Here are the top 10 moments from the latest episode of “Billions” as Axe prepares to build his bank with something greener than money, Chuck schemes with Prince and Wendy looks for help…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
There have been hints in almost every season of “Billions” that the relationship between Bobby Axelod and Wendy Rhoades would eventually transition to something more than friends.
Actually it’s safe to say these two have meant more to each other than just friends since the first time we met them but it was difficult to define their relationship because it was somehow deeper than family and obviously much, much more than just an employer and employee situation.
The latest episode finally saw Axe and Wendy cross that line into something much more after they admitted deeper feelings for each other for the first time. Axe admitted that he torpedoed her relationship with Tanner after realizing that the starving artist was harboring more in his heart than creating the next best painting to hang on somebody else’s wall.
Simultaneously, Wendy began to realize how much she relied on Axe for more than just her career as she had started calling on him for everything from emotional support to a place to stay while her marriage to Chuck fell apart.
Now it appears these two are going to be together in some form or fashion but will that doom the dynamic they’ve built as a powerful one-two combination at Axe Capital or will this new bond make them even stronger as enemies seek to tear them down?
We’ll find out soon enough with only two episodes remaining of “Billions” this season but for now let’s go through the top 10 moments from the latest installment titled “Liberty”…
1 ) You’re All Fired
With Axe finally getting the bank charter he’s wanted all season long, it’s time for some major changes at his company.
After addressing the pandemic elephant in the room with all of the employees wearing masks at the start of the episode, Wendy arrives at the office alongside Wags and they prepare for a pending announcement where Axe plans to shock the staff with plans for the future.
“You’re all fired. Every last one of you. Axe Cap is closed. Now most of you will be hired back again by the end of tonight by the new Axe Holding Company under either the Axe Bank or the Axe Asset Management Division. Our new structure will be in place by the end of the weekend so we’re open for business on Monday.”
Because Axe Capital is no longer a hedge fund and investment firm, the company has officially been disbanded and now in its place stands the Axe Holding Company and Axe Asset Management Division where most of the employees will find a new home.
This will definitely be a game changer for everybody working at Axe’s bank, especially those in totally new roles separate from when they were just sharks perusing the latest meat on Wall Street.
2 ) A Look at the Books
As Chuck goes through the final paperwork for his divorce from Wendy, Ira arrives with a settlement agreement that will pay him a hefty alimony. The only problem is Chuck doesn’t want to settle for the money that Wendy is offering because he wants to take a deeper look at the books from Taylor Mason Carbon, which then might give him some insight on the financials at Axe Capital.
As much as Ira knows this is not a path Chuck should travel down, he’s already drawn up the paperwork because he saw this strategy coming a mile away.
“Let’s just see how they’re cooking them”
Once Wendy receives the subpoena, she’s forced to reconcile with the reality that she will either have to allow Chuck to go through the company’s financials with a fine toothed comb or she can pay him off in a lump sum for $25 million
“Well, we need to solve this. Otherwise, Chuck will be here Monday morning in his white Gil Grissom coat ready to do an autopsy on our business”
With Taylor unwilling to give her the money, Wendy is forced to turn to Axe and ask him to float her the $25 million in exchange for her shares of Taylor Mason Carbon under the agreement that he will sell them back to her at the same price when she’s finally liquid again and recouped from the divorce. Axe agrees but the arrangement doesn’t appeal to Taylor.
Thankfully, Wendy knows deep down that Axe would never do anything to hurt her and that means he will sell her back the shares when the time is right. As much as Taylor would prefer Axe get no closer to their company than he already is, they know that Wendy is telling the truth — he wouldn’t do anything at this point to betray her trust.
3 ) The Jeffersonian Dinner
One thing that’s so amazing about “Billions” are all the things you can learn and discover on this series.
For the longest time, the highlights were always the amazing restaurants and random places that the show managed to visit around New York City — and there’s a lot to discover in that sprawling metropolis. In the latest episode, Chuck invites some of his powerful friends to sit down and share ideas as well as debate one particular topic over what’s called a “Jeffersonian Dinner.”
Now as much as I’ve enjoyed history, this was a new concept and apparently it was popularized by Thomas Jefferson when he used to invite friends and political rivals to Monticello to discuss one particular topic while sharing a meal together. These meals actually resulted in real policy changes and helped a young United States survive early infighting among different parties including the legendary dinner table bargain between James Madison and Alexander Hamilton.
