‘Billions’ episode 11 review: ‘Magical Thinking’ really is series’ best

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Early on this season, we did get a sense that there was some doubt out there in the inter-webs regarding “Billions” as a serious piece of television, and something that should be considered in that top tier alongside “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” “Fargo,” and everything else constituted as “elite.”

Well, we feel like the Showtime drama made a hell of a strong case with Sunday night’s installment “Magical Thinking,” which is by far the strongest bit of television that we’ve seen out of the series so far. Every character had a defined role, and that was in part showing their strength and vulnerabilities almost as two sides of the same coin. Flip it, and things completely change.

Take, for example, with Chuck Rhoades. his biggest strength is that he will do almost anything to get the job done. This time around, that job is serving Bobby Axelrod up on a silver platter. He went so far as to look at his wife’s laptop and her conversation with Axe tonight, a total betrayal of their trust and a big move given the whole dominant / submissive thing that they have going on. In the process of these acts, though, he’s made himself vulnerable to a Wendy who could sniff this out, and this is not even mentioning whoever may have been following him around to see some of his illicit acts on the solitary night in which this episode was set.

For Axe and Wendy, they’re both so used to being out in front that went a reasonable threat arrives, they each make shocking mistakes. Wendy was blind to Donnie; meanwhile, Axe was blind to a $1 billion mistake. Even Lara was to a certain extent ignoring how her sister would feel about being around Axe Capital. These characters are all feeling out of their depth, and as a result of this are doing things that they would otherwise not even consider.

Yet, Axe and Wendy know that there is some sort of trouble awaiting the two of them now, and that conversation between them has to be one of the best performances from Damian Lewis and Maggie Siff we’ve seen to date. Tremendous back-and-forth, and you can see ever inch of the intimacy between the two. It doesn’t always have to be romantic, but it is there.

From this interaction to Chuck with his father, this was a sensational piece of storytelling all around as everyone was socially-dependent in one way, surging in another, and not sure how this entire mess is going to wrap up. Grade: A.

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