Here are the top 10 moments from the latest episode of “Billions” as Axe continues to hunt down Mike Prince while Chuck is forced to face the consequences for his own morality…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 months since “Billions” was last on the air but the global pandemic shut down production a year ago and it took quite a bit of time to get everything back up and running again.
The first half of season 5 featured seven episodes but the restart for episode 8 almost feels like a brand new season even though the storylines are much the same.
After learning that Mike Prince made a deal with Taylor that would force Axe Capital to suffer major losses over the next six months to a year, Axe decided he was done playing with his food and it was time to feast on his rival’s soul. The only problem is Mike Prince has lived up to his name, which means Axe is going to have to get rather creative if he wants to win this war.
Meanwhile, Chuck Rhoades decided to walk the straight and narrow in his new job as New York Attorney General but that hasn’t been easy because the sins of his past continue to come back and haunt him. That includes his mission to finally break Bobby Axelrod once and for all because that thirst for vengeance has already cost Chuck his marriage and at least partially his former job as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Now Chuck is facing a new problem with his father dying because he needs a new kidney and Jr. is seemingly willing to bend or possibly even break his own moral code in order to keep the old man kicking. Add to that, Chuck’s desire to go after Axe by using his prestigious new role at Yale University has also managed to come back to bite him again.
There’s a lot to dig into with this episode so let’s count them down as we reveal the top 10 moments from “Billions” season 5, episode 8 titled “Copenhagen.”
1 ) The Art of War
The days of being a starving artist are virtually over for Nico Tanner after he inked a deal with Bobby Axelrod to provide him with a bunch of new pieces while living in a loft space bought and paid for by his new benefactor. Up to this point in his art career, Tanner practiced as he preached about what art meant to him and the art he created while more or less saying fuck you to anybody trying to tell him different.
But catering to a woman with a hedge fun worth millions who is suddenly interested in telling him what the artwork represents to her had Wendy notice a slight change in Tanner, especially when it comes to his holier than thou attitude towards the work he’s producing.
In an attempt to beat the system while measuring space for his art at Axe Capital, Tanner ends up in a conversation with Mafee, Tuk and Ira about how they plan on investing in art but really don’t know dick about it. That’s when Tanner sells them a doodle for $3,200 as an attempt to show that he’s beating the system.
Unfortunately, Tanner showing up to Axe’s party the next day and hearing Tuk talking about how he wanted to splash paint on his new $10,000 coat as a way to look more authentic for girls was pretty much the breaking point. That along with a visit from musician Jason Isbell where he more or less says he hates being forced to sit with record executives telling him what the music means to them and Tanner realizes that he’s starting to lose himself in this world of greed and money.
So later that night, Wendy shows up at Tanner’s loft and he’s flinging paint on a canvas looking as focused as ever before. He can barely acknowledge her before more or less telling Wendy that she can stay so long as she shuts up because he needs to work.
“You wanted pure? This is pure as I got. Make yourself a drink if you want. You just let me work”
2 ) Election Rigging
Thanks to some digging from “Dollar” Bill Stearn, Axe gets his hands on some incriminating evidence that could doom Chuck’s career at Yale so they hand it over to one of the interns from his class, who was less than enthusiastic about their class assignment to dig up dirt on now former Secretary of the Treasury, Todd Krakow.
It seems back in his junior year of college at Yale, Chuck was running for student body office and his opponent was an apartheid supporting lunatic who probably had no place deciding public speakers for the next year at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. So along with some of his friends, Chuck made sure that the ballots from one particular college were “lost” and he in turn took a photo as he lit them on fire in his bathroom.
Chuck’s old pal Ira helps him out by finding some old files on the guy he was running against, which would all but make the ballot burning look like a heroic act. The only problem is Chuck’s former political opponent has now cleaned up his life and he’s the head chaplain at Yale University.
So Chuck wouldn’t just be saving his own ass, he’d be destroying somebody else’s life in the meantime.
