Here are the top 10 moments from the “Billions” season 5 finale as Axe faces the consequences for his actions and Chuck starts his celebration just a little too soon….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
One of the reasons why “Billions” remains one of the most captivating shows on television through the fifth season of the series is the ability the show has to keep the audience guessing all the way to the end.
The latest example from one of the best writing teams in Hollywood is the season 5 finale episode titled “No Direction Home,” which brings Axe and Chuck to a collision course once and for all with one of them already marked for a prison sentence.
After previous attempts to get at Bobby Axelrod failed spectacularly and his family fell apart as a direct result of his thirst for vengeance, Chuck Rhoades finally put together the perfect plan to bring down his greatest rival and put him behind bars where he belongs.s
Axe’s desire to transform his company into a bank gave Chuck the perfect opening to spring a trap, which also involved Mike Prince — a man that Axe has loathed for years and would do just about anything to see him suffer.
In fact, Axe spent a huge part of this entire season going after Mike Prince and for a moment there, it appeared he got the better of him. But Prince was undeterred by his battle with Axe and instead decided to team up with Chuck to finally topple the king at the top of the money mountain.
Chuck’s plan worked to perfection because he goaded Axe into a hasty investment into the legal marijuana business while partnering with a drug dealer who was still managing to do just as much dirty business as the legal kind. Once Axe invited that money into his bank, he took just as much responsibility for the actions of the company’s owner, which means he was indirectly involved with money laundering and drug trafficking — two offense that won’t go away just because he’s worth billions.
But what actually unfolded over the next hour was nothing short of jaw dropping — and it potentially chages the direction of “Billions” forever.
With that said, let’s get to the top 10 moments from the season finale for “Billions” titled “No Direction Home”…
1 ) Worst Case Scenarios
After learning that his marijuana partner was being hauled off to jail on drug trafficking charges, Axe realized that he was likely going to jail and unlike his previous altercations with Chuck, it was going to be awfully hard to avoid doing some significant time behind bars.
No longer interested in the ways he could wiggle free, Bobby tells his attorney to lay out the worst case scenarios for what he could be looking at with prison time.
“This will have real teeth criminally. Fangs. Because they go deep and suck the life out of you.”
~ Orrin Bach
Despite the best efforts of his entire team discussing all the ways they’ll work the case and attempt to get him free of the charges, Orrin is forced to tell Bobby the hard truth — he could be looking at 15 to 20 years behind bars.
To make matters even worse, Bach tells Wags that he’s also looking at significant jail time as the CEO of Axe Bank. Whether he was nothing more than a figurehead doesn’t matter to the New York State Attorney General’s office — he’s going to jail right alongside Axe — as Ordell Robbie would say hand in handcuffed motherfucking hand.
Before leaving, Wags informs Axe that no matter what happens, he can’t go to jail — not even for a day. Wags warns him ahead of time that he’ll do whatever it takes — anything and everything — to ensure he never goes to jail. Axe believes that but how he plans to keep Wags out of jail is another story entirely.
2 ) Surprise Attack
As Chuck is laying out his plans to arrest Axe and perp walk him down the stairs and elevator at Axe Capital, in front of all of his loyal troops, he notices that Mike Prince isn’t quite as happy. Prince plays it off as if he’s just tired from not sleeping much due to the excitement of what’s about to unfold but there’s obviously more to it.
Just as Chuck is starting to dream of the scenarios where he’ll see Bobby Axelrod in handcuffs, he receives a visit from Orrin Bach, who already knows about the looming arrest and the upcoming warrants that will be issued against his client. Bach offers a surrender 24 hours from now and Chuck warns him that any games being played will cost him a law license and basically his ass.
Bach promises there’s no game being played but if Chuck doesn’t believe him, he can take the word from Axe — who just so happens to be outside the Attorney General’s office holding a public press conference announcing that he’s about to be arrested on trumped up charges.
“This is personal. It’s not judicial and this is when I finally get my chance to prove it.”
Chuck eventually goes down to join the press conference while promising that Axe will be arrested imminently but it will be on his timetable and not the other way around.
3 ) Plea Bargain
Irate that someone within his office leaked the pending arrest to Axe and his team, Chuck is ready to draw blood but for now that will wait because he wants to start putting together the case that will put his greatest rival behind bars.
First things first, Chuck orders Wags picked up and brought into the office because they are going to try to flip him against Axe. Chuck knows it’s probably useless but he wants his chance to shake and rattle Wags, who we’ve already seen is shaken and rattled.
Chuck also informs Kate and Karl that he will not be going to trial with this case — he intends on forcing Axe to take a plea deal. As strong as his case may be, Chuck doesn’t want any chance that something goes sideways.
So he plans on offering Axe a plea deal in exchange for a lesser sentence but he’ll be forced to plead guilty to at least some of the crimes against him and he’ll go to jail for it. As he explains to Kate, a win is a win and he wants a guaranteed victory.
“As Patrick Ewing knows well, don’t settle for a finger roll. Dunk the fucking ball”
4 ) Kill Your Masters
With Axe preparing for an inevitable prison sentence, he starts getting his troops in order because the government will soon freeze all of his assets including those at Axe Capital. Dollar Bill is like always at the head of the line to pledge his loyalty to Axe and the rest of the team is behind him, although Ben Kim feels like this is the end of whatever they were all building together.
