Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME
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May 01, 2017 at 12:23 AM EDT

Billions

type
TV Show
genre
Drama
run date
01/17/16
performer
Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Maggie Siff, Malin Akerman
broadcaster
Showtime
seasons
3
Current Status
In Season
We gave it an A-

The day is upon us. The market opens, and Ice Juice is off to a roaring start, hitting at over $20 a share and rising. While Bryan and Kate look into the Klaxon short from Axe Capital, hoping to find something dirty and coming across Taylor’s signature in the process, Chuck is reveling in the good news about Ice Juice. He even has new software on his computer so he can track its progress all day.

Something is amiss though. Hall is waiting on a call from Axe, and it’s clear that he’s about to drop some sort of bomb that will kill the IPO. Sure enough, he calls in the hit. He texts “Golden Frog time” to Hall, setting in motion a plan that’s been weeks in the making.

That plan involves paying off a lot of people. Essentially, after learning about Ice Juice and Chuck Sr.’s involvement from Boyd, he buys a bacteria that he then delivers to various people he knows who owe him a favor, who in turn go to people who owe them a favor and get them to put the bacteria in their newly purchased Ice Juice. The bacteria causes them to violently vomit, and as the news spreads, Ice Juice has a PR and stock nightmare on its hands. Trading is halted for the day, and the stock ends up dropping to barely $3 a share. As Ira puts it, it’s “Armageddon.” Millions of dollars lost.

What’s intriguing here is that Wendy warns Chuck about the short play, and he does nothing. She’s convinced he’s going to lose all their money — to be fair, it sure does seem that way — so when he criticizes her for not trusting him, she buys into the short play in the hopes of getting herself a payday. Mafee gets reamed out for allowing it to happen without Axe’s knowledge, and that sets up an interesting dynamic for the season finale, as Chuck, Axe, and Wendy are all tied up in this Ice Juice screwjob in one way or another.

Back at Chuck Sr.’s place, Ira and Chuck Jr. can barely comprehend their loss. When Ira learns that Chuck Sr. lost all of his son’s trust money after doubling his position early in the day, he goes to the bathroom to vomit. It’s all over for all of them. They have nothing left, and Axe has won again.

In fact, Axe is really enjoying in his win. He’s at home starting over with Lara, eating pizza with caviar because he’s that kind of rich asshole. Everything seems to be looking up for Axe… at least until he gets into the bedroom. Lara isn’t into their makeup sex, and it’s clear that he still has a long way to go to repair the damage he’s done to their relationship.

That moment with Lara is a harbinger of things to come. In a brilliant montage that closes out the episode, Billions pulls a neat trick and shows us how, through all of this, Chuck is the true winner. You see, he knew Axe would try to ruin the IPO, so he planned for it. He bribed Boyd with freedom to get him to tip Axe off about Ice Juice. He then strong-armed the AG into getting Dake hired in the Eastern district so that when Axe took the bait and went after Ice Juice, Chuck would have someone by his side to do the investigation.

For weeks, Dake and a team of agents tracked Axe’s every move, to the point of snapping pictures of his people sneaking the bacteria into their Ice Juice before consuming it. Chuck had this whole thing planned all along, and now he has Axe right where he wants him. Sure, he threw his father and Ira under the bus in the process, and there’s that business with Wendy buying into the short play, but for now, all Chuck can do is laugh. He finally has Axe in the crosshairs with serious, substantial evidence, which pretty much ensures that next week’s finale will be a confrontation for the ages.

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