Categories Billions Print Media Recap

Billions on Showtime, Season 7 Episode 9: Game Theory Optimal

How Chuck Rhoades Turns Bubonic Plague Rat Shit to Gold

by Damianista | Fan Fun With Damian Lewis | October 6, 2023

First things first.  Apologies for not writing a recap for Season 7 Episode 8 The Owl. I was traveling in the UK last weekend to attend Damian Lewis’ music gigs in Brighton, Manchester and Leeds. And then I was in London catching Damian at a fantastic theatre event to mark the centenary celebration of Noel Coward’s first musical revue London Calling! So I missed Episode 8 and was not able to write an episode recap for the first time. That said – I watched the episode and my main take aways are as follows.

First, Chuck very rightly points out, a man with zero self-doubt should never hold a position of absolute power. Prince’s hawkish approach to nuclear conflict at The Owl is a bone-chilling sign to what kind of a president he would be.

Second, Andy knows Prince better than anyone and that the rescue mission could go wrong only if Prince wanted it to go wrong. “You wanted him off the mountain” he says. “And he’s off the damn mountain.” I would not be surprised if we saw Andy standing with the opposition against Prince in the weeks to come.

Finally, I have no idea if The Owl has been inspired by a bizarre old and rich white men in the woods kind of gathering in real life but it gives an accurate portrayal of what is wrong in American politics today: old and rich white men have disproportionate power in decision-making.

Now on to Game Theory Optimal: As someone who teaches game theory for a living, I HEART the title. It is a poker term. a player attempts to play perfect poker so that their moves cannot be exploited by their opponents. Game theory optimal incorporates mixed strategies where a player incorporates bluffs and semi-bluffs in their value bets to have a balanced game. The strategy ultimately dictates that the player makes the  decision to maximize their utility. And the title is very fitting for this episode in which all our characters attempt to play their perfect game! The episode has some of the best writing this season, and gradually moves the plot to the climax  of the last couple of episodes. I know we are in for a thrill ride!

As the final season brings back many of the characters we have seen over the years in the show, the opening scene of this episode brings back a number of the landmarks and restaurants that appeared in Billions paying  New York City a beautiful tribute.

Hello, (former) commissioner Samsone!

Chuck has dinner with the former NYPD police commissioner at Patsy’s, a place that has been around since 1944 and where the likes of Frank Sinatra had sanctified seats.

Sansome tells Chuck that the reason he was able to climb the ranks in the police force was thanks to his ability to observe and he can tell Chuck wants to ask him a question and it is time for him to do it.

“The practice of making sure a guilty man goes down, whether the evidence exists or needs to be helped along, when no doubt exists in the minds of the arresting officers, their peers, et cetera.”

Well, Sansome knew police officers who put a bag of dope in a wife beater’s car, but he is not a fan of the method. Things may go wrong between the idea and the implementation but also one should take into consideration the damage to the person who frames someone.

And when Chuck admits that the man he is talking about is a king, a mad one, so he cannot be got with the usual methods, Sansome gives him some gold advice.

“In old days, when a king was confirmed mad, that is when his own court was ready to depose him.”


And this is exactly what I expect to happen to Mike Prince!

Damianista’s note: I was so lucky to meet Paul Giamatti on Billions set that day.

And then as I was walking back home, I randomly came across another character…

And now back to the recap.

Sansome’s advice to go find the people who are outraged by the man he is talking about sends Chuck off to the streets to think and he ends up at Wendy’s apartment door! Wendy sending Philip to Chuck in Episode 7 DMV has convinced Chuck that Wendy sees Prince the same way that he does. Chuck believes that they could work together to take Prince down. And he makes the exact same comment that I made several times in my recaps this season when Wendy asks him about the difference between and any other target (for example, Axe).

“Others of his general stature bilk society while padding their own pockets but not a one of them I have personally chased had the desire or capability to get to where his hand is on the nuclear button…”


Read the rest of the original article at Fan Fun With Damian Lewis