Y'all need to prepare yourself for this particular episode of Billions, we have an interesting new face to look at (and listen to) as well as a new direction for more than a couple of characters. Rolling S3:E09 Icebreaker after the break.
We open in the dark with an armed Waylon "Jock" Jeffcoat (Clancy Brown) and Chuck Rhoades Jr. (Paul Giamatti) shooting at a coyote who's been harassing Jock's flock/murder/gang of animals. WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT THIS ANIMAL-MURDERY BASTAGE?
I promise to only use this power for good.
Now we're with Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and his security guy Hall (Terry Kinney) talking to a one-armed Russian hot dog vendor (for reals) Max (Lev Gorn) about a mysterious Russian investor who was in jail but rips off arms when not incarcerated.
Bobby's looking for an icebreaker, see, someone with lots of money to make his shop AXE Capital look unassailable again. A mobster referred to as a sovereign nation might be just that ticket, but then there's the whole arm rippy part. Mike "Wags" Wagner (David Costabile) and Hall are not happy at all with this direction, Hall even revokes his safety guarantee and Wags won't get out of the car.
In the US Attorney's office at the crack of dawn, Chuck finds Head of Crim Kate Sacker (Condola Rashad) preparing for the upcoming prosecution of Jose Lugo, a young prisoner who killed the guard who had been torturing him. She does not want this prosecution, but she and Chuck both are being forced by Jock, who reads different news sites than them and thinks the (self-defense) death of a federal prison guard has to be avenged.
Couple new things in the HedgePit; someone's stolen "Dollar" Bill Stearn's (Kelly AuCoin) lucky dollar, and we have a new Hedgie - Bonnie Condela (Sarah Stiles) who doesn't take any shite. She shuts Mafee (Dan Soder) down immediately, even Rudy (Chris Carfizzi) gets lightly roasted.
Bobby took a pass on the Russian oligarch, now he's working over ....Fred (Scott Aeillo - no character name in IMDb so I hereby dub him Fred.) who he'd like 20 billions from right now, peez. Hold the peez.
No luck there, so Bobby turns back to the idea of "Siberian brown bear" investment. He hates that he doesn't have anyone else's money to play with, it's like he's"admitting irrelevance." Which he will never do, "f*cking ever."
It would be like when he said he would never give up his license to trade.
And then did. All in the same episode!
Time to meet the new guy! Bobby pops in to see Grigor Andolov (John Malkovich with an...interesting...accent) who's busy mashing people up against the boards in a "fun" hockey game.
Side note: I hate hockey. It's boring and I don't care that I'm Canadian, I hate it even more than baseball.
Bobby makes his move and the two industry giants eye each other up. It's interesting (like that accent) because they have so many things in common (aggression, ruthlessness, governmental prosecution) yet we will see at the end how far apart they are.
Grigor and Bobby are going to use all kinds of analogies in our time with them tonight, one of my early faves is when Grigor talks of a comparison between life and a body of water. One has to get used to salt for preservation, but he learned to like it. I take that to mean that he enjoys the wetwork of being a murderous ahole.
"However you get there, right?"
Bobby found out that his in-house psychologist (and wife of the US Attorney) Dr. Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) sold the Maserati he gave her last year. She's hoping he isn't having her followed *AGAIN* but no, he doesn't care what she does with her own things, he just thought she deserved a good car.
He just bought CIO Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon) a good car to mend fences after taking over, what's up with Bobby and the extremely expensive car game?
Speaking of Taylor, they're meeting with Grigor's lieutenant Michael (Michael Aronov) to discuss a path forward. Taylor pitches Impact Investing, Environmental investments!
Bobby can't believe Taylor tanked the meeting so hard, they don't want that international criminal money, though.
Kate practices her opening statement for the Lugo case, but police talking in the hallway draw her attention.
She rushes into Chuck's office with a withdraw of charges against Lugo, he died on his way to court. He was enthusiastically subdued during a reported escape attempt. Kate is furious.
"Sometimes a man is just f*cking executed."
Chuck feigns indignation, Jock has had his bloodlust satisfied now it's time for his bloodlust!
This is what was wrong with Chuck's decision to remain in the US Attorney's office last week; he is not the boss. He's not even close to the boss, his cases and resolutions are spoonfed to him. How could he think he'd be more free to serve his passion for justice (sorry that was RIDIC) under Jock's thumb? Countdown to him making a run at Jock the same way he took a run at Black Jack Foley.
