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 — Anyone in the way of AxelRhoades
The alliance between Axe and Chuck is unholy and disturbing on a number of levels, like if the Joker and Batman teamed up, and yes, in this very strained analogy, Chuck is Batman. He’s the son of a powerful Manhattan figure and his crime-fighting methods extend beyond the traditional limits of the justice system and he also likes to wear leather at night. It’s all there if you squint. Kind of. Anyway.
This alliance, which I am not okay with, proved fruitful again this week, as the two of them managed to take a potentially dangerous situation (the police looking into the pension fund financial gymnastics between Bobby, Panay, and Raul) and spin it into a shared victory. Bobby pushed Panay out to get the fund back at Axe Cap, Chuck used the solid he did for Sansome to butt his way into the state AG race, and no one lost except two people of color who really didn’t do anything to anyone. (Whoops!) Panay wasn’t lying when he said this game is cutthroat. He just didn’t know he’d be the one bleeding out from the neck.
This won’t last. It can’t. Bobby and Chuck are not so different, really, in some ways, but very different in others. They both ruin people frequently and without much remorse, but Chuck is in it for the game and Bobby is in it for the hunt. Chuck collects chips, Bobby collects scalps. One day, maybe soon, maybe now that Chuck is pushing his way back into politics, Bobby will cross a line and Chuck will have to make a call. The series was borne from these two unloading haymakers on each other and it will return to that at some point. Connerty is small game. Jock’s days have been numbered ever since he put his feet up on that desk. Bobby and Chuck aren’t going anywhere. The Joker and Batman can’t be friends. It’s not how the universe works.
In the meantime, though, God bless anyone who gets in the way of these two. Maybe the Joker and Batman was the wrong analogy, after all. Maybe this is a Shaq-Kobe situation. They’ll collect a few rings but this will not end well at all.
STOCK UP — Rebecca Cantu
Goliath on Amazon is about 50 percent of a good show and about 60 percent of that 50 percent is the performance by Nina Arianda, who showed up this week as ball-breaking billionaire investor Rebecca Cantu. Nina Arianda rules. She has this incredible ability to play no-bullshit characters and she can communicate so much contempt with a single glance and she cusses in a way that makes you wonder why the rest of us even try. I am beyond ecstatic to have her on Billions. She was made for this.
It is also pretty cool that Axe has found a woman who can give it back to him as good as he dishes it out. This is no knock on Lara Axelrod, who terrifies me. Rebecca is of his world, though. She understands the game and plays it well and won’t stand for his hooey. It’s kind of like watching two great whites mate. If they have a child, that kid will be a billionaire by age 9 and in prison by age 14. I can’t wait.
STOCK DOWN — The Koslovs
Shouts to my new favorite characters on the show, the Koslovs. They were on screen for like 45 seconds and in that time they stuffed their faces in a vision of the potential future and flung a phone off a desk in the very real present. I love them. I hope they keep showing up throughout the year and keep getting the rug pulled out from under them, like the accounting firm in Parks and Recreation that kept trying to hire Ben. I hope they get angrier and angrier each time and break bigger and more expensive things until, in the season finale, Taylor and Grigor empty out their off-shore accounts and one of them shoots a helicopter with a bazooka out of rage.
STOCK UP — Meetings at the docks
God, I love a good secret meeting at the docks. Or anywhere, really. Billions is great at this, having people meet in strange and shadowy locations to discuss illegal or off-book strategies. This one is between Chuck and Raul, and it’s doubly great because it opens with a random fact about a venomous spider, like how the meeting on the embassy roof last week opened with a monologue about the mating habits of falcons. I am learning as much about nature from this season Billions as I have from the entire run of Planet Earth.
I need to start having more meetings at the docks. I need to find some docks first, though. But once I do, from now on, no more emails. You want to tell me something, go there and wait and stare out at the water until I show up. That’s how I do business now.
YOU: [waiting at the docks for 45 minutes] Finally.
ME: Patience, my friend. The python can go months without eating. The key is to lie in wait until the moment presents itself, then strike.
YOU: Is that true?
YOU: The python thing.
ME: I mean, I just Googled it on the way over here.
YOU: [long sigh] Anyway, Karen says you can’t come to the birthday party.
ME: Why? Is it th-
YOU: The meetings at the docks, yes. It’s weird.
ME: I’ll talk to Karen. Tell her to meet me…
YOU: Don’t say it.
ME: … at the docks.
Everyone will hate me so much.
STOCK UP — Bonnie’s posture
STOCK DOWN — Bryan Connerty
Poor Connerty, man. Guy just gets buried every minute of every day. Chuck is running for AG and it’s going to cramp his style, Jock is breathing down his neck, and Sacker appears to walk into his office three or four times a week just to give him bad news and watch him squirm like a fish that’s been hooked and pulled into a boat. This guy. He loses even when he wins. It’s remarkable.
I half expected him to choke on that huge bite he took at the end of the episode, the one I have screencapped above. Part of me really wants the guy to make some progress and have success this season but a bigger part of me — a part I’m not proud of — would probably laugh if next episode opened with three separate birds crapping on his head and suit and he walks into the office.
STOCK UP — Having a personal stretcher who makes house visits
Billions is loaded with wealth porn. There are expensive cars and luxurious penthouses and very many pricey meals at restaurants you and I could not get into with a crowbar. Still, the most nakedly envious I have even been of the characters on the show was this week when they were getting stretched out my Bobby’s personal stretcher. My word. Did you see the stretch she did on Chuck near the end, which he was pissing into Connerty’s Fruit Loops? Here, I screencapped it.
Ugggghhhh I can almost feel my chest opening up just from looking at that. It must feel tremendous. Dammit. I’m going to become the first person to ever go bankrupt from a fancy stretching addiction.
Also, I love that she stayed in the room for that conversation. Imagine everything she’s heard. I hope she writes a book that tells everyone’s secrets. Maybe she turns out to be this season’s villain. I don’t know. All I know is that I want her to fold me up like a pretzel in a purely professional way.
STOCK DOWN — Wendy
Tough stretch for Wendy. Chuck is begging her to continue performing what Charles Sr. so eloquently deemed “childish enthusiasms,” she’s hunting down dominatrixes, she’s running at night to burn off steam on the advice of Bonnie, a woman she is supposed to be advising. And now Axe has Rebecca, which, one imagines, will leave him temporarily less reliant on Wendy for business advice. Wendy holds it together pretty well because Wendy Rhoades handles her shit, but she’s been through a lot lately and it’s starting to show.
STOCK UP — Somehow, against stratospheric odds, in the face of all reasonable thoughts and actions, Kid Rock
Could I explain the Taylor-Grigor aspects of this week’s episode? Of course. It was subterfuge and chess-playing on a number of levels and it cemented their status as unlikely partners, at least for the short term. But then, right at the end, right when I thought I had everything figured out, this happened.
What am I supposed to do with this information?
I don’t know.
All I can picture now is John Malkovich singing “Bawitaba” in a thick Russian accent.
And now I want to see it.
I will pay money.
I won’t be able to do anything else until I do.
STOCK DOWN — Sandwiches
This is the angriest I’ve ever been at this show. I’m not ready to talk about it. That perfectly good half of a sandwich never did anything to anyone. It didn’t deserve that. I’ve been less upset by actual characters deaths on other shows. Not acceptable, Chuck. For the love of God.