You have to give Billions credit. The show is about a morally bankrupt hedge fund guy and a morally bankrupt lawyer waging a morally bankrupt war against each other, just blowing up their lives and the lives of everyone they come across as they engage in a multimillion-dollar junk-measuring contest, and it went and made one of the secondary characters a literal mustache-twirling vulgar hedonist. I really appreciate that. Why screw around for even one second, I say. Do it all, the most, all the time, while waxing your evil little mustache to two razor-sharp points. Life is short.
So, yes, let’s talk about Wags. Wags is Mike Wagner (played by David Constabile, who you’ll recognize as Gale from Breaking Bad or Hardman from Suits, depending which kind of basic cable dramas you watch), the number two at Axe Capital and right-hand man to the firm’s leader, the recently arrested Bobby Axelrod (Damien Lewis). Number two isn’t really even correct. Wags just kind of is, hanging around the offices, yelling at people, with enough juice to boss around anyone but lacking the high-level mathematical genius to question some like Taylor, the firm’s new computer like non-binary superstar. I’ve seen every episode of the show and I’m still not exactly sure what he does. I don’t think the people in the office know, either.
His main contribution, as far as I can tell, is waiting for Axe to have a brilliant idea, then throwing open the glass door to his office and shouting out the order to the office in a string of profanity-laced staccato syllables. Look at my dude.
He looks like the devil. It’s the best. On the show, I mean. The real-life version of Wags probably exists 100 times around Wall Street and I would and do hate all of them. Wags is the kind of guy who would berate a bellhop for 10 minutes in a crowded lobby and then throw $200 at his feet while saying, like “Go buy a real career.” He’s an awful, awful man. I’d want to see someone smash a pineapple on his head. But on the show? I don’t know. Somehow it all becomes charming. I love him. I hate him. I hate that I love him. All he does is be awful and be loyal to awful people. Oh, and he does drugs. Wags does a lot of drugs.
Wags does so many drugs that a huge chunk of season two focused on him almost single-handedly bankrolling a boutique recovery service that gave in-office IVs to degenerates. He got a weird tattoo he didn’t remember getting. And the best part is that, after going too hard to a degree that people around him actually started to worry about him (which is saying something), Wags basically cured himself by getting yelled at in a park a little bit. I don’t know, either. Did it stop him from drinking? Nope. Did he have a life-altering moment of clarity? Nope. Did he at one point after all this describe the first time he fired someone by saying “It tasted as sweet as the Mata Hari’s armpits”? Nop-… Wait. Yes. Yes, he definitely did do this. In front of people. Wags stays Wags.
And he’s back. Billions returns on Sunday. It’s been the most addictive show on television for two seasons and I hate every single character on it and I can’t stop watching. I yelled at my podcast partner, Respected TV Critic Alan Sepinwall, about the show for months until I broke him down. I’ll break you down, too, eventually. You’ll love Wags. You won’t know why, but you will. At the end of season two, Axe made bail and hit the street after Chuck — Paul Giamatti, as a BDSM-loving U.S. Attorney who is hellbent on destroying Axe, which is also freaking incredible — tricked him with the Ice Juice fiasco. (Still can’t believe the most pivotal moment in two seasons of this show came from an all-natural energy drink called Ice Juice. Ice Juice!) On a show that, again, does everything the most all the time, the stakes somehow got raised even higher.
Wags is gonna be so steamed. I can’t wait.