Price Struggles With Negative Feedback
by Kyle Fowle | Entertainment Weekly | September 17, 2023
At the start of this week’s episode, Damian Lewis is once again back for a brief appearance, as Axe needs a favor from Chuck (Paul Giamatti). They meet on the tarmac in Iceland in the middle of the night, because that’s where high-powered fugitives meet to make deals. Axe says that he needs Chuck to arrange safe passage to the United States for none other than Grigor Andolov (John Malkovich), the Russian oligarch that Chuck ran out of the country a few seasons ago. Axe and Grigor became buddies when they came together to help get military reinforcements to Ukraine, but now Grigor is seen as a traitor to his country and asks (or threatens) Axe to get him out of the country.
Chuck isn’t eager to let Andolov back into the country, but Axe tells him he’ll return the favor at some point and Chuck knows that having Axe in his back pocket is too valuable to pass up. So, Chuck goes to Ira (Ben Shenkman) and they concoct a way to bring Andolov into the United States as an expert witness on a case involving market manipulation in the oil industry.
While Chuck seeks out advice on how to bring Andolov into the country without ruining his reputation — for counsel he goes to WWE’s Triple H, who helps him script a “double turn” that allows Chuck and company to look great even as they bring Andolov into the United States — Prince (Corey Stoll) has purchased airspace on television in order to give a speech to the country and really get his campaign moving. He sees himself as “the antidote to the system,” running against the tyranny of the two-party system.
If he’s a man of the people, he needs to be in touch with the peoples’ feelings, so Prince, with some coaxing from Wendy (Maggie Siff), decides to ask his employees for honest feedback about him as a person, leader, and boss. The first round of in-person feedback goes as expected; everyone praises Prince and is too scared to be honest with him. When Wendy takes control the second time around and allows anonymous answers, the feedback is much harsher, attacking Prince’s ego and the way he runs his business.
That feedback is exactly what Wendy, Wags (David Costabile), and Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon) were hoping for. They believe that it will shake Prince up and that he’ll fumble his speech on national TV and therefore end up dead in the water in the presidential race. For a minute, Prince is shaken, but Scooter (Daniel Breaker) calls in Prince’s wife Andy (Piper Perabo) for backup. She tells him that he needs to stop being so humble and realize that he’s a winner, that he’s someone who leads and takes control.
So, Prince ends up giving his speech and coming out looking better than ever. Meanwhile, Kate (Dola Rashad) briefly considers leaving Michael Prince Capital to run for congress within one of the big parties but decides to come back to Prince and run as an independent alongside him. And of course there’s Andolov — once again, Malkovich gives one of the strangest, best performances this show has ever seen — who comes back to the United States, threatens to throw Todd Krakow (Danny Strong) out a window, and ends the episode by proclaiming his love for Russia and making Chuck and his team look great for arresting him once again.
While I’m not sure this final season of Billions is amounting to much of anything as a whole, this is the kind of episode that still entertains. The storylines are fun and loose without being overly serious, and the performances are great. While the season in general doesn’t have much left in the tank and the Prince run for president is mostly dull, it’s nice to know that Billions may still have a few good moments and episodes left before it goes off the air.
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