The idea was eventually popularized into the Jeffersonian Dinner that Chuck hosts at his home as numerous colleagues gather for a meal together as well as sharing ideas and discussing a single particular topic, which he decides will be liberty.
4 ) Banking Regulations
As Axe prepares to crossover from his current investment portfolio to run a bank, he needs to get his crew up to par on all the rules and regulations that will now govern their jobs. To help with that transition, Axe receives a call from “Hard” Bob Beaufort — who famously brooks no bullshit — and he’s looking for a job now that he’s been ousted from the government for his previous relationship with ex-Treasury Secretary Todd Krakow.
“Hard” Bob is exactly the kind of guy to make sure Axe Capital is running smoothly and maintaining the rules and regulations needed to survive in the banking industry. It’s not clear how his job will interfere with Spyros but it will be fun to watch those two interact.
That said — “Hard” Bob’s arrival doesn’t stop Axe for already skirting the line between legal and illegal after asking Ben Kim and Tuk to help him win a whole lot of gold deposits, which will require some fancy accounting considering each individual customer can only put $250,000 worth into holdings. That means, wealthier customers will need to open multiple accounts under numerous names so Axe will get all the gold.
When Ben and Tuk hesitate considering how they’d be breaking the rules before Axe’s bank is even official, he offers them some sage words of advice.
“In our world, you’re either driven by greed or fear. If you picked fear, I don’t even know why you’re in that fucking building”
5 ) Party Crasher
After Axe learns that Chuck’s holding a private dinner that includes the Governor of New York along with his mortal enemy Mike Prince, he decides he needs to find out what exactly is happening.
So Axe calls in his new inside man — Charles Rhoades Sr., who is feeling better than ever now that he’s got a healthy kidney operating in his body. Along with his medical man Dr. Swerdlow, Senior arrives at his son’s house uninvited to serve as a party crasher and spy for Bobby Axelrod.
While Chuck is none too happy to see his father, he can’t kick him out because it would look bad to his guests — or perhaps he knew this was going to happen and he’s allowing Senior to stay so everything gets reported back to Axe just as he always wanted.
“I guess when it comes to whist, I’m still the one taking the most tricks”
~ Charles Rhoades Sr.
6 ) The Green Machine
The discussion at dinner eventually lands on marijuana and the chances that the drug will eventually receive Federal approval for legalization. While many states have already approved marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use, the Federal government still has it listed as illegal, which makes it that much harder for businesses and banks to truly invest in the green stuff.
Prince argues for full legalization while Chuck provides the counterargument as he more or less pretends that he got all of his information from “Reefer Madness.”
When Adam DeGiulio arrives — after he was made Solicitor General for the United States earlier in the season — his place at the party starts to make sense. As the man who plays lawyer for the U.S. in all cases brought before the Supreme Court as well as the person most responsible for the cases brought before the highest court in the land, he knows a thing or two about marijuana legalization.
In fact, DeGiulio doesn’t blink when he intimates that despite a conservative majority on the bench, the justices from the Supreme Court have a more modern opinion when it comes to marijuana and he wouldn’t be shocked to see the drug legalized at the Federal level sooner rather than later.
7 ) Wag the Dog
With Axe quarantined after he contracted COVID-19, Wags is left as the man in charge while the company begins the transition to banking over a very short period of time. While all of this is happening, Wags is also attempting to keep a date with a young woman named Chelsea, who he was supposed to see that night but now he’s forced to alter those plans in order to put in work and keep his romantic commitments intact.
To prove just how much he likes this girl, Wags sets up a full candlelight dinner in his office complete with celebrity chef Tom Colicchio providing the meal.
The only problem is Wags can barely get a bite into his dinner before Axe employees are stopping by to ask him questions and even “Hard” Bob pays him a visit to make sure he’s ready to deal with all of these new banking regulations.
After about 10 different interruptions, Wags finally loses it on Tuk when he arrives in the office to ask about his place in the Axe Bank hierarchy as well as who he’s going to report to now under this new structure.
Wags snaps and chases Tuk down the stairs while calling him a “fucking cunt” but by the time he’s finished berating the employees, his date is already calling it a night.
“Let’s review some basics: I am the goddamn CEO of Axe Bank. I am neither your department head nor the person you come to with your imbecilic questions. I have much, much bigger fish on my metaphorical plate and a fucking cold coq au vin on my actual plate. And nobody likes cold coq — you know what I’m saying?!?”
