Things got a little more truthful than usual last time on Billions, will our relationships all make it? There’s only one way to find out, rolling S4:E05 after the break.
We open with a gross kind of visual, Black Jack Foley (David Strathairn) being placed in his coffin and cremated while “Payback” plays and Anthony Mangieri makes a delicious looking pizza in a woodfire oven for Foley’s nemesis Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giammati) to eat.
Leeetle too on the nose, Billions. Apparently Anthony Mangieri is some kind of pizza guru?
See, Black Jack wanted to make Chuck governor of New York, but Chuck wasn’t willing to pay his price and decided to run for Attorney General instead, which led a dying Black Jack to divulge the details of Chuck’s non-vanilla bedroom shenanigans to Chuck’s other nemesis Jock Jeffcoat (Clancy Brown).
Chuck decided to grab the whip by the handle and out himself as an enthusiastic participant in a consensual S&M lifestyle, much to the chagrin of his play partner and wife Dr. Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff). To be fair, she was not enjoying the complicated roleplay as much as she had previously and was at a bit of a crossroads about it already. Being thrust into the spotlight of the international media against her wishes has not done anything for their relationship OR play.
Are we all caught up? Good! We’re back to Chuck, Wendy, Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and his new girlfriend Rebecca Cantu (Nina Arianda) about to eat the pizza symbolizing Black Jack’s incinerated body. Yerk
Wendy is still angry with Chuck about being outed to the world as a domme; but she’s moved past rage to petulance which means they will not be divorcing. FINE. It’s Rebecca who calms Wendy down; people are totally narcissistic arseholes who will forget about her dirty laundry any moment now and go back to thinking about their own soiled knickers.
Wendy approves of Rebecca! They go vape while Bobby and Chuck pretend they care about the people they walk over to get where they are.
Down to business! Chuck already repaid one of Bobby’s markers for helping him get the AG seat by getting rid of Russian businessman Grigor Andolov (John Malkovich), now Bobby wants some help on his pet project: crushing Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon).
Taylor, a former protege of Bobby’s, had the nerve to strike out on their own when Bobby wasn’t done with them yet. Then they took clients and personnel; it’s been war ever since. It’s worse than I thought, however.
Whether or not Taylor has done anything illegal. Hm. Bobby lacks perspective about them, this blindspot will be his downfall.
Across town, Taylor throws up and I wonder if that means what it usually means on TV when someone with a uterus hurls.
It might be just nerves, though, they give a speech to their core group about losing Grigor’s money and how that might be it for their shop. Maffee (Dan Soder) isn’t throwing in the towel yet, Taylor’s just so darn smart.
Taylor’s Number Two (seriously, just whisper a title at me, give her a promotion, anything!) Sara (Samatha Mathis) is more effective, she has an investor relations plan in play involving Lauren Turner (Jade Eshete). We meet Lauren passed out on a table, welcome!
Lauren swigs pickle juice (best hangover cure ever?), she’s gonna shine later. They’d like her to shine all over the Firefighters Pension Fund, they are allocating (what does that mean? Donating? Investing? Why not just say investing?) in the 3 billion dollar range and won’t touch Bobby’s hedge fund for anything.
Lauren is skeptical; the firefighters may not be able to differentiate between Taylor and Bobby but that’s literally what they’re paying her to do, so off she toddles with her pickle juice and awesome sunglasses.
Quick backstory on that: Bobby Axelrod has long rested on his legendary boostrapper rise, coming from poverty and remaking himself as a Wall Street wizard. He was a heavy sponsor of the New York firefighters and in particular associated with 9-11 causes. In season one we found out that Bobby was essentially a war profiteer; when September 11 happened he was literally being fired and managed to hang on long enough to profit off of emergency services and sales, etc. The fact that everyone else in his office was killed during 9-11 also aided in his ascent. None of that went over well in the press and with the public, especially when it came to NY firefighters, including his former brother-in-law.
Whew, did I say quick??
Bobby meets with John Rice (Seth Gabel – hey, he’s married to Bryce Dallas Howard!), one of the kids he put through college via the 9-11 fund, but it’s a complicated visit. John doesn’t want any more of Bobby’s dirty money, he’s come with a cheque for 100+ million. That’s not what he says, mind you, that’s just what I inferred from the suddenly contentious theme music.
Bobby sends Mike “Wags” Wagner (David Costabile) to find out what’s shaking, turns out it’s just Bobby being paid out, which I knew, see: music note above.
It’s Chuck’s first day as Attorney General; former protege and current nemesis (Chuck has so many nemesi, I need a pivot table to keep track) Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) stops by with a Japanese analogy to welcome him to his new role. Chuck’s not looking to discuss cases with Bryan, if he needs anything, it will be this.
Even though Chuck specifically asked that nobody clap when he arrives at work, he’s devastated when nobody claps when he arrives at work.
Tonelle “T” Burton (Tijuana Ricks) and Karl Allerd (Allan Harvey) explain why; turns out the AG has very little power if the Governor wills it. And he very much DO. Remember that Black Jack got the Governor elected, of course he wouldn’t be looking to help out our Chuckles. It’s Jock again!
Dr. Wendy totally isn’t hiding in her office in the dark, nuh uh, she’s just working on clearing her desk! Bobby doesn’t want her to wallow in shame, this is a good thing!
