TV

The ‘Billions’ Stock Watch: An Unholy Alliance Develops (Maybe)


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 – Unholy alliances

After a few weeks of trying to hose each other royally, sometimes using illegal methods that involve meetings in alleys and handing devious men large sacks of cash, Axe and Chuck are teaming up to fight the Ice Juice case together. Kind of. Maybe. Who even knows, really? Billions has a long history of showing you one thing then flashing back later to reveal it was actually another thing, so maybe the whole change of heart Chuck had when plotting to plant the slide was misdirection intended to trick both Axe and the audience. Or maybe it’s legit. If it was, then Sacker is gonna be pretty steamed when she shows up to serve that search warrant in the morning.

STOCK UP – The full le Carré

Showtime

This season has been non-stop clandestine meetings in parks and alleys and empty horse tracks, so it was nice to see the show lean all the way in with Spiros’s “full le Carré.” The best part was that it was even kind of believable despite the utter ridiculousness of it all because Spiros is the kind of utterly ridiculous character who would take things too far and actually do it. It has always been my dream to hand a stranger a flash drive while saying something like “The Swede knows,” so I have a great deal of respect for this move.

Semi-related: When Axe gave Wendy a burner phone, I was very disappointed to see that it was a smartphone-looking flat screen. In my mind, all burner phones are flip phones. Why even have a burner if you can’t snap it in half after you hang up and place the two pieces in separate trash cans located three blocks apart? Come on.

STOCK UP – Bryan Connerty

Bryan has spent most of this season getting whapped on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. He’s right about Chuck’s involvement in the Ice Juice mess, and he has been from the jump, and now — thanks to Spiros — he finally has enough proof to shove it right in Dake’s stupid face and push it through. It’s a win for one of the only people on the show who is doing the right thing for the right reasons, which is always a refreshing development on a show where a character just smashed his SUV into a co-worker’s car in broad daylight, on purpose, for revenge, and appears to have suffered no consequences for it. Good for Bryan.

STOCK DOWN – Bryan Connerty

Right. But there’s also this: By discovering Wendy’s involvement in the Ice Juice business, Bryan now has Axe and Chuck working together against him. (Again, maybe.) Billions is a lot like The Americans in that no good deed on the show has even gone unpunished, even once, even a little, so I fully expect this to end with him disbarred and destitute with a four-day beard on his face, staring at his conspiracy wall in disbelief, wondering where it all went wrong.

STOCK DOWN – Weird food things

Showtime

Chuck ate ears with Black Jack Foley and Axe and Wags ate entire illegal birds, bones and all, in some sort of monastic ritual meal that seemed kind of like if the orgy in Eyes Wide Shut had been a dinner party instead. Remember the other week when Wags was shoving cheeseburgers into his mouth? That was better.

STOCK UP – Flying across the country to woo your lover with candy

The budding romance between Taylor and Mike Birbiglia’s character continues to be the most charming thing on the show. Admittedly, this is a low hurdle to clear because every other interpersonal relationship on the show hinges on trying to screw or ruin someone in the pursuit of power or money or both, but still. He flew across the country to bring his crush a bag of candy. That’s cute. A bit much, sure, and definitely weird even if you have a private plane and can do it on a whim without having to buy tickets and trudge through security holding a bag of cavity-fuel (imagine sitting next to someone for an entire cross-country flight after they tell you they’re on the plane to bring someone candy), but still. It was sweet.

STOCK DOWN – The stick

The meeting between Wendy and Jack was interesting because they are the show’s two smoothest operators. Jack more so than Wendy, generally, but that’s just a matter of degree. Wendy’s position between Axe and Chuck has always been precarious and while it seems a little odd that a savvy political operator like Jack wouldn’t assess the situation and be like “So your husband is running for governor and is neck-deep in a crooked plot to prosecute your boss and you managed to get yourself involved in the conspiracy by accident? Hmm. Bye,” it does make sense that if he has an answer, it would involve a zen saying about snapping a stick in half before someone can beat you with it. So there’s that!

STOCK UP – This guy

Showtime

My new favorite employee at Axe Capital is this guy, one of Taylor’s quants. I desperately want to throw open a door some day and shout, like, “I need the figures, pronto!” and have some guy who looks like a supervillain turn around from his 25 computer monitors and say “On it.” That’s how I’ll know I’ve made it.

STOCK DOWN – The cowboy AG

I kind of miss this guy. We haven’t seen him talk about horses or cows or clean a shotgun or eat a steak as big as a truck tire in a few weeks now. I need to know what he’s up to. Give him his own episode.

STOCK DOWN – Wendy’s pep talks

Showtime

Working with Wendy Rhoades must be a trip. On one hand, she’s always over there in her office ready to give you some kind of fiery introspective pep talk that’ll make you feel like you can re-align the entire solar system with your bare hands. On the other hand, sometimes you’ll just be sitting in your office minding your own business and she’ll walk in, plop down in one of your chairs, and break you down into dust. Poor Taylor.

Same goes for Lara Axelrod, in a way. Man oh man, do not go to that lady if you need a pick-me-up. Lara is a killer. We saw it a few weeks ago when the wildly misguided woman tried to comfort her at a children’s baseball game and proceeded to get verbally ground up and mixed in with the infield dirt, and we saw it again this week when Axe tried to talk to her about the case and she was like “Well then I’ll take the kids to California.” The woman is rarely incorrect but has zero interest in polishing it up for your feelings. I hope she runs for governor against Chuck.

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