Rather than torpedo another career, Chuck decides to appeal to the student’s better nature while explaining the dark road he’s going to travel down by extorting him to resign his post at the university.
“If you move me out by using blackmail, you will be setting yourself up for a life quite like mine.”
It turns out, Chuck’s speech works like a charm and Merle actually confesses to the dean while essentially throwing himself on the mercy of the court. She applauds his high moral standing and forgives all transgressions but the same can’t be said for Chuck.
The dean promises to keep the photo in house but Chuck’s career as a professor at Yale is over — just like his brief relationship fellow professor Cat Brant (played by the great Julianna Margulies but sadly she had to leave the show due to other commitments).
“Merle Howard has a chance to be a productive member of society and Yale is now protected from a mentor like you.”
~ Dean Walker
3 ) Waiting Tables
While attending a fundraiser for a bail initiative where Jason Isbell serves as the guest performer, Taylor and Lauren run into Rian — their hotshot new analyst — and she’s serving hors d’oeuvres as part of the catering company working the event.
This stuns Taylor considering they — along with Axe Capital and Taylor Mason Carbon — are paying her a mid-six figure salary with the promise of a lot more money being earned in the near future. Taylor attempts to figure out why Rian keeps this side job, especially considering she absolutely doesn’t need it.
It seems Rian uses the job as a way to stay close to her friends, who haven’t found quite as much success as she has, and this helps to keep her grounded. Taylor attempts to strong arm Rian into choosing her career as an analyst at a prestigious hedge fund or handing out appetizers at fundraisers but she doesn’t bite on the ultimatum.
Finally, Taylor reveals a personal story about themselves regarding their own college career where they were on the way to earning a PhD in economic philosophy until Bobby Axelrod recognized their genius and put them to work in the private sector. Taylor knows their pursuit of greater knowledge through academia was noble but that also doesn’t satiate the thirst felt from conquering at the hedge fund every day.
In the end, Rian decides to quit her catering job and focus on Taylor Mason Carbon with plans to eventually buy that catering company where her friends work to show them support. Taylor knows her friends will never actually appreciate that gesture but she’ll definitely feel better for doing it.
“Your real friends, few as they may be, will get it. And the ones that don’t, don’t have the capacity to be the kind of friend you need.”
4 ) The Action is the Juice
It seems Mike Prince is up for a new job — as the Ambassador to Denmark —and he’s very excited for this new political posting. Of course, Axe is determined to make sure he never gets to celebrate with some frikadeller (Danish meatballs), Wags starts digging up dirt on him to make sure he never gets this post.
During an all night bender, Wags thinks he finds the way into Prince’s inner circle after discovering his No. 2 man Scooter has a bit of a gambling problem.
It seems Scooter loves sports betting and Wags recognizes right away with the huge sums of cash that he’s wagering on games that there’s no way he could even possibly cover the spread. That means Scooter is probably in debt up to his eyeballs and if that kind of information were to come to light, he’d be fired and that kind of position makes him liable for extortion.
That’s definitely a red flag when it comes to Prince’s ambassadorship.
So Wags finally tracks down Scooter and offers him the chance to dig up dirt on Prince and in exchange, Axe won’t expose his sports betting addiction to the boss. Wags even tosses in a well timed “Heat” quote for good measure about Scooter’s inability to avoid sports betting even as he has all the money in the world.
“Like Michael Cherrito, for you the action is the juice.”
Scooter knows he just got caught and now he’s gotta come clean … or does he?
5 ) Doctor Doom
In the eternal search for a new kidney to give to his father so he survives, Chuck has already exploited every possible option except for one — find out if a prisoner he previously convicted might be willing to deal for a better sentence in exchange for a body organ.
Carl tracks down a perfect candidate and the guy is more than willing to play ball in exchange for some cash and a transfer to a prison that would be closer to his family. Chuck agrees before traveling to the prison to visit the potential donor but instead he’s met by Dr. Ari Gilbert — the physician he imprisoned after the whole Ice Juice debacle a couple of seasons ago.
