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 — Bobby Axelrod
Good news and bad news for Bobby Axelrod this week.
The bad news is that he got played, bamboozled even, by Mike Prince, at Mike’s own event. The fireside chat, the charity work, all of it. Axe had it all worked out. Prince was playing into his hands and he was going to have the market cornered on medicinal ayahuasca, or pharma-huasca, if you want to talk like some capitalist psycho. What a perfectly Axe move this was going to be, in two distinct, extremely Axe-y ways: One, he was going to commodify an ancient treatment that comes from nature and has been used for centuries in a hunt for enlightenment, and he was going to turn it into a premium weekend brain twister for rich white people in the Hamptons, which is really just classic Bobby Axelrod; two, it revealed that his own experiment with the treatment in the premiere was not part of his own search for meaning as much as it was a business trip to lock in a key partner, because Bobby Axelrod will never change, not once, not ever.
Unfortunately for him, again, the bamboozling, which was revealed to both him and the audience in the final moments of the episode when Prince introduced the shaman and announced his plans to corner the very market Bobby thought he was about to corner. Which brings us to the good news, believe it or not…
The man got to say the sentence “You stole my shaman.” That’s one pretty wild collection of words. I’m not sure anyone has ever said them before in that order. Maybe they have. I don’t know. I’m not fully up on the history of duplicitous shaman maneuvers. I do know that I am absolutely delighted that I got to put the phrase “shaman heist” in this headline, though. I did not expect that to happen today, or any other day for that matter. A great start to the week.
Anyway, I guess Axe is fed up and planning to start his own bank now. We’ve all been there. Kind of.
STOCK UP — Smiling at your enemy while the camera has you framed in front of a crackling fire to reveal you as the devious bastard you truly are
Love Mike Prince. Love him. Love his whole deal, talking about giving back and privilege and his high school hoops glory days. Love how he infuriates Axe in every way, down to Axe’s icy core, with his talk about fairness and community and teamwork. And I especially love that there is very clearly a killer lurking about six inches below the surface of all of that. I did not necessarily see the exact shaman switcheroo coming, but I did know something devious way in play from Mike, and I knew it for two reasons:
- The look on his face in the screenshot at the top of this section, which, when coupled with the fire crackling behind him and the perfect “dramatic music” caption — always watch Billions with captions on — was such a villainous moment that I’m surprised he didn’t fill the room with poison and strap on a gas mask
- Dude named his big fancy do-gooder conference “The Mike,” which is his first name
Don’t listen to his words. Look into his eyes. Mike Prince is a predator, too. He’s just sneaky about it.
STOCK UP — Lying to yourself
Oh, Chuck. Oh, you sweet delusional man. All this talk of your new code, with various Dexter references and support from Sacker in staying on the right path, with the goal of only using your diabolical powers for good, for society, for justice… you know this is all hooey, right? You know it. You have to. I say this because, in the same episode you started preaching this sermon, you also froze your soon-to-be ex-wife’s assets and steered your alleged friend Judge Adam out of one job he wanted and into the job you wanted him to have, the latter of which involved leaked memos and long games and tough senators. Yes, you protested, the ball had been rolling on this before you announced your code. But you sure did not try to stop it from rolling, not even a little.
It’s sweet that you think you’re in control of “the monster” that you and Bobby both referenced separately, though. Cute, even. I give it three episodes, four tops, before you ruin, like, an elementary school crossing guard to knock down a single domino in your battle with Axe. But good for you.
STOCK DOWN — Waterboarding, generally
Pretty tough for waterboarding to go down from its previous position, given its decades of history. And yet, here we are. Chuck Rhoades said it: if even he didn’t enjoy it, given his own decades of history with various forms of torture, I mean… yeah. Just a rough week for waterboarding as an entire concept.
Also, while I do love Billions very much, I am livid at everyone involved that we were denied the scene where Chuck offered to be waterboarded. Come on. I can see the whole thing in my head: him floating the idea with a twinkle in his eye, everyone kind of smirking, Karl getting all excited about it. Give me this as a web extra. I deserve it. We all do.
STOCK DOWN — MaseCap, Lauren excluded
Taylor had a bad meeting with Oscar, in which he said he doesn’t want his money with Axelrod and will pull it from Taylor because of it
Chuck knows Taylor triple crossed him and told them at a clandestine meeting in some parking lot, threats included, because why even have a clandestine meeting if you’re not issuing threats.
Hammon is getting railroaded by Wendy and doesn’t know her place after the merger and is feeling all sorts of useless and confused and her concerns were not exactly assuaged in the brief meeting she had with Taylor, which was yet another 30-second meeting that took place in person even though it could have easily happened over, like, text, which is just a perfect Billions thing.
But Lauren — Lauren — continues her rise in the business world and the unofficial power rankings I keep in my head, thanks to Wendy’s co-sign and her staggering competence at whatever exactly it is that she does. There’s something devious about her. I can’t put my finger on it. But the way she dunked that teabag while greeting Hammon… I can’t decide if she’s the most menacing character on the show or just the coolest. Maybe both.
STOCK UP — Dollar Bill
See, you’d think Dollar Bill would be a Stock Down situation this week, what with his performance issues and crusts of confidence. It’s a dark time for Dollar Bill, right now, in this moment.
But look at him at the end of the episode, when he turns down a minivan romp with Bonnie and opts for quiet time. He’s on a journey. He’s looking into himself. He knows something went awry and he’s trying to fix it. That’s not nothing. It’s a big step. Dollar Bill is getting himself back on the right track. I’m proud of him.
It won’t be great when he comes out of this with a plan to, like, buy up a chain of daycares and load them up with debt that leads to mass closings and layoffs, but that’s an issue for another week. Baby steps.
STOCK UP — Fancy pasta
Few shows on television make me as consistently hungry as Billions. This week was no exception. Look at that pasta. Look at it. Uggghhh I want it in my face right now. I don’t even know exactly what it is. It looks a little like a fancy cacio e pepe. What’s better than cacio e pepe? Not a lot, buddy, I’ll tell you that. There was probably some schmuck at this conference who was pissed he didn’t get lobster or steak or both. What a doofus. Lobster and steak are great. I’ll eat them for dinner tonight if you’re buying. But I would cut you with your own steak knife for this pasta. I’m a simple man. A simple, apparently violent man.
STOCK DOWN — Wags, but not for that reason
Wags discovered his daughter was stripping at a fancy strip club in the mountains and promptly freaked out, explaining to Axe that he failed the Chris Rock test by not keeping his daughter off the pole. That’s not why his stock went down, though. That happened because:
- He was apparently such an absentee father that he had no clue what his daughter was doing with her life until he saw her dancing to “Cherry Pie”
- He didn’t know where she was living, or he did and he made no effort to see her when he was in the area, instead opting for multiple nights of his patented debauchery
- He yoinked her out of the club and stuck her “in a facility,” which is fine if she has a drug problem, I guess, but maybe what she really needs is a dad who isn’t all Wags-y all the time
It’s a “chickens coming home to roost” situation. I hope they reconcile and she moves in with him and Wags suddenly has to become a dad. Give me that entire spinoff. Give him three other kids, too. There’s a television show.