A Behind-the-Scenes Look at “Opportunity Zone”
by Brian Koppelman and David Levien | The Ringer | May 24, 2020
Before diving into S5E4, “Opportunity Zone,” ‘Billions’ cocreators Brian Koppelman and David Levien discuss the challenges of filming the opening scene of Episode 4, having Daymond John of “Shark Tank” on the show and the insight he provided, Dominique Wilkins set stories, listener questions, obscure references, and more (0:45). Then they talk with actress Maggie Siff about her coaching scene with Frank Grillo’s character, Nico Tanner, auditioning for the part of Wendy Rhodes, the toughest scenes to play as Wendy, and more (35:23).
Source: The Ringer
by Sean T. Collins | New York Times | May 24, 2020
Season 5, Episode 4: ‘Opportunity Zone’
Bobby goes home to Yonkers to build support for a major development project. But did he ever really leave?
Wendy Rhoades stares at the man opposite her. And stares. And stares. And stares some more.
The man opposite her is the artist Nic Tanner, the recent recipient of a gigantic commission from Bobby Axelrod. This Renaissance Italy-style largess has him dealing with perhaps his first bout of artist’s block. Wendy has some wise words for him, but the staring comes first. Why? Because he needs fight his own way out of his artist’s block; stonewalling his demurrals and excuses is how she’s teaching him this.
According to Wendy, any obstacles between him and success as Bobby’s artist-in-residence are self-imposed. She tasks him with envisioning a better future, then getting off his duffer and doing whatever it takes to get himself there.
Continue reading Billions Season 5 Episode 4 Recap: New York Times – May 24, 2020
Bobby Axelrod Wants to Do Some Good—But Who Does He Really Want to Help?
by Paul Vigna | Wall Street Journal | May 24, 2020
It all started with a shovel.
In “Opportunity Zone,” the latest episode of “Billions” (written by Brian Koppelman, David Levien and Emily Hornsby, directed by Laurie Collyer), we get the entire Bobby Axelrod back story: a poor kid in Yonkers who turned snow shoveling into a business, turned his business into an investment, and turned his investments into an empire.
It’s a heartwarming narrative, and it’s got visuals: Bobby stands in an alley next to the Yonkers house where he grew up, shooting hoops with Savion Williams (Akili McDowell), a 14-year-old who lives there now. This tale ends up as a feature in the “Financial Journal” (if they’re referencing the WSJ, we’re insulted that they think we’d be taken in by such an obvious snow job.)
Continue reading Billions Season 5 Episode 4 Recap: Wall Street Journal – May 24, 2020
Axe Goes Back to Where it All Started, and Gets a Big Surprise
by Kyle Fowle | Entertainment Weekly | May 24, 2020
There’s really no place like home, especially if you’re planning to use that place as part of a PR move to give your reputation a more squeaky-clean look and feel. That’s what Axe is doing at the start of this week’s episode of Billions. He’s visiting Yonkers, where he grew up, shooting hoops with a teenager who lives in the house that Axe grew up in. It isn’t long before one of Axe’s guys starts filming the whole thing as Axe launches into his story about building his business from the ground up, starting with shoveling snow in Yonkers. The visit leads to an article in the paper, and it gets the ball rolling on the episode’s main narrative focus: the battle over an Opportunity Zone, which is a section of Yonkers that’s offering tax breaks in order to bring in new development.
Axe wants in, and because he’s trying his best to present a wholesome image, he says it’s because he still has his roots in Yonkers. Behind closed doors though, he’s telling Wendy that he’s largely doing this because it gives him room for other deals and to make money elsewhere. It’s a good investment. What’s great about this episode is the way the setup allows for the usual expectations, and then completely subverts them. For the first 20 minutes of the episode or so, it’s looking like this is going to be all about Axe squaring off against Prince in an attempt to land the Yonkers Opportunity Zone, with all the big talk, backroom dealing, and intimidation that comes with that. But before long the episode is using this setup to deliver a character-driven story, one that’s also surprisingly emotional.
Continue reading Billions Season 5 Episode 4 Recap: Entertainment Weekly – May 24, 2020
Home Sweet Home
by Sarene Leeds | Vulture | May 24, 2020
How good is Bobby Axelrod when it comes to grandstanding? We thought he couldn’t get more Axe-y than last week’s “Greed is good” speech, delivered to an auditorium full of privileged youngsters. Apparently, he was just getting warmed up for tonight’s opportunity zone bid, which saw Yonkers, New York’s native son pouring his heart and soul into revitalizing his old neighborhood, or “ancestral lands,” as he arrogantly puts it at one point. Here’s the thing about Axe’s plea: I believe he believed he was sincere, and not just because he gave a shoutout to Ricky’s Clam House. At that moment, he was playing to win, which means he would do whatever it took to secure that deal, despite all the warning signs that he would bail.
That’s what made the final scene of this episode such a melancholy one. (The use of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home” didn’t hurt either.) I wasn’t surprised in the slightest that, after Mike Prince conceded his defeat over the Yonkers opportunity zone, Axe immediately reneged on his promise to have dinner with Savion Williams (Akili McDowell), the 14-year-old African-American kid who now lives in the billionaire’s childhood home. Now that he’s triumphed over Mike, he realizes what we knew all along — That win was all he was after in the first place, regardless of how well he convinced himself otherwise. We could see that Savion was a pawn in his game, even if Axe couldn’t.
Continue reading Billions Season 5 Episode 4 Recap: Vulture – May 24, 2020