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Billions recap: Quality of Life

Donnie’s funeral dredges up all sorts of emotions

Posted on

Jeff Neumann/Showtime


TV Show
run date:
Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Maggie Siff, Malin Akerman
Current Status:
In Season

So, let’s start with the big news: Donnie is dead. Dead dead dead. Deady Dead McDeaderson. Dead!

But you know that because virtually this entire episode revolved around not just his funeral but also flashback scenes that offer us a flurry of background information as to what exactly happened to the gentle, nature-loving trader named Donnie Caan. But of course, other players had big days today, too, so let’s get started.


After a meeting at work, Axe noticed something was up with Donnie. His employee looked unhealthy and had run from the conference room to the bathroom. So Axe followed him in there, only to find out that Donnie is struggling with pancreatic cancer. He’s only got a few months left to live.

Selfishly, this gives Axe an idea. First, he offers to get the best medical help for Donnie — a first-class oncologist who regularly caters to world leaders. Second, after learning that the divorced and re-married Donnie has fallen short in his goals to leave behind the kind of luxurious nest egg he’d hoped to leave for his kids, Axe offers to make sure the kids and family were left with the kind of money that could see them through their lives — about $40 million or so.

What does Axe want in return? Donnie’s cooperation, naturally. This means that while Donnie was engaging in all of his trickery the past few episodes— pretending to be an informant and feeding Chuck Rhoades bad information — both he and Axe knew that these were Donnie’s last days. Dark stuff.

It gets darker: When Axe was told by his super-doctor that there may be a drug program that could extend Donnie’s life by 3-6 months, Axe decided it was best if they don’t tell Donnie. “What would his quality of life be?” he asked/told the doctor, who immediately understood what Axe was really getting at. Yet, it’s unclear right now what exactly Axe’s motive here is. Is he selfishly worried that Donnie’s continued presence could cause his double-agent plan against Rhoades to backfire? Perhaps he thinks the longer Donnie lives, the more of a chance he has to screw this up. Or is he simply being cheap? Or, perhaps, he was he genuinely concerned about the quality of Donnie’s final days. At the moment, only Bobby knows for sure.

Dollar Bill Stern 

After beating the U.S. attorney’s insider-trading allegations in court, Bill “Dollar Bill” Stern returns to the offices of Axe Capital a hero. Everyone on the trading floor is cheering his name like he just won the Lombardi Trophy. He’s on top of the world — until Axe angrily calls him into his office.

But it turns out, Axe is just fake angry. From the inside of his soundproof glass office, he and Dollar Bill begin to mock-fight in front of everyone. There’s shouting, pointing, poking, shoving, face-reddening. But it’s all a ploy: Axe wants everyone in the building and on Wall Street in general to think that he and Dollar Bill had a falling out. That way, he can use Dollar Bill to get revenge on Axe’s latest enemy: Ionosphere, the small new hedge fund started by those three employees who took off in the last episode.

NEXT: Bobby exacts his revenge