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Billions Season 3, Episode 9 Recap: Vulture – May 20, 2018

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This

by Nicole Cliffe | Vulture | May 20, 2018

Source: Showtime


Children, gather round. We have ourselves a “new” pair of Big Bads for the remainder of the season. I say “new” because Jock, our much hated Attorney General, has been wiggling around like a loose tooth since the season premiere, but only now is he really starting to ache. He’s not enough on his own to be interesting, of course, so we need someone to aggravate the heck out of Axe as well. And I am CONCERNED about the show’s choice for Axe’s new antagonist.

John Malkovich is always fun, he’s a fun dude! And when he plays scary, it’s particularly delicious. So I am extremely prepared for him to be good as his stint as Grigor Andolov develops, but this his first outing left me a bit… meh. It’s just more scenery-chewing than I would love to see from him. This particular character is SO in-your-face, being hugely dangerous and mercurial and Keyser Soze-y, and a softer touch of menace would make him significantly scarier. Right now he’s like a professional wrestler with an amped-up backstory, when I think the show would benefit more from a guy so dangerous that he doesn’t need to keep telling you how dangerous he is, or that you had better not lose his money.

I think Axe is probably gonna lose his money, guys! It’s the ol’ unfired gun. But now I feel a bit like Taylor. Taylor is for sure rocking some audience sympathy here. WHY are you taking his money? WHY do you need to do this huge capital raise in the first place? I cannot imagine that the deep pockets Axe Cap is hoping to woo are actually gonna be like, “Oh, wow, this erratic criminal murderer who doesn’t seem to actually know anything about finance, is giving his money to Bobby Axelrod, where is my checkbook.” I demand that Wags immediately drive me out to his ex-wife’s house and explain that Axe really is six steps ahead of me and I just can’t see it because it’s emotional but don’t worry. I need this reassurance, guys! It seems so hacky right now. Prove me wrong, team.

Back to the events of this week, let’s talk about Jock Jeffcoat. (Clancy Brown is a national treasure, which I feel obliged to mention.) It seems overly pat to say he’s supposed to be Smart Malevolent Trump, which is limiting, but certainly when he and Chuck are shooting coyotes from the back of a truck, it will cross your mind. He’s extra cartoonishly evil this time; when Sacker and Chuck start discussing how they will string up the guards that murdered Jose Lugo (RIP Lugo!) it doesn’t take a genius to see that Jeffcoat is going to be like, “How about instead we give them the Congressional Medal of Honor?” It’s a lot. It’s too much. It’s a bit of a problem. It’s going to be a REAL problem for the season, if they don’t find a way to make him more real (enjoying Kate Sacker’s company is not enough; who wouldn’t?), he’ll just be another tinpot dictator that Chuck needs to topple.

Now, I did enjoy Wendy’s demand that Chuck “assassinate” Jeffcoat. Her Lady Macbeth arc this season is extremely enjoyable. It’s not a clean move, mind, her decision to punish herself by unloading her beloved Maserati and sending the proceeds to the foundation is such an obvious attempt to find some balance in the scales that a child could see it. On a personal level, I was HORRIFIED when the Maserati got loaded onto the truck. I loved that car as much as she did.

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