Categories Billions Print Media Recap Review

Billions Season 3, Episode 6 Recap: New York Times – April 29, 2018

Eat or Be Eaten

by Sean T. Collins | New York Times | April 29, 2018

Source: Showtime

The Third Ortolan

If there’s one place where we can come together in these divided times, surely it’s to appreciate a show that gives us opening scenes like the one this week: Axe and Wags, sitting at a table with cloth napkins draped over their heads, faces obscured, “for two reasons,” as Wags puts it: “to keep the aromas from escaping, and to hide this shameful and depraved act from God.”

“Well, if there were a God, I think He’d know,” comes Axe’s reply — in a room lit with enough candles to fuel a decent-sized pagan sacrifice. There’s no immediate explanation, no follow-up whatsoever until the final 15 minutes of the episode, but the tone is set for one of the best episodes of “Billions” in recent memory. It’s the simple pleasures that bind us, you know?

Continue reading Billions Season 3, Episode 6 Recap: New York Times – April 29, 2018

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Billions: Super Antiheros – April 24, 2018

The Superhero Show About Finance and the Tale of Two Warring Goliaths

by Rachel Syme | The New Republic | April 24, 2018

Billions reckons with the inflated egos and muddled ethics of Wall Street.

The first season of Billions premiered in January 2016— eight years after the collapse of the subprime mortgage market and eleven months before a self-proclaimed billionaire was elected president. This was the sweet spot, timing wise, for a bombastic prestige drama about the world of money. In 2011, the sharp and enraging documentary Inside Job, which charted the corruption that led to the financial crisis, won an Oscar. In the winter of 2016, The Big Short—a sermonizing, big-budget Hollywood comedy about reckless bankers—was nominated for Best Picture. The mea culpas had been issued, the bad actors identified, and although only one person officially went to jail, the coast looked clear for new stories of Wall Street and wealth.

Of course, in the wake of the crisis, a showrunner could not simply rehash the old Gordon Gekko formula for a modern audience. Slickness was no longer glamorous but gross; very few Americans had an appetite for captains of industry slurping down midday martinis at the Capital Grille. Instead, the three creators of Billions—the longtime writing team of Brian Koppelman and David Levien, along with The New York Times’ financial reporter, Andrew Ross Sorkin—took a populist genre and grafted it onto the honeyed, moneyed lives of the rich and infamous: They made a superhero show about finance.

Continue reading Billions: Super Antiheros – April 24, 2018

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Billions Season 3, Episode 5 Recap: New York Times – April 22, 2018

The Family We Choose

by Sean T. Collins | New York Times | April 22, 2018

Source: Showtime

Flaw in the Death Star

This week on “Billions,” romance is in the air. Who’da thunk it, right? Sex, sexuality, the rewards and compromises of long-term relationships, even the eroticized thrill of spectacular professional success — these themes are never in short supply on this show. But the pangs of infatuation that make your eyes widen, your heart quicken, and (with any luck) your clothes melt away to the tune of Echo and the Bunnymen? That’s … unexpected.

Even more unexpected? The young lovers involved. The casting of comedian Mike Birbiglia added an uncharacteristically mellow presence to this high-strung, hard-charging show. If you predicted that this addition was a prelude to an affair between Birbiglia’s Silicon Valley “venture philanthropist” character, Oscar Langstraat, and Bobby Axelrod’s handpicked successor, the tightly wound gender-nonbinary genius Taylor Mason, congratulations: Your powers of prognostication outstrip even those of Axe himself. Yet from the moment these two very different visionaries make a nerd-love connection in defense of a supposed “Star Wars” plot hole, it makes sense, retrospectively, that they would hook up. It just feels right. (Granted, I’m slightly biased in that I agree with their reasoning — “What material could withstand the heat expended from that mammoth sphere?” “Plus, it was fortified with gun turrets!” — but only slightly.)

Continue reading Billions Season 3, Episode 5 Recap: New York Times – April 22, 2018

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Billions Has Become TV’s Sharpest Critique Of Toxic Masculinity – April 16, 2018

Billions is the Best Show About the Worst Kind of Masculinity

by Alison Willmore | BuzzFeed News | April 16, 2018

Source: Showtime

In its third season, Showtime’s Billions has snapped into focus from being a blurry series about power to an infinitely sharper one about gender. Spoilers through last night’s episode, “Hell of a Ride,” below.

Dick is a multipurpose metaphor in Billions. Most of the characters in Showtime’s hedge fund drama talk about their work, their success or lack thereof, and their stature as an extension of their virility. They aren’t all men, but they do all circle a luxe locker room of an industry that’s been overwhelmingly defined by men. Any observation you might feel inclined to make about Wall Street being dominated by bros vying to prove who has the biggest balls, Billions makes for you. In its very first episode, without the hint of a wink, a trader describes his issues at work to performance coach Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) by using the language of erectile dysfunction: “I hear it happens to guys my age.”

Exactly a season later, Wendy shakes a bottle of Viagra at an audience of hedge fund types, telling them that while some of them rely on it, none would admit that: “The thought that someone might know you need help is worse than not getting the help you need. Still, when the time comes, when you need to pull the trigger on the buy or sell order, you better be hard as a rock and ready to go” — no Freudian subtext necessary. More recently, to really underscore the erection connection and the fragility that accompanies it, a character insists he would part with a fraction of his — “an inch off my dick” — if it meant he and his failing fund could get back in the game.

Continue reading Billions Has Become TV’s Sharpest Critique Of Toxic Masculinity – April 16, 2018

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Billions Season 3, Episode 4 Recap: Sealed with a Kiss – April 15, 2018

“It’s Oedipus all the way down, folks.”

by Sean T. Collins | New York Times | April 15, 2018

Source: Showtime

Hell of a Ride

Chuck Rhoades Jr. and Charles Rhoades Sr. are at war. They have been since the last season of “Billions,” when son betrayed father as part of a plot by Chuck to ruin his nemesis, Bobby Axelrod. But the most powerful weapon wielded in the conflict so far hasn’t been a legal threat or a stock swindle. It’s the kiss that Charles plants square on Chuck’s mouth, hands locked on his son’s head to prevent him from pulling away.

That kiss is the climax of “Hell of a Ride,” this week’s aptly titled episode from the writer Randall Green and the director John Dahl. In a series that has made a study of the physicality of the rich and powerful, the scene is a graduate-level course.

On one level, and like so many of these characters’ other words and actions, it is very likely a reference to a work of macho pop culture: the kiss of betrayal that Michael Corleone plants on his disloyal brother Fredo in “The Godfather Part II.” (Bobby quoted the first “Godfather” film earlier in the episode when he instructed his philanthropy guru, Sean Ayles (Jack Gilpin), to “use all your powers and all your skills” in support of his latest stealthy venture.) But like the best such moments on “Billions,” the context transforms the reference into something new and unique, and in this case uniquely disturbing.

Continue reading Billions Season 3, Episode 4 Recap: Sealed with a Kiss – April 15, 2018