Here are the top 10 moments from the latest episode of “Billions” where Chuck goes after Axe in a Capone style raid and Taylor takes out an old colleague…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Something feels off with “Billions” this season and it didn’t become totally apparent until the latest episode.
While there have definitely been more than a few memorable scenes, pop culture references and dialogue, the show is somehow skipping a beat from the rhythm that has made this series so great for the past four seasons.
Perhaps it’s the rehashed dynamic where Chuck is obsessed with taking down Axe while Axe seems somewhat distracted by a rival in Mike Prince, who doesn’t really seem like a worthy adversary through the first half of this season. The addition of new love interests for Chuck and Wendy haven’t sparked many emotions either and turning Axe into a stalker in this latest episode just didn’t feel natural to his character — at least on this occasion.
There was also a random insert involving Ari Spyros and his obsession with joining Mensa — the club for people with an IQ in the top two-percent of the world — that ultimately forces Mafee to take a test for him because there’s no way he could pass on his own. It was definitely funny but really didn’t play a part in the larger story — at least not yet anyways.
That said, there are still plenty of classic “Billions” moments happening from week to week — with Taylor taking the crown in the latest episode after they’re forced to face off with an old friend in Oscar Langstraat. In a dog-eat-dog world of venture capitalism, Taylor quickly learns that a gloves off approach is the only way to guarantee victory.
Still overall “Billions” hasn’t quite been hitting on all cylinders this season but we’re just about at the halfway point where the show will come to an end after next week’s episode with the second part of the season airing later in 2020. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, filming on “Billions’ had to get shut down midway through the season so it will be interesting to see how everything plays out once the show gets moving again.
With that said, let’s get to our top 10 moments for the latest episode of “Billions” titled “The Nordic Model”…
1 ) Mr. Roomba
Axe is still pursuing a bank license and he’s looking for a blessing from the Securities Exchange Commission chairwoman, who could help many of his problems go away with a nicely written letter endorsing him. Sadly, the SEC chairwoman is unmoved by Axe’s diatribe about how he’s been pulled away from the dark side of the Force.
It also doesn’t help matters much that Axe brings in Ari Spyros as his right hand during this meeting. Spyros used to work at the SEC under this chairwoman and the memories he has about his old job don’t quite match up with reality, especially when it comes to his nickname.
“We called you Mr. Roomba because you sucked and snuck up on us and creeped us out.”
Needless to say, Axe is still on the outside looking in when it comes to his bank but he’s got an alternative plan in mind.
2 ) Art House
“That’s not a trio that should be seen together unless something’s seriously fucked”
Those are Wendy’s words when she spots Victor Matteo, Sean Ayles and Danny Margolis walk into Axe Capital together after they ran into a serious problem regarding some priceless works of art.
A season ago, Axe had to find a place to stash a bunch of expensive paintings that were shipped to him from overseas. If the U.S. government found out about it, he’d be forced to pay millions upon millions in taxes. The workaround was storing the paintings in a free port — a designated area that’s outside the purview of the IRS — and a perfect landing spot for Axe’s works of art.
The only problem is Axe stored his replicas and kept the real art in house at his many homes in New York. After helping out Axe, Danny Margolis decided to shop his free port around to other billionaires offering the same tax free safe haven.
When Kate Sacker got wind of this, she brought it directly to Chuck, who quickly realized that he saw a Vincent Van Gogh painting in one of Axe’s apartments. That means if he could prove Axe was sheltering that kind of art in his own home, it would constitute tax fraud and he’d go to jail just like Al Capone.
3 ) Sideways
In a call back to one of Paul Giamatti’s most famous roles in the film “Sideways,” Chuck shows up at Axe’s apartment unannounced asking to find one of his son’s video games left behind but then asks to taste one of the fine bottles of wine hiding in plain sight.
See, Chuck is there to get a good look at that Van Gogh painting and prove that it’s the real deal and not some replica. When he “accidentally” spills the wine all over the priceless work and Axe nearly shits his pants, Chuck knows he’s onto something.
He then not so subtly tells Axe that he’s got agents waiting outside the building, watching from morning until night to ensure nothing goes in or out of that apartment until an authenticator has arrived to view those paintings.
Axe’s plan to disappear the art and swap out the replicas has been foiled and he’s left with 24 hours before his priceless paintings cost him a stint in prison.
Of course, Chuck’s got his own issues back at the office after Manhattan D.A. Mary Ann Gramm swoops into once again take over the case because these are potentially criminal charges getting dropped on Axe’s head and according to the Governor of New York, that’s now her problem
4 ) The Bastards
“Listen, Dad, since the family has been more inclusive of late, now might be a good time to reach out to any previously unreported bastards. Just welcome them into the ever-growing fold.”
After getting his blood tested, Chuck finds out that he’s not a match to offer a kidney to save his father’s life. He then tells Charles Senior that he might want to reach out to any of those bastard children he had during his many wayward nights when he wasn’t at home to see if they might be a match instead.
Sadly, Senior already asked and none of them are a match either.
Of course, he can’t help but lash out at Chuck and demean him for his shortcomings, which seems to be about the only kind of fatherly advice he offers these days. In return, Chuck just takes his punishment while offering his father a kind word because he knows the old man is literally scared for his life right now.
5 ) A Nico Tanner Original
Axe finds a way to get to the SEC through his old pal Todd Krakow, who previously shut down his request when trying to get a license through the FDIC. Axe gives him the heads up about the crack down on free ports because Margolis gained the Secretary of the Treasury as one of his prized clients.
