Billions: S04.E.06 – “Maximum Recreational Depth”


The latest episode of the Brian KoppelmanDavid Levien and Andrew Ross Sorkin co-created New York set drama “Billions” landed on our screens Sunday, 21 April 2019. The Jessica Yu directed episode “Maximum Recreational Depth,” with a teleplay written by Adam R. Perlman, presents just as many questions as it does answers.

Maximum Recreational Depth "Billions" promotional poster. Image Credit: IMDb
“Billions” promotional poster. Image Credit: IMDb


If you have yet to see this episode, it is advisable you stop reading at this point before you go any further.

Brief Episode Synopsis

Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) discovers a trap set for him by former employee Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon). Chuck (Paul Giamatti) and Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) must resolve a few marital issues. IS Wendy, while it looks like she is attempting to reignite an unlikely friendship, being duplicitous? Taylor pursues a new business venture. Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) puts plans into motion for going after his former boss, Chuck.

Why does Wendy Rhoades meet with Taylor Mason?

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Screen Capture: Maggie Siff and Asia Kate Dillon as Wendy Rhoades and Taylor Mason, respectively, in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

In the opening scene, Wendy meets with Taylor to talk about how she feels about her husband letting the metaphorical cat out of the bag as it pertains to their private lives. Is Wendy being upfront and honest with Taylor as to the reasons she wants to talk? I am not entirely sure how “vegan mango rice ice-cream” works as a bribe but I am game to find out. Taylor initially decides to eat their ice cream in silence but has a change of heart.

Later in the episode, when Wendy speaks of a meeting she must get to, this could be an indication she is playing Taylor. Yet, there is no direct indication as to what she is doing and why.

Wendy seems genuine in her approach to Taylor but that is what people want they mark to think when running a scam.

Bryan Connerty goes to Judge Adam DeGiulio

Bryan interrupts Judge Adam DeGiulio (Rob Morrow) while he is watching football with a few of his colleagues. While the judge does not say which team Milano is playing against, he insists on referring to the sport as being ‘football’ rather than the S word Americans know it as.

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Screen Capture: Rob Morrow as Judge Adam DeGiulio (centre screen) in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

Bryan wants a signature so that he can place a wiretap on Chuck Rhoades, Sr. (Jeffrey DeMunn) and his son, Chuck. The judge denies the request and returns to watching the football game. Because of this, Bryan seems mystified the judge will not sign off on the wiretap.

Chuck Rhoades receives a message

As Chuck is about to leave work for the evening, he is handed a message. The scene cuts to an exterior shot of a candy store as he enters the building. With the note tossed away, Chuck heads into the back of the store.

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Screen Capture: Rob Morrow and Paul Giamatti as Judge Adam DeGiulio and Chuck Rhoades, respectively, in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

Surprise, not really, Adam is there waiting for the Attorney General of New York to arrive. Anyone that knows of their relationship would have seen this coming a mile off. The judge confirms he quashed the wiretap.

Douglas Mason wants to work with family not outsiders

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Screen Capture: Kevin Pollak and Asia Kate Dillon as Douglas Mason and Taylor Mason, respectively, in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

Will the two Masons work together? Taylor is supportive of their father’s ambitions. Douglas Mason (Kevin Pollak), with the exception of possibly Taylor, is usually the smartest person in the room. Is Douglas too smart for his own good? Will he recognise the help Taylor is offering? Is Douglas hiding something from Taylor? Douglas does not want to do business with strangers. He only wants to work with Taylor.

Mafee (Dan Soder) is right. Douglas thinks he’s always the smartest person in the room.  If he thinks that, even if Taylor is in the room, no one can help him. Douglas is blind to what Taylor is trying to do for him.

Bobby Axelrod is spying on Taylor Mason and their father

Bobby wants to know what Taylor and their father is doing so that he can destroy it. He wants to strike at Taylor before they can do anything to hurt him or Axe Capitol. This is how Bobby thinks. Relatively speaking, this is how many of the characters in this show think.

