Hello, and welcome back to our Billions recap, wherein we discuss last night's episode of Showtime's series about hedge fund billionaire Bobby Axelrod (AKA Shmeve Shmoen) and US Attorney General for the Southern District of New York Chuck Rhoades (AKA Breet Pharara).
Sunday night's episode was called "The Good Life," and apparently the good life involves selecting eggs from a local farmer like you're examining a diamond for carat, cut, color, and clarity, as we see Bobby Axelrod doing in the first scene. He's still claiming he wants his number two, Wags, to sell everything, starting with telecom. As viewers, we know there is more to Axe's decision than wanting to retire and enjoy the good life, having made enough money to keep his grandchildren's grandchildren's grandchildren in fancy eggs and cocaine. For one thing, there wouldn't be much of a show if Axelrod stopped being a hedge fund manager. For another, as Chuck Rhoades points out later in the episode to his number two, "No one quits while they're ahead, this isn't France, it's America." More specifically, though, mega-successful traders like Axelrod can't just retire and play golf and jet or sail around the world-- they're not normal like the rest of us, which is how they were able to become hugely, wildly rich. Trading is the only thing that makes them feel like they have a pulse. (Why do you think Shmeve Shmoen hasn't packed it in? Wouldn't it be a lot easier to live off of $6 billion than all this crap?)
At this point, though, we don't know what's behind the call to sell, only that Axelrod tells his family to pack their bags, 'cause they're going to take their new boat to the Galapagos. We also see Wags and Wendy Rhoades freaking out about their boss's seemingly imprudent decision to throw it all away because he's going through some sort of mid-life crisis. AXE Capital traders too, don't know what to do with themselves, though they do fill up some of the time with food eating challenges, team-building off-sites at strip club sushi joints, and very important reading:
PM: Where is he?
Wendy: You know as much as I do.
PM 2: Dealbreaker had a blind item about it. Says it's temporary insanity.
Meanwhile, Chuck Rhoades et al are still trying to figure out how to nail AXE Capital trader Bill Stearns-- who Pete Decker told them last week was "the voice on the phone" with inside info re: Pepsum-- but are unable to put him in Iowa where they're pretty sure he got a tip from a "farmer/agricultural scientist" with Pepsum. That is, until they find a record via Amex of Stearns being at a Marriott in Des Moines in April, because Stearns is apparently a junkie for rewards points and just couldn't help himself, despite taking pains not to leave a trail.
The gang takes a trip to the heartland, where they easily get the farmer to sign a document saying he passed material non-public information to Stearns about Pepsum. While there, Bryan Connerty has a weird drunken conversation with SEC underling Kate, who is jealous of his fling with an FBI agent and also mentions her career trajectory includes being president. While they're having their awkward love triangle, Chuck is outside an S&M club fighting his urge to go in, and apparently he's been here before. "I'm outside a club again," he tells Wendy. "I don't know how I got here, I feel so out of control." So Rhoades isn't just into a little bondage and humiliation with his wife in the privacy of their brownstone, he's kind of an addict who needs it all the time, even while in Iowa on a business trip with colleagues. It seems like this is not that last we will see of Chuck's love for leather.
Back in Westport, Wags gets an alert that executives from telecom company Mundia-tel have been indicted on fraud charges and a huge smile spreads across his very creepy face. He realizes Axe's whole mid-life crisis schtick was a cover so other funds wouldn't follow them in selling all of AXE Capital's telecom positions. Obviously, Axe wasn't going to give up the game. "I fucking love this place!" Will he continue loving this place after Stearns is arrested-- which he is, moments after the declaration of love for the firm and what it does-- and Chuck Rhoades and Co. get closer to their man?
Thoughts/Feelings/Food eating challenges:
- In last week's episode, we saw shadowy figure Constantine telling Axelrod something big in the Quebec hotel room. Was it re: Mundia-tel, or something else?
- The whole conflict of interest issue for Chuck re: his wife working at the company he's investigating is getting really quite awkward, as Bryan Connerty has tried to point out more than once, as the douchey reporter for the financial journal has written in his latest article, and as the guy doing surveillance of Axelrod's house has to mention to Chuck when he sees Wendy going into the Axe manse. It seems like Chuck should've recused himself a while ago and also that he may not until it's too late?
- Chuck tells agent Dale to find a woman named Martina Slovis, who used to live in Cobble Hill and dropped out of Brooklyn Law. But he wants it done on the down low, "only for me." WHO IS MARTINA SLOVIS?
Earlier: Billions Recaps