Billions recap: Business takes a back seat this week as Axe and Wendy get personal
As the folk troubadour once said, the times they are certainly changing. The Axe Cap office looks different, as Billions makes the jump into COVID times. After an indeterminate amount of time spent working from home, all the Ax Cap employees are now back in the office wearing masks and social distancing. There are more changes on the horizon, too, as Axe completely overhauls Axe Cap's structure so he can get his bank off the ground. That means some of the employees won't make it through the transition, and some will have new titles.
It's a crucial time for the bank, as Axe has had trouble getting money in because of COVID. So he's got Wags looking for different ways to bring big money in as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, Taylor is worried about Ax's potential influence over Taylor Mason Carbon after the restructure. They want to keep things completely separate, but they're obviously concerned that this new order of business could complicate things.
There are basically two different storylines playing out in this episode, and both of them revolve around dinners. First, there's Chuck, who's hosting a "Jefferson Dinner" where his esteemed guests, including Ira and Mike Prince, are set to verbally spar. A Jefferson Dinner involves debating specific questions and following strict rules of conversational conduct. They end up talking about banks and cannabis and a few other topics geared explicitly towards Chuck and Axe's current situation.
When Axe hears this dinner is going down, he sends Chuck Sr. to crash the party and report back. When Chuck Sr. hears his son and Prince arguing about legalizing marijuana, he tells Axe all about it. Axe assumes, rightly, that this "argument" was a performance meant to be reported back to Axe. But where he missteps is thinking that Chuck and Prince are trying to deflect from the fact that Prince is going to put money in the cannabis industry in anticipation of federal legalization. That's what they want Axe to think. They want him to use his bank to bring in cannabis money, which is a big red flag even as legalization is slowly progressing throughout the country.
The other dinner happening is at Axe Cap, where a swamped Wags is doing his best to entertain his very young date with a candlelit dinner at the office after he refuses to cancel on her. Of course, Wags gets pulled in all directions, having to help Dollar Bill sort through information on various cannabis companies while also dealing with the surprise appearance of Hard Bob, whom Axe has hired to be his "banking compliance honcho." When Wags is interrupted one too many times, he explodes, which, because this is Billions, only manages to turn on his date more.
There are quite a few other business-related dealings in this episode, but what's most interesting is the way so many relationships have now changed, and maybe for good. Chuck and Prince are working well together, while Taylor ends up firing Lauren for not being loyal enough, a bold move that might hurt Taylor Mason Carbon in the long run. Then there's Axe and Wendy, who finally talk about the feelings they have for each other after Axe buys out her shares in the company so that she can successfully buy out Chuck in the divorce and prevent him from looking into Axe Cap's books. While it seems like Wendy and Axe are going to get together, Billions gives us a sublime, quiet, extended scene at the end of the episode where Chuck, a little baked after smoking a joint with Prince in celebration of their plan to trap Axe, makes breakfast for his daughter and Prince. Barely a word is spoken through the entire scene, and it's really lovely; a moment of solitude before Chuck finds out about Axe and Wendy. Things are about to get messy.
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