Billions Recap: Don't Butter My A$$

Insider trading, and matadors, and dominatrixes, oh my!
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100% not the place AXE Capital is based on.

At long last, Showtime's series about a hedge fund billionaire who seems veeeery familiar to a guy name Shmeve Shmoen and a U.S. Attorney General for the Southern District of New York who may or may not be based on a guy named Breet Pharara has arrived! Billions had its official premiere last night and for those who missed it, a brief synopsis:

Bobby Axelrod (AKA Shmeve Shmoen) is a billionaire hedge fund manager who runs AXE Capital out of Westport, CT. Chuck Rhoades (AKA Breet Pharara) is the U.S. Attorney General for the Southern District of New York, who has been wanting to nail Axelrod for some time, but unlike the rubes at the Securities and Exchange Commission, knows a little something about the art of timing. Go after Axelrod with too thin a case, and he looks like an idiot, while the SEC can pursue still pursue a civil case. Wait until he's really got something on the guy (and the public has turned on him for being a rich jerk), and he becomes a god among federal prosecutors.

Complicating things slightly for Rhoades/Pharara is that his wife is the in-house therapist/motivational speaker/whathavyou for AXE Capital. (Wendy Rhoades is clearly based in part on the late Ari Kiev, who once did that job at a hedge fund named SHMAC Capital.) So far though, Wendy and Chuck have been able to keep their professional lives separate, the unifying force between them being... their penchant for BDSM, with Wendy doing stuff like burning cigarettes into Chuck's chest and then peeing on him, all while wearing black, knee-high stiletto boots. Is Ari Kiev rolling over in his grave? Or is he nodding somberly while wondering, "How did they know?"

Anyway, Rhoades/Pharara gets wind that Axelrod/Shmoen is considering buying a house in the Hamptons for around $60+ million. Because he's playing "3-dimensional chess," he tells his consigliere to put the word out (via the consigliere's former law professor, a partner at Skadden), that Axelrod/Shmoen should NOT buy the house. If Axelrod/Shmoen takes this advice, it will signal to Rhoades/Pharara that Axelrod/Shmoen is clean/smart/knows how to restrain himself. If he buys the house anyway, it will show Rhoades/Pharara that he's guilty and will also serve to turn the public's opinion of him from generous guy who donates to 9/11 charitable funds to a billionaire jerk-off.

Meanwhile, Alexrod/Shmoen senses that something is up when a former trader comes to him claiming to have some great ideas for investments, and makes too much eye contact. Alexrod/Shmoen immediately calls some guy named "Hall" and then meets him the in basement of a building to tell Hall he's worried (and give him a bunch of cash in a bag). It's unclear what Hall's official title is but he's a guy who knows what's happening/can protect you from the feds/has probably had people killed. He tells Alexrod/Shmoen that there's no file on him YET but for insurance, to feed a story about a guy named Steve Blick (played by Jerry O'Connell) to a reporter in an effort to take the heat off of AXE Capital. Poor Jerry!

Later, after almost deciding not to buy the beach house, Axelrod/Shmoen goes for it following a heated confrontation with Rhoades/Pharara at CNBC's Delivering Alpha conference. While celebrating the acquisition with his family, he gets a call from Hall saying he's being investigated.

Thoughts/feelings/zip-up fleeces:

- The scariest moment of the pilot was when Mrs. Rhoades/Shmoen sits down with a woman whose widow used to work with Bobby/Shmeve, who had spoken against Bobby/Shmeve out during a public gathering. Mrs. R/S is all sweet and understanding and telling the woman she's there for and then is like oh PS I'll f*cking cut you and make it look like an accident, because "Certain things you learn in Inwood, they never leave you." Widow has got a horse head in her bed in her future.

- Examples of things only fictional characters say:
* "My cholesterol is high enough, don't butter my ass, Danzig"
* "A good matador doesn't try to kill a fresh bull-- you wait until he's been stuck a few times"
* "There's a saying in baseball- 'Towns fire managers, owners just give them the bad news'"
* "Have you heard the story of the mouse who starts roaring like a lion?"
* "As Warren Buffett says, 'Put a police car on anyone's tail for 500 miles he's gonna get a ticket'"

- Which real life hedge fund managers do you think talk to their 6 and 8 year-old kids like this? More importantly, how long before the youngest Axelrod/Shmoen makes his first billion?

Bobby/Shmeve [after his younger son set the older one up to win a bet, by acting like he didn't know the answer to a trivia question and then going double or nothing, knowing he did, because he's a 6 year-old hustler]:

"Dean, you can't fall for that every time- he knows his customer and sets you up- he's willing to foolish short term to win long term."

- I feel like a month ago, real life Shmeve Shmoen would have had a hard time watching Billions, but now is maybe hosting viewing parties?

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