Taylor is conflicted so talks to Wags: what happens when Bobby is wrong? He's never wrong. But. What about when he is? Wags takes Taylor on a field trip.
Bobby is entertaining Grigor at his penthouse, they fondle pool balls and talk about who has piss running down their legs or not. Bobby has to step up close when Grigor mentions Bobby's kiddos in passing, a short standoff later (Grigor "that was fun!") and we end with Grigor asking for a "show of influence."
Wags has brought Taylor to his former residence, where his most recent ex-wife lives. Bobby warned Wags against marrying this particular wife, and he was right. Bobby is working from his emotions now, something Taylor isn't familiar with because they've never gone beyond their own limits.
Side note: I love it when Wags gets serious, he's usually our comic relief but David Costabile has depth, yo.
Kate's tracked down disgraced former prosecutor Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) at the pub, he doesn't want to know from her or her problems with a man being executed while she was prosecuting him unfairly. She does have security clearance, though, so maybe that's not a bridge he should burn.
In case you haven't read the rest of my recaps (WHAT), Bryan is in disgrace because he tried to prosecute his former boss Chuck Rhoades AND Wendy instead of staying in the small box Chuck had carved out for him.
You see what's elementally wrong with Chuck? Bobby is supposed to be the good/bad guy, but we've got Chuck over here running a train over underlings that don't follow his every direction, just as Jock is controlling him. So Chuck doesn't have a problem with the crooked system, he just wants to RULE the crooked system.
Bobby calls in Todd Krakow (Danny Strong) for a favour, Todd will just need one thing first...
Kevin Durant does a cameo as himself, awwwww.
Bryan's got a job interview at the FBI, his ex Terri McCue (Susan Misener) would really like it if he doesn't f*ck it up, okay?
Bryan's behind the 8 ball, everyone knows about his very public dressing-down in the US Attorney's office, but the FBI Director (Melanie Nicholls-King) is willing to hear him out. Bryan explains by way of a synopsis of the film Pi; basically he started to see the underlying patterns of everything and it almost killed him. He figuratively put a drill through his brain and now he'd like to drool on a bench at the FBI as Special Counsel, fanks.
I liked their back and forth even more than Bobby and Grigor, perhaps because nobody was speaking in a gawdawful fake accent and there was no talk of killing children or peeing on floors.
Taylor confronts Bobby: they just don't get it. What are they not seeing? Bobby is fighting for his life and quotes Bob Dylan: "he not busy being born"..."is busy dying" finishes Taylor.
Completely unnecessary aside: avoid if not into over-sharing by mid-level recappers. I do not like Bob Dylan's music, although I enjoy his writing I canea take the singing, so I miss most of what he has to offer. This particular saying stayed with me long after watching, because I am also going through a transition of sorts (divorce, not reinstating my business after being in jail or anything) and I believe I've spent the last few months preparing for the second part of that. Between the reprehensible behaviour on both sides and difficulties over children, I didn't realise that I had essentially given up on everything good. Like trust and faith and hope, self-love, moving forward and all those ooky bits that are the first to go out the window when stress parks its bus in the loading zone. This little vignette on a cable TV show made me question why I was doing that; maybe television CAN be educational! Aside over, as you were!
Taylor is not good at blindfaith or ignoring data, but they can understand that. Is Bobby sure, though? That's what he pays you for, Taylor, now go find a proposal that isn't an "environmentally friendly f*ck you" and make it happen! Hahahahahaha
Grigor and Bobby meet in a fancy restaurant so Todd can toast Grigor as Secretary of the Treasury and enjoy Bobby's show of influence. Now the real show is a meeting in the fridge, Todd had stopped returning Grigor's calls when he got the Secretary job and Grigor would like that number again, peez. Bobby jumps in and defends Todd from having to answer, "it's not a great time to be back channeling with the Russians right now." Hahahahaha
That bit of theatre went well, Bobby's chest thumping finally impresses Grigor, who agrees to give FunBobs all his money.
Taylor's tracked down the Quant that was so disrespectful to them during the interview, he (Will Rolland) is going to try to not be a dick (and not call them "her", FANKS) because he would really like to be on their super secret quant team.