As he walks Chelsea to the elevator, Wags thinks this has just been a ruined attempt at a date but he’s surprised to find out she’s turned on by the way he showcased his power over the company, especially while going after Tuk.
Chelsea then tells Wags to wrap up work for the evening and return to his home where she’ll be there waiting for his arrival.
8 ) In This Together
After the Jeffersonian Dinner wraps, Senior reports back everything he learned while warning Axe that investing in marijuana is still a risky business, especially considering the unknowns at the Federal level. He also mentions how Prince handed Chuck his ass during the argument, which leads Axe to believe this was all a set up.
From the dinner itself to the staged argument, Axe realizes that Chuck and Prince must be working together against him and they are trying to corner the marijuana market as the drug nears legalization in the U.S.
“They’re in this together. My two enemies have linked up. They’re trying to make marijuana money safe to bank for Prince. He gains these deposits for his bank and crushes mine in the fucking process.”
Now Axe is absolutely correct in assessing that Chuck and Prince are working together but he may be off his game when it comes to their purpose. Remember, Prince knew Axe’s bank was the thing he wanted most in the world outside of handing him a crushing defeat both personally and professionally.
Prince promised to act as the bait to set up Axe to do something so illegal with his bank that Chuck would be able to swoop in and arrest him. It remains to be seen the plan that Chuck and Prince are cooking up as well as what Axe will do to counter them but it feels like this is a battle that is just beginning.
Also one more note — after a night scheming together, Prince and Chuck share a morning joint and revel in the performance they put on at the dinner. When Chuck’s daughter wakes up hungry for breakfast, he heads over to the kitchen to make some eggs.
For the next three minutes, give or take, there’s no conversation and no cutaways as Chuck actually prepares breakfast and then cuts up the eggs into thirds to provide food for himself, his daughter and Prince. “Billions” breaks a lot of new ground when it comes to what a great television show can do but this scene was a prime example of how the series takes chances to present a scene such as this one.
Truly brilliant filmmaking.
9 ) Trust Should Be a Four Letter Word
Because Axe is separating his bank from Taylor Mason Carbon, which is still an in house hedge fund operation, he forces Lauren to make a decision about where her future lies.
As the head of investor relations, Lauren can have a role at either shop but she can’t do both. Taylor immediately assumes their girlfriend will choose to go with them but Lauren isn’t so quick to make her decision, which puts them at odds.
After Wendy reveals that she borrowed the $25 million necessary to pay off Chuck in her divorce and that Axe would never betray her, Taylor begins to question the validity of their own relationship with Lauren.
Wendy is confident beyond a doubt that Axe would never do her dirty but Taylor can’t make that same kind of proclamation about Lauren. So rather than wait for Lauren to decide to abandon them or just side with Axe at some point in the future, Taylor decides to cut ties with her right then and there.
“You told me about your trust issues. Now I’ll tell you about mine. Every time I trust someone close to me to make a decision, they choose to fuck me over. I thought you were different. I was wrong.”
With that, Taylor severs ties with Lauren and tells her that Axe won’t save her job because they will convince him otherwise. That apparently means goodbye Lauren for good.
10 ) Coming Clean
Early in the episode, Axe confesses to Wendy that he purposefully fire bombed Tanner because he started to see just how full of shit his artist really was, especially where it came to his integrity. Tanner was nothing more than a hired gun, who was just waiting for the opportunity to finally cash in on his talent while pretending he was nothing more than a starving artist.
Axe was confident that Wendy would have eventually seen through the veneer but he sped up the process by essentially forcing Tanner’s hand so he would reveal his true nature.
Later, Axe then admits to Wendy that he didn’t get rid of Tanner just because his investment in the artist wasn’t paying off — he was struggling to see her with another man or any man for that matter.
When Wendy pushes back that he couldn’t just want her to be alone, Axe counters by more or less telling her that he’s wanted her with him this entire time. Wendy then echoes those shared feelings.
Wendy: “I look at it honestly but I’ve never allowed myself to really think, I feel the same things when I look at you.”
Axe: “I’ve waited so long to hear those words.”
It appears this is the start of a different kind of relationship between Axe and Wendy — one that’s been developing since the series first began. Now it seems like they are ready to enter into a real relationship together, but how will that affect the business they’ve built?
Only time will tell.
“Billions” will return for the penultimate episode in season 5 next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.