Here are the top 10 moments from “Billions” as Bobby has to tend to one of his children while trying to build a bank, Taylor runs into problems in their shop and Chuck needs some family time…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The underlying tension between Chuck Rhoades and Bobby Axelrod has taken a backseat in the latest episode of “Billions” as each of them tend to problems that don’t necessarily relate back to each other.
For Axe, he’s trying to navigate the difficult task of becoming a bank — a scheme that he believes is too big to fail and it will allow him to finally topple his greatest rival, Mike Prince. Of course, Axe also has to put out a fire a little closer to home after he discovers that his son Gordie has been paying a little bit too much attention to his father’s work.
Meanwhile, Chuck continues to evolve and grow in an effort to truly change himself following the divorce proceedings started by Wendy. For Chuck that means a trip home to Yale University as well as renewing some familial bonds that have been strained for quite some time.
And finally, Taylor has been struggling to find their place running a shop under Axe’s umbrella and they come in direct conflict with Sara, who has been mired in her own doubts ever since Taylor Mason Capital was essentially taken over.
With that said, let’s get to our top 10 moments from the latest episode of “Billions” titled “Beg, Bribe, Bully”…
1 ) A Chip Off the Old Block
It’s been a little while since we’ve seen or heard from Axe’s kids following their parents’ divorce but it turns out at least one of them is taking after his father when it comes to business.
“Billions” opens this week with a shot from inside an exclusive private school that Gordie Axelrod calls home and he’s currently orchestrating his own crypto-mining operation alongside some friends to become millionaires. It says something about Gordie’s ingenuity that he’s striving to make his own millions despite the fact that his father is a bona fide billionaire.
That said, Gordie’s plans don’t go quite as expected after flipping the switch because a short in the electrical wiring ends up causing a blackout for the entire town where the prep academy is located. Gordie’s new gal pal summed up what happened rather succinctly.
“Gordie Axelrod done fucked up.”
2 ) Implosion
It’s been well documented throughout the history of “Billions” that in addition to the money he makes through his hedge fund that Axe is a lover of fine art. In the latest episode, Axe gets an early viewing of a new series of paintings titled “Implosion” by artist Nico Tanner (played by the great Frank Grillo).
Unfortunately just as Axe is ready to open up his checkbook to start buying, he notices that the paintings are already sold. An introduction to the artist leads to running into the person who actually purchased the paintings already — Mike Prince.
While Wags is struggling to hold down the vomit gurgling up his esophagus after hearing how Prince’s No. 2 Scooter scooped him on another deal, Axe is fuming and trying to convince Tanner to consider another series of “Implosion” paintings.
Unfortunately for Axe, Tanner is an artist first and capitalist second — he paints for passion, not for profit. That doesn’t compute for Axe so he goes to plan B.
“I don’t paint for money’ means nobody’s paid me enough yet. So if you can’t buy the art, buy the artist.”
3 ) Natural Language Processing
In an effort to scoop up Lawrenceburg University’s endowment fund and bring it to Taylor Mason Capital, Taylor and their team led by whiz-kid Winston have used a new piece of artificial intelligence called Natural Language Processing to dig beneath a speech recently made by the chancellor.
It seems the student body has been protesting the school’s investment in the fossil fuel industry and they want the money to go somewhere else. The chancellor says the school’s financial decisions won’t be made by the students but the subtext of his words based on this program lead Taylor and the team to believe he actually wants to divest but he needs to do it in a way so that the school doesn’t lose face.
So Taylor sets out on a mission to score the school’s investment fund but Sara warns them that it won’t be easy. She knows some of the board of trustees and this school isn’t just going to hand over a billion dollar check just because a hedge fund manager makes a quality pitch.
Unfortunately after losing Oscar’s money a week ago, Taylor knows coming up short this time around would be a devastating hit to their fund. So Sara gives them a pep talk … sort of.
Sara: To succeed we’re going to need you to be something you haven’t been lately.
That leads Taylor into a reluctant session with Wendy where they try to get their mojo back in order to score this investment for the fund. Like usual, Wendy offers the words of wisdom needed to get Taylor back on track.
While Taylor is able convince the chancellor, they can’t do the same to the board of trustees so Sara gets called into action because she served in the Navy at the same time as the admiral blocking their endowment fund being handed over.
Sara does her job and gets the endowment fund on board but Taylor scoffs when they are told about a potentially even bigger play to take on the endowment and then re-invest separate funds in the fossil fuel industry. That means Taylor Mason Capital would get a billion from the college plus an additional investment in the fossil fuel industry, which is guaranteed to make them even more money.
But Taylor doesn’t want to get into bed with the fossil fuel industry so they shut down the deal — and then Axe swoops in and steals it away because he knows it’s smart business. That’s when Sara realizes she’s had enough.
“We’re at work. Not a fucking climate rally. You are only halfway in on this and you know where that leaves you? Vietnam.”
4 ) Sequence Matters
Now that Axe is determined to open his own bank, the next stage involves the hard part — actually getting FDIC approval to do it. So he calls on his old pal Todd Krakow and a blast from the past with “Hard” Bob Beaufort — he’s the guy who brooks no bullshit — to help him navigate the shark infested waters to get approval.
Sadly, both men tell Axe exactly what he doesn’t want to hear — there’s a better chance that he’ll turn water into wine before the FDIC will give him a license to own a bank. Both Wags and “Hard” Bob ask to speak freely while exchanging barbs over the past legal issues that would likely prevent Axe from gaining approval.
As Krakow reminds Axe — the bankers in America nearly ruined this country and they somehow managed to get rich doing it but before they became enemy No. 1 during a financial collapse, they did the most important thing for their bottom lines.
They got FDIC approval to become a bank.
