We're back with our debauched billionaires (I really thought there would be more artisanal baby oil associated with that) on Billions; our former foes and now intrepid duo are facing charges on every side. What ever will they do? Let's find out as we roll into the second episode of the fourth series!
Is everyone caught up on what's happening? Coz it's a LOT. Look, I ran it down in the last recap, you can find it here: Billions S4:E01 Chucky Rhoades's Greatest Game.
*Does that look seem or efficient? That's what I thought!
We open with one of these creepy fckers from Black Mirror; how can anyone think robot dogs are anything but extremely creepy??!! Watch Black Mirror!!
It's some kind of Robot Off, with companies competing to have the most impressive creepy robot but that's not why we're here. We're here to be introduced to Rebecca Cantu (Nina Arianda), Bobby "Axe" Axelrod's (Damian Lewis) new love interest, if the season previews are to be believed.
I GUESS WE'RE JUST MOVING ON FROM THE WIFE AND KIDS, ARE WE??
I don't know much about Rebecca Cantu, but I like her already! She takes apart the robo demo in thirty seconds while Axe and Mike "Wags" Wagner (David Costabile - he's in the Motley Crue movie "The Dirt!!) watch admiringly.
Smart, tall, blonde, Bobby is intrigued. He bats cleanup on the robo developer, snagging a favour for a small stake.
Bobby dumps a bunch of cheques in the water for banks to fish out; guess who's just run out of opportunities at those self-same financial institutions? Former Bobby protege Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon) doesn't look surprised in the least.
They were backed pretty hard by Russian oligarch Grigor Andolov (John Malkovich in a role I HATE. It's mostly the excruciating accent, but the random eyerolling has earned its place as well) against Bobby, who isn't making much of a secret of his money-lending, interesting. One of those banks is led by the robo developer, that's the favour!
Taylor's right hand person Sara (Samantha Mathis!) offers to go hard on their behalf, she's fully engaged.
Bobby's not in the mood for any of Ari Spyros's (Steven Kunken) opinions today.
Wags wonders if this is a wise choice, investing in an obviously crappy business to shut down Taylor, Doctor Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff from MadMen! And Sons of Anarchy!) uses an analogy from Heat. I feel as though they've used Heat before.
*I also feel as though they use mostly dickflick reference points from the 70s, leading me to ponder the average age/gender/preoccupation with Robert DeNiro spread among Billions writers.
Wags is off to find a meaningful partnership, starting with all the companies Rebecca Cantu is invested it.
OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH guess who is running for Attorney General??? Kulbinder Darcha, aka Ajay Naidu from Office Space!!!!! I haven't seen him in ages, I'm so excited!!
Sorry, sorry, Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) and Kate Sacker (Condola Rashad) watch as Kulbinder thanks everyone for appointing him acting AG, hey even Commissioner Richie Sansome (Michael Rispoli) is here!
*It's only two episodes in, but I'm concerned at how Bryan and Kate mostly stand around and give reaction shots instead of *doing* something.
Kate and Bryan like Kulbinder, he's been nice and malleable and not too intrusive. Across the room Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) gives his pal Ira (Ben Shenkman) etymological lessons causing Ira to invoke the exact clause I was thinking of: the Windbag Exception.
Chuck picks up his concealed-carry permit for a client from Richie, apparently these are worth their weight in gold in New York. Richie needs a chit to keep this Favour Wagon on a roll; can Chuck look into Raul Gomez (Ruben Santiago-Hudson), administrator of the Police Pension Fund? Raul's been riding heavy lately, but we know he knows Bobby, he seemed like a pretty straight-shooter.
Richie dangles an endorsement for AG in front of Chuck's nose, which isn't as exciting as it might have been since we all watched the season preview showing Chuck running for Attorney General.
Bobby's been after his team to come up with Private Equity opportunities; Ben Kim (Daniel K. Isaac) and newb Tuk Lal (Dhruv Maheshwari, who is adorable and has but one credit: Billions) have dirt on a cleaning company (I'm so funny) in competition with one owned by Rebecca Cantu. I think this is Bobby's way of introducing himself.
He's also taking her for a meal, but alone, not with Wags.
Former Axe Financial employee Mafee (Dan Soder) meets recently fired Rudy (Chris Carfizzi) for lunch. Rudy needs a job.
*Now I want waffle-cut fries
Chuck eats his lunch at his desk, using this time to multi-task by interviewing a reluctant Michael Panay (Hari Dhillon - I am digging all the East Asian actor names we're rolling this episode! Even if technically Hari is from San Francisco) about the Police Pension Fund. In case you don't remember, Michael is running it in name only, Bobby is the man pulling the strings.
