Venture Philanthropy, Yale Bathrooms, and Bad Parenting
by Miles Surrey | The Ringer | April 16, 2018
Every week, The Ringer will celebrate the passing of yet another Billions episode by honoring the installment’s best, worst, most, and least. These are your Billions Superlatives.
At the start of this week’s episode, “Hell of a Ride,” it appeared the walls were closing in on Chuck Rhoades—not only was Ira planning to testify against Chuck in the ever-mounting Ice Juice conspiracy, but Connerty had Chuck Sr. at the Southern District’s conference room, offering him immunity to testify against his son. But just before Chuck Sr. opens his mouth, bam, a “Three Days Ago” card flashes across the screen. Oh, Billions, you’re such a tease. The show’s employed flashbacks before, and we’d have to wait until the end of the hour to learn the fate of both Chucks. Chuck Sr. is definitely the MVP of this episode, but definitely not for the reasons you think. We’ll get to that and more with the “Hell of a Ride” superlatives. Let’s get after it.
Worst Inconspicuous Meeting Place
This is actually a tie between the dimly lit parking lot where Chuck meets Oliver Dake and the Manhattan cemetery where Wags, Axe, and Axe’s two security bros convene to look at Wags’ newly acquired burial plot.
Look at these places—nothing good has ever happened in a sketchy parking lot and a goddamn cemetery.
By the way, if you’re wondering how Wags got his hands on primo corpse real estate, that will also be covered in Billions’ three-day flashback.
The Ice Juice Memorial Award for Worst Name
Forget UNICEF. In the Billions-verse, if you want to change the lives of impoverished people across the globe, you donate to World-Aid. It’s like a Band-Aid, but for the world. I’ll let you decide if World-Aid is actually a great philanthropic organization—or something scammy like the Invisible Children people—with one hint: Axe is a World-Aid board member.
Yes, that is Mike Birbiglia on Billions, and he’s pitching Axe on the idea of “venture philanthropy” with deep references to Middle Earth. For some reason, I doubt Axe has combed through The Silmarillion.
The best part is that at the beginning of the exchange, Axe made a reference to the Miracle on Ice, to which Birbiglia responded: “Is that a sport ball analogy?” (It is.)
Most Seductive Wags Posturing
*Fans self aggressively*
Best Nudity Flex
Chuck Sr. dropping trow right in front of Connerty is—and this is true—the single best way he could have handled a thinly veiled threat about a post-Ice Juice prison sentence. It’s the second time this season that an older gentlemen has exposed his nude body to Connerty. “Why does this keep happening to me?” he says to no one in particular, but is probably to God.
This is literally a Billions extra who has no name—I’m just going to call him Earnest Gabagool IV—and has never uttered a single line in the show, but somehow has the best garment of the week, possibly of the entire season. My guy is actually being blurred out of the shot by Wendy, and still looks great!
This sweater, which appears to be made out of wool, looks so damn comfortable. I’d crumple this thing into a makeshift pillow and use it in place of my actual pillow.
Best Axe Threat
If I had to bet on the person at Axe Capital having the misfortune of farting in front of Axe, my money would be on Mafee.
Proudest Chuck Sr. Life Achievement
Most fathers talk about the successes of their children, the foundation of their marriage, grandchildren, or their lifelong favorite sports team finally winning a title (you’ve got probably 60 more years to disappoint me, Washington Wizards). But most fathers aren’t Chuck Rhoades Sr.
Congratulations on the bathroom sex at Yale University. No doubt they’ll add it to the brochures.
Most Wall Street Moment
Remember Fairpoint? It’s basically Billions’ version of SpaceX, led by the handsome Craig Heidecker (James Wolk). Back in Season 2, Craig and Wendy had a brief hookup while she and Chuck were separated. (Also, Wolk and Wendy actress Maggie Siff were both on Mad Men, so in a weird way Bob Benson and Rachel Menken have boned. Sorry.)
Anyway, Heidecker himself was manning the launch of Fairpoint’s latest rocket, and Axe Capital bet on the launch failing (though Taylor was pulling for the guy). Well, the rocket exploded shortly after taking off—Heidecker was killed—and this is how Dollar Bill broke the silence:
It’s funny, disturbing, and oh so loathsome all at once. Dollar Bill is also the cheapest motherfucker on this show, so I’m not sure why he’s even particularly excited by the prospect of more financial success. Maybe he’s got a third family to raise that we don’t know about.
(I’m 95 percent sure Wags isn’t talking about the WWE finishing move.)
Best Reminder That Chuck Sr. Is a God-awful Father
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