Now back to him. He’s struggling with his feelings over John Rice giving him his money back, he didn’t even know he had feelings! He offered to help John out when his dad died in 9-11, to be an ear, a mentor. But he didn’t do that, he just offered money. Wendy is so smart.
“You know this is about Taylor, right?” He feels betrayed by one of his kids, just like John. He helps her a little on the way out; she has no idea who’s gossiping about her and she’s giving it power over her by letting it bother her. Either confront it or let it go.
She should not have Googled herself tho.
Chuck’s over plying his trade with the Governor Bob Sweeney (Matt Servitto), who is absolutely being squeezed by Jock et. al.
Taylor’s dad Douglas Mason (Kevin Pollak!) has been working on a prototype; he only needs a measly 28 million and change for launch. Fighty words about whether they’re just trying to out-earn Bobby and the prototype is on hold.
Bobby goes to see John Rice, they’re going saltwater fishing right effing now.
Chuck Rhoades Sr. (Jeffrey Demunn) is working on some stupid legacy casino or something, he’ll need 30 million?billion? to get the permits. He’s also picking up his own Viagra, gotta keep it quiet in case the wife finds out, which he tells his son. Jr. does not want to hear it, nor does he want to hear about Black Jack’s legendary vengeance. Sr. will not be denied: Make.Them.Fear.You.
Chuck sics T and Karl off on a clandestine project.
Wendy’s come up with her own plan to find out what’s being said about her: hacking former employee Rudy’s social media accounts with the help of Wags’ encyclopedic memory of porn actresses.
*Overcomplicated subplot is over complicated
Bobby and John head out on the water without their phones, waxing nostalgic about John’s dead dad and his affinity for light and sweet coffee. Sooner or later, one of these guys is gonna crack and we’ll find out how they really feel. It’s tangible.
Lauren and her group of personable, pretty young friends came up with a meeting with the firefighters, now its up to Taylor to seal the deal.
Ari Spyros (Stephen Kunken) arrives to find everyone important in the boardroom, he’s stuck outside with Ben Kim (Daniel K. Isaac) and Tuk Lal (Dhruv Maheshwari).
Chuck meets with Black Jack’s dude Joe Scolari (Sean Patrick Riley) whom we remember because he menacingly repeats himself all the time. Chuck’s got a list of stuff Joe’s done wrong, it appears Joe’s thinking about an alliance, although he only says it once so I’m not sure.
Fishing happens, then we finally get to the point of Bobby and John Rice sharing so much screentime. Bobby is all about expansion and growth, John Rice wants to stay at his own level and be content. They fight until Bobby realises his fancy boat isn’t working any more. Too bad they left their phones at the marina! Bobby tries to bribe someone over the radio to get ashore, but no dice today. $10 says Bobby did that on purpose.
Remember when Chuck Sr. went looking for permits? Someone else noticed that, and he’s dropped it in Kate Sacker(Condola Rashad)’s lap. She goes to Bryan and they call Jake Biancarosa (Neal Matarazzo) onto the carpet to explain his unusual assistance.
Bobby and John Rice are down to brass tacks: John wanted to make his own money, he wants nothing to do with Bobby. His dad didn’t respect Bobby and neither does John. That’s all Bobby needed to hear, he starts up the boat and you all owe me $10. Just throw it in the Patreon!
Taylor makes their case to the firefighters: it’s a pitch about…not stealing the firefighter’s value? They go hard against Bobby, it’s like watching a tall, angry and carefully profane elf vent their spleen. The music tells me it went well!
Chuck makes his case to Governor Sweeney, he bites and Jock can go do something anatomically impossible to himself. Chuck even gives a speech at Black Jack’s funeral, that seems a bit much, dinnit? He’s here to call out criminals!
Not just call them out, T and Karl walk in to arrest everyone! Including Joe Scolari, who seems more annoyed than surprised. They had a deal! Sr. glows from the pews as the righteous Chuck strides out after giving Black Jack A Proper Sendoff.
Oh wait. Sr. is corrupt to his eyeballs, what was that about righteousness, Jr.?
John tries to walk back his scorching speech from earlier; let’s be pals, huh? Bobby lowers the boom and tosses John back his phone, his fund is having some trouble suddenly, especially since Bobby gave an interview casting doubt on his fund management style.
*Was that with our intrepid financial reporter Randy Kornbluth (Brian Berrebbi)? There’s just the one in New York!
We see how it all went down (I love it when they show us!); “Dollar” Bill Stearn (Kelly Aucoin), Bonnie Barella (Sarah Stiles), Everready (Keith Eric Chapelle), Mick (Nathan Darrow) and Wags working the phones to decimate John Rice’s assets under management. Even Ari got to play; he was the radio guy!
John’s had a very bad day, I’m worried about his mental state.
Taylor got the firefighter’s money so they’re helping their dad, yay!
Bobby’s team is very excited about their destruction of another hedge fund, yaaaay. Bobby spots Wendy above ground and visible and moves to investigate. She did some digging about her reputation online, Bobby makes a weird comment about wanting to know what type of bustier/whip she wears/uses and that’s new. Anyway, did she let it go?
Bobby is shocked to hear that Taylor reached out when the news broke, he bails as Wendy calls Taylor. Really?
Sr. and Jr. meet at Sr.’s project site, he’s obsessed with his legacy. I hope someone got lots of pictures of them walking around pointing at project locations, oh great, Kate Sacker and the FBI are there to do just that. We’re out to the song Payback, right where we started!
Until next time, scriptkiddies, cheers!