Dollar is losing his mind over his missing dollar bill, he's all over the hedgies trying to find out who took it. After some extremely racist profiling of Ben Kim (Daniel K. Isaac), Wags pops out to point out Rudy (Chris Carfizzi) who was earlier carrying a fleshlight for a "bachelor party later that evening." I've never seen one of those in an actual person's hands, they're huge! Why would you put that in your murse? That appears to be solely a home implement.
ANYWAY, Rudy's been having an abysmal quarter and he's dead last again. He was hoping that messing with Dollar would throw him off his game and honestly, Rudy, aim lower. Dollar is a BEAST. Half of his allocation goes to Dollar and he has one last quarter to prove himself. I don't know if you remember, but it was very heartwarming when Rudy wasn't fired the last time, I will be sad if he goes.
Kate's approached Jock directly, which irritates Chuck but she doesn't hear anything good either. After a biblical character showdown, Jock assures Chuck and Kate that the guards will be found to be in the right and this whole sorry chapter will be over.
Bobby found out some more about Wendy's financial bidness, she gave a cheque to Sean Ayles (charity dude with the BEST resting face) for 250k, approximately what you get for a used Maserati these days. Does she feel better? Did is assuage some of the guilt? Well. Maybe it smudged the ink on the paper trail anyway. Bobby does not do guilt, he's super Galt-ish.
Taylor assembles her quants for planning their new algorithm, we even get names! Bronwen (Melanie Hinkle) and Roger (Adit Dileep) are all in!
Ah here's a blast from the past, Chuck and Wendy are (reluctantly) having supper with Lonnie Watley (Malachi Weir) and his lovely wife Shawna (Shawna Christensen). It takes Lonnie all of 5 seconds to call out Chuck for being a puppet to Jock and not much longer to proclaim how different it would be if he was still there. It's the usual but Chuck goes OFF, screaming at Lonnie about not having the luxury of self-righteousness because HE HAS A WORLD TO SAVE, LONNIE. He USES calculation, Lonnie, it doesn't use HIM!! So many fighty words (he recognises the brand of suit Lonnie is wearing? Then implies it is the hallmark of all that is expensive yet unworthy of note in the world) and pointy fingers later and he's OOT! Chuck throws down a wad of cash and stalks off into the night, all 5 feet and 5 inches of trembling, indignant rage.
It would have been more fun for me if he had to call over a server then put a couple hundred dollars on a credit card while Wendy made stilted conversation with Sandra, but then grand gestures make my teeth itch.
Chuck is one walking grand gesture.
Wendy finds Chuck stewing in his study in the dark, maybe they should have rescheduled again? He threw up all his rage at Jock at Lonnie, but Wendy supports the intent.
Chuck can't decide what to do, Wendy breaks it down for him: it's not enough to work around Jock anymore, he's got to "assassinate the motherf*cker." That's why Chuck's sitting in the dark!
Now we get the actual Bob Dylan song, it doesn't sound like him but has the words, yay! Grigor has come to sign the paperwork, in the middle of the night without lawyers, Bobby's fave!
One thing: Bobby can't lose his money. No, but for reals, Bobby CANNOT lose his money and we know this oddly-speaking Russian means it the second time. "And so our adventure begins!"
Grigor signs and tells us a story about visiting the Christmas market, giving a small boy a sip of his warmed wine then taking the boy's mother out back to rape her. He left her for the soldiers to rape and returned to the fair, where the boy is now tipsy, staring at him with greedy and drunken eyes. So what happened to the boy?
Bobby doesn't know. Nobody ever knows.
But Bobby does now know who he's dealing with, someone who will share a sip but pillage and destroy everything else they have, just because they can. Gently, gently, Bobby. And we're out.
Huh. Very entertaining! But
One of the problems I have with Billions is the fairytale nature of it all. Bobby is the biggest and baddest until he needs to give up his license, which he does with very little fanfare. He would never work with Chuck! Until he does to save Wendy, whom he had followed WHICH SHE KNOWS and continues to work for him. Chuck want to be Governor more than anything in the world! Until he decides he wants to keep his day job, where he is king. Oh and he's not king there anyway, he's up against the old school establishment there too, which can never be overcome! Until he sets up a minor sting with two policemen and a ratty hotel room. You see what I mean?
It is one of the better ways to pass an hour, however, and who doesn't like shiny? I don't know if John Malkovich has done TV recently, but he made a great addition, aside from the accent and strangely non-menacing affect until the very last bit. Until the next time!