The ‘Billions’ Stock Watch: Trickitude And Chicanery Abound


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 – Justice

We have a resolution to the season-long Ice Juice fiasco, probably. What started with Axe (a billionaire hedge-fund guy) poisoning people to tank the IPO of a natural energy drink company but getting arrested because the whole thing turned out to be a kamikaze mission set up by Chuck (a powerful child of privilege who is trying to use his work as a U.S. Attorney to become governor), and later featured both parties lying and breaking many laws to save Wendy (a highly-paid employee of Axe who is married to Chuck and was neck-deep in the conspiracy), resulted in jail time for… an oncologist. Yeah, not very satisfying.

Which should not be a surprise, by the way. Billions is a show about awful rich people hosing people who are slightly less awful and slightly less rich. The only people who faced real consequences in all of this were that doctor (who let a terminal patient die in exchange for a cash infusion for his research) and Dake, who got fired (but spent the first half of the season trying to cover up everything). Neither was an angel, but it’s worth noting that both of their bad acts came after arm-twisting from, you guessed it, Axe (supplied the cash infusion) and Chuck (orchestrated the wink-wink deal with Dake).

One day Axe and Chuck are going to murder a homeless person and frame me for it — even though the show exists in a fictional universe and I’m just writing about it in the real one — because I’m saying all these things about them and they’re fed up. And I won’t be able to do anything about it. If I see Paul Giamatti on the street I might grow a huge beard and move to Nova Scotia until someone recruits me to come back by saying or inferring that I am the best at my job.

STOCK UP – Growing a huge beard and moving to Nova Scotia but then getting recruited to come back by someone who says or infers that you are the best at your job



STOCK UP – Words

Really just a stellar episode for words. Within the first few minutes of the episode starting, thanks mostly to Chuck, Axe, and Wendy trying to figure out how to get out of the Ice Juice mess, we got the following words and phrases:

  • Subterfuge
  • Patsy
  • Trifecta of chicanery
  • Financial trickitude

I let out an audible but quiet “yessss” at “trifecta of chicanery.”

STOCK DOWN – Celebrating in your million-dollar Manhattan home after you are cleared of numerous criminal charges


Chuck and Wendy got cleared and planned to celebrate it with an in-home BDSM session in their multimillion-dollar townhouse but both were entirely too spent and/or bummed out to engage in any such activities.

Axe got cleared and planned to celebrate with a Caligulan mixture of sex, liquor, and party drugs in a multimillion-dollar penthouse apartment that was decked out like a Miami Beach nightclub, but ended up having what appeared to be an existential crisis while in a hot tub with three nude young women.

Which, fine, yes, they are a little worn and ragged after everything. That’s nice to see. Otherwise, they’d be sociopaths. But I should point here that “not being able to enjoy adventurous sex one night” is somewhat less of a consequence than “getting arrested in front of your whole family and strongarmed into a five-year prison sentence.” So, yeah.

STOCK DOWN – Rooting for anyone on this show


The only semi-redeemable characters on this show when it started were Wendy and my beloved sweet lax boy Mafee. Especially Mafee. What a lovely doofus. This week we found out he binges powdered hot cocoa when he’s sad and he has a WWE poster hanging in his fancy condo and his real first name is Dudley. Dudley! As in Dudley Do-Right! Dudley Mafee!

But Wendy has taken a moral tumble this season, and especially this episode, thanks to her willingness to find “a patsy” and to platonically seduce Mafee to cover her tail. (I like that Taylor has developed some sort of superpower that allows them to stare a hole into people’s souls and divine their character and intentions. Put Lara Axelrod and Taylor in a room and let the two have it out. It would be captivating.)

And I was ready to give Mafee half a pass on bailing everyone out because he’s a fuzzy little woodland creature who has been thrown into a shark tank and at least he seemed to feel bad about it later, but then Wendy kissed him — again, platonically — and he appeared to roll right over. Come on, my dude! Make it easier for me to root for you! You’re all I’ve got!


I stand corrected. I will still root for Wags. I will always root for Wags. He’s an immoral Hedonist who would happily bankrupt me if it got him $400 closer to buying a $70 million yacht to impress a prostitute, but I can’t help it. He called himself a ruffian this week. How can I possibly stay mad?

Other note: The framing at the end of the episode, after everyone was exonerated and/or paid off, cutting straight from Chuck and Wendy in bed to Axe and Wags in the elevator heading up to the penthouse, will probably set the Billions slash fiction boards ablaze with torrid tales of an Axe-Wags romance. I am extremely here for this.

STOCK DOWN – Bryan Connerty

Good God, has this season ever been a roller coaster for Bryan. It’s like he alternates episodes between catching big wins and just getting owned in the most embarrassing fashion possible. Now his case is toast and he’s ranting in court and storming into bars and stuck back working with Chuck. He’s gotta get out, man. At least a vacation. Take a week on some island and seriously consider opening a small solo practice there. This isn’t worth it.

STOCK UP – Judge Adam DeGiulio


No one has ever enjoyed being a judge as much as Adam DeGiulio. Not even close. He’s not so much overseeing a trial as he is starring in The Judge Adam DeGiulio Show, with special guest appearances by attorneys and defendants. I love it. I half expect him to strut out of chambers at some point with sunglasses on. Just so people know. I hope he gets appointed to the Supreme Court before the series ends.

STOCK DOWN – Westworld

Lots of talk about the various timelines and shifting chronology on Westworld. Lots and lots. That’s cool, I guess. People seem to like doing that. But let’s not sleep on Billions. You’ll be watching the show, following along with no problem, then suddenly you’ll get text flying up on the screen that says like “11 DAYS AGO” and you’ll be all “Whaaaaat?” Billions tends to wrap up the timelines within an episode (and to be fair, they’re more flashbacks than “timelines”), as opposed to Westworld, which will stretch them out for many episodes or an entire season. But still.

STOCK UP – Audacity


The most hammerwalloping audacity in this episode was definitely Chuck browbeating the doctor with the “you still have something to atone for here” as though Chuck himself didn’t just frame the poor guy and make him the sole scapegoat of a massive financial fraud that ruined poor Ira in ways that probably can’t be fixed. But a close second — and I mean thisclose — was Lou Avery from Mad Men taking the bottle of loyalty whiskey that Dake gave him and then drinking it with Chuck as he sold Dake out. Just cold and heartless. I never liked Lou.