‘Billions’ recap: Freedom, plotting, and the power of cowboy boots
While Chuck makes a comeback, Prince’s life is put under a microscope.
Axe has a castle. I mean, of course Axe has a castle. As the second episode of the season kicks off, Wags (David Costabile), Wendy (Maggie Siff), and Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon) are visiting Axe (Damian Lewis) in Switzerland in an attempt to persuade him to come back to the United States and prevent Prince (Corey Stoll) from becoming president. The four of them spend much of the episode walking around Axe’s massive estate, which he has managed to create during his time in exile, and having conversations in shadowy halls and rooms. The pitch? Axe surely can’t be happy about how Prince is running the company he used to own, the one he built from the ground up, and he must be itching to come back and defeat his nemesis. The thing is, Axe might not have the same motivations.
This idea of Axe maybe coming back to the States drives only a small portion of the episode. In fact, those scenes are all a little sluggish; Wendy, Wags, and Taylor all essentially have similar reasons for wanting Axe back, so having to hear each of them lay out their thoughts is a bit tedious. Plus, the whole notion of Prince being some sort of massive threat to American democracy is very undercooked so far this season; just because Wendy says it, doesn’t make it true, and the show isn’t really doing enough at the moment to prove why Axe and everyone else should be so concerned about Prince making a move for the Oval Office.
Damian Lewis in ‘Billions’ season 7
Damian Lewis on ‘Billions’ season 7
| Credit: Billions/YouTube
Anyways, let’s shift gears to Chuck (Paul Giamatti), whose storyline is much more intriguing. A few weeks after being arrested, the “charges” against him are dropped and Chuck is a free man. The shift in public perception, which saw him go from a corporate shill to a man of the people, has forced the attorney general’s hand in dismissing the mess. With his newfound liberty, Chuck is making plans to get back into a position of power. Despite Dave’s (Sakina Jaffrey) worry that he’s coming for the AG job, Chuck makes it known that he wants to go back to his post as the United States attorney in the Southern District of New York.
That move would bring Chuck back to his roots; presumably, he has a reason to want that post back, some sort of path to go after Prince or Axe, but we’ll have to wait to find out his entire scheme. So, Chuck makes his move, which involves visiting former attorney general Waylon “Jock” Jeffcoat (Clancy Brown) in prison. Chuck put Jock away back in the third season, and now he needs his help. He wants Jock to go on record and say that he forced the president to fire Chuck as the attorney at the SDNY, and, in turn, when Chuck gets his position back he’ll free Jock. Initially, Jock doesn’t agree to this, but apparently being given an expensive pair of cowboy boots is all the man needs to be swayed. Eventually, Jock agrees to the proposal and records his confession. By the end of the episode Chuck has received a call from the president, presumably to reinstate him at the SDNY.
Paul Giamatti as Chuck Rhoades in BILLIONS, “Original Sin”.
Paul Giamatti on ‘Billions’
| Credit: Patrick Harbron/SHOWTIME
Chuck isn’t the only one making moves, though. Prince is also interviewing campaign managers, and eventually he settles on Bradford Luke (Babak Tafti), a young but proven talent. Bradford begins digging into Prince’s life, and initially Prince tries to present a unified front with his estranged wife, Andy (Piper Perabo). But this isn’t Bradford’s first rodeo, and he sees right through the gimmick. He knows they’re not only estranged but engaged in an open relationship. He doesn’t judge them, but he knows the public isn’t ready to see a couple like that in the White House.
So, Prince and Andy are forced to close their relationship for the duration of the campaign, and this focus on Prince’s run for president could be distracting from the work at Michael Prince Capital. While Victor (Louis Cancelmi) and Dollar Bill (Kelly AuCoin) are bringing in new ideas, with Philip (Toney Goins) overseeing all the new business, it’s clear that Prince isn’t very hands-on at this point. He’s in the office, sure, but he can muster up little more than “bring me more ideas” to the team; it’s a far cry from the rousing “good billionaire” role he has deployed to capture so much wealth and power.
Could Prince’s shift into politics ultimately be his downfall? Will Axe, who turns down the offer to come back to the States, eventually lock horns with Prince again somewhere down the road? What is Chuck’s vision for his future? All of these questions are lingering as the second episode of the final season of Billions comes to a close.
I have been writing professionally for over 20 years and have a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional elements that affect people. I’m an experienced ghostwriter and editor, as well as an award-winning author of five novels.