For now, Axe only needs that letter to grease the wheels with the FDIC but in exchange he offers Krakow something he can’t resist — a one of a kind portrait painting from one of the hottest artists in New York: Nico Tanner.
You see, Axe found out through a sketch that Tanner made of Wendy in bed that they were now a couple and he’s not taking it well. But he owns Tanner so in order to punish his artist, he’s going to have him paint a portrait of Todd Krakow on commission.
He just doesn’t want any of that Cubist bullshit.
6 ) Father of Mine
In a desperate move to save his father’s life, Chuck turns to Wendy to get blood tested but she turns him down flat because even if she was a match, Senior isn’t getting her kidney. She reminds Chuck that their children or someone from her family might need it one day and she’s only got the one extra kidney to give.
The problem is Chuck is getting low on options and his father won’t survive forever on dialysis. That’s when Wendy begins to wonder if Chuck exorcising his greatest demon might not be better for him in the long run of his own mental health.
Wendy: “I’ll hand it to him: He wired you in a way even I could never quite untangle. You’re racked with guilt
Chuck: “Because I can’t help him.”
Wendy: “Or because you don’t want to”
Chuck: “Wait. You think that I want him to die?”
Wendy: “I think maybe you need him to.”
She reminds Chuck about his virgin initiation where his uncle bought him a woman for a night and then Senior told his son that he had already tasted the goods himself. The debate about her title as prostitute or sex worker reminds Chuck of a current pet project that belongs to the Manhattan D.A. that might help him get back the Bobby Axelrod art crackdown.
7 ) Dangerous Liaisons
In order to get the Manhattan D.A. off his back, Chuck has to go after a case that’s near and dear to her heart — the decriminalization of sex work in New York.
He wants to show how her new initiative is actually hurting women instead of helping them and that will shine a very bad light on her long term plans. He then turns to his new girlfriend Cat Brant for help dissecting the sex work industry and how he can shred the Manhattan D.A.’s initiative.
Of course, Cat doesn’t like this idea because her entire career has been built on changing the stigma surrounding sex work. Chuck promises he’s just using this leverage as a threat to get his case back and he would never actually prosecute any of these cases.
She agrees to help him under the promise that if he betrays her, Chuck will lose all access to her knowledge but more importantly, he’ll sacrifice their relationship.
The plan ultimately works after Chuck threatens to drop the hammer on the D.A. when it comes to her plans for sex workers and the art case is turned back over to him. As for his feelings on the subject, when Chuck returns to Cat’s apartment she’s got a surprise for both of them — a sex worker who they will share for the evening.
8 ) Just Win Baby
As Mase Carbon looks for more and more environmental plays, the newest member of the team Rian brings them an opportunity to partner up with a company harvesting methane that escapes from the cracks in the ocean floor. Unfortunately, Taylor’s pitch is interrupted when they realize former boyfriend turned venture capitalist rival Oscar Langstraat has designs on the same company.
Oscar ultimately doubles his bid, overpaying to land this company because he not only wants to add it to his portfolio but he also wants to jam up Taylor and their new project. In fact, Oscar reminds Taylor that while he’s got an inviting demeanor on the outside, he was raised as a Raider fan in Oakland where the team’s motto was just win, baby.
In order to bring the methane company back to Mase Carbon, Taylor is forced to employ some Bobby Axelrod strategy when they asked “Hard” Bob Beaufort to get involved. It seems this new methane company has a former employee, who left with some of their tech and he’s threatening to strike out on his own.
But thanks to “Hard” Bob’s arrival where he decides to take the patent for the U.S. government instead, the former employee has no choice but to give up his rights and return to his old boss with his tail between his legs. The methane startup is quick to sign with Taylor after they delivered huge for his company.
Taylor then offers Oscar some words of wisdom.
“Oscar, Al Davis is dead and the Raiders haven’t won anything in a decade. So go back to the bay and heal, baby, heal.”
9 ) Night at the Museum
When Chuck finally shows up to rain down tax terror on Bobby Axelrod, he’s met with a surprise. The apartment that housed these great paintings has been transformed into a private museum under the auspice of the Axelrod Charitable Foundation.
It seems a distraction to lure the cops away from watching his building allowed Axe’s acolytes to enter through the roof, swap out all of the paintings and add quite a few more before this new endeavor opened up for a viewing.
It’s all legal — and now those paintings are protected from the IRS and Chuck’s prosecution.
10 ) Big Brother
Jealousy just doesn’t look good on Axe but that’s where he ends up after finding out that Wendy has been bedding down with Tanner. In fact, after discovering Tanner’s impromptu sketch of her in bed, he decides to turn the screws on his paid-for-artist by commissioning him to do that painting of Todd Krakow.
Once he returns home, Axe turns on the security cameras installed at the building where he has Tanner housed and he watches as his painter and his best friend walk in when the day is still light and she doesn’t leave again until the next morning.
All the while, Axe is keeping a watchful eye on that security camera until he finally sees Wendy leaving in the morning. That’s when he places a call to invite her and Tanner to a dinner to celebrate all that the art world has given him lately.
The show has been teasing a potential Axe and Wendy relationship but this strange twist into stalking seems a little off. Then again, Bobby Axelrod is used to always getting what he wants — and now someone he loves is being taken away from him.
“Billions” returns next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET with a brand new episode on Showtime.