Billions Recap ‘The Wrong Maria Gonzalez’: The Gambler

In the Billions recap, Axe can’t stay away from trading, Chuck is forced to call in more favors and Dake finds out just how dirty his adversary will play..

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

Yes, the recaps for Billions have arrived.

Following a season three debut that mostly swirled around catching up with everybody in the aftermath of the Ice Juice scandal, action quickly picked up in episode two with Axe trying to find away around voluntarily giving up his ability to trade securities while Chuck Rhoades is still acting as a proxy prosecutor for this case while mentoring young Oliver Dake on what it will take to bring the mighty Axelrod down.

In the midst of all of this, Taylor is still trying to get comfortable in the role of CIO and that’s not easy to do when the market throws a storm at you and the boss is suddenly lurking around the building where he has no business being right now.

With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of Billions titled ‘The Wrong Maria Gonzalez’…

The Gambler

Bobby Axelrod is a man who always feels like he lives above the low.

With billions of dollars in the bank and a mountain of influence at his fingertips, it’s easy to understand why Axe always believes he can get away with something.

Last week, Axe gave up his right to trade securities, which in his world is like asking him to stop breathing so it’s safe to say he wasn’t ready to give that up as easily as he signed the paper promising to do it.

Rather than making the trades personally, Bobby begins feeling out former allies and business associates who run smaller, less successful firms to offer them a piece of his financial empire and in exchange they’ll let him bend their ear on where that money would best be spent. It’s Axe’s way of trading without directly trading.

This doesn’t help matters much at Axe Capital where Taylor is still trying to succeed in their new role as CIO and yet there’s the boss suddenly showing up in the middle of a work day to spent some time in his office where he really has no business being. Thankfully, Axe’s arrival does offer a rather hilarious scene where Ari Spyros — former SEC goon and now the Axe Cap chief of compliance — is forced to follow him around with a phone to live stream that Bobby isn’t there to do any trading or influence any of the trades by the company that bears his name.

Meanwhile, Taylor is dealing with a dangerously volatile situation while simultaneously trying to figure out why Axe didn’t hand over $2 billion of his funds when the money was released by the government. It seems Axe has that ear marked for something else and Taylor can’t help but wonder if their new boss is betting against them rather than rooting for them to succeed in his absence.

To make matters worse, a tsunami is headed for Brazil and that’s bad news after Taylor slowly re-introduced a big chunk of Axe’s money into that area and now the company stands to lose a lot of it thanks to this random tropical storm that’s shown up out of nowhere.

Taylor tries to rally the troops but they run into the same problem there as the employees are either too afraid to pull the trigger or the crew doesn’t trust their instincts to pull them back from the brink on this particular occasion.

Of course there’s a slight concern about the people in Brazil that might be screwed if Axe Capital begins slashing funding to all these different resources where they are invested but that’s not as worrisome as closing the day down by a huge number of percentage points.

Taylor does rely on Wendy for some helpful advice as they are still trying to figure a way to dig out from this hole while trying not to get lost in Axe holding back that $2 billion in funding.

Wendy’s words help as Taylor eventually pulls together a plan using some information cobbled together by Ben Kim, who is still second guessing himself at every turn, as they begin to correct course on the losses of the day. When Axe finally arrives for a meeting with his new CIO, Taylor is happy to report that the firm will only be down about five percent overall despite this major setback with the tsunami.

Taylor also knows that it’s killing Axe that he can’t be there to make the call considering he saw all of this coming when he got an alert on his phone this morning about an earthquake that rocked a nearby country that would soon send a huge number of tidal waves directly at Brazil. Axe is a chess player who is always thinking 10 moves ahead. Taylor isn’t there yet but they are reacting quickly enough to prevent the company from losing significant money and saving face at the same time while their boss is toxic in the eyes of the financial community.

Finally, Axe decides to hand over that last $2 billion to his prodigy. In return, Taylor informs him that they’ve decided to take that money and invest it in smaller hedge funds where they can keep a passive control on the market — just like Axe had always intended.

Calling in a Favor

One of the best parts about watching Billions is also learning something while enjoying the show. This week’s education was thanks to the judge selection in the case of the United States against Bobby Axelrod.

It turns out that judge selection in U.S. District Court is handled by a random process — a bunch of names are thrown into a barrel that looks like something used for Tuesday night bingo, and when a slip of paper is finally drawn, that’s the judge who will oversee a trial.

Well this week, Oliver Dake and Bryan Connerty find out the hard way how a random selection can really fuck you over after Honorable Leonard Fundt is assigned to the Axelrod case. Oliver doesn’t know how bad this is for them but the look on Connerty’s face tells the whole story as he looks over at his former mentor, Orrin Bach, who is all but celebrating this choice.

It seems Judge Fundt is an old school believer in the free market and capitalism, which means he’s soft on financial crimes like these. It’s going to be a tougher case to win with Funt on the bench and Connerty knows it.

That’s when Chuck Rhoades is once again called upon to save the day.

He tries to convince Dake that getting Fundt off this case is what’s best if he wants to convict Axelrod, but the new interim head of the eastern district isn’t buying it. Dake believes that any case can be won with compelling evidence and testimony and he’s willing to go after Axelrod with this judge behind the bench.

Chuck is obviously not so sure about that so he decides to take it upon himself to get this problem fixed.

Of course it’s going to require Chuck calling in some old favors and passing out some new ones, but this is the only way to ensure the trial leans towards them rather than Axelrod.

