I know, I know, I'm supposed to be watching the other big show going on right now, but Billions is a favourite of mine so I will get it out a little early this week. Then I can watch Gentleman Jack, wooo!! Did I just make Billions sound like oatmeal or slightly underdone lamb? It's anything but, let's roll into season four, episode 7 and find out what's shaking!
I'm always taken aback when I watch the disclaimer at the beginning of Billions; HOW is this only 14A? Do you know how many sidesteps I have to take to avoid using words that will result in some very disappointed Googlers? So many!
We open in Larry Brogan's (David Aaron Baker) kitchen; he's called New York Attorney General Chuck Rhoades Jr. (Paul Giamatti) over for a chitchat because he's shot his neighbour's dog while schwasted. He summoned Chuck because t'was our intrepid public servant who wrangled him the gun permit for the piece sitting on his table next to expensive booze.
Larry had a fight with his wife, he's been drinking, he heard a noise, blah blah he wants Chuck to clean up his mess. Be his Michael Clayton!
*I've commented before that all the film references in Billions are geared towards the white male mid-fifties demographic which I assumed summed up the Billions writing room. However, now I'm wondering if they assume you and I are said demographic. Not I! Must be you?
Chuck sputters; did he at least call the cops? Nah, Larry thought people would assume it was thunder, oh what's that knock at the door?
Attorney General of the Southern District (like...two steps up from Chuck? Ish?) Jock Jeffcoat (Clancy Brown) is literally one and a half times the size of US Treasury Something Todd Krakow (Danny Strong), demonstrated beautifully during their shared urinal visit.
Jock pees on flies (sigh) and informs Todd that he's been made a target of Chuck Rhoades (but, not reaaaally, Chuck was just trying to get at Jock, but not really that either, he's too busy trying to rule the world as a benevolent madman), Todd wants deets! Jock goes mum now that his fish has swallowed the bait.
Chuck's already working on Larry's problem, he visits police Commissioner Richie Sansome (Michael Rispoli) in a much smaller joint than Larry's mansion. Chuck brought the gun over, Richie is aghast, but way less WASPY than that sounds. He references Michael Clayton too, I should probably watch it before continuing. It's just that George Clooney has a terrible action face; he looks like he's going to cry while under stress.
Upshot: Richie and Chuck's names are on the carry permit, Chuck's gotta find a way to make this problem go away and not come back on either of them.
Across town is Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Damian Lewis), introducing his ladyfriend Rebecca Cantu (Nina Arianda) to both Bruno's pizza and the latest super secret Anti-Taylor plot. It must be getting serious with Rebecca if she's in the pizza palace; I don't even think I've seen Dr. Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) or Michael "Wags" Wagner (David Costabile) there before either!
The latest scheme is to devastate former protege and wunderkind Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon) by having them betray their dad Douglas Mason (Kevin Pollak) and his product. They want Rebecca to get involved on the business investment side (I'm SO sure nobody knows they're dating), buying the firm currently in partnership with Taylor. Then Bobby's gonna buy it from her and honestly: this plotline is so very boring. It's like watching superheros punch each other in the face for 2.34 hours.
Rebecca makes her move right away, locking in the goodwill of Brian Dana (Ari'el Stachel) for a paltry 100 million. Douglas is all in, Taylor wants more information. Their CEO Sara Hammon (Samantha Mathis) pulls them out of the room with an Ixnay On The EgativityNay, giving Taylor a moment to think. They cancel the deal, surprising everyone. They want to protect their daddeh.
Wendy analyses it for Bobby, Rebecca and Wags back at Bruno's: Taylor is trying to be everything for their dad, that pressure to be perfect will build and maybe they can 'splode it all over them. Back to the drawing board!
But. They're messing with someone's FAMILY.
Freddie Eisen (Andrew Polk) managed to get Chuck's client Larry off the hook for the murder of his neighbour's dog; it will cost him 100k and a show-quality malinois puppy (picture a tiny German Shepard with enourmous ears). OR he gets jail time and a ruined life as a drunken dog murderer.
Chuck's really stacking up the chits he's gonna have to repay!
Bruno takes Bobby aside as they're leaving; there's a retirement investment opportunity in Florida and so on, I'm confused that Bruno's talking to Bobby again after Bobby decimated Bruno's nephew's wee town of Sandicott in the most brutal way possible. Well. I mean, he didn't have horses with spikes or anything, but their austerity measures were extremely painful. Bobby and Lara, his wife at the time, decided they'd rather have the money than Bruno's excellent pizza but here we are now. Interesting.
Chuck gets home to find Wendy meeting with a realtor; she can't see them continuing here, not after he's been getting "sports massages" in the kitchen by this lady.
Chuck explains through gritted teeth that it was Wendy who suggested they get the domme delivery, but he fell for a trap as old at time. He accepted her offer and thus betrayed her. Again. They do have a beautiful brownstone; shouldn't they be talking about his growing and uncontrollable need to be punched in the face without cause?
Instead we walk down memory lane with Chuck and the Pancake Days of his childhood. He does a mean impersonation of his dad, Chuck Rhoades Sr. enjoying the spread.
