The Billions Stock Watch is a weekly accounting of the action on the Showtime drama. Decisions will be made based on speculation and occasional misinformation and mysterious whims that are never fully explained to the general public. Kind of like the real stock market.
STOCK UP — Being owed a favor
The thing about having skeletons in your closet is that they stay in there even if you rearrange the furniture outside the door. That’s Chuck’s problem. The man has such a history of making deals and crushing people that it’s hard for him to make a move in any direction sometimes. Right now, his main adversary is Connerty, a man who hates him so much and is in a position of power and is very happy to try to beat him at his own game, with leaks and favors and subterfuge. This week it was an article about a decision not to prosecute a vape company that targeted teens. Next week, who knows? Connerty will screw it up, eventually, because Connerty always screws it up, but just his existence is enough to cause Chuck a few headaches.
Enter Bobby Axelrod. I’m still not sure how I feel about these two being friends, but I can’t deny that I’m a little excited about the possibility of the two of them crushing Chuck’s opponent for New York Attorney General through diabolical financial trickitude. Charles, Sr. is right: You don’t always need to win; sometimes you need to just not lose. No one can compete with Axe and Chuck in a race to the bottom.
This brings us to Chuck’s other problem, though. He’s now in Axe’s debt. As soon as he told Axe to name a price and Axe deferred, it became an issue. This is hanging out there now, hovering overhead like the Sword of Damocles. It’s not great for Chuck. It’s pretty great for Axe, though. It’s always nice to have a favor you can call in.
STOCK DOWN — Dollar Bill
Not a banner week for Dollar Bill. He thought he had a good, very-Bill-like tip (read as: fraudulently obtained, illegal in any number of ways), he was ready to cash in, and then everything went to heck. You know you’re having a bad day when you find yourself holding a diseased chicken in a sack as part of a plan to poison hundreds of thousands of healthy chickens. No one ever starts out a plan with that idea. You kind of end up there. That’s what Bill is doing in this screencap, which I love, and which is yet another reminder that you should always watch television with the captions on.
Also: I do like that we found something that even Axe and Wags think is over the line. I’m still not exactly sure where that line is. I’m narrowing it down. Framing an oncologist for the Ice Juice fiasco: okay. Chicken genocide: not okay. I feel like I’m getting closer.
STOCK UP — Kate Sacker
Kate Sacker might be the only competent lawyer on this show. Chuck is always putting out fires he accidentally started. Connerty is a hopeless goof who has never competently executed a single plan on his own. Lonnie just gets steamrolled once or twice a season and then disappears. But Sacker? Sacker is not to be messed with. Sacker handles stuff, straight up, no screwing around.
She also does this thing. I don’t know if you’ve noticed it. Someone will be babbling their way through a weak argument and she’ll do this long, slow blink and then, when her eyes open back up, they are zeroed in like lasers on that person’s face. Not even their face. Their soul. It’s terrifying. I don’t want anyone to look at me like that.
STOCK DOWN — SugarVape!
SugarVape! That’s the name of the vape company that allegedly targeted teens and now has a chump of a whistleblower ready to cook them and Chuck from the couch in his mother’s house, under the painting of Kitty Jesus. SugarVape!
It’s perfect. I howled when I heard it and I’m giggling again now. I love it even more than Ice Juice, the all-natural energy drink that caused Chuck problems last season. I can’t wait to find out what other hilariously-named companies might bring him down. I was going to make one up for goofs right now, but I can’t possibly top SugarVape.
STOCK UP — Math
A mostly sweet moment this week, a rarity for Billions, when Taylor and their dad (Kevin Pollack) bonded over a Good Will Hunting-style math board which could have been complete gobbledygook for all I know. It pains me to give math any credit like this. I hate math. It’s bad. But it did help bridge the gap between father and child a bit, and it did turn out to be a work because Taylor realized Axe was spying, and I am all for elaborate family plans to frustrate an enemy. Math gets a pass. This time.
STOCK DOWN — Being self-aware
Axe telling Dollar Bill to put down the diseased chicken and let it go was pretty rich, again, because of everything we’ve seen him say and do since the first episode. Think of the lengths he’s gone to as part of plans less serious than this one. Think about the war he’s waging against Taylor that is sucking up valuable time and resources. The man has never willingly taken a loss. So giving this advice, in this instance, means one of two things:
- Axe has no self-awareness
- Axe was really freaked out about the idea of Bill murdering all those chickens
Maybe it’s the second thing. I mean, he did fly all the way to Arkansas to stop him. Still. Point stands.
STOCK UP — Wendy and her rubber bands
Congratulations to Wendy Rhoades for using a rubber-snapping Jedi mind trick on Chuck to get her out of playing dominatrix anytime he has a bad day. Wendy is slick like that. She and Kate Sacker could rule New York if they cut Chuck and Connerty loose to form their own alliance.
Also: Chuck’s new plan of wrapping a rubber band around his leg and snapping it when he needs a rush… there’s a problem here. Yes, sure, it’s a smaller potential problem than a headline like Attorney General Candidate Found Wearing Leather Harnesses In Manhattan Sex Club. But cutting off blood flow to your extremities is a dangerous game, too. Attorney General Candidate Loses Leg In Masochistic Rubber Band Pain Ritual Gone Awry isn’t a great headline either, you know? Be safe, buddy.
STOCK DOWN — Having a normal conversation
Sometimes when I see Chuck talking to someone (like the editor in this week’s episode, who revealed that he was a former music critic, which was basically an excuse for the two of them to make music references, which is the most Billions thing ever), I wonder if he’s just lost the ability to have a normal conversation with someone, one not loaded with metaphors and threats both implied and clearly stated. Like I picture a delivery guy showing up…
DELIVERY GUY: Here’s your Marsala, Mr. Rhoades.
CHUCK: It’s a dangerous game you’re playing, Tyler.
DELIVERY GUY: What is? How do you know my name?
CHUCK: Oh, I know a lot of things. Plenty of them. Things that can hurt people.
DELIVERY GUY: I’m gonna go.
STOCK UP — Hall and his mysterious packages
I love this guy. Twice this week he went charging into Axe’s office with mysterious unmarked packages and both times I was bursting with excitement. What’s in the box, Hall?! Oh, it’s a secret Israeli spy took that takes pictures through privacy glass, and this one you’re showing me is for “personal use” because the other one is already hooked up? Well, that’s delightful. And unsettling. What are you doing with th-… you know what? Don’t tell me. I definitely don’t want to know.
Anyway, yes, my new goal is to have a person like this on my payroll, who just shows up with weird boxes that could contain anything. Every day would be like Christmas. But instead of getting, like, a new iPad, I’d get an illegally obtained piece of surveillance equipment that I can use to destroy my enemies. God bless us, every one.
STOCK DOWN — The Chicken Man
Good night, sweet prince.