Through much of “Billions” season 1 so far, the show has been all about the art of the dodge. Somehow, these characters have withstood a ball being thrown at their face a number of times, and also have figured out a way time and time again to chuck something right back.
Speaking of Chuck, he spent much of Sunday night’s episode trying to figure out a new way to fight back following his latest setback: The death of Donnie, the FBI informant whose testimony was going to be critical in locking up Axe once and for all. One of his latest schemes involved finding a way to replace Whit Wilcox with a judge who will be much more keen to follow along his personal mandate. He’s putting some pieces on the chessboard to ensure that he can checkmate Axe in a different way in the future, even if he cannot do so in the present with Donnie. It’s certainly an appropriate analogy given how much we heard talk about moves and plays during this episode.
Speaking of which, Axe made his own move destroying those who have wronged him in some way by sending Dollar Bill Stern over to the new company founded by former Axe Capital employees. He didn’t waste a whole lot of time before mole-ing it up, and causing a wide array of problems to put that place in shambles. In between that and his own sickening reaction to Donnie’s death, we had some further reactions of just how terrible a person he truly is.
As for some other characters, we mostly get a sense of how over the conflict they truly are. Wendy didn’t want Chuck there at Donnie’s funeral for a second (and for good reason), while Chuck’s family is not so keen on him continuing to pursue this. (It definitely seems appropriate that such conversations would lead to a deluge of profanity from Paul Giamatti.)
Somehow, the most remarkable magic trick for “Billions” may just be the ability of the writers to keep this Chuck – Axe conflict going into season 2, given that this is something that really could’ve ended in three or four weeks. While we’re not going to say Sunday’s episode brought us the best Wendy / Lara material ever, we had constantly reminders of who these people truly are. Grade: B+.
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