Last night's episode was called "Quality of Life," and if you're Donnie Caan, you have no quality of life, because you're dead. After coughing up blood while being interrogated by the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York about not giving them information they can actually use against Bobby Axelrod at the end of last week's episode, and then claiming Bobby got a tip from an FDA exec, Donnie Caan went down for the dirt nap. The look on Chuck Rhoades's face from the other side of the interrogation room suggested he knew he'd just been screwed, and in "Quality of Life," we find out how: Axelrod used the convenient timing of Donnie having pancreatic cancer with only a few months to live to turn him into a government informant who would die before he could testify that he gave the feds false information about Axe Capital. So Donnie is gone and his expiration has left us with a dearth of people who are not Grandmaster A$$holes. Who was the biggest Grandmaster A$$hole in "Quality of Life"? Let's examine the evidence:
- After tasking a buddy at the Eastern District of New York to investigate Judge Wilcox, the federal judge who presided over-- and dismissed "Dollar" Bill's case-- Rhoades takes the dirt to Wilcox and essentially forces him to resign rather than be prosecuted and go to jail. Except, just kidding. Rhoades actually arranges for the FBI to arrest Wilcox during his retirement party, just as people are singing "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow." Sure, technically it wasn't Rhoades's office on the case and, sure, Wilcox actually totally deserves to go to jail, on account of the fact that he started sending poor minorities to jail for relatively minor crimes around the time he started secretly investing in a company called Baldinger Prison Systems but...pretty harsh!
- Pulled the above move on Wilcox to get the ball rolling on a plan he has to get his Destroy Bobby Axelrod At All Costs campaign back in place.
- Showed up at Donnie Caan's funeral to shake Axelrod's hand and send a five-finger message, "I'm not finished with you."
Chuck Rhoades, Sr:
- Daddy Rhoades just can't stop inserting himself in his son's business, which he views as his business, because he wants Chuck to one day become president or governor or something and live vicariously through his spawn. But moving forward, if there is a forward with CR Sr, he's going to have to fine-tune his approach, as showing up to his son's house and telling him "Stop f*cking up!" was not received quite as he'd hoped.
- We already know that Lara doesn't trust Wendy Rhoades, mostly because of the fact that she thinks Wendy is compromised given Chuck's job and maybe also because she doesn't like the very close bond Bobby and Wendy share. She's yet to use the words "Fire Wendy Rhoades" but telling Bobby that Wendy was "probing" Donnie's widow for information and "[that] makes me wonder about her continuing value" is pretty, pretty, pretty close.
- Directing "Dollar" Bill to feed ex-Axe employees bad information and tank their nascent fund, then telling them he'll seed their shop if they basically agree to be his indentured servants is but an amuse-bouche to Axelrod's biggest act of Grandmaster A$$holery in this episode.
- The pièce de résistance, of course, is the fact that upon learning Donnie Caan had only a few months to live and hadn't left as much money for his family as he'd hoped, dangling $40 million in Caan's face if he'll just do this one thing for Axe Capital, i.e. become a double agent and feed false information to the government. When the top oncologist Bobby takes Caan to see says there's an experimental trial that could buy Donnie another 6 months with his family, Axe decides it's best to not say anything, as Donnie living another 6 months would not fit into his plan to Destroy Chuck Rhoades At All Costs.
- In last week's episode, Wendy had essentially figured out that Chuck was full of sh*t re: recusing himself from the Axe Capital case, and she was not pleased. This week, she's onto Bobby. Is she going to take Work Husband's side, Real Husband's side, or say screw it, and leave both of them?
- The scene with Axelrod and "Dollar" Bill after his insider trading case is dismissed, when they faux brawl in the glass office, was hilarious. Favorite snippet: "Come bonus time I'm going to show you enough love that you could start a third family!" "Two's plenty!"
- It was nice to see Axe Capital's resident Bro PM--seen in an earlier episode organizing a food eating challenge that made us all proud-- find happiness with Bobby's assistant after his line about buying her a Mini Cooper in exchange for dinner garnered half a smile. Good for you, Bro PM.
- Chuck tells Bryan that having Wilcox arrested was just the beginning of his long-game for getting the Axe Capital case back on track and ultimately nailing Bobby Axelrod. The next steps are having his buddy Adam DeGiulio at the Attorney General's office-- which kicked the Southern District off the case after the Donnie f*ck-up-- replace the judge and have DiGulio leave "friendly behind in his place." Bryan's excited about the whole thing (and impressed with his boss's craftiness) but, Chuck cautions, "Everything's got to fall just right." Obviously, that's unlikely to happen.
Earlier: Billions recaps