But not all the Sundays were like that; once or twice a year Sr. would flip out and scream at Chuck's mom, asking if he looked like a "pancake eater??" and then storming out. She would worry all day until he got him about what she did wrong, then apologize when he finally showed up.
The worst part was when Sr. explained to his son the method behind his madness: he wanted to keep it "fresh and exciting" for his wife, so she could fully appreciate the days he didn't freak out. "A woman has a subconscious need to be dominated, remember that."
His involvement in sad*i*s*m and mas*o*c*h*ism is his way of dealing with what he came from; he doesn't lie or cheat or use violence, but needs must out. Wendy appreciates the deep share but does not absolve him of splashing the lurid details of their sex life across the public arena.
*They should talk about the recent steep escalation, though.
Taylor and their dad Douglas eat Chinese food in an empty apartment and talk about their fractured family; I sense that their family not accepting Taylor's non-binariness was a major hurdle.
Off to Todd Krakow (Danny Strong) presenting a sacrificial lamb to Bobby; he offers Chuck on a platter because he is unaware that the former arch nemesi are now pals. Of course Bobby will help Todd rid himself of the plague of Chuck, he had only to ask!
All Bobby wants in return for this (non)favour is an introduction to Robert Beaufort (Chelcie Ross, who has been in everything, honestly, look him up, he's instantly recognisable), aka Hard Bob Beaufort. Oh calm down, he's like 80!
Taylor tapped our Wendy for filling that empty apartment with furniture; they don't think they share an aesthetic with their parents. Having their family close will be different for Taylor, I wonder if they've fallen into magical thinking: if I set things up and support my parents, they won't drive me crazy and will be entirely different people than the ones I've known my whole life.
Wendy points out that family is not "cost-neutral"; hopefully the shared connection and love will sustain them through the more difficult parts of being around people who drive you batshit on the regular. Taylor enthusiastically agrees that this is a fresh start and new motivation so I'm now positive they know Wendy is preparing to shank them.
Hard Bob wastes no time laying down the ground rules for Bobby; sure he'll meet with him, but he brookers no bullshit and he doesn't even have to listen, gotit, sonny? Now get off his lawn!
Speaking of crusty old guys, Chuck receives a call from his (arsehole) dad Chuck Rhoades Sr. (Jeffrey DeMunn), who's run into a snag in his financing. He laments the long gone days of banks being gentlemen to gentlemen (BOO F***ING HOO SR), can Jr. pony up some collateral? He sure can, since his daddy tells him he wuvs him awwww. He wuvs his daddy right back!
Guess who else is feeling the love right now? US Attorney Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) listening in on his wiretap with the FBI. They are taping every minute of this collusion; both look as though they need a cigarette after.
Secretary of the US Treasury (that's close if not exactly the title) Todd Krakow comes skipping over to Bobby's pizza place to strategize re: taking Chuck down; but looky who's waiting to see him?! Hai Chuck! Todd pouts but is convinced to stay so that Chuck can discuss the finer points of the law.
In case you didn't watch the last couple of episodes, you should know that Todd is only on law enforcement radar because Chuck wanted to use him as leverage against his former boss and current arch-nemesis Jock Jeffcoat. Chuck has more enemies than a blind man has fancy sunglasses.
Hard Bob is making his move at Taylor's company; confronting Taylor, their dad Douglas, Sara Hammon and business partner Brian Dana. Something about the tech has triggered a looksee from the military about patents? National security is invoked and that's not quick or easy to deal with. Brian suddenly has a pressing engagement he just remembered.
Remember when I said not to make assumptions about Hard Bob because of his age? Turns out I'm an ageist arsehole because he was able to handle an adult film actress and two friends just fine! Yay small blue pills!
*Only one introduced herself, Lisa Ann, the other two did not and I didn't have Wags to guide me, so I'm guessing they are Gina-Raye Carter and Audrey Joyce Leon based on IMDb. I got nothing, but ask me about 80s pron and I'm your girl!
Chuck's having an extra late night that's about to get extra annoying; last time the guy he got a gun carry permit for shot his neighbour's dog while drunk and Chuck had to bat cleanup. The neighbour initially settled for 100k and a new malinois puppy as brokered by Freddie Eisen (Andrew Polk) , but then he discovered that Chuck is involved and he's come to bust some AG balls.
Shelby Vivian (Peter Jacobsen) doesn't just have the name of an expensive drag queen with influential "friends"; he also has a picture of Chuck managing the police on the night in question. He's sussed the coverup in play, now he wants a quarter million in cash or he sings. In memory of Charlemagne, surely the most expensive dog ever.
The bad news keeps rolling in over at Taylor's shop; even PR person Lauren Turner (Jade Eshete) and her pretty, personable friends are having trouble securing new financing in light of the government's national security quash.
Surely Bobby must understand that the more he wastes his time trying to crush Taylor, the more he elevates them to his level. It's like Prince and Morris Day and The Time; they weren't fit to polish Prince's sparkly purple shoes but his fixation on outshining them made them appear to be an actual threat. And I'm sorry: Morris Day and The Time were never near the level below an infinite universe away from our Royal Purpleness, neither is Taylor in comparison to what Bobby's accomplished.