First up, Chuck goes to visit his old friend Adam DeGiulio, who he helped transition from prosecutor to judge a while back. Chuck avoids calling in a favor but rather offers to hand one out if DeGiulio would be willing to put his name forward to replace Judge Fundt once he drops off the trial.

DeGiulio agrees to the terms — a favor he can call in at any time and Chuck cannot refuse — and he will call the case right down the middle.

As for Judge Fundt, it seems he owed Chuck a favor many years ago but the one time he tried to cash in on that, he was brow beaten and made to feel like a crook for even suggesting a debt being repaid. That’s where Wendy’s life coaching skills come in handy as she’s able to talk her husband into believing in himself enough to stand up to this judge while quietly reminding him of the favor that he owed that needs to be repaid.

When Chuck finally confronts Judge Fundt, he makes it clear that the favor he’s owed was regarding his own son who got busted dealing drugs while in medical school. Chuck obviously got the kid off without any criminal record and now the judge’s son is flourishing as a doctor.

This time around the judge doesn’t brow beat Chuck or make him feel inferior. He just offers to recuse himself from the case while telling Chuck that his debt is no longer owed.

Judge Fundt offers up that Chuck really has become a master manipulator because he’s definitely relishing this role lately. Chuck seems to feel legitimately bad about calling in this favor to a man he respects but either way the job gets down and that’s all that seems to matter to him these days.

Afterwards, DeGiulio is officially placed on the case, which makes Connerty rather happy because while he’s not a judge that will be leaning towards them during the trial, he will certainly play things straight down the middle, which is more than what they would have gotten with the other guy.

Iced

It’s one step forward and two steps back for Connerty and Dake this week, however, after they begin gathering witnesses that will be used at the trial against Bobby Axelrod.

What Connerty wants to prove is that Axe coerced these people to drink poisoned bottles of Ice Juice that would then cause a panic and the stock would plummet upon word of an outbreak.

Unfortunately, Connerty’s attempt to flip Dan Margolis — the ruined financial trader who had his house paid off by Axe as a courtesy to help him with Ice Juice — is not about to betray his benefactor. In fact, Dan just makes Connerty uncomfortable after he steps out of his pool in the nude and holds the entire conversation while standing there butt ass naked.

Then it comes time to question Maria Gonzalez — the maid to Axelrod’s buddy Victor Mateo — who was caught on tape pouring a tainted substance into her Ice Juice before drinking it and getting sick. Mateo had her on lockdown, especially considering Axe is teasing an investment in his little hedge fund, but when Connerty and his FBI agent gal pal corner her on the street, she begins singing like a bird.

Connerty convinces the maid to come to his office later that night to make a full statement and in exchange, he’d even be willing to look at her resident status to ensure she doesn’t get deported as a result of her testimony in this trial.

Unfortunately, Mateo knows his housekeeper all too well and when she shows up late for work that day, his first call goes to Bobby to inform him that something is off. That’s all it takes for Axe to be convinced that she was questioned by the government in an attempt to flip her to testify against him.

To ensure that never happens, Bobby calls on his new security guys — a pair of hipster soldiers of fortune — to compel Maria Gonzalez to never get the chance to testify.

It seems Bobby has hired these guys to handle all of his cyber-security as well as locking down his house and apartment so that the government can never spy on him. Basically these guys are doing what Hall once did before he fled the country after the FED’s busted Axe for his Ice Juice scheme.

It seems these guys are pretty effective after Connerty and Dake go looking for Maria Gonzalez only to find out she’s been detained and deported to Guatemala. Axe’s security guys hacked into the ICE database, switched Maria’s information for someone else, and she was immediately deported back to her home country.

Dake attempts to get Attorney General Waylon ‘Jock’ Jeffcoat to intervene on his behalf to get Maria’s deportation delayed but he refuses. See ‘Jock’ believes that Maria deserved to be deported based on her crimes and if she was supposed to stay to testify then it was up to Dake to keep a better eye on her.

It’s a rather callous turn of events for poor Maria after she was the unwitting pawn in this game of power. While Chuck has been more than happy to burn friends and colleagues for the sake of a big win — just ask his father and best friend Ira about that — Axe has typically found a way to stave off squashing the little guy and instead pretending like he’s still somehow close to his middle class roots. This time around, however, Axe decides Maria’s fate in a phone call to his hipster hit men, who get her deported in the blink of an eye.

As it turns out, Axe just isn’t himself at all these days.

He blows off his kid’s baseball game and instead has them flown in by helicopter, which only further infuriates Lara. She’s at the game with a friend of hers who is contemplating a divorce from her high profiled husband. Of course, Lara offers her some sage advice that perhaps this woman should reconsider her divorce or she’ll soon find out that her importance is only based on the man she’s married to. When the woman looks rather offended, Lara promises that she should look in the other direction and instead be thankful for this piece of advice.

Is Lara offering this woman some brutal honesty based solely on what she sees or what she’s experiencing in her own life as her marriage to Axe remains on the rocks?

Lara does manage to confront Bobby before the end of the episode to call him on abandoning his children as he sought to expedite a woman’s deportation while secretly maneuvering trades when he’s not supposed to be anywhere near his hedge fund.

Right now, Bobby Axelrod is a man without a country but he has to find a place to plant his flag soon or Chuck Rhoades is going to have him exactly where he needs him going into this trial.

Billions returns for a brand new episode next Sunday night at 10pm ET on Showtime.

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