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Screen Capture: Terry Kinney and Damian Lewis as Hall and Bobby Axelrod, respectively, in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

Bobby’s people are doing everything they can to take Taylor down. During the process, Wendy’s loyalty is questioned. She has been seen with Taylor.

Chuck and Wendy Rhoades address a few marital issues

Chuck asks Wendy for permission to see a dom. In their private lives, the Attorney General of New York and his wife are into S&M. This is the private issue Chuck revealed to the world in a press conference. Consequently, because of Chuck’s press conference, the Rhoades’ are having marital issues which cannot be addressed overnight. Wendy says that she will think about it. When Wendy sees the self-inflicted marks on his body, she agrees to his request.

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Screen Capture: Paul Giamatti and Maggie Siff as Chuck Rhoades and Wendy Rhoades, respectively, in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

While S&M is not considered normal behaviour by most people, it must be acknowledged what people do in the privacy of their own homes is really no one else’s business. Wendy sends her husband back to his room like his is a child being punished. He is not a child, but he is being punished. It was not just his secret to tell the world. Wendy said no but he did it anyway.

Chuck has his visitor over to the house. Wendy takes the children out for the night so that he can have his “personal training session.” It does not go well. “It got a little out of hand” is an understatement.

Bobby Axelrod speaks with Victor Mateo

Bobby is seen speaking on a phone call with Victor Mateo (Louis Cancelmi). Once upon a time, Victor worked for Bobby at Axe Capitol. Victor has an issue he needs to deal with but does not want to tell Bobby. Victor does not see the need to worry Bobby with anything that does not concern him. Or does it? Is it something Bobby should know about? After the call ends, Bobby gets his people to do a quick deep dive on what he calls “Victor-land.”

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Screen Capture: Louis Cancelmi and Damian Lewis as Victor Mateo and Bobby Axelrod, respectively, in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

The SEC is looking into Victor for insider trading. Could Bobby be implicated in whatever it is Victor has gotten himself into? Ordinarily, Bobby is not the type of person that would allow himself to get court up in such risky dealings unless there is a seriously real upside for him. Victor did not cooperate with the Feds.

Mike ‘Wags’ Wagner receives an invitation to join a society

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Screen Capture: David Costabile and Damian Lewis as Mike ‘Wags’ Wagner and Bobby Axelrod, respectively, in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

From Bobby’s office, the scene cuts to an old-style printing press. A card in an envelope, sealed with red wax and hand delivered to Axe Capital. Curious and curiouser, the envelope is addressed to one Mr. Michael Wagner (David Costabile). It turns out Kappa Beta Phi (ΚΒΦ) is opening their doors to allow Wags membership of the secret organisation.

Chuck Rhoades is going after the United States Attorney General

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Screen Capture: Paul Giamatti as Chuck Rhoades in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

Waylon ‘Jock’ Jeffcoat (Clancy Brown) apparently had an unscheduled stop at the Cayman Islands on his way back to these United States. Chuck thinks he might have something on the AG. Is Chuck digging up dirt of Jock or is he digging himself a deeper hole? Chuck flies to the Caymans.

How did Taylor Mason trap Bobby Axelrod?

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Screen Capture: Damian Lewis and Michael Kostroff as Bobby Axelrod and Mick Nussfaur, respectively, in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

Even though Mick Nussfaur (Michael Kostroff) “couldn’t give a f*** if Victor lives or dies,” the attorney finds what Taylor did to trap Bobby up to his eyeballs in legal issues. One should always ready the small print. The devil is in the details. Bobby co-owns Victor’s firm and he did not know about it. Consequently, as Bobby correctly points out, “Victor’s actions are attributable to [him].”

Bobby calls in a favour from Chuck. Chuck agrees, eventually. This would never have happened during either of the first two seasons. Their relationship has changed significantly over the past few years.

Later, Chuck pays a call to Bobby’s condo. He is unable to carry out the favour without drawing attention to himself. Of course, Bobby is not happy about this eventuality. He will need to find a way out of the mess himself. Bobby appreciates that Chuck delivers the news himself.

