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Billions Season 5 Episode 2 Recap: Wall Street Journal – May 11, 2020

Chess and Ayahuasca

by Paul Vigna | Wall Street Journal | May 11, 2020

There is a scene in Sunday’s episode of “Billions” in which guests at an exclusive conference are playing chess against a grandmaster (a cameo from real-world grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura). Tables are set up with boards, each person maneuvering and machinating while Nakamura takes them all on at the same time. Pawn threatens knight! King takes rook! Knight threatens king! Checkmate!

This is how “Billions” wants you to see every one of its characters: locked in a chess match, the best against the best, all at the same time. They don’t always win, though, and in “The Chris Rock Test” (written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, directed by Lee Tamahori) one of the best loses.

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Billions Season 5 Episode 2 Recap: Forbes – May 10, 2020

Axe Finally Met His Match

by Dana Feldman | Forbes | May 10, 2020

Not one to back down from a challenge, Axe finally takes Mike Prince up on his offer for a fireside chat at his annual charity conference but things for Axe Cappers do not go well…at all.

In “The Chris Rock Test” Axe (Damian Lewis) debates Mike (Corey Stoll) on his turf and under the exterior smiles, this chat is anything but friendly. Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon) is confronted by Oscar Langstraat (Mike Birbiglia), who tells them he doesn’t want his money with Axe, nor does he want to be associated with him, and if Taylor is, he doesn’t want to be associated with them either.

And, things for Wags (David Costabile) might just be the toughest of all when he’s confronted by his worst fears as a father. He realizes he’s failed the Chris Rock test after running into his daughter at a strip club where she works; he didn’t keep his daughter off the pole. Did we ever know he had children?

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Billions Season 5 Episode 2 Recap: Entertainment Weekly – May 10, 2020

Axe’s New Foe Beats Him At His Own Game

by Kyle Fowle | Entertainment Weekly | May 10, 2020

In the season premiere of Billions, Axe meets the man he believes to be his latest adversary. I say “believes to be” because for Axe, everyone is his enemy. He’ll never be happy nor satisfied with the life he’s built. He’s always going to be judging himself against others, or judging the choices of others and seeking to punish them for not living the way he assumes they should be. There’s no better evidence of that than the spiritual journey he undertook with Wags. Rather than finding enlightenment, Axe has found a shaman to attach to his hopeful push into the industry of psychoceuticals, the use of hallucinogenic drugs to combat things like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. (Side note: Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind is an excellent book on that topic.)

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Billions Season 5 Episode 2 Recap: Vulture – May 10, 2020

Dark Passenger

by Sarene Leeds | Vulture | May 10, 2020

Who is more abhorrent? The guy who imperiously proclaims to be a “monster,” the guy who hides his monstrous qualities behind a façade of bogus humility, or the guy claiming to keep his monster at bay with a code? This is a question that pops up on Billions regularly, making an episode like “The Chris Rock Test” a whole lot of fun — because the answer is, as always, they’re all equally repugnant.

In one corner, we have Chuck Rhoades, holding firm to his pledge to change himself for the better. On the surface, he’s following through on his promise, starting off the episode in therapy. (The brutal reality of COVID-19 once again weaseling its way into our TV escape; Chuck’s therapist is played by the late Mark Blum.) During the session, Chuck is asked to name a wisdom avatar, and his choice speaks volumes. He’s been reading Dexter Morgan novels lately, so Chuck selects Harry Morgan, father and conscience of the literary serial killer, as his source of guidance. (A Showtime drama referencing the basis for another Showtime drama? Who would’ve thunk it?)

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Billions on Showtime, Season 5 Episode 2: The Chris Rock Test – May 10, 2020

Monsters and Serial Killers

by Damianista | Fan Fun with Damian Lewis | May 10, 2020

It does not matter if it is a carnivorous or a cuddly one. Or one that lives with a code. Billions Season 5 Episode 2 The Chris Rock Test demonstrates that a monster is a monster no matter what.

Oh My God – how come I forgot Billions does never waste a word?!?!  As I thought he was just being kind, Axe  was very serious when he said his goodbye to the Shaman in Season 5 Premiere The New Decas:

“…until we see each other and move your knowledge into the world, be well.”

As someone who never misses a business opportunity, exactly where he and Wags saw “the creator of souls” Axe also saw a market! And now he, along with Wags and Taylor, is attending the “The Mike” held at the Mohonk Mountain House – actually waiting for The Mike to descend from the sky in his seaplane and welcome them to the conference.

Continue reading Billions on Showtime, Season 5 Episode 2: The Chris Rock Test – May 10, 2020