TV

The ‘Billions’ Stock Watch: Shoutout To The Counting Crows


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 DOWN – Being a semi-redeemable person

Truly a spectacular week for people being piles of trash. Just huge gross piles of trash, baking out in the sun, with little green squiggles of stink coming off of them like in a cartoon. Even on a show that revels in that (the Ice Juice fiasco, bankrupting an entire town, everything Chuck’s dad has ever said or done, including things he did before the action on the series started and the things he’s doing every second he’s not on-screen, one presumes), this was a banner week.

Let’s start with Axe. Blame it on the personal and professional tailspin, if you like, but he ran the gamut from entitled toddler throwing a tantrum (going back and forth over letting Taylor use the last $2 billion in funds or engaging in a series of shady illegal moves just because he needs the action, before settling on doing both and belittling Taylor about it for good measure) to full-on conspiratorial villain (getting Maria the housekeeper deported).

Poor Maria, man. That one hurt. Lady poisoned herself with tainted Ice Juice and cleaned whatever ungodly atrocities Victor left behind after the Eyes Wide Shut-style masked orgies I’m convinced he throws and was thanked for her troubles with an expedited and fraudulently processed deportation. And for what? To cover up a crime Axe definitely committed, which he did for the sole reason of trying to ruin another morally bankrupt millionaire over a personal vendetta? No thanks. That last shot of her at the bus station was a knife, man.

But also shout-out to Chuck. I mean, he didn’t get anyone shipped out of the country in the middle of the night using computer fraud and an over-exuberant immigration force, but he did threaten to destroy a judge’s son’s medical career in a poorly-lit hallway. Gotta count for something in the Trash Olympics. As does the judge using his status to get his son’s legal issues disappeared in the first place, giving the kid a free pass on a drug crime that would have put a less fortunate kid in jail for months or years.

Again: I hate everyone on this show and will never stop watching it.

STOCK UP – Wags

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Wags notes:

  • He has been banned from attending Little League games for unknown reasons
  • He has somehow, against odds so long you could use them to lasso the moon and whip it around in space, become the voice of reason on the show
  • His mustache remains immaculate

I lied earlier when I said I hate everyone on this show. I still like Wags.

STOCK DOWN – Owing favors

Never owe anyone a favor. Especially not one you can’t say no to. Always pay cash at the time of the transaction. Keep a clean ledger. Do whatever it takes to keep yourself out of a situation where you are forced to employ Cutler from Mad Men. Go live in the woods and only eat what you can kill or grow, if necessary.

STOCK UP – Playing both sides

I’m still not exactly sure how Wendy is pulling this off. She’s advising Axe in midnight phone calls that she’s answering while lying next to the husband who is trying to ruin him, with her assistance, kind of. It’s a mess. I’m becoming convinced this whole thing ends with Axe and Chuck in jail and Wendy in an oceanfront mansion located on some island tax haven. Good for her?

STOCK UP – Skinny dipping

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It’s your pool.

STOCK DOWN – Having a boss

Taylor is getting jerked around by Axe and then shamed about it. Sackler and Brian are getting jerked around by Chuck and Dake, respectively, even though they both know something shady is going on. Dake is getting jerked around by the new Attorney General, who continued his run of colorful Texan analogies delivered while seated with the posture of a man who considers any steak under 16 ounces to be a vegetable. I’m becoming more serious about this whole “moving to the woods” thing.

STOCK UP – Clandestine meetings

The main thing I take away from this week’s episode is that I am not having nearly enough clandestine meetings. Chuck and the judge in the hallway, Chuck and Wendy by the river, Axe in the SUV, Axe at the pier where they switched the phones. It was a real thing this week. I’m livid about it. Let’s all meet in an abandoned mall tonight and then snap our prepaid flip phones in half as we leave.

STOCK DOWN – Small talk with Lara Axelrod

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A STRANGER AT THE SUPERMARKET: Nice day outside.

LARA: Is it?

A STRANGER AT THE SUPERMARKET: Excuse me?

LARA: Is it nice? Or is that just what you tell yourself so you don’t crumple up into a ball over your husband’s infidelity.

A STRANGER AT THE SUPERMARKET: But… I’m not even marri-…

LARA: Don’t lie to yourself. You’ve always known. God knows everyone else does. They talk about you behind your back. When you have your little charity events at the art gallery, full of $50 paintings that people pay $10,000 for because they feel bad for you, they talk, and they laugh. It would be sad if it weren’t so pathetic.

A STRANGER AT THE SUPERMARKET: I… I’ve never even been to an art gallery.

LARA: Whatever helps you sleep at night when the benzos run out. But you don’t fool me.

STOCK DOWN – Flat whites

Flat whites are both kind of overrated and a good nickname for Axe’s new shark-eyed security team.

You know who is really growing on me? Spiros, the new head of compliance at Axe Capital. He’s such a snooty well-meaning putz and no one there can stand him and he’s completely oblivious to all of it. It’s almost like a superpower. Rule-following-types do not last long on this show, in general, but he’s almost so aloof about his role in things that I feel like an attempt to compromise or ruin him would glide right off of him. Wags would give him an envelope of incriminating photos and he’d just start asking what kind of lens was used and yammering about bird watching or something. Good dude.

STOCK UP – Counting Crows

The most shocking part of this entire episode was the 1994 hit song “Round Here” bookmarking the action. It was so shocking, in fact, that it sent me down an impromptu Wiki rabbit hole, where I learned two things. One, that I am great at time management. Two, “Round Here” is deep as heck, apparently. From the “Meaning” section of the song’s Wiki, quoting from VH1 Storytellers:

The song begins with a guy walking out the front door of his house, and leaving behind this woman. But the more he begins to leave people behind in his life, the more he feels like he’s leaving himself behind as well. The less and less substantial he feels like he’s becoming to himself. And that’s sorta what the song’s about because he feels that even as he disappears from the lives of people, he’s disappearing more and more from his own life. The chorus is, he sorta keeps screaming out these idioms these lessons that your mother might say to you when you were a kid, sorta child lessons ya know, “round here we always stand up straight”, “carving out our names”. Things that you are told when you are a kid that you do these things that.. that when you’re grown up it’ll add up to something, you’ll have a job, you’ll have a life. I think for me and the character of the song they don’t add up to anything, it’s just a bunch of crap kinda. Your life comes to you or doesn’t come to you, but those things don’t really mean anything. By the end of the song he’s so dismayed by this that he’s kinda screaming out that he can stay up as long as he wants and that no one makes him wait…the sort of things that are important if you are a kid. You know that you don’t have to go to bed, you don’t have to do anything. The sort of things that don’t make any difference at all when you’re an adult, they’re nothing.

Too real, Crows.

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