Bryan Connerty put out a travel BOLO on Chuck Rhoades

Bryan knows Chuck has gone to the Caymans but does not know why. When Chuck returns to these United States from the Caymans, Bryan is at the airport waiting for his former boss.  As a result, things seem to go sideways for Chuck. The former U.S. Attorney’s plans have been foiled. Or have they?

Bryan Connerty and Chuck Rhoades are in court

Chuck wants his material witness back. Bryan took him when Chuck arrived back in the US from the Caymans. Even though his argument is compelling, Judge DeGiulio sides with Bryan. At first glance, it seems the judge sided with Bryan because he holds all the cards. “There are issues of executive privilege.” Chuck is not privy to all the information.

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Screen Capture: Rob Morrow, Condola Rashad, Toby Leonard Moore, Paul Giamatti, Tijuana Ricks and Allan Havey as Judge Adam DeGiulio, Kate Sacker, Bryan Connerty, Chuck Rhoades, Tonelle ‘T’ Burton and Karl Allred, respectively, in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

The judge is right. Bryan has both the federal records and the witness. “I think a case in motion should stay in motion,” the judge says, “so Mr. Rhoades’ motion is denied.”

Chuck and Adam throw the case to Bryan. That was Chuck’s plan. Bryan is every bit as intelligent as Chuck. Even though Bryan walks right into the trap without realising it, at the last moment, everything is figured out. Bryan realises Chuck wants to drive a wedge between him and the AG. If Bryan had not been as intelligent as he is, there is a good chance the plan would have worked in Chuck’s favour.

The Wiretap

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Screen Capture: Harris Yulin as Judge Funt in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

Bryan goes to Judge Funt (Harris Yulin) to get a wiretap on Chuck. Bryan knows the judge holds Chuck in low regard. With video footage of Adam and Chuck exiting the candy store, Bryan convinces Funt to grant the wiretap. As Funt correctly recognises, this is a “well played” move.

Is there a trailer?

Final Thoughts

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Screen Capture: Maggie Siff as Wendy Rhoades in the Jessica Yu directed Billions episode ‘Maximum Recreational Depth.’

Wendy is every bit as manipulative as her husband. Is this a side of Wendy we have not seen before? Wendy is working an angle to get information so that it will benefit Bobby and his company. She is using her issues with Chuck to get close to Taylor. Will Taylor see what Wendy is doing before it is too late?

Taylor wanted to know what the more effective tool is. “Appealing to one’s aspirations or their fear.” It is evident from Wendy’s response what she is doing. Her plan is crystallising. “If you want to motivate someone to a specific action,” Wendy tells Taylor, “I’d say be like [F.D.] Roosevelt and do both.”

Wendy’s plan becomes evermore clear when she talks about father offspring relations. She is really talking about Douglas and Taylor. Taylor is drawn in because she has a blind spot for Wendy. Both Wendy and Taylor have a similar mindset. They are good at getting to the heart of an issue quickly. Wendy reviews her files on Taylor. In reviewing her files on Taylor, Wendy gets the information she needs.

Wags always has this child-like innocence to his facial expression which makes him look so adorable. Unfortunately, for Wags, is not getting into the society he seeks. It was all a ploy to get Wags to the event so that the organisation president could humiliate him. Revenge is a dish best served when cold and Wags knows how to deliver it.

Bobby values loyalty. He wants to know that his family and friends will stand with him. Bobby can work past some of his trust issues and get to what is going on. Wendy confirms her loyalty to Bobby. It’s the start up. Wendy was running a side mission on Taylor.

Side Note

Do you know what all billionaires have in common? See what journalist Samantha Chang wrote about billionaires.

About the author

Shain E. Thomas
Shain E. Thomas

With a BSc focusing on geography, history and political science and an MSc revolving around communication studies, history and journalism, I’m a freelance Journalist and social historian.