Bobby and Rebecca work in bed; she's impressed with Taylor's business sense. Some back and forth leads to discussing Bruno's retirement plans. She saw that he wanted to go right now, but let Bobby push him into a graduated deal. Sometimes people have different life paths, Bobbeh.
Taylor's reassuring her firefighter money about the blown R&D deal for her dad's product; Ken Shaddock (the extremely handsome Chance Kelly) wants to believe that they are holding their pensions in the sacred trust promised. ALSO, having served in the army, he knows about two-front wars (long story short: they suck and more people die than necessary. Is it necessary for people to die, though? Is it?) and he's not looking to take his firefighters through any more battles than he has to.
Taylor immediately cuts the cord, see ya, handsome!
Brian Dana is gone too. So nobody wants to give them any more money and there's not any coming in, Taylor is now tripled down on their dad's product.
Do you remember earlier in the season when we found out that Taylor's dad is totally a shady bastage when it comes to intellectual property rights?
Wendy caves and calls Taylor for a meeting; spilling the news of Axe's offensive. She seems shaken by Bobby's singleminded and relentless attack on Taylor but she's shamming and Taylor knows it. Wendy took it too far and said she was thinking about quitting, after getting in a couple of shots about Taylor's dad monetizing their desire for a relationship, that was clever.
Wendy is oot. Taylor is furious.
Chuck Jr and Sr. discuss the sweet banking deal Sr.'s gonna get from Jr.'s new pal Todd Krakow, Bryan is so happy he got that wiretap! Listening in is Kate Sacker (Condola Rashad), preeetttty sure this violates a bunch a banking laws, wheee!
Taylor fires their dad. He's predictably upset, storming out while Sara and Mafee (Dan Soder) workshop to figure out where everything went wrong. Mafee takes the mea culpa, he trusted Wendy. Douglas uses this opportunity to point the finger at Taylor; he's leaving because they worked with despicable people!
AFTER EVERYTHING TAYLOR DID FOR HIM. Got him a place, furnished it, supported his dream, financially and emotionally. He can't get any more money out of them, so he's gone.
*At least that's what Taylor heard.
MREEP MREEP MREEP that was a test and Douglas FAILED. Some fighty words and Douglas is gone for good and I am sad. Who's gonna be on our screen saying 'despicable"?
Shelby Vivian (seriously, that is a great name) is dragged off the street and thrown into a car with Chuck, who threatens a good old-fashioned beating in the name of "encouragement." However, we all know Chuck prefers to talk his prey to death, tonight is no different.
Blah blah *meaningful eye contact while threatening Shelby with a post-death mutilation scenario involving a left behind dog* blah blah extortion blah blah fighty words and a puppy! Hai purebred Belgian malinois cutesy wootsey inky dinky bitsy boop!
Papers are signed.
Mafee has entered the lion's den! Ben Kim (Daniel K. Isaac) is overjoyed to see him but Mafee doesn't have time today, he's rolling for VENGEANCE.
"Dollar" Bill Stearn (Kelly AuCoin) doesn't like Mafee calling Wendy the monster she undoubtedly is; he steps in to back up this "traitorous motherf****r".
Bonnie Barella (Sarah Stiles) is right in there, even Victor Mateo (Louis Cancelmi) and his cheekbones shout a bit. Ari Spyros (Stephen Kunken) makes us all twitchy as the *grown men* talk about fighting it out in the ring and Bobby watches with glee.
Chuck delivers the good news to his client Larry Brogan (David Aaron Baker) in his swank digs, he gets slightly more direct that we're used to on this show. He explains that Larry will now owe him an uncomfortable favour, to be repaid when it is the most inconvenient and expensive. Sure, sure, can Larry have his gun back now?
CHUCK GIVES HIM THE GUN BACK.
Then comes home to find a freshly baked apple pie waiting for him. Oh. But not for him, rather it's for the prospective buyers who shop for homes at midnight in the Big Apple. She's listed the house. Realtor Brienne (Marguerite Stimpson) thinks it would be awesome if Chuck moved right along now, thanks.
Can you list your house without the consent of your spouse and presumable co-owner? Apparently on Billions, you can!
Sure, Wendy, dump Chuck and that lifestyle but it's not going to make you not a monster. She runs by the water as Bobby finds it in himself to care about what Bruno actually wants for his own future.
It involves everything but owning a pizza shop for another 5 years with Bobby Axelrod. Bobby releases him and brings him out for a big going away party at his own restaurant.
Wendy runs. Until she breaks down, crying into the water and Taylor hugs themself and tries not to let the tears take over. We're out.
So. Now we wonder if Wendy's soul can be saved. This was a definite step to the left for her; she's always challenged Bobby before when he veered into Vengeance Is Mine territory and having her run a covert ops was a departure for her. She's ready to leave Chuck FINALLY, will she also leave her other man-child Bobby? It's interesting that even as she's struggling to assert herself in her personal life (by not beating the shite out of the man she loves), she makes this difficult choice to use her weapons for evil. I am maintaining sideye, as this is quite a lot of change for her in a relatively short period of time.
Until next time, you lot! Cheers