Here are the top 10 moments in the new episode of “Billions” as Axe battles Mike Prince for his home turf, Chuck turns to teaching and Taylor seeks a new approach…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Bobby Axelrod since meeting him during the first season of “Billions” it’s that he’s like a dog with a bone when facing off with a rival.
Lately, Axe has been going to war with Mike Prince — a billionaire with a heart of gold, who believes giving back means just as much as taking it. Obviously, Axe doesn’t abide by that philosophy and so now he’s butting heads with Prince in all sorts of business dealings.
But after Prince took the cover of “Variety Fair” and then followed that up by partnering up with a shaman that Axe had tabbed as his way into the psycho-pharmaceuticals world, this rivalry ratcheted up even more. When Prince bought a series of paintings that Axe really wanted, the battles waged soon turned into a war and now the two of them are fighting over the future of a neighborhood in New York.
As for Chuck, he’s returning home to Yale law where he will be teaching the attorneys of the future while also running into a new colleague, who catches his attention on the first day of school.
And finally, Taylor has been struggling to find their way since returning to Axe Capital and they soon realize that working with Axe and his considerable resources is probably a better bet for longevity than constantly fighting against him. So Taylor teams up with Wendy to get the job done while finding a new sector of wealth that could see Taylor Mason Capital explode with financial windfall in the near future.
With that said, let’s get to our top 10 moments in “Billions” season 5, episode 4 titled “Opportunity Zone”…
1 ) Hearts and Minds
Axe has a new investment play in mind that takes place in his old neighborhood in Yonkers. An opportunity zone was part of the tax bill passed in 2017 that is defined as “an economically-distressed community where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.”
In other words, investors like Bobby Axelrod can pay to upgrade a neighborhood or city, make stacks of cash but not take as much risk with the investment because tax deferment protects them.
Axe is going after a new opportunity zone in Yonkers and to ensure that he’s winning the hearts and minds of the constituents, he visits the childhood home where he grew up. There he meets a young kid named Savion and he imparts some knowledge about how he blossomed his entrepreneurial spirit by shoveling snow from driveways and sidewalks because only the rich neighborhoods saw the plows during the early morning hours when everybody was going to work.
Of course, Axe has a strategically placed reporter there to capture video of this personalized TED talk so it hits the headlines the next day. Meanwhile, Mike Prince is in the middle of a game of one-on-one with NBA legend Dominique Wilkins when he gets the word that Axe is going after his planned opportunity zone.
It seems Prince already made a killing at these in other cities like Atlanta and Detroit and now he’s set his sights on Yonkers, which means that neighborhood has just transformed into a battleground between billionaires.
2 ) Back to School
Chuck returns home to Yale University as a visiting professor and he meets another visiting professor named Catherine Brant, who is teaching a sociology course. On this particular week, she happens to be focusing on Chuck’s infamous speech where he revealed himself to be a purveyor of BDSM before being elected as New York’s Attorney General.
Cat asks Chuck to sit in her class to answer questions but he politely declines. In turn, she asks if it would be possible to join his first lecture.
Chuck soon finds out that the lawyers of tomorrow aren’t quite prepared for a grizzled attorney from the past when they begin questioning his winner take all mentality when they’ve been raised to believe everybody gets a trophy.
That’s when Cat raises her hand and sets the students right on what they should be saying while learning from a sitting Attorney General and former U.S. District Attorney. After reading them the riot act, the students are happy to learn from Chuck’s way of teaching.
Chuck then returns the favor by popping up during one of Cat’s lectures where she’s teaching about the speech where he revealed himself to be a submissive on live television where millions of people were watching.
It also appears Chuck has a new gal pal in Cat Brant.
3 ) Uncomfortable Silence
At dinner, Axe and Wendy discuss the business of the day — Taylor finding a new play with the fossil fuel companies and the Yonkers opportunity zone —but there seems to be more at work than just work.
Like Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace sitting at Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Axe and Wendy find themselves sharing an uncomfortable silence while trying to think of something to say to break the obvious tension in the air. These two longtime friends and colleagues appear on the precipice of something more but nobody is ready to say it yet.
Well, Axe is almost there.
“This. So much better with Chuck out of the picture. No more … interference.”
4 ) Painter’s Block
Axe asks Wendy to help him with Tanner, who has been paid a considerable commission to hand over his next eight paintings while living in studio that’s been bought and paid for him. Unfortunately, Tanner hasn’t put one brush stroke to canvas and Axe is starting to get concerned.
Wendy doesn’t need long to figure out that Tanner’s problem is likely deep-rooted in his childhood because he’s terrified of disappointing Axe after he’s made such a financial investment in him. Previously, Tanner was doing this all for himself and when people liked his paintings, he sold them.
Now he’s been paid up front and Tanner has to deliver and it’s a much different dynamic.
Tanner: “Does that work for your aggro trader bros? Really? Cause it kind of sounds like bullshit to me.”
Wendy: “Well, your excuses kind of sound like bullshit to me, pal.”
Thankfully, Wendy knows exactly what to say to get him back on track and by the end of the episode, Tanner is painting again. He might have even found a new muse along the way.
5 ) Environmental Clean Up
Taylor was humiliated after taking on a college fund but then passing on an even bigger score by failing to partner up with the fossil fuel companies that just lost that money. Instead, Axe swooped in and teamed up with the fossil fuel companies, which mean Axe Capital will score the win rather than Taylor Mason Capital.
In the aftermath of that debacle, Wendy is forced to play mediator between the two sides to pass along a strong message that Axe and Taylor are far better as a team than operating as separate entities. She gets both to admit fault in this new deal, although Axe really doesn’t enjoy being dressed down in front of one of his employees.
Axe: You practically dressed me down in front of a junior
Wendy: I need to maintain a shred of credibility. We both know you missed it. I was trying to broker the least embarrassing version.
Wendy’s plan bares immediate fruit, however, when Axe and Taylor devise a new plan to keep all the college money and work with the fossil fuel industry at the same time. They will convince these fossil fuel companies to become more environmentally friendly, which will then open the door to more colleges divesting funds with them as the proxy between the two sides.
6 ) The Harrow Club
In order to Axe to get a leg up on Prince in the opportunity zone competition, he needs to partner with someone that will help him with the minority audience in Yonkers. Fubu founder Daymond John shuts him down so Axe turns to Franklin Sacker — father to future Congresswoman Kate Sacker — for help.
Axe makes the hard pitch why Franklin should team up with him but that also puts him on Prince’s radar. Prince then buys up large shares of Franklin’s company with plans to oust him as CEO if he doesn’t bow out from Team Axe.
In turn, Axe sets up Prince and tells him that he’ll buy even more shares of Franklin’s company. He will also inform the press that Saint Mike is trying to take away a company from an African-American CEO.
Ultimately, Axe wants to boot Prince out on his ass like Victor Maitland did to Axel Foley in “Beverly Hills Cop.” But it only takes a moment for Axe to realize that while Eddie Murphy’s character got dressed down by the Beverly Hills chief of police, he eventually won when he busted (and later killed) Victor Maitland as one of the biggest drug traffickers in the world.
So Axe has to work for a new angle to kick Prince’s ass, win the Yonkers opportunity zone but not get destroyed in the end.
As for Mr. Sacker, he now lands on Chuck Rhoades’ radar after Kate tells him about her father teaming up with Axe on this new project as well as one more thing — they want to become a bank together. That gives Chuck a new idea about how to bring the fight to Axe on his home turf.
7 ) The Winner Takes It All
Lately, Mafee has been spending more and more time on the trading floor with his old pals from Axe Capital than grinding away in the hallowed halls of Mase Cap.
It’s made clear to Taylor that Mafee would be better served working with the traditional traders over at Axe Cap rather than continuing to serve them at Mase Cap. So they offer to send Mafee back to the trading floor where he will feel at home again and hopefully that will also result in bigger returns for Mase Cap.
It might also allow Taylor to get a little extra intel from what the Axe Cappers are doing away from their watchful eye.
Before sending him packing to a new home, Taylor asks Mafee what made him pick her out of the pile of applications when he initially brought them on board as an intern.
“You were the only one who didn’t seem boring. Who didn’t seem to care about the same bullshit that every kid from Wharton or HBS did. You seemed like someone I could learn from, even as I was teaching. There was no doubt you were the winner back then.”
