Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME

Chuck, Wendy, and Axe work together to get the Ice Juice case dismissed


S3 E7
Show Details
TV Show
May 06, 2018 at 11:00 PM EDT

When, at the end of last week’s episode, Wendy, Axe, and Chuck sat down to be fully transparent with one another, they did so with a purpose. Each of them had been implicated in the Ice Juice sabotage in one way or another, and each of them was facing jail time. Axe and Chuck had always been in trouble, but Wendy was only recently a target after Ari started working above his pay grade, finding out that she executed a short on Ice Juice shortly before the sabotage.

At the top of “Not You, Mr. Dake,” Chuck and Axe still sit at the table, discussing how keeping Wendy safe is their first priority. When she leaves to get a glass of water, the two converse in hushed tones, pondering whether their damsel in distress will be willing to throw someone under the bus to save herself. Both men don’t think so, knowing Wendy to be no-nonsense, but also honorable. Then, she comes back to the table with a firm answer for them: “So, who’s going to be our patsy?”

It’s clear early on that the fall guy is going to be Dr. Gilbert, the man who Chuck recently convinced to hand over the incriminating slide that would act as evidence against Axe in court. Chuck assures Gilbert that the slide is being planted in Axe’s house as they speak early in the morning, but we all know it’s not true. Chuck rambles on about paratroopers and the “point of no return,” as if this is Gilbert’s big moment to step up and take down Axe, when really it’s a point of no return for him, Wendy, and Axe.

From there, “Not You, Mr. Dake” essentially tells two intertweaving stories, both meant to showcase how Axe, Wendy, and Chuck manage to derail the case of the Ice Juice sabotage both by pinning evidence on Gilbert and using strategic manipulation to get important people to play their game. The episode takes a storytelling approach familiar to Billions, which involves jumping around in time, using the disjointed narrative as a way to create tension and unpredictability. It’s an approach that works really well most of the time, and yet feels unnecessarily convoluted here.

As the plot unfolds, the endgame becomes pretty clear. Chuck plants the slide in Gilbert’s house, underneath a bottle of ketchup in his fridge, and that leads to the FBI bringing him to Chuck for questioning. Chuck talks about issues of guilt and how even facts are tricky things in court. Gilbert plays tough for awhile, demanding a lawyer and saying he’s done nothing wrong, but at this point we, along with Chuck, know how this all ends, and quite frankly, that makes getting there a little less exciting.

That’s not always the case with Billions, but I think last week’s breathtaking episode makes “Not You, Mr. Dake” suffer by contrast. The overly convoluted nature of the structure doesn’t seem necessary this time around. What Chuck, Wendy, and Axe are pulling off isn’t nearly as complicated or compelling as last week’s events, and that means that the episode struggles to really build any momentum. This is still a fine episode of Billions, and one that necessarily pushes Chuck, Axe, and Wendy into new places that will certainly pay off down the road, but there’s a loss of immediacy and urgency within the storytelling itself.

There are certainly plenty of intriguing moments in the early going though. The most fascinating of all of them is the reemergence of a character that’s been MIA for some time: Hall. Axe finds him seaside in Nova Scotia, looking like a stand-in for Bill Murray in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and asks him to “suit up” and come back to help him with a little blackmailing. Nobody does that like Hall.

The lone problem Axe needs to take care of is the fact that Connerty has access to Wendy’s cell phone carrier, which proves that she was at Axe Capital and then the Southern District when she made her short, implicating her as a co-conspirator with Chuck. Axe’s guys can’t hack the carrier’s system, and that’s where Hall comes in.

Hall finds one of the carrier’s employees at a hotel, and sits quietly at the end of his bed until he wakes up. He tells the employee what he knows: that he took the account information of a few celebrities and politicians and sold it to the tabloids for a fee, a federal crime that could land him in prison…unless he does what Hall wants, which is fabricating Wendy’s records. A simple keystroke, as Hall puts it, and suddenly it looks like Wendy will be off the hook. (Recap continues on next page)

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