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The ‘Billions’ Stock Watch: Pizza Will Unite Us All


Showtime

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 – Pizza

We have much to get to this week, including a plot to take down the Attorney General, but first, a word about pizza. Pizza is the greatest. There’s not another food out there with a degree of difficulty that low that turns out results that good. It’s really just dough, sauce, and cheese. That’s it. Yes, there is such a thing as great pizza, and we should acknowledge and appreciate that at every opportunity (shout out to Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven, Connecticut), but it’s more that, like, even bad pizza is still pretty okay. Even store-brand frozen pizza with a layer of permafrost on the top of it. You foodie-types might turn your noses up at that, but come home drunk and fire that sucker up at 3:15 AM some weekend. It’ll be amazing. Pizza is basically magic. I’m repeating myself a bit here, but it’s too important to leave unsaid.

We bring this up now because of the scene in Axe’s kitchen, at his son’s birthday party. Not only did a fresh-baked pizza clear up the bad blood between Axe and Bruno over their failed business venture, it even convinced Axe to be a better man. Kind of. It convinced him to not accept money from the sleazy oyster-slurping investor played by David Krumholtz. He is still very much taking money from the terrifying Russian oligarch played by John Malkovich. I’m not sure there’s enough pizza in the entirety of the five boroughs to turn Axe into Robin Hood or anything. But still, baby steps.

STOCK DOWN – Attorney General Jock Jeffcoat

Showtime

Billions has been setting Jock up for a fall from the very beginning of the season and it appears that bill is coming due. You don’t get to put your foot on Axe or Chuck’s throat for three-quarters of a season and expect to come out unscathed. Not how Billions works. So now we’ve got Chuck holding secret meetings in parking garages and the living rooms of media tycoons, all with the goal of proving some sort of malfeasance related to underground cable wires and millionaire televangelists and phony baloney money managers who fold in half like a big floppy piece of cheese pizza 90 seconds after you intercept them as they attempt to flee to Caracas.

I don’t know. It all seems on the up-and-up to me.

STOCK DOWN – Love, generally

Should Axe have snuck in at the last moment and outbid Taylor’s venture capitalist sweetie for the human genome project? Probably not. It was very uncool and — to the extent he cares about Taylor as a person, at all — it was a violation of trust. Taylor has been kicked around a bunch lately, from having to fire the quants to all of this. It would not surprise me to see a split at some point. Taylor already has the secret quant warehouse thing happening. You can only push a person so far.

On the other hand, I mean, Taylor should probably know better than to tempt Axe with a potentially profitable investment like that. Yeah, he’s mentoring Taylor, and yeah, their relationship is now something slightly more personal than “work colleagues,” but we’ve all seen how Axe moves, especially when he’s desperate. Having a tiger as a pet is pretty cool until the tiger gets hungry, you know?

STOCK UP – Pep talks from Wendy

Showtime

How much better at your job do you think you would be if you had Wendy Rhoades in your life to give you a life-altering pep talk in moments of self-doubt? So much better, right? That’s all I could think about while she was juicing up Ben Kim this week. And I do mean juice, in that what she did was basically the equivalent of self-esteem steroids. I would get so amped up that this column goes unpublished because I typed it out with enough physical force to destroy my keyboard. Which wouldn’t make me better at my job at all, now that I think about it. I’ll never get anything published. And I’ll go broke trying to buy a new computer every week. A lot to consider, really.

Also, I just finally put this together when Wendy hugged Taylor at the end: Axe is the dad, Wendy is the mom, Taylor is their brilliant child, and Wags is the wild uncle. You won’t be able to unsee this now. I’m sorry and you’re welcome.

STOCK UP – Moms

A good week for moms, what with Grigor showing love for his mother and Axe going to see his, but it is worth noting that maybe Axe could have waited to blurt out that realization that Grigor was the boy in the story from last week until he wasn’t within earshot of Grigor’s mother. There are more delicate ways to handle that.

Also, just for reference: If a powerful person tells you a long story about a child and ends it with something like “And do you know who that child was?,” they are the child. Guaranteed. Why would they tell some long story about a kid they don’t know? That would be so weird.

STOCK UP – Ben Kim

Showtime

Big week for Ben Kim. Started out so nervous and meek that he made Mafee look like a damn alpha male. Stripped to a Nelly song in an elevator and cost the firm a big chunk of business with a group of conservative investors. Escaped punishment for the stripping because he pitched a potential winner of an investment.

Real rollercoaster for my dude. I’m happy for him.

STOCK DOWN – Doctors

Double whammy for the medical profession this week. First Chuck got in that crack about how if they wanted a useless job they should have gone to medical school (solid), then Axe and Mike Birbiglia threw money at the genome project in the hopes of disrupting the whole field and maybe eliminating doctors. And this is on top of the thing from the other week where Axe and Chuck railroaded an oncologist to take the fall for the Ice Juice fiasco. Doctors have a rough go of it on Billions, man.

STOCK UP – Kate Sacker

Showtime

I do not think I would cross Kate Sacker. She’s no joke. You’re not gonna run her out like Connerty. That guy lives to shoot himself in the foot. Don’t get me wrong, I like him and very much want to see him catch a win before the season ends, but even if he does he’ll probably end up arresting Chuck moments before Chuck closes the case against Jock and everything will go straight to heck.

This will not happen to Kate Sacker. You are welcome to try. Please, do try. Because once you do, she will do that thing she does where she blinks and as her eyelids rise back up you see her eyes locked in and staring at you with a kind of aggressive disdain and then you are toast. She’s gonna be the one to bring down Chuck eventually and it’s gonna make Connerty so angry he throws a vase. I can’t wait.

STOCK DOWN – Axe

Axe loses points this week mostly due to the thing with Taylor, which was a great business decision but a royally crappy thing to do to someone you know and like. But we’ve been over that.

No, the reason Axe’s stock goes down this week is that we learned that he — a man who can get Kevin Durant to give a Bar Mitzvah shoutout to a boy he’s never met — needs the help of a violent Russian oligarch to play tennis with Maria Sharapova? Come on, Axe. I thought you had juice.

Also, should… should we be worried about Maria Sharapova in the Billions universe? Is she under the thumb of a dangerous billionaire who looks exactly like John Malkovich? Is… is Maria Sharapova okay? I’m going to need an update on this before the season ends.

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