suddenly it's a death match. I do think she took pity on him then, it wasn't a self-protective move on her part.
I think it's hilarious that Chuck describes his date as ending with a kiss because he just couldn't go any further, as though he had to pull this gorgeous artist off his junk with a crowbar.
Wendy calls Taylor and reminds her to always listen to her feelings, then cries as she hangs up. SHE CAN'T TALK RIGHT NOW. WTF? Psychiatrist, heal thyself!
Ben Folds is playing at Foley's party, holy shite. I'd have City and Colour but then I dig that Can-Con. Foley's aide scoops Chuck aside and then we're into a much less enjoyable pas de deux with these two.
I did laugh out loud when Foley casually referenced Chuck Sr.'s bastard children, that was nice. Foley dangled poor homophobic Bob in front of Chuck to see what he would do, it's what he does. And he's not going to ask Chuck, that's not how it works.
Behold the power of the Kingmaker! Chuck must have snuffled through enough shite to get there; he's practically licking Foley's boots. And he'll get on that clerkship for Foley's granddaughter, too. With an even more prestigious judge, you'll see! Foley leaves with "whatever is meant to happen will happen."
So we went from Chuck's bravado to the FIRST part of what he said coming true; he did get to look Foley in the eye, but at the end there he was, scrabbling to get those pants unzipped for a ball bath. Oh Chuck, how the sanctimighty have fallen.
Sr. and Jr. reflect on the evening back at the club; Jr.'s worried about the allusion Foley made about Axelrod but Sr. leads us all in a profane metaphor about screwing ALL the cows. It can't be done.
I don't think he knows how bulls work.
Bobby gets the pictures of the Chucks and Foley
And tears off on his five million dollar Indian 4 to confront the boys at the club. He finds them in the common room and delivers scathing attack on Sr. and Jr.; bragging about how he'll make his money in Sandicot and razing Jr. for being his father's sycophant and lackey with suspended testicles.
It was masterful and Jr. certainly seemed to be enraged, but he recovered and Bobby was led away. Jr. doesn't yell at his dad this time, though, he's already gone, Bobby. He's unreachable, he's a politician and he's drunk on the Koolaid of power. He ecstatic that Bobby spiraling out of control means that he's left himself exposed; he was polling the weakest in the Sandicot area and now he has a villain to play off against. And an assured seat at the Governor's mansion, so hey: maybe Chuck Jr. DOES get to be the bull to f*ck them all! A quick text to Bryan to put things in motion and the boys cap off their great night.
Chuck puts the cheroot between his lips and we're out.
Hm. Chuck certainly seems to be falling upwards these days, someone on Twitter mentioned that they didn't think Bobby has a moral compass, but I'd say its Chuck who's always been suspect. He spouts the required sanctimony, but as we see in the end: he's only about the strategy and always has been.
Now that Chuck has supped from the teat of true power, he's not even pretending to care about anything else; when he said "will you make me Governor?" to Foley we saw a man selling his soul for a super nice house and the seeming-power to do anything. Only appears that way, though, because Foley is, of course, still in charge.
And I'm sorry, Wags' spiral or alcoholism and addiction was undone by two hours of session down by the water with Wendy and now he can drink and use with impunity? Really?
Wendy is devolving, what's going on there? I'm not worried at all about Bobby; him riding off to yell at the Chucks is unlike him and he'll calm down right skippy. Until next time, you guys! This season is better than last season, amirite?