Metallica, friendship and unexpected decisions…Bobby Axelrod and ep 4 recap extracts…
Listen closely, though, and the song suggests the episode’s theme, at least as it pertains to Bobby, his hedge-fund soldiers and anyone else committed to this stressful, consuming, spiritually vacant line of work. “Oh No” is a song about disconnection, about the existential condition of not feeling anything, those “calcium mines buried deep in your chest.”
Canada, Bobby’s buddies play a game of Hearts and recall the brawls they used to have in Freddy’s basement, but Freddy isn’t feeling so nostalgic about it. Bobby’s aggression — his need not only to win, but to humiliate — led to him beating Freddy in his own house and now that they’re adults, Freddy feels like nothing has changed with Bobby. His take-no-prisoners style has just taken another form. And oh by the way, while they’ve been talking, Bobby has just shot the moon, which in this metaphor-rich show, is the card-playing equivalent to a big, reckless, Axe Capital gamble. Freddy leaves him with an ominous (and surely prescient) thought: “You always thought you were going to win, Axe, right up until the moment when you fell.”
In essence, Bobby cannot get away from his job. And when he’s propositioned by the singer, he cannot get away from his marital vows, either. The question for him becomes: Do these responsibilities make him happy? Or does he, like Mick, feel a twinge when he’s losing and nothing when he’s ahead? “Billions” doesn’t ask viewers to feel sympathy for this particular devil, but it does suggest, throughout the course of the episode, that he’s trapped by his own success. An episode like “Short Squeeze” clarifies the entire tone of the show, which is ostensibly about two titans locked in battle, but is really about two men who lust for a power that gives them no evident satisfaction. All they feel is the squeeze.