Power Struggles And Patsies Prevail
by Dana Feldman | Forbes | May 7, 2018
The third season of Showtime’s No. 2 drama series Billions is on fire! In the latest episode “Not You, Mr. Dake” the circumstances of our favorite characters have drastically shifted. One dictum clearly played out: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Maggie Siff (Wendy) discusses the show, her role and clarifies a misperception from last week’s episode “The Third Ortolan.” It was reported (not here) that Wendy set up the meeting with Axe (Damian Lewis) and Chuck (Paul Giamatti) knowing Chuck’s plans to plant the slide at Axe’s penthouse. Siff confirms this is not true. “Wendy has the revelation that the only way any of them can survive is to put their heads together collectively. She trusts that they can find a way together. There’s absolutely no way Wendy would’ve known Chuck had that slide. When he presents it, you can see looks of surprise around the table.”
There Are Clear Winners And Losers In This Episode:
So much happens and everything changes in this episode. In the first scene, Chuck and Dr. Ari Gilbert (Seth Barrish) have a chat outside the doctor’s home. Chuck tells Dr. Gilbert the slide is being planted at Axe’s penthouse at that very instant. When the doctor asks how and where, Chuck explains the how, which “involves the distraction of the principal subterfuge” and as to the where, Axe’s refrigerator, taped to the bottom of a ketchup bottle. In last week’s episode, Chuck put the slide on the table when he, Axe and Wendy had a meeting. Physical evidence like this immediately puts a man in jail. Add to that, the courts will deem him a flight risk so he’ll stay behind bars for the duration of his trial. Chuck tests the doctor to see if he feels any remorse framing a man, even if he is, in fact, guilty. Dr. Gilbert is more than able to live with himself. This, we find out later in the episode, is his undoing, as it’s during this very conversation that Chuck has the slide planted in the doctor’s refrigerator, taped to the bottom of his ketchup bottle. The doctor’s puppet strings seem to be easily pulled by whomever he’s currently talking to, a weakness that finally destroys him. He comes to eat his words: “It’s no different than emergency room triage after a mass casualty event. You save who you can and force the fate of the rest out of your mind.”
Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) finally gained the upper hand last week, but he quickly loses it. The Ice Juice case came to a head when the judge granted him just one week to produce compelling evidence against Axe to sustain the case, or the judge would grant Axe’s request for a dismissal. Connerty faces yet another devastating blow just after telling the court he has new evidence. “There are theories on the crime and the larger picture has come into view,” he says confidently. He’s referring to cyber evidence from Wendy’s cell provider. You really do feel for Connerty, he just cannot catch a break! Despite trading and cell phone records, his case abruptly crumbles when Mafee (Dan Soder) lies and says he initiated the call to Wendy. Manipulated cell phone records back up his claim and the case crashes and burns forcing Connerty to dismiss the indictment. Connerty doesn’t hold back, calling this a wide-ranging conspiracy. He is, as always, right. But, the cards and manipulated evidence are stacked against him and the case against Axe is dismissed.
Oliver Dake (Christopher Denham) comes to realize he’s also been played. He loses loyalties and his job. His concerns that Connerty would “cough this thing up” and it would splatter on him come to fruition. He also sensed Chuck was working angles on his own. He’s correct on all fronts. As he leaves the office, he says to Chuck, “Once you’re inside the cannon, there’s only one way out.”
So, how did Axe get Mafee to lie? In an attempt to learn what makes him tick, he asks Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon) what motivates Mafee beyond the money and trappings. Taylor explains that with Mafee, it’s the idea that he’s serving something greater than himself that drives him, but adds he has an old-fashioned sense of honor, chivalry almost…that he’d skirt the line if he couldn’t see the harm in it, especially if it benefitted the organization as a whole, but he’d never do something truly against his sense of wrong and right, especially if it would cause him dishonor. Axe asks if Mafee would lie. Taylor says it would depend on the situation; perhaps to protect a friend or someone he loved. Mafee tells Taylor the feds interviewed him, and he could be subpoenaed. “I just don’t know if I should dive on a live grenade for this place, or not.” Wendy uses Mafee’s feelings for her to get him to see things her way. Sensing something is up, and protective of Mafee, Taylor questions Wendy’s authority and motivations at Axe Capital. Wendy visits Mafee at his home and asks for his help. Mafee does dive on that live grenade he hesitated about. He’s thanked by Axe with $1 million in cryptocurrency.
Fans Love ‘Billions’:
The show, which averages between 4.5-to-5 million weekly viewers across platforms, has a very loyal legion of fans that via word-of-mouth, have helped grow the show’s viewership season-over-season. Throughout season two, the series grew on Sunday nights by more than 35% from premiere-to-finale. And, the season three premiere was the show’s highest-rated ever with the March 25 debut up 23% from last year.
“The creators and writers keep current with the times and grow the show to reflect what is currently happening in the world,” adds Siff. “We started the show during Obama’s administration and now Billions is taking place in the Trump era. The world has changed a lot and the show reflects that. The landscape overall is changing, and this includes the landscape of power, politics and money.” With this season and each new episode, Siff says the writers have found a way to completely reframe the story. “They’ve opened up a whole new world. This is much more than a cat and mouse game between Axe and Chuck at this point.”
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