Axe passes out hugs to his entire crew and then talks to Sean Ayles — the head of Axe’s foundation — in order to transfer the $570 million currently tucked away for charity in order to build his war chest for the upcoming defense. Sean complies and tells Axe he’s already had a plan just for this contingency.
Finally after everyone leaves, Taylor shows up to speak to their boss and mentor one last time.
Axe is stunned they showed up but Taylor felt it was necessary while explaining why they decided to team up with Chuck Rhoades to bring him down. After Taylor was forced, practically at gunpoint, to return to Axe Capital, they decided it was time for Bobby Axelrod to fall.
For all the ways Axe was a boss and a mentor to Taylor, they’re ready to strike out on their own.
Of course, Axe tells Taylor that ultimately for all the ways they are attempting to hold such moral high ground, really they are just becoming the thing they hate the most — Taylor is turning into Axe.
In the end, Taylor actually says they’re sorry for the way this all had to end but Axe knows they’ll move on and forget about what happened soon enough.
“The amount of time you spend feeling bad over slitting your enemies’ throats will get shorter and shorter in the future until it’s barely a fucking blip.”
After realizing that Taylor helped Chuck orchestrate this whole sting, Wendy tells them that they have become Axe on his worst day, which is exactly what they’ve been trying to avoid. Wendy and Axe have always had a way to get in Taylor’s head and it clearly worked again here.
5 ) Un-fucking-believable
Chuck gets his meeting with Wags to see if he can flip Axe’s No. 2 man into a government informant. Considering all the ways Wags confessed that he could never got to jail, it almost seemed possible for a split second that he might actually take the deal.
Instead, Wags mocks Chuck by asking to be placed in witness relocation but only at the place where marinara sauce and spaghetti looks like egg noodles and ketchup … you know the Henry Hill special from “Goodfellas.”
That’s when Axe walks into the meeting to interrupt as he once again goads Chuck into another argument after bidding farewell to Wags as well as Ms. Sacker.
Finally it’s just Axe and Chuck in the room together as they unload on each other about why this battle has been going for years and how it never seems to end.
Axe believes it’s Chuck’s own inadequacies — he’s never been able to build anything or attain anything on his own so he stands tall on the shoulders of giants by tearing down people like Axe in order to feel good about himself.
Chuck counters by pointing out that Axe has grown too big to fail — a financial titan, who believes he’s untouchable by the laws of man or the laws of the universe and eventually that has to come crumbling down around him.
The back and forth ends after Chuck realizes that Axe’s own hubris would never allow him to admit his guilt or confess that he’s ever truly done something wrong while amassing a fortune largely than the GDP of many countries around the globe.
“You actually believe you’re innocent. Well I might not have known until right now just how badly you need to go down.”
6 ) Father Time
After watching his father nearly give up on his own life while waiting for a kidney transplant, Chuck returns to settle differences with the old man ahead of arresting Bobby Axelrod.
Despite all their battles, Chuck still reveres his father and that’s not going to change any time soon, even if Senior backed his mortal enemy as he sought to bring down Axe once and for all.
Of course, Senior tries to goad him by pointing out that Chuck has managed to put Axe under arrest previously but he couldn’t actually keep him in jail — remember the Ice Juice debacle for that one. But rather than erupting on his father for not believing in him, Chuck just gloats with a big smile and that let’s Senior know that his son isn’t fucking around this time.
He’s got Axelrod dead to rights.
“Oh shit, you actually have him this time. That’s why you’re here. This is beyond crowing. You’ve actually won, haven’t you? That also means that I backed the wrong gladiator.”
~ Charles Rhoades Sr.
7 ) Never Surrender
The time has come for Bobby Axelrod to surrender to Chuck Rhoades so he can be placed under arrest.
Bach, Wags, Wendy and even Taylor show up to witness the arrest and Chuck arrives with the Manhattan D.A. and a couple of cars filled with police officers ready to slap on the handcuffs.
Wendy asks Chuck not to gloat but it’s awfully hard for him to hide his excitement.
Just then, a scooter arrives with a delivery for Wags without explanation and then seconds later the helicopter arrives from across the river that Axe boarded a little bit ago.
After the helicopter lands, Chuck orders the police to pull out Axe and place him under arrest except for one problem — when they open the doors, nobody is inside.
A flashback to 40 hours earlier reveals that Wags engaged in a clandestine meeting with Scooter — Mike Prince’s No. 2 man in charge – with an offer to put Axe and Prince in a room together.
It only takes Chuck a moment to realize that Axe won’t be surrendering himself for arrest today because he figures out that the leak was none other than Mike Prince himself.
8 ) Buy Out
Prince arrives at the meeting with Axe to give him an offer — a reprieve of sorts — to save himself and ensure that his company doesn’t get torched by the Federal government while he’s rotting away in jail.
As Prince points out, even if Axe whittles down the charges and takes a plea bargain, he’s still probably looking at six years in prison and during that time, everything he’s built at Axe Capital will be dismantled.
