Billions is dissecting the anatomy of self-interest, single-minded adherence to self-determination. All in the body and mind of Bobby Axelrod.
by JaniaJania | Fan Fun with Damian Lewis | March 28, 2018
Billions Season 3, episode 1, long time coming, eh? Let’s skip the pleasantries and get down to it, shall we?The nation has turned, so Chuck walks warily to meet his new boss, wondering if he still has a job. Newly appointed Attorney General Jeffcoat circumnavigates into the biggest case in NYC right now: Eastern District vs. Bobby Axelrod. He tells a folksy tale of horse husbandry and goads Chuck with the raging sting of being the primer for the mare that Dake ultimately gets to fuck. (I believe the AG just called Bobby Axelrod a female horse.) Then he suggests, if Chuck wants to keep his job, he’ll want to look kindly on future Wall Street shenanigans. Tie goes to the runner in both baseball and in the high stakes gambling of the capitalist enterprise.
Don’t call a man out on a win.
Axe Capital has moved from their old digs to swanky Manhattan and Taylor is rallying the troops for new ideas to present to an annual hog show of hedgies. Dollar Bill wants none of it, he wants Axe’s assets unfrozen and his sensei back where he belongs. He’s chomping at the bit to get back to kicking financial sector ass in the name of his hero and mentor. The gambling force is strong in this padawan.
Axe is fuming and musing, newly single, in a grand penthouse apartment, stocked with video games and snacks for when the kids visit, but basically alone, open to suggestions from Wendy on what to do to get back all he’s lost. Wendy will get to that, but first she wants to get him thinking about what he wants for the rest of his life. Axe has told her that at this moment, he is overcome with rage. She has him do an exercise where he revisits a situation when rage served him.
Now, let’s talk about this thing that brought Bobby the most useful rage. My first liberal knee-jerk response to Bobby’s story of being a poor fifth grader getting his ass kicked by a couple of rich eighth graders was this:
THAT’s the rage that fuels him and serves him going forward? He’s angry at the rich kids because they caught him cheating? Dude, not everyone grew up with an Atari or the right pair of Nikes. A lot of kids made do without until they could, without cheating and selling counterfeit sports memorabilia. Maybe the rich deserve to be robbed. Bobby clearly thinks so. Or maybe he thinks he wasn’t really scamming anyone, just taking care of himself? Maybe self-interest trumps it all in minds like his? Everyone has the same instinct to survive, but, most of us who grew up not rich traverse the bitterness and eventually realize that maybe the best revenge is to live our best lives: Something that is ironically often out of the reach of the rich because they’re too busy collecting the Ataris and the Nikes.
Alas, such liberal logic when presented by the non-Axelrods to the Axelrods of the world falls on deaf ears for the most part. When President Obama won, a Tea Party Republican friend from high school, in the face of the joyful tears flowing all over social media, angrily Facebooked “Well, let’s just all sing kumbaya, then.” She apologized later but her first impulse spoke volumes. It sums up the right’s view of progressive thought: that it’s just dumb idealism. To them it’s only the Axes of the world who know the real score. Gamers, gamblers, those who’ve used whatever means necessary including (and maybe especially) lawlessness to go home winners. It’s the world of right vs wrong on one side and win vs loss on the other, and a 20-foot wall erected between them. Winning has only a tenuous (and easily dismissed) connection to legality, and losing is absolute and never right, irrespective of any selflessness or personal sacrifice that may have contributed to the losing.
Wendy urges Axe to take his mind out of the past, to imagine what holding on to the rage does for him now and will do to him in the future. Axe can’t go that deep, he chafes at it. He only cares to hear from one ghost at a time, so fuck Dickens.
Chuck meets with Dake to confirm all is well in the cover up of the info drop that “entrapped” Axe into shorting Ice Juice. Recall, Chuck gave Dake Axe’s case because Chuck knows he’s too close. The fact his father and best friend sunk all they had into a play for which Chuck micromanaged the info flow in the hopes that Axe would manipulate it; it’s all too close. Never mind Wendy’s short on that same trade. We’ll get to that later.
But, first, the most fun moment of the episode, at least for us geeks anyway…
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