Just How ‘Woke’ Billions Wants Us to Believe Axe Capital Is
by Molly Stout | Refinery 29 | March 26, 2018
After two full seasons of Billions, we are still no closer to choosing sides. In this extravagant chess match between Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) and Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis), we’re somehow still rooting for both of them to knock over the other’s king-sized ego. Or, as Axe suggested in the thrilling season 2 finale, for both of them to end up in check. Since the show’s beginning, we’ve found qualities to admire in each man: Bobby’s scrappy Yonkers childhood and ability to turn a stadium’s lights off with the God-like snap of his fingers, and Chuck’s gastrophile trivia and love of Winston Churchill first-editions. And neither man is evil enough for us to pledge allegiance to the other.
Even the characters we used to unabashedly cheer for are giving us pause. Lara Axelrod (Malin Akerman) has always made it clear, to Axe and to viewers, that she isn’t a trophy wife. She enjoys the money and the power Axe’s career has given her and the boys, but she’s still just a working-class girl at heart who loved Bobby long before he made his first million. But last season, Lara told Bobby that she wouldn’t run from the government with him. She even tried to buy off Orrin Bach (Glenn Fleshler) to counsel her on what she would get in a divorce. Then there’s Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon). It’s hard not to like the efficient, confident Taylor, but they ultimately chose the dark side of private planes, $26,000-a-month penthouses, and climbing the dirty corporate ladder, eventually telling Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) that they don’t believe in souls. Even Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff), our favorite overpriced therapist, gave two distinctly different hugs to the men in her life last season. The one with Axe felt real, yet she returned home to Chuck.