TV

The ‘Billions’ Stock Watch: Holy Toledo, Chuck Did It


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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 — All or nothing gambits

At the end of Iron Man, the first one, about 10 years and 65 Marvel movies ago, Tony Stark held a press conference. The press conference was supposed to clear up a few things about Stark Industries and explain some of the “two flying robots having a damn firefight in the sky” confusion that had been going on lately. What he was not supposed to say was that he was Iron Man. He walked up to the podium, prepared to give the speech he was supposed to give, then, in the moment, decided to scrap it and look out to the world and reveal that, yup, he was Iron Man. He looked right into the camera and said “I am Iron Man” and everything.

This scene was on my mind while watching Billions last night. Chuck, himself the embattled child of a powerful figure, also had a press conference to give. And he also had a speech prepared. And he also decided to scrap the speech in the moment to tell the people the truth about a double life he’d been living. But instead of revealing that he’s a flying futuristic superhero who will one day battle aliens and mentor Spider-man, he revealed… something else. Screencaps will help.

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Showtime

Well, there it is. Chuck did it. His hand was forced more than a bit by the cancer-stricken Jack Foley, who, in a classically Billions move, was prepared to drag Chuck to hell with him on his way out the door. And here’s the crazier part: it worked! Chuck speech about his proclivities and how we all have secrets that live inside us and truths we’re dying to reveal apparently swayed the voters and landed him the coveted position of New York Attorney General. What an incredible ride this guy has been on lately, right?

(Because I work in media and my brain is irreparably broken, all I could think about when this happened was the news coverage. Can you imagine? Can you even imagine? This is a guy who just got pushed out as a U.S. Attorney, started running for AG, and then revealed all of his private sexual desires in an official press conference. My God. The headlines. The New York tabloids alone. Think about this for a minute or a few hours. Fascinating.)

By winning, he’s also back in a powerful position, now with new powerful friends. Jock and Connerty and Sacker are still out for blood, but now he has Axe and the NYPD and Carl (Carl!), the guy Dake brought in to spy on him last season who now apparently works for Chuck as a fixer. This delights me. It all delights me. Chuck’s secret is now in the open and there’s no going back for anyone. Billions stays Billions, forever and ever, amen.

In conclusion, please enjoy these screencaps of people reacting to Chuck’s press conference, which were delivered back-to-back-back in an almost montage of shock. I wish they had gone on forever.

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Showtime

Charles, Sr. sure is pleased, which makes sense in the context of the show (displays of power are his kink, after all), but is pretty wild when you consider his son just went on television and told the world he gets sexual pleasure from pain and humiliation. Childish enthusiasms, if you will.

STOCK DOWN — All or nothing gambits

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See, this is the thing. There’s always fallout from a move like this and, here, that fallout was personal. Wendy very much did not want this information revealed (Chuck is the one who gets off on humiliation, not her), and went so far as to say this to him, to his face, on a park bench, because all secret conversations on Billions take place in public settings (docks, alleys, parks), even when they’re about long-hidden marital secrets.

She is justifiably pissed now. It was cold and crappy for Chuck to do it, and it was made even worse by his “this is politics, baby” attitude about it all, and by his refusal to consider the ramifications for her, both professionally and personally. Society can live with a guy who has desires outside the mainstream. A woman, not so much.

It’s not going to end well.

STOCK UP — Having a sack of burner phones sitting around just in case

In another story from the episode that seemed important right up until Chuck set the world on fire, Axe Cap got hacked and had to do some old school trading over the phone. Fine, great, neat. But in doing so, once the emergency hit, Axe disappeared into an office and reappeared with a sack of burner phones.

I must acquire a sack of emergency burner phones. I don’t even know what I’d do with them. I can’t see a single situation in my boring life when I’d ever need one burner phone, let alone an entire sack. I do not care. I want it. Even if just for the moment when someone finds my sack of burner phones and is like “Holy hell, I do not know Brian like I think I do.” Mysterious!

STOCK DOWN — Grigor

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Say this for Grigor: My guy is getting his cuts in. He got cornered this week by the team of Axe and Chuck, with the former figuring out the hack and using the newfound authority of the latter to essentially banish Grigor from America. But even then, Grigor tried one last gambit, using this new information about Chuck’s private life to pitch him on what appeared to be a globetrotting sex adventure. Shoot your shot, buddy.

There was also an airport tarmac face off with Axe where they both kind of threatened to kill each other while saying goodbye and how they got through that entire thing without one of them saying “We’re not so different, you and I,” I will honestly never know. I’m furious.

STOCK UP — Rebecca

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Rebecca rules. I finally put her deal together this week, too. She’s a home shopping magnate who turned selling stuff on television into a billion-dollar business, which essentially makes her some kind of cross between Lori from Shark Tank and Martha Stewart, but with a stare that will turn any man to damn dust. (Between Rebecca and Lara, Axe’s type appears to be intimidating blondes who can melt steel with their eyes.) Nina Arianda should be on every show.

(Doing this in parentheses in case I’m proven wrong later: Remember when Hall said Grigor got the hacking stuff into the building through a meeting with someone who was not who they said they were? And then later Rebecca was like “Oh, I’ll go get my own ice, don’t worry” and marched off unaccompanied to trot around Axe Cap? Do we think…? No. No, I refuse to believe it. Disregard. Unless I’m proven correct later.)

STOCK DOWN — Black Jack Foley

Tough out for old Black Jack. Terminal cancer, diminished power, his hated rival in the Attorney General’s office. Just a mess of bad breaks in a row this week. Hard to feel bad for the guy. But…

With Jack on his deathbed and Grigor on a plane, did this show just lose David Strathairn and John Malkovich in the same week? Oh man. There’s a give and a take there, in that the show could probably use a streamlining of plots, in general, so it can really dive into the important stuff that the main people are doing. But… I like those guys. I’m conflicted. Maybe the can start hanging out in a series of web extras. Just spitballing.

STOCK DOWN — Natural gas

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Worth noting: When the big gas explosion happened and the whole world watched in horror as the employees of Axe Cap celebrated their last-minute escape from positions in the industry that could have cost them a fortune, it actually marked the second time their office has whooped and cheered while a disaster unfolded. The other time was when Fake Elon Musk’s rocket blew up with him in it and, because Dollar Bill had shorted the company, they made a fortune.

Everyone on this show is a monster. I love it so much.

STOCK UP — Hummingbirds

I am learning so much about nature from this season of Billions. There was the thing in the premiere about falcons mating for life, then the thing the other week about “the most venomous arachnid on in the world,” and now this week Axe just casually dropped a mention about how hummingbirds shouldn’t be able to fly sideways, but they do. It’s like every character on this show got way into nature documentaries between seasons. It has overtaken “numerous movie/music references that everyone gets” as my favorite Billions conversational bit. Especially now that some guy didn’t get Axe’s one French film reference on the phone this week.

I hope next week’s episode opens with a long monologue about the feeding habits of giraffes. Give me all the nature facts. Bring in David Attenborough to play the head of the SEC. I’ll cheer out loud.

STOCK UP — Chuck’s abbreviated happy dance

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No additional commentary needed. Just a joy to behold.

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