But as much as Prince wanted to get rid of Axe, he never had prison in mind as punishment.
“Look, I won here. I cut you down. Put you away. But behind bars? While that may be part of Chuck’s Cheryl Tiegs fishnet fantasy, it’s not part of mine. I don’t care. I just want you gone and now you are.”
~ Mike Prince
So rather than allow Axe to battle it out in court, Prince offers him $2 billion cash for Axe Capital, Axe Bank, the asset management company and Taylor Mason Carbon. It’s a steep discount but as Prince points out, with a gaping chest wound seeping blood, Axe doesn’t really have room to negotiate right now if he hopes to live to see another day.
Timing is also key because while this conversation is happening 40 hours prior to his surrender, Axe hasn’t been indicted and no formal charges have been filed against him. So if he sells off his company to Mike Prince, it’s a totally legal transaction and nobody can say otherwise.
Prince believes he can save the company, restart the bank and hopefully retain the investors already working with Axe Capital. But more importantly he takes ownership of everything that once belonged to Axe — and he wants it all — and Prince also refuses to cut Taylor loose because he wants to work with them and Wendy moving forward.
Back at the helipad where Axe was supposed to surrender, Chuck realizes he’s been had and to make matters worse that bag that arrived for Wags contains a huge pile of gold and documentation that shows he never actually signed his contract to become the CEO of Axe Bank. In other words, Chuck can’t place him under arrest.
The only person who can go down for these crimes is Bobby Axelrod — and he boarded a plane out of the country an hour before this meeting ever started.
Irate as ever, Chuck says goodbye to his case against Axe but he plans to pursue other charges — at least as much as the law will allow — and he can’t stop before gloating to Wendy that she got left behind. Even Taylor believes that’s a low blow until they see some tears streaming down Wendy’s face and they realize she knew Axe was running this entire time.
9 ) What Could Have Been
Around 8 hours before Axe was supposed to surrender, he invited Wendy over to his house for a final conversation.
While she’s planning on standing by his side during the trial and even planning jailhouse visits if that’s what it takes to get through all this, Axe confesses that he just can’t go to prison. He’s not made for it.
So Axe reveals that he plans to run — and he’s going to set up a new life in a country without extradition for certain financial crimes. He asks Wendy to run away with him but she declines.
Beyond her life in New York and her kids, Wendy knows that as exciting as it would be to run away with Axe, eventually they’d grow to regret the decision and their relationship would suffer. Axe knows it’s the truth but even he would take that part of Wendy because that’s just how badly he wants to be with her.
Unfortunately, the romance that seemed destined for the better part of five seasons will never be. Even a single kiss would be too much for Axe to handle.
“If we can’t finish it, we can’t start it. Not now.”
With that, Axe and Wendy embrace, perhaps for the last time, as she says goodbye to her best friend and the man she grew to love.
10 ) A Fresh New Start
Following a long flight, Axe arrives in Switzerland where he’s greeted by local officials, who hand him a new passport and paperwork to welcome him to the country. That’s where he’ll hold up with $2 billion in cash and the knowledge that Mike Prince will be running his company back in the U.S.
Back at Axe Capital, Mike Prince arrives with Scooter in tow as he introduces himself to the troops that previously called Bobby Axelrod their boss and employer. Now they will work for him and Prince offers to keep everybody on staff if they want to be there.
“You’ll find I don’t much speak about things that way, about who gets what, who shined by closing such and such deal, but I think it is important, crucial even, to begin by stating in the most plain terms what this is. And what this is — is mine.”
~ Mike Prince
It doesn’t take long for “Dollar” Bill to realize he wants no part of this new company and after feeling a bit lost these last couple of years, he thanks Prince for waking up the beast inside him. He walks out as does Mafee, who can’t imagine working for Mike Prince. As the former rivals board the elevator together, Mafee asks “Dollar” Bill if he wants to team up and a fist bump seals the deal on this new team of Mega-Powers.
Prince invites Wendy and Taylor to his office where he also invites Wags to remain part of the company, although seeing him share space with Scooter will be rather interesting.
As much as Taylor and Wendy might want to jump ship, Prince reminds them that he owns everything that once belonged to Axe — including the majority share of Taylor Mason Carbon. But he’s confident given enough time, they’ll both choose to stay and work alongside him.
Finally, Chuck arrives just as the Axe Capital signs are being torn off the walls.
He goes up to Prince’s office and wonders when they stopped working together because up to this point, they were both all in on getting rid of Bobby Axelrod. But Prince is quick to counter and tell Chuck that they were never a team — the New York Attorney General was just a means to an end and that was accomplished when Bobby Axlerod sold his company and fled the country.
Of course, Prince’s blatant betrayal has Chuck ready to erupt and now he considers them mortal enemies just like he once held Axe in that same regard.
The season ends with Prince sitting in the chair that Axe once occupied and Chuck promising to eradicate him sooner rather than later.
You won’t have to wait long for “Billions” season 6 as the debut is coming on January 23 and you can check out the teaser below as Corey Stoll takes over the lead role on the series following Damian Lewis’ exit. For more on that, you can read here.