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Recap: Axe Is Making Himself the True Villain of 'Billions'

By Dustin Rowles | TV | April 15, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | April 15, 2019 |


Rather than stew in the marital discord that Chuck opened up between himself and Wendy in last week’s episode by publicly outing their BDSM lifestyle to win a political race, Billions jumped a month ahead in this week’s episode. Chuck and Wendy are communicating again, though they’re not exactly on the best of terms. The episode opens over a double date between Wendy/Chuck and Axe and Rebecca Cantu in a pizza restaurant Axe has shut down so that Wendy can eat away from the gaze of judgy little sh*ts. Wendy’s not just afraid to be seen in public but also by her own co-workers, and Axe — who handwaves her problems away — is not exactly helping matters (Wags, however, did unexpectedly show his human side this week, which is always welcome).

For Axe, there is a more pressing reason for the double date, as it gives him an opportunity to continue to exploit his newfound relationship with Chuck. He’s calling in another favor, insisting that Chuck put Taylor Mason behind prison bars, the lack of crimes be damned (Axe did himself no favors in the sympathy department this week). Chuck’s on it, but he has other concerns that take priority at the moment, specifically rooting out his political enemies from within the New York state legislature, who are trying to neuter Chuck’s AG powers. After some backroom dealings, Chuck does exactly that, using the occasion of Black Jack’s funeral to have a number of legislators arrested for crimes of corruption, taking his cues from Caesar’s funeral. “We will continue to purge these pews until corruption has been cleansed from the Empire State.” To be fair, it’s exactly what Black Jack would have done.

The take-no-prisoners approach of Chuck, however, is only going to create more political enemies. Speaking of which, Kate Sacker hasn’t forgotten about Chuck, either. She and the FBI are looking into Chuck Sr.’s shady real-estate dealings, with an eye toward taking down Chuck with their wide net. Listening in along with the FBI on a conversation between Chuck and Chuck Sr., however, doesn’t exactly give Kate Sacker the smoking gun she was hoping for.

Elsewhere, sick (to the point of vomiting) over losing Grigor as their biggest funder, Taylor Mason shakes a few trees and lands another big fish in the New York Firefighters’ Fund. The firefighters hate Axe as much as Taylor Mason does, and the enemy of your enemy yada yada. Taylor Mason makes the perfect pitch — using the personal story of their father, Douglas, to grease the wheels — and ultimately succeeds in making Mason Capital solvent again. It also brings Taylor and their father closer. Awww. I’m rooting for those two.

Speaking of Taylor, Wendy does not appreciate Axe’s handwaving again at the end of the episode, when Wendy confesses to Axe that Taylor stuck up for her at Mason Capital when everyone else was giving Wendy sh*t on social media re: BDSM and reached out to her personally. “Lame,” Bobby says, which prompts Wendy to reach back out to Taylor and renew their friendship. That’s not going to sit well with Axe, but also, f*ck Axe.

Indeed, the bulk of this week’s episode concerns a revenge plot Axe hatches against John Rice (Seth Gabel) over Axe’s bruised and fragile ego. Axe had been mentoring John Rice — the son of a hedge fund guy who died on 9/11 — but once John Rice made enough money to do so, he decides to cut ties with Axe because he no longer wants to be associated with someone who made his fortunes by exploiting the 9/11 tragedy, even if some of that fortune trickled down to John Rice. Axe takes John out in his fishing boat, ostensibly to mend fences. In reality, however, Axe takes advantage of Rice being incommunicado with the outside world for a few hours to torch his entire hedge fund and essentially ruin his career. (At least Axe didn’t kill him, as that Natalie Wood reference alluded to).

I don’t know if it was because Axe crossed another line here and ruined a guy’s career over a small personal (and understandable) slight, or if it is because John Rice is played by a guy I like so much (Fringe’s Seth Gabel, who is also Bryce Dallas Howard’s husband), but that — on top of his treatment of Wendy, and his desire to put Taylor in prison despite the lack of crimes — put Axe firmly on the shithead side of the ledger. I am #TeamTaylor all the way, and if this were Game of Thrones, it’s them I’d like to see sitting on the Iron Throne at the end of this story (with Wendy as their hand). I wouldn’t mind seeing Seth Gabel reoccur, either, as another ally for Taylor.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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