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 – Wendy
It’s been a rough season for Wendy. The Ice Juice thing and the threat of jail time were big deals, but this biggest problem was that Wendy has traditionally been the closest thing Billions has to a moral center. And that’s kind of dicey even in good times. But last week alone she helped her (crooked) husband and (also crooked) boss send a (slightly less crooked) oncologist to prison and then seduced my good sweet boy Mafee into taking the fall for the rest of the crime. Which, fine. No one is good on Billions. To expect anything more of her would be unfair, I guess. But still, I didn’t like it.
So it was nice to see her (mostly) getting back on the right side of things. She tried to help Gordie. She cautioned Axe about being a maniacal supervillain and diving right back into murky waters 20 seconds after clearing his name. She turned the tables on Chuck’s dad with a bit of sweet comeuppance. Yeah, that last thing did kind of involve — by her own admission — using her skills as a psychologist to manipulate her husband into bailing on the governor thing just so she could poke Senior in the eye with it all, but you take your wins on this show wherever you can get them.
STOCK DOWN – Getting your manhood caught in a tiger trap
Double whammy for Black Jack Foley and Chuck Senior this week. One was a joint whammy, at the party, where Chuck made the big reveal that he wasn’t running for governor and would instead back his former nemesis Buffalo Bob, who was apparently hiding in the closet or something before he was introduced. It must have been so weird for the other guests at the party. Chuck Senior gave a speech to introduce his son, who then gave a speech to introduce another guy, whose announced his run for governor in a house he does not live in. Everyone must have left the party, turned to their spouse in the car, and been like “What the heck was that?” I love this show.
The other whammies were individual. Chuck turned the tables on Black Jack with the steel sting and Wendy did the thing we just mentioned about canceling Senior’s escort and telling him about her secret Chuck manipulation. Big week for powerful old dudes getting owned. I’m here for it.
STOCK UP – The full Giamatti
I feel bad for Bryan, who got fired for doing his job, and will hopefully land somewhere else soon, because I like him and want to know more about his ping-pong prowess, but if you gotta get fired, man, getting it via the full spittle-shooting Giamatti is a heck of a way to go. Look at him. Just beautiful. Paul Giamatti is the greatest.
STOCK DOWN – Childish enthusiasms
I like that Chuck Senior referred to Chuck and Wendy’s dungeon forays as “childish enthusiasms.” We here at the Billions Stock Watch are sex-positive and open-minded and do not judge what two consenting adults do in their love life, but that’s both a wonderful turn of phrase and a hilarious way to describe what was going on. Childish enthusiasms, to me, are things like collecting baseball cards or Beanie Babies. Or at least, they were. Tough image to get outta the old thinker.
STOCK DOWN – Working for Bobby Axelrod
The bigger story here long-term is that Axe now appears to be punishing Taylor for being successful in his absence, viewing them as a threat and a competitor and using any opportunity to try to establish his dominance at the firm now that he’s back. This is classic Axe and a good reminder that he’s ruthless and evil and needy and sad and petty and all of the other things we know he is that still somehow kind of sting when we see them, even though we should definitely know better by now.
But I want to talk about this lady, who I think is his assistant. What a crappy night she had. Forced to stay late so Axe could bicker with his wife in front of her, then forced to take Axe’s sad children to dinner until Axe got there, then left hanging with the kids when Axe decided to wage a self-declared war against Taylor. This seems like a truly awful job. I hope she quits and writes a tell-all book.
STOCK UP – Judge Adam DeGiulio
My beloved Judge Adam called in his favor to Chuck and asked him not to run for governor, which mostly served as a way for Wendy to give the passionate speech that may or may not have been done entirely to get revenge for ruining a fun night of marital domination. But we’ve discussed that. I just want to point out how much I love Judge Adam. I’m rooting for him. I want him to get on the Supreme Court and start peppering the attorneys with snide little comments and grandstanding gestures meant more for the gallery than anyone else. He will reverse the “no cameras during oral argument” rule on his first day and then he will start looking dead into those cameras like a dog in a kid’s movie whenever an attorney pushes things too far, as if to say “Can you believe this guy?”
Make this spinoff.
STOCK DOWN – Being married to Bobby Axelrod
Lara Axelrod can handle herself, in general, as we’ve seen many times when some misguided Hamptons housewife has tried to challenge her or even console her in a way she didn’t feel was appropriate. (That icy blue stare could freeze lava.) She got pushed around pretty good this week, though, with the contract and the things Bobby was saying. It’s tough to feel too bad for her, though, in the way it’s tough to feel too bad for anyone on this show, because all of this was over a few percentage points on a billion-dollar investment. Take the kids and move to Hawaii and live like a queen if you want, lady. Let Jerry O’Connell handle your money. You have choices.
STOCK UP – Danny Strong
Christoph Waltz’s smile is the scariest thing in the world. That’s just a fact. Go watch Inglorious Basterds again. I bring it up now because Danny Strong — who plays a hedge fund guy turned Treasury Secretary on this show, and played a crooked prison guard on Justified, and punched Roger Sterling in the jimmies on Mad Men — has a similar thing with his smile, but instead of instilling fear deep down in the places of your soul that stores nightmares for when you take too much cold medicine, it makes you think he’s a weasel. He has such a good weasel smile! Look at his entire face in that screencap! It’s uncanny how much I can hate any character he plays within 10 seconds of that character appearing on screen. Part of that is because he almost always plays weasels, so there’s a chicken-egg thing going on with it all. I’m sure he’s a very nice man, and he’s a prolific screenwriter and producer, too (his IMDb page is wild), but no one can look like a weasel quite like Danny Strong.
STOCK DOWN – Being the son of Bobby Axelrod
Poor Gordie. That kid is gonna grow up to be the worst person in his high school and will probably go to jail for some sort of behavior that started as a cry for attention and then spiraled over the years into an inescapable personal hell and you’ll be able to trace it all back to the dessert-covered table at that restaurant.
STOCK UP – Sticking your hand in the elevator at the last second before the door closes
Could you just shout “Wait, hold on!” as you run toward to the elevator, so the person inside can stop the doors on their own with a simple extension of the arm or press of the Door Open button? Yes.
Would it be more efficient than sprinting toward the elevator in a wordless flurry and then reaching your arm in at the very last moment? Almost definitely.
Should you probably just call the person of their cell phone and say, like, “Yo, before you leave, hang back in the lobby for a second”? As long as you’re not concerned with creating a paper trail.
But who cares? It’s a cool move. Everyone should get to do it once. It’s like a watered-down version of running through an airport to say one last unsaid thing to a loved one who is about to get on a plane, which you can’t even really do anymore without getting tackled and detained for a few hours. Gotta take these little pleasures where you can still get them, you know?