TV

The ‘Billions’ Stock Watch: Adventures In Terrible Parenting

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 — Fathering, generally

SHOWTIME

Just a rough week for the general concept of fatherhood. Lots of decent intentions. I’m sure everyone involved would push back on my characterization of their methods. But still. Not great. We can start right at the top with Axe, who dropped everything to hop on his plane and fly to Gordon’s school after Gordon got in trouble for nuking an entire town’s power doing crypto things (good), but then proceeded to go all Axe and extort the headmaster in front of Gordon to keep his little hellchild enrolled at the school (bad), and then pushed even harder to demand an assembly be called where he could swear at the children and tell them all to be ruthless capitalists like him (worse). You can tell Gordon is going to grow up to be a monster because he was proud of his dad during the speech, instead of feeling how you’re supposed to feel as a teenager when one of your parents speaks in front of your whole school, which is deeply, hopelessly embarrassed. Kid is learning all the wrong lessons, fast. I hope some bully shoves him in a locker and the bully’s dad shoves Axe in a metaphorical locker. Lara is the only good Axelrod. I miss her.

Elsewhere, Wags is trying to connect with the many children he has scattered across America (good), but only because he wants to be like Axe (bad). And Chuck wants his kids to meet their new kind-of aunt (good), but only to grease the wheels for Senior’s donation to Yale and therefore his fancy teaching gig (bad). An argument could be made that the best display of fathering all episode was Senior holding his new baby. When Senior is the best dad in an episode, things have gone very sideways.

STOCK UP — Gordie’s accomplice

SHOWTIME

Smart kid with a smart mouth. Already offered a tentative job at Axe Cap. We like her.

STOCK DOWN — MaseCap

SHOWTIME

Really not a great start to this season for whatever remains of Taylor’s firm. Taylor is making moves but half-assing them in ways that Taylor usually does not, and is still neck-deep in Chuck stuff that will come home to roost sooner or later. Probably sooner. Hammon got fed up with it all and with her uncertain/dwindling role and she marched out to go find a new job doing whatever exactly it is that Hammon does. Lauren got yoinked into Axe’s world by Wendy and now has one foot in each camp, which, as we’ve learned over the run of this show, means Axe will end up employing her himself or ruining her completely, because Axe does not share.

STOCK UP — Having a worthy adversary

SHOWTIME

Mike Prince was on-screen for all of about 90 seconds and in that time he:

  • Swooped into a gallery to buy three paintings Axe liked before Axe even had a chance to look at them
  • Sent Axe into a hilarious competitive tailspin that resulted in him buying a studio for the artist and commissioning his next eight paintings, which I suddenly very much hope are just like stick figures drawings of a socialist utopia
  • Continued to be the only person who has Axe’s number

I know this will end poorly for him. It has to. The arc of the show demands it: Axe tries something, someone gets in Axe’s way, Axe crushes them. But… I don’t want it to happen. I want Mike Prince to stick around forever and outfox Axe and make him go absolutely insane. I want to see Axe in a dark room just mumbling to himself for hours as his empire crumbles. I don’t know exactly when I started despising Axe to this degree, but we’re here. I’m going to be so sad when Axe’s guys find out Prince, like, fuels a factory with puppy blood or something. But I’ll take the wins where I can get them.

STOCK UP — Kate Sacker

SHOWTIME

Increasingly the most competent character on the show, in addition to being the only one worth rooting for. I could watch her slice powerful dudes in half with her eyes all day long. All I ask for out of this show is that the series finale close with her in the White House and every other character on the show in prison. Except for Ben Kim. Ben Kim is cool, too. Let’s say he makes some killer trades and cashes out and buys the Mets. Whatever makes him happiest is fine with me.

STOCK DOWN — Chuck, as it relates to this exchange, specifically

SHOWTIME
SHOWTIME

Sheeeeeesh.

This is the second time in as many episodes that Wendy has cut Chuck down mid-thigh with a sickle when he was trying to be semi-civil. I love it. I hope she gets progressively meaner each episode. I hope Chuck brings her a birthday cake and she spits on it and throws it in a toilet. He’d probably get all turned on by it. Maybe that’s how they get back together.

STOCK UP — Hard Bob

SHOWTIME

Big, big fan of Hard Bob. Also a big fan of Danny Strong returning as smarmy weasel Treasury Secretary Todd Krakow, who always looks like he’s about to suggest leveling an orphanage to build a warehouse that stores only his collection of scarves and overcoats, but mostly a fan of Hard Bob. Add him to the list of characters I would happily watch an entire episode about. A mini-prequel about how a young boy named Bobby became a weathered old man named Hard Bob, raising his hand in class and asking if he can speak freely and then making a series of demands and threats to his teachers.

Hard Bob rules.

STOCK UP — Pizza, always

SHOWTIME

Axe sealed the deal with the artist over a dinner of fancy pizza. Fancy pizza is great. So is regular pizza. All pizza is usually at least good. Even bad pizza is fine. Pizza is truly one of the best foods we have, top three easily. Who doesn’t like pizza? Even people who are allergic to important ingredients in pizza — gluten, cheese, etc. — will do the math in their head and determine the consequences are worth it sometimes. That’s the sign of a really good food, when someone is willing to accept extended periods of misery for the brief moments of joy they get while eating it. I’m going to stop typing here only because I’ve gone on my pizza rant many times and if I don’t stop soon I’ll just keep going until I order some for dinner. Dinner is so many hours away. It’s not a sustainable situation.

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