Sparks Fly, Chuck Tells Wendy A Lie
by Dana Feldman | Forbes | May 13, 2019
There is a lot to unpack in this week’s episode of Billions, but before getting into everything that happened, Showtime must be thanked for ordering a fifth season of the show. The fan favorite, which currently averages 4.2 million viewers per week across platforms, certainly didn’t disappoint with “American Champion.”
Sparks were definitely flying this week! At Axe Capital, Bonnie (Sarah Stiles) and Dollar Bill (Kelly AuCoin) have started a new office romance and over at Mason Capital, things between Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon) and Lauren (Jade Eshete) have heated up. Will this be a love triangle? Sara (Samantha Mathis) hasn’t hidden her feelings for Taylor very well.
In other news, Chuck (Paul Giamatti) told Wendy (Maggie Siff) what is most likely the biggest lie he’s ever told her (we’ll get to that in a moment). And, this week also saw the return of Dr. Gus (Marc Kudisch). Do you remember him from the second season when he, for a short time, replaced Wendy as Axe Cap’s performance coach before he was fired?
When Dr. Gus and Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) cross paths, it’s a twist of fate for the stressed out U.S. Attorney. Connerty seeks his help, wanting to rebuild himself from the inside-out so he can stand up to both Chuck and the domineering Attorney General, Jock Jeffcoat (Clancy Brown).
Chuck Chooses Vengeance Over His Marriage:
Wendy isn’t one to beg, but she’s backed into quite the dark corner with this whole medical board fiasco. She pleads with Chuck not to allow the board to strip her license. When Chuck says this is outside his jurisdiction, she says this is just the type of selfless act that would fix their marriage.
She needs Chuck Rhoades “the killer” in her corner. “You kill for yourself all the time,” she says. “So, go kill for me.” She’s giving him license to use the part of himself that makes him feel most alive. He counters she’s only doing this because it serves her, as at other times, it’s this very side of him that she’s admonished him for.
Wendy admits she’s learned something unpleasant about herself and she needs to turn herself back into the person she’s supposed to be. However, she needs to be a doctor in order to do so, which circles back to her original request. “So, help me Chuck or I’m f**king lost.”
Ira Schirmer (Ben Shenkman) advises Chuck not to try to manipulate the medical board, warning it could be the one-too-many scandal that could end his career. His advice: Chuck should prepare a defense for Wendy and allow the hearing to happen. For Chuck, it’s not about making the smart move, it’s about the future of his dynasty. “Muttered apologies and half measures” aren’t cutting it. He wants to save his marriage.
Chuck does know of a former state board member that just so happens to be knowledgeable of every crevice and loophole in the medical board’s disciplinary procedures. Unfortunately, he put him in prison. Seriously, is anything in his life ever easy?
Chuck is thinking of Dr. Ari Gilbert (Seth Barrish) and he pays him a visit in prison. He reminds him that he kept his word. The $11 million stayed in his bank account and his wife and kids are well taken care of. Unfortunately, this is of little solace as the crooked doctor explains to Chuck that his wife has since divorced him and no longer allows his children to visit him.
Dr. Gilbert is more than willing to negotiate if Chuck can get him out of prison. Chuck explains he is no longer U.S. Attorney and cannot do that now, but will work tirelessly to make it happen over time. The doctor doesn’t trust him and refuses to help. At the end of the day, Chuck finds a way to get what he needs. He can help both his father and Wendy, but helps neither when his desire to destroy Jock gets the better of him. How exactly does this happen? Keep reading.
Axe Chooses His Relationship Over Business:
On the flip side, Axe (Damian Lewis) puts his relationship with Rebecca (Nina Arianda) above a big business deal, a move that ends up benefitting him both personally and professionally.
When Taylor tries to sabotage Rebecca’s new business venture with Axe, the stress tests and strengthens their bond. Rebecca starts her first day as CEO of Saler’s department store chain and things do not go well. Taylor’s plan was to have Rebecca walk in thinking the board was hers, only to find out it’s really Taylor’s. The plan works and on Rebecca’s first day, two board members quit, telling Rebecca and Axe they just sold their shares to Taylor with a nice premium they couldn’t pass up. They also inform them that Taylor is set to meet with Sanford Bensinger (Richard Thomas), Saler’s biggest debt holder.
Rebecca postpones the meeting until the board is reconstituted and she and Axe plot their next move. They know the amount of convertible debt Bensinger controls makes him their largest creditor. Axe concurs he can convert it into enough shares to dwarf their position and they’ll get diluted and their voting power will shrink. This can give Taylor enough power to take over and even fire Rebecca.