Chuck figured out all that, which makes Michael nervous, but it shouldn't, since Chuck and Bobby are besties now, right?
Ari Spyros is so creepy. So so creepy, he creeps everyone out and at some point, you have to ask why he's there. Surely there could be a compliance officer not reeking of Drakar Noir, sweating into his suit and reading all the single women's personal emails, right? Because he's found out that Axe employee Bonnie Barella (Sarah Stiles) was contacted by Mafee, declined but did not report.
This sounds like a FUN place to work. Or whatever the opposite of that is.
Wendy smacks Ari's wrist, they're off to Bonnie's birthday "shindizzle."
"Brickhouse" plays as Bonnie stares at "Dollar" Bill Stearn (Kelly AuCoin). What, no Steely Dan?
I liked that just because it's so gloriously rare to see Dollar smile.
Ari slimes in, but Wendy doesn't seem very welcome, which is surprising. Maybe because she's the head of HR, maybe because Bonnie knows she's read her emails, it's kind of gross.
Also odd to see Wendy being openly defied.
Poor Tuk is starting his new job tomorrow, so he can't imbibe but Mick Danzig (Nathan Darrow) is in the thick of it, in between texting his wife to ask about sex later.
*Do people do that? "Hey babe, I'm at a party, but just wanna see how long I should stay out, any incentives at home?"
Bonnie makes some bold sexual statements in front of the boys (women act in very expected ways on Billions, I'm almost expecting a baseball cap and pizza shot within the month), backed up by Wendy, who is suddenly put in the spotlight by Everready (Keith Eric Chapelle). How does it roll in her bedroom?
We know it really rolls with whips, chains, cigarettes and unfortunate scars, though.
Taylor practices tai chi in their office late at night, disturbed by Grigor Andolov's awful accent. He's going to give them some leverage in the form of a pair of brothers who need to bring their money West. I'm sure that won't morally compromise Taylor at all.
Bobby and Rebecca Cantu dine in the middle of the damn night (seriously, I'm in bed before these people even refresh their creases), he's impressed by her ability to dissuade him from a bad investment. He proposes a partnership.
Some financial foreplay later, Bobby's in love. Does he think how she made her money (shady dealings) is bad?
You kind of have to hear him say that. NOW the humping.
I'm sad. I kind of hoped. Never mind. It's just that.
Also in the mood is Wendy, waking up Chuck in the middle of the night for some fun. He wants to get "the box" but she wants plain old vanilla tonight. Chuck can not do plain old vanilla any more, he needs "the box" to get off. Wendy is sad after but Chuck sleeps, satisfied.
Wendy searches out their shared dominatrix friend Troy (Clara Wong), does she know people who can switch? As in flip the sub/dom relationship? But Chuck's Arousal Template is ingrained and not switchable: he's a submissive all the way. He can only get off when submitting to a dominant female, which Wendy already knew, but is dismayed by. They didn't play like this when they got married, it was an activity they found together later to spice things up. Or did they? It would be easy for Chuck to lead Wendy in the direction that resonated the most with him, but I think Wendy is tiring of always having to beat the shite out of her husband as part of their intimacy. Sometimes you want an ultracuddle with surprise!
Taylor's other right hand person (with no name or picture in IMDb) breaks down the information on Grigor's investor suggestions, Rad (Gregory Korostishevsky from Can You Ever Forgive Me?! And OITNB) and Vlad Kozlov (Ivica Marc) who are, as expected, Bad News.
Taylor and Sara brainstorm on how to get rid of Rad and Vlad - seriously, Rad and Vlad? - they decide to make themselves look unpalatable after an extended discussion about zugzwang, which is having a difficult and important decision to make.
Chuck meets with Raul Gomes, who isn't the least but intimidated by our wee former US Attorney. Richie said Raul was flying private jets to the Kentucky Derby, that was the basis of the investigation, but Raul says otherwise. Interesting. Using Chuck to make a play.
Tuk's first day at the cleaning company in competition with Rebecca's company that Bobby made a hard pitch to join; the employees have to give kickbacks out of their pay and there are a whole bunch of other illegal business practices. Tuk captures it on video with his phone.
Bonnie and Wendy have a session, Wendy is impressed by how Bonnie handles the boys but asks if the armour ever comes off? Is Bonnie really into a dominant guy who she can submit to at home? Bonnie calls Wendy immediately on her personal interest: is Wendy really asking this for herself?
