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 DOWN — Yonkers
Real full-circle swing from Axe this week, starting with his visit to his old house in Yonkers that was supposed to be a glorified photoshoot to gas up his move on the area’s Opportunity Zone, moving to him catching feelings and waves of nostalgia after meeting young Savion and seeing his old Main Street, then swinging right back to embarrassment and hatred for his roots once Mike Prince dropped a passive-aggressive phone call on him from the steps of the damn Met. It was an arc that tells you everything you could ever need to know about Bobby Axelrod.
The main takeaway is something we knew but Axe tries to keep hidden at all times: he is, at heart, an insecure little boy. That’s why he pushes so hard all the time, that’s why he overcompensates with models and penthouses, and that’s why it took only a reference to the stench of Yonkers sticking to him still — from a beloved, high school sports hero, prince of the city, tuxedo-clad rival — to send him bailing on his sweet dinner with Savion’s family. What do you think he did immediately after leaving Chef Ryan there? My best guess is “drove himself home at 120mph and then bought a Picasso for $170 million,” just in the most transparent attempt to prove to himself and the world that he’s a big fancy Manhattan man with big fancy tastes and big fancy class oozing out of his big fancy orifices.
It was the first time in a while that I felt… I don’t want to say I felt “bad” for Axe because he’s still a predator who will probably end up gutting Yonkers to make enough money to cover his hypothetical impulse Picasso purchase and then some. But it was a nice reminder that there is a reason that he’s the way he is. This is why he ruined that headmaster last week, because he’s both envious of and resentful toward anyone with status. He craves their approval but also hates them. It’s a whole thing. He’s not just an evil monster for no reason. He’s an evil monster because he’s a broken little boy at heart.
STOCK UP — Mike Prince
Love this guy. Love that he refused to fall prey to Chuck’s temptations to trap Axe. Love that he plays hoops with Dominique Wilkins. Love that he destroyed Axe’s entire self-worth with one phone call on his way into a fancy gala that Axe was not invited to, apparently. Love that he has a dark side he fights to keep bottled up. Love that his stories about following the lead of his better angels also involve casual mentions of dropping 60 points in a single high school basketball game. I’m starting to wish the entire show was about him.
That said, yes, I know, this will end poorly for Sweet Mike. It has to. Between multiple people waving temptation in front of his face and Billions‘ general season-long arcs of “Axe finds adversary, adversary scores some small victories, Axe ruins adversary,” Mike Prince does not stand a chance. You can see it coming. He’s going to get in too deep with Axe, he’s going to make some shady maneuver in an attempt to get the upper hand, and he’s going to fall right into Axe’s trap. He’s like a boxer tangling with a nasty street fighter. As long as they’re in the ring with a referee, he’s fine. If they go at it in some bar, though, Bobby is smashing a beer bottle on the table and gutting him with the jagged half. You hate to see it.
STOCK DOWN — Franklin Sacker
Three notes regarding Axe’s recruitment of Franklin Sacker:
1. Shoutout to Shark Tank’s Daymond John, who made an appearance as himself this week and immediately called out Axe for his hilariously transparent race play over a plate of Eggs Benedict. I loved this. Billions could use more cameos by famous people who drop by for 90 seconds to tell Axe he’s a piece of crap. Let’s get, oh, I don’t know… Helen Mirren next. Cook his ass, Helen.
2. It says a lot about me that, after the Daymond fiasco when Axe and Wags were frantically searching for another diverse face from or with ties to Yonkers to sit on the board of Axe’s Opportunity Zone thing, my first reaction was to scream “GET DMX.” I mean, Franklin Sacker was a better option, both for Axe and for the ongoing plot of the show for reasons we will discuss in point number three, but still. I hope he was at least on the list.
3. I am giddy about the possibility of Kate Sacker ruining her father and then becoming a political phenom. I am not joking even a little when I say I want her to become president on the show. She is my favorite main character by a factor of 10. I hope she vets Connerty as a running mate just to get his hopes up before yoinking it away from him, because even in a season he has not appeared a single time, Connerty remains the Charlie Brown of the show.
STOCK UP — Ambushing your enemies by jumping out from behind a hidden door
Just once. Just one time. Just one single time in my entire stupid life would I like to do this, to lie in wait as my nemesis lays out his plan to defeat me, to let him get deep enough into it to think he’s on the verge of winning, and then — with the dramatic flair of a soap opera character who was assumed to be dead — appear from behind a hidden door to deflate all his plans. God, can you imagine the power? The unfiltered diesel energy that must immediately flow through your veins with the force of the thundering Mississippi River. I bet it’s a bigger rush than skydiving. Someone should set up a service that charges for it. I would pay at least $100 to do it once. I’d pay $500 for a half dozen. My friends would get so sick of it.
FRIEND: [walks into room] What’s this all about?
ACTOR: I have a proposition for you. You see, an opport-
FRIEND: Oh, Jesus Christ. This again. Brian, are you hiding behind that wall?
ME: [hiding behind wall] … no?
STOCK UP — The white-hot flames of sexual tension
Congratulations to the tortured artist played by Frank Grillo and the sex professor played by Julianna Margulies for sliding their symmetrical and very intense faces between the feuding Rhoadeses.
STOCK DOWN — Wags as we know him, perhaps
It is somehow both shocking and not surprising at all that Wags would look at his children, see one who dances for money and another who baptizes sinners in a river, and say “Screw this, I’m starting over.” Not “I want to work hard to fix these broken relationships” or “I should talk to Wendy to get advice on how to correct my past mistakes.” None of that. He jumped straight to “I’m going to find a smoking hot 24-year-old on Tinder and have a baby with her.”
He has such a fascinatingly broken brain. It’s like he can identify the problem (“I was a bad father to my children”) but is incapable of jumping to the right conclusion. This is going to end terribly. Everyone knows it. Wags knows it, too. He knows it somewhere. Probably. Maybe. This poor baby.
STOCK UP — Chef Ryan
Really just a great episode for Chef Ryan, who is now probably my favorite side character. Serving dinner for Axe and Wendy in the penthouse, making the aforementioned Eggs Benedict in the office (please do picture him making a delicious Hollandaise sauce on a dorm-style hot plate in the AxeCap kitchen), and then going in on a kamikaze mission to serve a delicious dinner to Savion’s family in Yonkers after Axe had a class crisis and fled for his glass-walled lair. Seems like a really good dude. Always pleasant, always carrying food. I could use a Chef Ryan in my life. We all could.