Taylor can thank Sara and Lauren for this. They’d already met with three of the major individual stakeholders. Taylor points out there’s one they have yet to meet with, Bensinger. He’s known as the “American Champion,” which is also the title of his ghostwritten memoir. Lauren, of course, was already on it. Lauren’s plan to get to Bensinger via his son works and Taylor gets the meeting.
Taylor gets to Bensinger first and asks him to convert his debt into shares and support them. At this point, Bensinger has no intentions of backing Axe. He wants to pay Axe back with trouble and pain for the high crimes and misdemeanors he’s committed against him.
But Axe has a plan of his own. Taylor may have won the battle, but it looks like Axe won the war when he buys the Chrysler Building Bensinger wants only to sell it to him at cost. This is a smart power play and way to get in good standing so he won’t side with Taylor in the Saler’s endeavor.
Rebecca gets a chance to explain to Bensinger why this business venture matters so much to her. It’s about legacy; she wants it so she can say she did what others couldn’t, and she wants it for the little girl she once was. That little girl was allowed to dream by looking at that catalogue, but her parents weren’t able to buy her anything. She promised herself she would one day buy it for herself.
Her business plan includes a huge march forward toward massive profitability and her vision involves making people feel free and young. She wants Saler’s to be America. This is when Axe offers to back off and leave the board. Bensinger sees how much he cares and this is exactly the kind of strength and loyalty he wants in on. He wants to work with their combined brainpower; what really sold him is Axe and Rebecca together. “Miss Cantu, if you can make this fallen man part of something good, you can make us all part of something great.”
Where Does That Train Go?
The answer to all of Chuck’s woes are found on the railroad. Chuck takes his dad’s advice to heart when they discuss the development project and how to get Connerty and Jock to back off. Chuck Sr. (Jeffrey DeMunn) explains what they need to do, which is to find a way to hurt them back. “Get them into the same kind of vice that they have us in and then crank the handle so hard they beg you to relent and they relent in return.”
Chuck heads to West Texas to see Jock, hoping he’ll remove the blockade on Chuck Sr.’s development project. Jock refuses and tells Chuck he’s the one who put his father in this position by going against him. Chuck notices a train as it passes through the back of Jock’s property line and gets an idea. When he was talking with Senior, he smelled a foul odor coming from the Porta Potties on the construction site. Where does all that waste go? On a train and out of the city, as it turns out. Chuck has the sewage-filled freight train rerouted to the track at the back of Jock’s estate and he makes sure it’s stopped there for inspection.
Connerty is tasked with moving the s**t train and to do so, he needs to get something on Chuck. When he gets wind that Chuck paid Dr. Gilbert a visit, he goes to see him, as well, and demands to know what Chuck wanted. Later, Connerty confronts Chuck and says if he moves the train, Jock will back off from Senior’s development. This might have worked a tad sooner, but now Chuck also wants Wendy cleared with the medical board. In return, Connerty wants Chuck to back off from the blockchain mobile voting technology and his pilot program.
“You need two things, you give two things,” Connerty says. Chuck has the opportunity to take care of his father and Wendy, but refuses. “Some things are even more important than marriage.”
First Rule Of Flagship Is You Don’t Talk About Flagship:
Loose lips sink ships and company morale. There’s a lot going on at Axe Cap. First, Spyros (Stephen Kunken) and Dollar Bill are both vying for Bonnie’s attention. Spyros uses cortado, a beverage consisting of espresso mixed with a roughly equal amount of warm milk, and Bill asks her for drinks after work. “I usually only go out with people who have one wife,” she says.
She goes to Wendy for a good old-fashioned venting session. Wendy assumes Bonnie is looking for a way to reject Dollar Bill without screwing things up at work. However, what Bonnie really wants help with is how she can actually “do the thing” without making things awkward at work.
Before the two really have a chance to get into it, Ben Kim (Daniel K. Isaac) storms in needing help with a situation. He’s learned Axe Cap has a separate, elite fund for employees called “Flagship” where returns are apparently three times greater than the main fund, but only key employees are involved. Wendy says she hasn’t heard of it in years and thinks Axe liquidated it years ago. This assuages Ben’s anger. Bonnie is also relieved and knows just what to do about Bill. She tells him they’re on for drinks after work.
She asks about Flagship on their date and Dollar Bill wants to know how she found out. “First rule of flagship is you don’t talk about flagship,” he says. He adds that to be in it, you have to be the best of the best. He spills that Axe, Wags (David Costabile) and Wendy are amongst its members. The rewards are substantial enough, as he says, “to afford two families with two sets of kids all with straight teeth.”
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