Written By GingersnapComments Off on Behind the Billions Podcast S5E4 “Opportunity Zone” – May 24, 2020
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).
Written By GingersnapComments Off on Billions Season 5 Episode 4 Recap: New York Times – May 24, 2020
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.
Written By GingersnapComments Off on Billions Season 5 Episode 4 Recap: Wall Street Journal – 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.)
Written By GingersnapComments Off on Billions Season 5 Episode 4 Recap: Entertainment Weekly – 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.
Written By GingersnapComments Off on Billions Season 5 Episode 4 Recap: Vulture – 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.
Written By GingersnapComments Off on Billions on Showtime, Season 5 Episode 4: Opportunity Zone – May 24, 2020
by Damianista | Fan Fun with Damian Lewis | May 24, 2020
While Opportunity Zone as a golden opportunity of tax breaks for the rich stays at the heart of the story, all kinds of opportunities – pursued, missed, noticed, favorable, fitting, promising, unique, rare, ample – abound in this week’s episode! Oh, and I think love is in the air for some!
The Bobby Axelrod that I came to like – the boy who grew up in Yonkers and beat the odds to become the billionaire that he is today – makes an appearance in the first few minutes of the episode…
Written By GingersnapComments Off on What to Know About Billions’ Cryptocurrency Drama If You Know Nothing About Cryptocurrency – May 22, 2020
The Cryptocurrency Bitcoin Blockchain Explainer
by Sarene Leeds | Vulture | May 17, 2020
If you’re a fan of the Showtime drama Billions but having a tough time following the current season’s cryptocurrency story lines, you’re not alone. Not only do the actors have trouble keeping up with the series’ twists and turns, even those who work in the financial sector don’t necessarily understand crypto mining, a subject that pops up several times in season five. “Half the people in finance couldn’t explain what mining is to you,” says New York Times best-selling author Ben Mezrich, who joined the Billions writers’ room this season as a consulting producer. “A large percentage of them have no idea, because it’s complex.”
As the writer of Bitcoin Billionaires and The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal — the latter of which was adapted into the movie The Social Network — Mezrich is a natural fit for the Billions team. His expert knowledge of cryptocurrency has provided the series with an opportunity to further explore this once-dark, underground area of finance. He also wrote this season’s third episode, which has Gordie Axelrod (Jack Gore), son of billionaire Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis), running his own crypto-mining operation.
From the safety of his home in Quechee, Vermont, where he’s riding out the COVID-19 pandemic, Mezrich was kind enough to guide Vulture through the intricacies of these esoteric plotlines. The result is this useful explainer for those of us who love Billions, but are still lost when characters like Axe and Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) start talking Bitcoin and blockchain.
Welcome back to the Trader’s Desk. This week Billions seems to have Daddy issues! I’ll get into that, some observations, and then my thoughts on Axe and his audition for the role of modern day Gorden Gekko!
I think it was fitting that this episode opened with the song “Father and Son” (and a big thank you to Damianista and Gingersnap for educating me on the singer and the song, as I had never heard of it!). We all know that Axe and Chuck have some major Daddy issues, and those were on display this week, along with Axe setting some up for his son Gordie. Also, did anyone else notice the plethora of The Godfather references? Now that’s a movie about Daddy issues! And let’s not even start about the state of Wags’ kids because he was an absent father. This episode should have been shown on Father’s Day!
Written By GingersnapComments Off on Bogged Down with Financial Speak in Billions? Let Us Help – May 20, 2020
Billions Financial Glossary
by Lady Trader | Fan Fun with Damian Lewis | May 20, 2020
We don’t think it’s essential to be a financial or legal expert to enjoy Billions. It is a show more about characters and their interesting relationships than about the workings of Axe Capital or the US Attorney’s office.
Having said that, we believe we are more likely to enjoy Billions once we understand exactly what’s going on…which brings us to this Billions glossary.
We have seen it mentioned on various social media that some are distracted by the fact they are finding the stock market jargon difficult to follow. Only natural for those of us who do not spend our days talking about longing and shorting and looking out for people ditching stock through back doors at lunch time.
Think of this page as a constant work in progress.
We list terms that we think could be helpful, in alphabetical order, and we will keep adding to it! If you hear a term (or terms) we haven’t added yet, let us know and we will be on it!
Written By GingersnapComments Off on The Unbeatable, Unstoppable, Unparalleled MVPs from Billions Season 5 Episode 3 – May 20, 2020
Billions MVP Awards for Season 5, Episode 3, “Beg, Bribe, Bully”
by Gingersnap | Fan Fun with Damian Lewis | May 20, 2020
We continue to award our Most Valuable Players for Billions season five in a compilation post called the ‘Billions MVP Fanbook,’ which commemorates all those in honor of achievement for the utmost brazen, uber shameless, ultrascheming, unmatched bad asses to date – from sports references, music and tasty food to pop culture remarks, shocking twists and ultimate paybacks. In case you missed it, here are the MVPs for episode one and episode two.
Let us continue with that tradition as we award our Most Valuable Players (MVPs) this week. Here are the Billions MVP awards for Season 5, Episode 3, “Beg, Bribe, Bully.”
Written By GingersnapComments Off on Billions Season 5 Dining Guide – May 18, 2020
Plantains, Pizza, and Porterhouse
by Damianista | Fan Fun with Damian Lewis | May 18, 2020
One of my favorite things about my favorite TV show is how it showcases the New York dining scene from hole-in-the-walls to neighborhood gems to Michelin-starred restaurants. And it has been my pleasure to share the information about restaurants appearing on the show first in my weekly recaps and then in a full dining guide by the end of the season for Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, and Season 4.
Fan Fun Billions dining guides are some of the most popular posts on the blog and even some leading media outlets have noticed. Look what Forbes Magazine says about us!
“There are posts on actor Damian Lewis’s official website, that diligently track, with screenshots, all the food locations featured in every season. These posts even manage to name-check the take-out Chinese in one scene as the beloved eatery Wo-Hop.”
Written By GingersnapComments Off on The Most Billions-y Things That Happened on Billions Season 5, Episode 3 – May 17, 2020
Everything’s Transactional On Billions. Even Family.
by Kyle McGovern | Newsweek | May 17, 2020
Showtime’s Billions takes place in a reality all its own. Technically that’s true of pretty much every work of fiction, but it feels especially so for the show created by Brian Koppelman, David Levien and Andrew Ross Sorkin.
The whole series is a high-stakes pissing contest that’s dressed up like a prestige TV drama set in the world of New York finance. Really, though, Billions takes place in a different, even more heightened world—one where stock bros and members of the federal law enforcement are hyper-articulate and as fluent in sports and film references as they are in obscene insults.
Imagine a world where splashy cameos, extravagant dining and skullduggery are par for the course. Think of a place where people are constantly seduced by power, prone to operatic levels of pettiness and vulnerable to what the NBA’s Pat Riley has called “the Disease of More,” to throw in a Billions-esque shoutout. Picture a reality where Paul Giamatti is not only the Attorney General of New York, but also an out (and somewhat proud) member of the BDSM community. Consider the existence of a realm where John Malkovich is a Russian billionaire and speaks in the same thicker-than-whiteout-conditions accent that he had as Teddy KGB in the 1998 film Rounders—not a coincidence, since Koppelman and Levien wrote Rounders. Try to believe that Damian Lewis could somehow be from Yonkers. Once you’ve done all that, then you’ll have an idea of what goes on in the world of Billions.
And to celebrate the show’s compelling brand of absurdity, we’re keeping track of the most Billions-y things that happen on Billions this season. For highlights from the latest episode, brace yourselves and head below.