“They were smart enough not to stick their shmekels into the tushies of the average American until they actually had a goddamn bank charter. As in all things, sequence matters.”
~ Todd Krakow
While it won’t be the same, Axe then turns his attention to state approval rather than Federal. It’s a different bunch of people approving his application and according to “Hard” Bob, those folks might be open to begging, bribing and bullying in order for Axe to get his bank.
5 ) The Second Law of Thermodynamics
Following Gordie’s extracurricular activities at school, Axe is called into the headmaster’s office to find out his son’s potential punishment. While Axe is more than happy to cut a check for the damages as well as a nice donation to the institution, Headmaster Kessell is much more interested in the reputation of his school and that means there’s no check that can buy him off.
That forces Axe to turn to alternative means in order to keep his son receiving the same high-priced education. He’s going to have to tear down the headmaster.
Axe also shares some valuable advice with his son about the scheme he just pulled to impress a girl.
Axe: “Look I’m not mad that you ran a scheme. I’m mad you didn’t game it out. Second law of thermodynamics, Gordie.”
Gordie: “Total entropy of a system.”
Axe: “No. The price of your actions. Now we have to ruin a headmaster. A good man.”
6 ) The Flamingo Kid
As part of his personal reformation project, Chuck returns to his roots at the Yale University Law School where he will become a visiting professor. Students will flock to the chance to learn from a sitting Attorney General while Chuck gives back to the same school that molded him many years ago.
The Yale job also affords him a unique opportunity after Governor Bob Sweeney took away his power to prosecute criminals in court. With the governor usurping his criminal budget, Chuck has to come up with new and creative methods to pay for their investigations so he puts Kate Sacker on the trail of some high-end civil cases.
Almost immediately, Kate tracks down a $5 million settlement but the a goon from the governor’s office shows up asking for those funds. It seems the governor got wind of this cash and he’s decided to appropriate it back to the Manhattan D.A. where he believes it will be better served.
But Kate is nothing if not thorough in her research about how a state’s attorney general can use these funds before it’s taken by the governor. She discovers that the A.G. can donate that money to a fund for the public good — like Yale Law School.
There the money will be used by Chuck to fund whatever projects he sees fit while serving the greater good by teaching the lawyers of tomorrow the tricks he’s using today.
7 ) Father and Son
Seeing Axe burst into super-dad mode has Wags contemplating his own past as an absentee father to his many children. Rather than regretting what he didn’t do for them, Wags decides to have Hall track down all of his children so he can begin making up for lost time.
Needless to say, Wags doesn’t quite know how to relate to his children, especially his youngest — a 14-year-old girl that leads to a rather hilarious conversation with Axe.
Wags: “You ever try talking to a 14-year-old girl on Facetime?”
Axe: “Goddamn, I hope that was one of your kids”
Eventually, Wags gets around to his eldest son Georgie, who comes to visit him at Axe Capital. He’s ready to roll out the red carpet and invite his son to join the family business.
Instead, Georgie shows up ready to testify to his father about the wonders of Jesus Christ.
8 ) Family Ties
While at Yale, Chuck discovers that his father had dedicated a $100,000 a year donation to their shared alma mater but he’s missed a few payments. In fact, he’s made none of them.
So Chuck pays his father a visit to ask why he’s never donated the money he promised and his new stepmother doesn’t think too highly of a school that’s already worth billions. Add to that, Roxanne isn’t all that warm to Chuck showing up to berate his father about money owed to a school yet he never shows up just seeking family time.
Chuck begins to realize that his father is a changed man much like he’s trying to become and he takes Roxanne’s words to heart. He decides it’s time to introduce his children to Roxanne and Willow, but that’s going to require Wendy’s blessing as well.
So he pays a visit to his soon-to-be ex-wife and agrees to life the restraining order on her funds in exchange for a family session that would also include her. Wendy begrudgingly agrees.
The meeting finally takes place and while it’s tense at first, a cooing baby seems to put everybody at ease. Even Wendy can’t help but remark that Willow is adorable.
9 ) Greed is Good
Axe comes to a crossroads when it comes to his intervention to save Gordie. Is he doing more harm than good by solving this problem for him or is Axe backing up his son’s best intentions and showing him how to out duel an opponent?
Ultimately, Axe decides that his son’s education is more important and after discovering that Headmaster Kessell has been pilfering $200,000 from a $1 million donation to the school to pay for Syrian refugees and their families to move there — while actually using them as slave labor at his palatial estate — the leverage needed has been attained.
But rather than just blackmailing the headmaster to get his son back into school, Axe decides he needs to help Gordie save face in front of his classmates. So Axe gets his very own pep rally where he teaches the kids the important lessons of capitalism — the same ones his son tried to employ with his crypto-mining business.
In this moment, Axe gets his own Gordon Gekko “greed is good” speech, except he’s talking to a group of teenagers.
“Everything we have is because of capitalism. Cause someone had an incentive to get up off his ass, to out-invent, to out-earn, yes, and to subjugate others. Less capable, less intelligent, less ambitious, less lucky, to make those capitalistic dreams come true.
“And you know what I’m talking about Headmaster Kessel. It’s the dirty secret you may not want to hear but you fucking love the result. As will you, soon enough.”
10 ) Artist Rendering
In order to secure Nico Tanner’s next eight paintings, Axe sets up a loft where the artist can work for free and make a lot of money in the process. Of course, Tanner never got into this to make cash but Axe is quick to point out that many great artists got paid for their art.
“Do we like the Sistine Chapel any less because they paid him to paint it? No. And Mozart did his best work for bags of gold.”
It takes some convincing and a slice of pizza created by Anthony Mangieri to finally get Tanner to agree to join the Axe family.
“Billions” returns next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime and you can check out a preview below: