The latest episode of the created drama Billions dropped on Showtime Sunday, 28 April 2019. Titled, “Infinite Game,” the Laurie Collyer directed episode features a teleplay written by Jamie Chan and Matthew Ross Fennell. Have you seen the episode? What did you think? Does this instalment of the series add to or detract from the series narrative? How far will the main characters go to get what they want?
If you have yet to see the episode, please feel free to stop reading at this point. There are spoilers in this article which will make you want to pull your hair out at the root. Further, please not that this article is written from my perspective. If you choose to comment, it would be appreciated if you could tell me why you agree with me or why you think I am wrong.
Brief Episode Synopsis
Axe Capitol, with Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) leading the way, plan a new attack against Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon). A favour Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) did to acquire a concealed carry permit returns to bite the now Attorney General of New York on the arse. Taylor makes a difficult choice which could be costly for both the company and ‘their’ personal relationship with Douglas Mason (Kevin Pollak).
Chuck did a favour for one of his father’s friends
In the fourth season premiere, Chuck, Jr. did a favour for one of his father’s friends. The new Attorney General of New York acquires for Larry Brogan (David Aaron Baker) a conceal carry permit. It is not easy getting such a permit in New York. It’s Texas.
References to Michael Clayton
There are several references to the 2007 Tony Gilroy written and directed legal thriller Michael Clayton. The film, starring George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton and Sydney Pollack, revolves around the title character’s attempts to handle a colleague’s apparent mental breakdown while simultaneously managing the corruption surrounding a major client. Clooney’s character, Clayton, was a fixer. Is the Attorney General for New York the same kind of fixer? Chuck, Jr., in greasing the wheels with his influence, gets things done.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Brogan shows up to Chuck, Jr.’s office with Shelby Vivian (Peter Jacobson). Vivian, Brogan’s neighbour and the owner of the dog that was shot, paints a vivid picture of what will happen if he doesn’t get what he wants. After showing the Attorney of New York a picture of his now dead dog, Charlemagne, Vivian presents a picture of Chuck, Jr. standing at the open front door to Brogan’s brownstone residence with two New York uniformed police officers.
Axe pulls Rebecca into his vendetta against Taylor
Axe’s vendetta against former employee Taylor Mason is ramping up. It’s getting serious. As it reached the point of no return? It looks like it. Axe has ropes in girlfriend Rebecca Cantu (Nina Arianda) to express a financial interest in the venture Taylor’s project with their father, Douglas.
Douglas is interested in what Cantu is offering. They are not convinced it is the right move for Taylor Mason Capitol and Douglas Mason. Consequently, the financial firm passes on the deal. Was this the right move? Do they know Axe is behind the offer? Taylor wants to keep their father in place. They do not want to see a deal broom him from his position. Taylor choose their father over business interests.
Great stressors can be bonding agents
“Great stressors can be bonding agents instead of tearing them apart,” Wendy said, “and Taylor will feel quite good about themselves right now.”
Wendy is every bit as manipulative as pretty much every main character in this series. She understands people and what drives them to either success or failure. Consequently, when it comes to psychological warfare, Wendy is at the top of her game. With every word Wendy uses, she is typically precise.
“But the other pressure,” Wendy said. “Living up to this perfect vision of who their trying to be, everything to their father, that will build. Axe wants Wendy to “accelerate” the pressure build up.
An Eye for Style
Later, Taylor is seen with Wendy in a furniture store. Taylor has Wendy there is help with picking out pieces for their parents newly acquired New York residence. They want to “use [Wendy’s] eye for style because Taylor’s sense of style does not fit with what their parents like in home decor. With Wendy being “closer in age to them” than Taylor is, it’s only natural they would look for another perspective.
Wendy is manipulating Taylor. Now that we know Wendy is working with Axe to take down Taylor Mason Capitol, the manipulation is increasingly apparent.
From one cabinet member to another
The scene where Waylon ‘Jock’ Jeffcoat (Clancy Brown) and Treasury Secretary Todd Krakow (Danny Strong) are standing at the urinals is a tad funny. Reminiscent of the British comedy duo “Little and Large,” the contrast between Jock and Krakow is hilarious. Jock give the Treasury Secretary a friendly heads-up the Attorney General of New York is coming for him. With the conversation done, without washing his hands, US Attorney General exits the men’s restroom.
Krakow informs Axe that Chuck, Jr. knows about his “Cayman Islands activity.” “So that dogged prosecutor has picked up your scent,” Axe said. “Not fun is it?”
The Treasure Secretary wants to work with Axe to take the Attorney General of New York out of the picture. In exchange for an introduction to Robert Beaufort (Chelcie Ross), Axe agrees to solve Krakow legal issue with Chuck, Jr. Krakow is unaware of what kind of relationship Axe has developed with Chuck, Jr.
On returning to the backroom, Krakow comes to realise his error in coming to Axe when he finds him with Chuck, Jr. “Who are we looking to field dress Secretary Krakow?” Chuck, Jr. said to the Treasury Secretary.
If Krakow wants to see no “harm to his reputation,” he will work with Chuck, Jr. on whatever it is the Attorney General for New York has in the pipeline. Knowing Chuck, Jr., it more than likely pertains to his issues with ‘Jock’ and the United States District Attorney for the Southern District of New York Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore).
A Meeting with Mr. Beaufort
Billions would not be Billions without a certain level of devious scheming. Axe gets the introduction with Beaufort he talked Krakow into giving him. He is scheming something but whatever it is he wants Beaufort to do is discussed off screen. We are therefore not privy to this part of their conversation.
The Bureau of Industry and Security
On showing up at Taylor Mason Capitol, Beaufort reveals he works for the Bureau of Industry and Security. We should have known whatever it was Axe’s favour of Beaufort would revolve around something pertaining to Taylor and their venture with Douglas.
“Our mandate is security especially when it comes to the export of sensitive technology,” Beaufort said to Taylor. “We have under authority of the government the power to seize and control said tech in the name of our nation’s safety.”
If you are not familiar with the Bureau of Industry and Security, it is an agency within the United States Department of Commerce. It deals directly with issues associated with national security and high technology.
Taylor smells an Axe shaped rat at work. They correctly arrive at the conclusion Axe is involved in Beaufort’s visit to their company.
The scene shifts to one with Axe, Wendy and the Axe Capitol people laughing about what they have set in motion. All it took was “girls and money.”
Lisa Ann, Audrey Joyce Leon and Gina-Raye Carter show up in this episode as themselves. Certain men with this particular entertainment proclivity will know Lisa Ann from such pornographic productions as “Lisa Ann’s School of Milf,” “Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?” and “Lisa Ann: Back 4 More.” You can fill in the blanks from here, not that I really need to draw you a diagram.
Psychological Manipulation vs. An Analytical Mind
Wendy meets with Taylor to let them know Axe is ware of Taylor Mason Capitol no longer having the firefighters. She is still playing an angel. Taylor finally recognises they have fallen into a trap. “Nope. F***. You’re not here to warn me. ‘I’m thinking about quitting.’ That’s one too many,” Taylor said. “I’ve trained to recognise when someone overplays their hand and you did just now.”
Taylor recognises Wendy has “built the perfect box. No escape without catastrophic loss.” Taylor’s stare follows Wendy out of the empty condo.
A Relationship Tarnished
Taylor’s relationship with their father, Douglas, is significantly tarnished. There might be any way Taylor and Douglas can come back from this. Wendy’s plan was successful. She put a wedge between Taylor and their father. Taylor was right. “No escape without catastrophic loss,” Taylor said to Wendy.
“The fact you have enemies like this, the fact that you were once aligned with such despicable people,” Douglas Mason said to Taylor. “Maybe give that some thought while I’m gone. … You people; all you care about is money. …You know what kid? You are just like me, only colder.”
Taylor did not have much choice but to take the deal. It afforded Taylor and their company to get the firefighters back. Taylor was played and Mafee (Dan Soder) confirmed what it was Taylor Mason Capitol was doing.
Is Wendy selling the Rhoades brownstone?
Even though Wendy gave Chuck, Jr. permission to have a dom in their home, the place seems to have lost that meaning to her. “This place does not feel very much like a home to me right now,” Wendy said to her husband. It is not the family home it once was.
Wendy did not consult Chuck, Jr. before engaging a realtor. Selling the home is something which they should discuss as a married-couple rather than one person arbitrarily determining it.
The Pancake Eater Story
This story is about Chuck Rhoades, Sr. (Jeffrey DeMunn) and how he treated his wife.
“Maybe once a year, perhaps twice – before upon landing at his seat but before sitting, a scowl would come across his face and my father would sweep the bacon, carafe of juice and yes, those perfect pancakes off the table on to the floor in a fit of rage. And he would look at my cowering mother and scream ‘What do the hell I look like? A G-d d*** pancake eater’ and then he’d storm out,” Chuck, Jr. tells his wife.
This is Chuck, Sr. how would treat his wife. Men like this believe “women have a subconscious desire to be dominated.” This is an arcane belief typically held by conservatively minded individuals that do not see women as equal to men.
Is there a trailer?
Is Taylor’s analysis of the song “Happy Together” accurate? Is it a song about a relationship that never really happens? I am one of the people they reference. I did initially think of Happy Together as a love song. Taylor is correct. ‘imagine’ is the operative word. Making assumptions before anything is locked in tight is premature. Taylor needs more than meaningless assurances.
Even though I did not recognise the reference, Taylor immediately picked up on Douglas’ pop song reference. “Reunited and it feels so good” are lyrics taken from the 1979 Peaches & Herb song ‘Reunited.’ The use of the line is self-explanatory.