It seems. Dr. Gilbert has become quite popular at the prison by offering his astute medical advice, which has curried him favor with his fellow inmates as well as the guards. After hearing about Chuck’s deal for a kidney, Dr. Gilbert talked the prisoner out of playing donor and now he’s just happy to torment the former U.S. attorney about the agony his father will soon suffer as his body shuts down and dies.
Before leaving, Chuck decides this is the last time he’s going to visit a prison with the promise of getting what he wants, especially considering how his previous trip ended after being reunited with his old pal Bryan Connerty.
“You know I’m not visiting anymore prisons anytime soon. It’s always a punch in the fucking face.”
6 ) By Proxy
At work, Wendy receives an envelope with a photo where she’s dancing with Charles Rhoades Sr. along with the message that she’ll always be his daughter.
That earns Senior a visit from his now former daughter-in-law as she asks why he’s reached out to her, especially now that he’s currently undergoing dialysis and waiting to see if a kidney donor can save his life.
It seems Charles Sr. is finally ready to face his own mortality — he now knows there’s a chance he could die and that means putting an impossible burden on the woman he loves and the only family he truly has left in his son. So Senior asks Wendy to serve as his medical proxy just in case somebody needs to pull the plug if things get really dire with his condition.
“Roxanne’s too young. She’ll never let me go. She’ll keep the machines on for years hoping for a miracle while I crap myself and the money runs out. And Chuck, he might pull the plug when I’m in the middle of a sentence.”
~ Charles Sr.
Just as Wendy agrees to serve as his medical proxy, Chuck shows up to share the latest bad news with his father that the plan to procure a kidney from a prisoner has tried and failed. Needless to say, Chuck is surprised to see this particular family reunion now that Wendy is being invited back into the inner circle just as his father appears to be reaching his final stage of life.
7 ) Move the Lines
Axe prepares to drop the hammer on Mike Prince by way of his confidant Scooter but just when it looks like a trap is being laid, the tables are turned once again.
Rather than Scooter showing up to a clandestine meeting meant to side with Axe and Wags against his boss, Mike Prince joins him at this impromptu get together. You see Scooter didn’t have to tell his boss about the sports betting because they weren’t his wagers in the first place — Mike Prince was the actual sports bettor.
It seems Prince has been doing this for quite some time, especially after sports gambling was made legal in New York. The reason why he keeps it so quiet is because Prince sends runners all over the state at various sportsbooks to place his wagers because he knows if it ever got traced back to him, his bets could single-handedly change the lines for upcoming games.
To ensure he always gets the best possible odds, Prince has Scooter send runners to casinos in upstate New York so his large wagers don’t change the lines. Not only that but Prince has been doing all of this above the board, even paying taxes on all of his winnings.
“You can look as hard as you want at my life, past or present. There’s nothing there for you to chew on.”
~ Mike Prince
Axe attempts to downplay the way he just got served but it’s clear he’s upset at how this plan backfired so spectacularly. In fact, Axe has a stern warning for Wags about the way he pursued this particular piece of information yet came up short in actually delivering Mike Prince’s head on a platter.
“You’ll always be my guy, Wags. But don’t make me have to get another guy that you report to.”
8 ) Tin Cup
Back at Axe Cap, Wendy gets flagged for going through medical records for the employees in hopes of finding a kidney donor for her father-in-law. Axe isn’t all that upset but rather just angry that she didn’t come to him first.
While in her office, Axe ends up getting a brief session from Wendy about his thirst for vengeance and the desire he has to take down Mike Prince. She suggests that perhaps he’s doing more harm than good by pursuing revenge rather than just letting it go and focusing on the business at hand.
She relates to him through a “Tin Cup” analogy — a golf movie that I’ve never actually seen — but essentially she describes how the lead character played by Kevin Costner gets so obsessed with one particular shot he keeps missing that he goes overboard and it costs him the chance to win the entire tournament he entered.
Axe disagrees but Wendy is doing her best to talk him off the ledge while reminding him that he’s probably not lashing out at Prince as much as internalizing some past trauma of his own.
Rather than having an emotional breakthrough, Axe gets a better idea about how to go after Prince. Instead of trying to find some illegality that Prince is committing now. Axe decides to go after his past where there are surely a few skeletons in the closet.
“The past. You’re right, it’s always the fucking past.”
9 ) It’s Good to Be King
Once again “Dollar” Bill delivers the goods when he remembers an old Fortune magazine article about how Mike Prince built his empire after his old partner passed away. “Dollar” Bill recounts how Prince refused to ever sell off those additional shares from that original company and the reason why is that his former partner’s family retained those rights and they might be willing to sell.
Axe sets up a meeting with the mother of Prince’s former partner but after she arrives into New York, he’s hit with some bad news — she sold off those share to Prince many years ago.
But here’s where things get interesting — Prince’s old partner David Fells was a troubled man, constantly dealing with alcohol and drug addiction and the work he was doing to build a company was the exact same thing that was constantly tearing him apart. So one day, Prince showed up with a check for $200,000 offering to buy David out of his shares in the company after inking a licensing agreement with a company.
Prince gives David the money so he can be free of the stress and then sends him on a trip to Brazil where he will get to enjoy the massive Carnivale festival.
A few days later after David has sold his part of the company and left for South America, Prince announces a deal with Microsoft that’s worth nearly a billion dollars. In other words, Prince screwed his old partner out of a huge windfall of money because he knew that deal with Microsoft was already in the works.
A few months later after falling into a pit of depression, David Fells died in a single car accident.
David’s mother Brenda has never forgotten what Mike Prince did to her son and she’s finally ready to take it out on him despite the non-disclosure agreement she signed all those years ago.
“Michael Prince built his fortune on my son’s grave”
~ Brenda Fells
The next night, Prince is being profiled on a special show that’s supposed to then lead to the announcement that he’s being named as the Ambassador to Denmark. Instead, the special edition show opens with the shady way that Mike Prince made his first billion while interviewing the mother of the dead partner he screwed out of a fortune.
Prince storms out of the office after throwing away the decorative outfit he purchased to blend in once he arrived in Denmark. That job is now dead and buried just like the sterling reputation Prince worked so hard to build over these many years — and Bobby Axelrod is the one who just tossed him into the mud and kicked a little dirt on him for good measure.
10 ) Plaintif-Full
Axe’s dream to turn his hedge fund into a bank hasn’t gone away but after Secretary of the Treasury Todd Krakow was fired, he has to find a new way to get into that lucrative business.
Victor Mateo is the one who finally figures it out after discovering a shady payday lender named Plaintif-Full and along with Wags’ blessing, he leaks a story to the local press about the nefarious practices happening at this company. That little story ends up on the desk of Kate Sacker, who in turn takes it to Chuck Rhoades as a big shiny new case that was supposed to take the attention away from the college photo of him burning election ballots.
Even after that plan is caput, Chuck decides to just do the right thing and go after Plaintif-Full anyways.
Days later, Chuck is shocked to get an alert that Bobby Axelrod has purchased Plaintif-Full despite the fact that his office essentially just put them out of business. That’s when Chuck realizes that Axe got the better of him on this one.
By planting the story, Axe put Plaintif-Full on Chuck’s radar and by extension it put them into such dire need that they sold to him for a dirt cheap price. But Axe wasn’t just after Plaintif-Full like it was a worthwhile investment.
The reason why Plaintif-Full was able to become such a predatory lender was because they did most of their shady dealings in house because the company also has a bank charter.
“We just delivered Axe his bank”
By condemning Plaintif-Full’s actions and sending the Attorney General after them, the company was forced to sell to Bobby Axelrod — and now he finally has his bank!
“Billions” returns for a brand new episode next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.