Rebecca and Bobby have a shiny morning after, talking to each other while staring at their phones then making vague talk about later.
*I kind of like that they're not making more of it than it is, but I'd expect maybe some eye contact after, but they look like they just shared a croissant at a mid-level bakery.
She leaves, assuring him about his stake in her cleaning business, so Bobby calls Tuk to make sure he got the goods on the rival company. Then the elevator opens and another beautiful blonde woman walks into his pad.
Chuck pops round to see Bobby, who is being stretched out by Kelly Stackhouse (Kelly Stackhouse - a yoga master?), who we saw getting off the elevator just then.
Chuck asks about Raul, he doesn't want to put Bobby in a bad position, but Bobby senses right away that this is a sting engineered by Commissioner Richie Sansome, who might be gunning for Raul's sweet position.
Bobby offers up Michael Panay in his stead, awww. Bobby just brought Micheal back from the edge.
Taylor calls up banker Theo (Jason Babinsky) of the bank and flopped robotic project to gloat, they have all their money from the Kozlovs, who have money in Theo's bank. Bobby tells Theo to squeeze the Kozlovs (no doubt the reason for Taylor's call), which puts Spartan Ives on the line as Theo wants to be Bobby's prime for that favour.
Chuck meets with Richie to float Bobby's plan, he offers Bobby as Raul's new manager for an "understanding." Chuck asks for the AG endorsement in return.
Bryan and Kate brainstorm about the AG role, they don't know that Chuck's innit yet, but they can sense it.
Our hardworking financial reporter Randy Kornbluth (Brian Berrebbi) airs his exclusive report on the Eureka cleaning company to Bobby's satisfaction, he thought Bobby might want to see it because...you know.
Ben stumps for Tuk, he went above and beyond!
*Allow me to say: Tuk spending a few hours as a cleaner (can't get rid of the smell of PineSol) and nervously recording a shakedown with a phone is not exactly crossing the river Hudson, you know? Cleaners smell like PineSol every day!
Uh oh, looks like Rebecca got wind of Bobby's shenanigans with the office cleaning market. She stomps into Bobby's office to find out if she f**ked an idiot or just someone really duplicitous.
And then they go for lunch, because backdoor business dealings and fuck-o name calling are warmup for these two.
Oh look, Kelly Stackhouse stretched Chuck out too! Just in time to host former protege Bryan Connerty, who wants to know if Chuck's running for Attorney General. He'll have to "let loose the dogs of war!"
Blah blah fighty words blah. Bryan is not a winner, it must be said, however adorable he is in his bright blue suit.
So weird watching them have a conversation around a whole other person silently manipulating Chuck's body.
Mafee meets with Rudy to give him the bad news: no job at Taylor's new company. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, Mafee, awww.
Taylor is again working late at night, they have to go meet with Grigor to give him the "bad" news about the Kozlovs pulling out. Sara is working even later, I can't figure out their relationship yet.
Grigor and Taylor have a tense drink, he's not surprised by their actions or suggestions to take the Kozlovs out of the market entirely. They demand leverage from Grigor and he agrees, impressed by the size of their cojones.
*And after they quoted Kid Rock. Sigh
Bobby and Rebecca have their second date at Coney Island or some such similar setting; he greets Raul then nods at Chuck and Ira. Commissioner Richie is about to endorse Chuck for AG, yay! Chuck does his version of dumbing himself down (sigh), Ira is just happy he took his advice.
**Isn't Chuck seriously the most compromised guy out there? They're investigating all his old cases, looking at vacating the convictions, he's steeped in corruption.
Wendy's not there, she's running late at night by herself, as Bonnie does, also trying to tamp down desire. We're out.
FINALLY. I have to say I've been waiting for Chuck and Wendy to be done forEVER. Not because I think divorce is a good thing (I cannot recommend it, avoid at all costs) but rather because they are so mismatched. This episode she asked herself if she wants to be beating his arse for the next 40 years for his enjoyment or whether she wants an equal in the boudoir and I think the answer was naaah.
This one wasn't just about Chuck and Wendy, can Bobby be in a relationship with someone as powerful/underhanded as he? Is this what he's been waiting for? (Like not Wendy, which would make more sense...). Can Taylor take the tiger in their tank and tame it? What gets everyone off? Obviously, for most, including Chuck, it's the power exchange, either flexing it or sublimating it. I wonder where they're planning to take us this year.
Until next time! Cheers