That, along with another session with Wendy, seems to help Taylor begin to realize what they’ve lost lately and how to become a winner again.
Speaking of returning to where you came from, Wags comes up short trying to reconnect with his oldest son Georgie, who is more interested in saving his father’s eternal soul that snatching a job at Axe Capital. So with one child on the stripper pole and another devoted to Jesus, Wags decides he needs to go back to the batter box for one more swing.
He’s going to search for the right lady to make him a father again — and this time Wags is going to make this one a winner.
8 ) The Asshole Whisperer
After finally return to Axe for some advice, Taylor returns to the fossil fuel executive who shot them down a few days earlier. This time, Taylor comes armed with a new plan and a new weapon by their side — Wendy Rhoades.
Wendy convinces the CEO that transforming his company into a more environmentally friendly brand not only appeases the masses who protest his brand but he also gets to be a trailblazer in the industry. The rest of the companies out there will follow him except he’ll be the one leading — and reaping the most benefits financially.
“It’s a greed play that looks selfless. It’s the holy grail and you are Sir Motherfucking Galahad.”
Realizing the kind of team they make, Taylor knows that working with Wendy again on more of these impact projects would be advantageous to Mase Cap’s bottom line. Over time it could make Mase Cap not only bigger than U.S. Steel but perhaps even more profitable than Axe Capital.
“It’s true, you’re an asshole whisperer. Maybe the asshole whisperer. And I mean that in the best possible way.”
9 ) Don’t Take the Damned Giants and the Points
At the city council meeting for the Yonkers opportunity zone, Charles Rhoades Sr. makes a pitch at the behest of his son but the real enemy in the room is Mike Prince, who speaks to his past successes and then brings up one of Axe’s most colossal failures.
A couple of seasons ago, Axe tried to get the inside track on a plot of land that was going to be developed into a casino. When Chuck’s father decided to move the casino’s location, Axe’s investment went down the toilet so he instead decided to bust out the entire town to ensure he got his money’s worth. Prince reminds the councilmen and women what Axe did to that poor town for the sake of his bottom line.
When it comes time to make his own pitch, Axe decides to bring the entire audience outside with him where he makes the hard sale about his roots in Yonkers. He points out the local businesses that once decorated this street. From baked clams to backroom gambling, Axe learned a lot growing up in Yonkers but most importantly he found out what it took to become successful.
Now he wants to bring that same opportunity to the next group of people growing up in his old neighborhood.
“The whole town is my home. And yes, sure, I left for a while but I’m back. And the thought of anyone else helping to rebuild this place just feels wrong. Though rebuilt it we must.”
Later that night as he arrives at his old childhood home, Axe gets a call from Mike Prince conceding the fight but he doesn’t leave the ring without a couple of shots to the liver first. Prince tells Axe that he’s still that same kid from Yonkers, hustling to shovel a few driveways and the stink of the place is all over him. Prince knows he can’t win this one but does Axe truly feel victorious?
It seems Prince isn’t giving up as much as he’s reminding Axe what it’s like for him to go home again. And that’s a place Axe never wants to be.
10 ) Sixty Point Game
Once Chuck realizes that Axe’s real enemy is Mike Prince, he believes he finally has the path to bring his enemy down. Unfortunately overtures to Prince are rebuffed because he’s the real deal — he wants to win because he beat Axe, not because he cheated his way to victory.
So Prince turns down Chuck both before and after the Yonkers opportunity zone gets handed over to Axe.
Once upon a time, Prince would have done anything necessary to topple Axe but the thought of that takes him to a dark place he’d rather not revisit. He remembers a basketball game where he scored 60 points but forgot to include his teammates, much less celebrate alongside them with his accomplishment.
Prince did the same in business starting out but he soon realized it’s a hollow feeling and one he doesn’t want to revisit again. But Chuck soon reminds him that regardless of those emotions, Prince won the basketball game that day and if he doesn’t learn to score 60 against Bobby Axelrod, this battle will be lost.
“Did you win that game when you scored the sixty? Yeah, I bet you did. So do it again. Win this game. Then feel bad.”
Did Chuck just gain a new ally in his fight against Axe or can Prince resist returning to the dark side?
Find out more when “Billions” returns with a brand new episode next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime. Take a look at a sneak preview below: