Chuck Rhoades, Jr. (Paul Giamatti) is very good at playing the long game. Over the past four seasons, if we have learned anything about the Attorney General of New York, it is that he knows exactly which buttons to push. The same is true of Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis). Neither men like the idea of playing second fiddle to anyone.
The ‘Extreme Sandbox’ is jam-packed with drama. There is not a single moment in these season finale where there is not something of significance occurring.
The fourth season finale, directed by Colin Bucksey, takes the series to an entirely new level. With how this season ended, it is difficult to see how series writers and directors will top the drama quality in the next season.
Is Ax setting Rebecca up for a fall?
In the opening scene, Ax talks Rebecca Cantu (Nina Arianda) into doing something nice for Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff). Ax seems to think Rebecca taking Wendy to a spa would help his friend reset her mood after what transpired with the medical ethics board. Rebecca has other ideas. Rebecca has other ideas which might lift Wendy’s spirits.
When Rebecca is leaving Ax’s condo, there is something about his expression which reeks of scheming. Ax is planning something, there is no doubt of that. In the previous episode, the Matthew McLoota directed ‘Lamster,’ Rebecca told Ax she struck a business deal with Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon) that would be beneficial to her new retail chain. If you know anything about Ax and how he responds to disloyalty, he will not take too kindly to Rebecca making a deal with Taylor. If Ax is planning something, and there is no doubt that he is, whatever Ax has up his sleeve for Taylor will have a negative impact on both his personal and professional relationship with Rebecca.
Once Rebecca is out of earshot, Ax immediately calls Sanford Bensinger (Richard Thomas). While Sanford has no love for Ax, he’ll do almost anything for Rebecca if he thinks it’s in her best interests. Ax invites Sanford to a “good breakfast.”
Is Chuck, Jr. scheming to get his wife’s medical licence back?
While Wendy is on her day trip with Rebecca, Chuck, Jr. plans to pull strings with the medical ethics board so that his wife can retain her medical licence. Saying something and doing it, as we have learned over the past four seasons, is not necessarily the same thing. Does the AG of New York plan to use his influence to secure his wife’s medical licence?
Chuck, Jr. is very good at spinning words to his advantage. Because he gets that from his father, Chuck Rhoades, Sr. (Jeffrey DeMunn), that apple did not fall far from that particular tress. It is, of course, possible the AG is scheming something beneficial for his wife but Chuck, Jr. has a lot on his plate with Waylon ‘Jock’ Jeffcoat (Clancy Brown) and Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore).
Does Jock hold all the cards?
Chuck, Jr. directs Karl Allerd (Allan Havey) to look into what might make Dr Zhang Lei (David Shih) “light up.” The doctor is on the medical ethics board that suspended Wendy’s medical licence. While it is evident Chuck, Jr. was hoping to get the ball rolling on something which would help Wendy retain her licence, Jock stampeding into the AG’s office like a bull into a china shop, puts plans on hold.
Jock wants Chuck, Jr. to retire. The US Attorney General’s sickening tendency towards self-righteousness shows, especially considering his reference to “biscuits and white gravy,” he is one seriously nasty piece of work.
As “bracing truths” go, the scene where Chuck, Jr. takes to speaking his family’s native Italian is priceless. Jock understood not a word of what Chuck, Jr. said but it is clear the US AG got the gist of the message. The US AG believes he holds all the cards, but it is clear he does not know Chuck, Jr. half as well as he thinks.
Chuck, Jr. gets his father back from Jock’s grip. He was being held as a material witness against the AG. Jock was thinking Chuck, Sr. would turn on his son but that was not a real possibility.
Is Taylor tired of fighting with Ax?
Taylor hates the expression “mistakes were made because it avoids blame.” They correctly observe that two things Ax typically does not say, “I was wrong” and “I’m sorry.” Taylor takes responsibility for their actions. They allowed their vendetta with Ax to take precedence over Taylor Mason Capitol business interests. Is the company, even though Taylor expresses Taylor Mason Capitol is back, truly back? Ax is seriously vindictive. His personal stake in taking down Taylor and their company has never been as strong.
How far will Bryan Connerty go to take down Chuck, Jr.?
Connerty wants Kate Sacker (Condola Rashad) to overlook breaking the law so that he can take Chuck, Jr. down. Attorney-client privilege is a big deal. Anything said between an attorney and client is protected. Connerty went to law school. He knows the way the law works in these United States, but there is significant pressure from Jock building. Jock wants the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York to do anything it takes to unseat Chuck, Jr. If that means breaking the law, it’s fine with the “biscuits and white gravy” eating southerner.
Kate correctly observes Connerty has that Jack Torrance look that comes with being obsessed. People familiar with Stanley Kubrick movie The Shining will know the name Jack Torrance. Based on the Stephen King written novel of the same title, The Shining features Jack Nicholson in the aforementioned role. Because she seemingly has higher principles than Connerty, Kate makes her position clear. She has no interest in assisting him to break the law.
Not long thereafter, Connerty proves Kate right. He really is the Jack Torrance of the Southern District of New York. Kate’s warning clearly has no impression on her boss. His obsession with knowing the identity of the “idiot” and taking Chuck, Jr. down is manifesting into something the district attorney cannot control. Connerty has one of his people request warrants from a ‘friendly judge.’
Connerty leads Kate to believe he is doing some “old fashioned prosecutor work,” but the reality is, the district attorney will do anything it takes to reach his desired goal. He has lost sight of the law and what it means. Connerty has warrants and subpoenas for the sitting United States Secretary of the Treasury Todd Krakow (Danny Strong) and Chuck, Sr.
Has Connerty bitten off more than he can chew?
Do you ever get that feeling something huge is going to hit the fan but you are not entirely sure which direction it will be coming from? Connerty is as obsessed with getting Chuck, Jr as Captain Ahab was with catching the title character of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. Blinded by pure obsession, even though Connerty knows he cannot listen to the wiretap recordings, he forges ahead with his plans. He retrieves the information he seeks. It’s on a flash drive. Connerty listens to the recording in hopes of discovering the identity of the idiot.
Who is the ‘Idiot’?
Who is the idiot and what does this person have on Chuck, Jr. and Chuck, Sr.? The idiot is Connerty himself. Did anyone see that coming? Considering everyone knows Chuck, Jr. likes to play the long game, this play should have been apparent. The recording reveals Chuck, Jr. and his father were on to Connerty the entire time. Connerty knows from what he’s listening to, there is no way back. The district attorney has broken the law in his efforts to take down his former boss. The FBI finds Connerty trying to conceal he accessed the flash drive.
The evidence does not support Connerty’s case. Neither Krakow’s safe nor Chuck, Sr.’s safe contained the documents the district attorney hoped. The content of either safe is “not some contract laying out participation in some real estate scam.”
Krakow’s safe contained documents showing “participation in a sting operation against certain members of the Department of Justice.”
The smug look on Chuck, Sr.’s face when Kate realises what she has in her hands is evidence of Connerty’s wrongdoing is priceless. There is an image of Connerty taken from inside the safe showing his face and him reading a document. It does not show what the document is but that is pretty much irrelevant.
How far back?
Not long after Kate arrives, Chuck, Jr. shows up in the district attorney’s office. Connerty did everything the AG knew he would. The AG knew Connerty was coming after him. Chuck, Jr. also knew Judge Adam DeGiulio (Rob Morrow) would deny any wiretap requests Connerty brought to him for the surveillance of Chuck, Jr. and his father.
Because the AG knew Connerty would go to DeGiulio, the Chuck, Jr. also knew Connerty would be watching the judge’s movements. Chuck, Jr. gave Connerty all the rope he needed to hang himself. Connerty got the wiretaps he needed from Judge Funt (Harris Yulin). The district attorney eventually gets what he deserves.
What about Jock?
All good things come to those that wait. Jock believes himself safe. When it comes to Chuck, Jr. doing what he set out to do, at the end of the day, no one is left standing. “Faith can be a beautiful thing,” Chuck, Jr. said, “Except when it’s misplaced.”
If there is one thing anyone can be certain of when it comes to the self-righteous, it’s the arrogant belief the rules do not apply to them in the same way it does for the rest of us mere mortals. Someone, I forget the identity of the individual, once spoke about the rule of law being something that must be held high. If it falls, one should pick it up and hold it even higher.
Chuck, Jr. correctly assumed at least some of what Connerty did would be at jock’s direction. Kate switched out the American flag pin on Connerty’s suit jacket for a listening device version of the same pin. Chuck, Jr. “got Jock right in the onions.”
Is that Mark Cuban?
An aspect of Billions which is undeniably likeable is how we never really know who will show up in any given episode as themselves. When Rebecca and Wendy arrive at their destination, Mark Cuban is there to greet the ladies. This is not the first time the Dallas Mavericks owner has made an appearance as himself in the Brian Koppelman / David Levien / Andrew Ross Sorkin co-created series. In 2017 and 2018, Cuban respectively appeared in the episodes ‘The Oath’ and ‘The Wrong Maria Gonzalez.’
This is an earth moving experience for both Rebecca and Wendy, literally. No, seriously. They are using Komatsu HB365LC-3 Hybrid Excavators to move the earth. The ladies also use the excavators to crush cars. Wendy’s exhilaration by the experience is there for all to see. The same is true of Rebecca.
Wendy defines Rebecca is a matter of seconds. The Ax Capitol employee knows her place. She likes being part of a team. Rebecca would prefer to own the team.
There is this funny moment when guys in the bar try but fail to pick up Rebecca and Wendy. One offers to drive the ladies back to the hotel, but Rebecca tells him that they’re “not driving.” When they exit the bar, a helicopter is waiting for them.
What is Sean Ayles talking about?
What did you think of the scene where Sean Ayles (Jack Gilpin) speak with Ax and Mike ‘Wags’ Wagner (David Costabile) about his “daddy”? Since everything in Billions somehow connects with other aspects of the show, this scene must have some relevance to something else that is going on in the episode and or season. “Her trouble won’t go away because we smile nice and ask even nicer,” Ayles said. “It’s going to take some institutional lubricant.
Who is her? My immediate thoughts went to the possibility of it being either Rebecca or Wendy. These are the only two women that mean anything of any great substance to Ax. He’s not going to dole out $25 million for just anyone. No one in the meeting says which person they are talking about. Because of Rebecca’s betrayal, there really is only one person it could be. It must be Wendy. Who else would Ax be thing concerned over?
Wendy receives a call from Dr Zhang Lei
Wendy is surprised to receive a call from Zhang. Zhang is on the medical ethics board that reviewed complaints made against Wendy by Taylor’s associate and friend Sara Hammon (Samantha Mathis). Instead of suspending her medical licence, considering fresh evidence, the medical board has concluded a verbal warning is best.
Axelrod funds a Cancer Initiative
Initially, Wendy thinks it was her husband that gets her licence suspension lifted but it wasn’t. Chuck, Jr. had nothing to do with it. She realises this when she receives a notification on her tablet showing “Bobby Axelrod funds $25 million initiative for The Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.” This article shows what Ayles was talking about earlier in the episode. It also confirms the person Ax, Mags and Ayles were talking about is Wendy.
Wendy packs a bag. Chuck, Jr. is waiting for his wife with a glass of wine. He’s didn’t even try to reverse the medical board’s decision. His plate was full. Chuck, Jr. had way too much on his mind with Jock and Connerty being on his tail. Wendy walks out.
Does Ax have a plan?
Ax speaks of revenge with Chuck, Jr. This conversation has been a long time coming. On a previous occasion, during the closing scene of the third season finale, Ax, Rebecca, Chuck, Jr. and Wendy spoke of revenge against Jock and Taylor. Ax is now looking to Chuck, Jr. to keep his end of their agreements. He has Taylor where he wants them.
The AG correctly acknowledges taking down Taylor without “opening up an entrapment change is difficult.” The trap must come from Ax if it is to work. What is it that will tempt them to take a chance? What is the answer to all of Taylor’s problems? Does Taylor Mason Capitol have any corrupt associates within its employ? That is an avenue Ax could and will exploit.
Is Ax on a path to self-destruction?
At the beginning of the board meeting, Ax’s is focused on the door. He has something significant on his mind. When Rebecca enters the room, she is surprised to find Sanford seated in the room. He is not at the table because he declined a board seat when it was offered. Sanford is at the meeting because he has a vested interest in how it plays out.
Rebecca announces the acquisition of Kling Appliances. It’s clear Rebecca wants to roll out their product in Saler’s stores. This is her baby. Rebecca wants to see this work. Ax has other ideas. When Rebecca shoots Sanford a concerned glance, the scene transitions to the breakfast Ax invited Sanford to earlier in the episode.
An Iron Chef made breakfast of Champions
This is not an ordinary breakfast. Bringing to Ax and Sanford their breakfast, Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli makes an appearance as herself. While she is only on screen for a few seconds, the Chopped judge is unquestionably recognisable.
Ax tells Sanford “Saler’s is a sinking ship,” but he knows how to get the chest of gold before it hits the ocean floor. In the way Ax sees it, he is helping Rebecca. The men agree Rebecca cares too much about the business. “It’s a suicide play at this point,” Ax said. “She’s lashed herself to the side of this thing and refuses to jump off.”
Even though Sanford is ok with “getting the gold and doing the right thing,” there is something in the back of my mind that is telling me Ax is playing both sides.
At the meeting…
Ax metaphorically cuts Rebecca’s fee from beneath her before she has a chance to grow her business. As facial expressions go, the one Rebecca has expresses significant emotional pain. Rebecca does not understand why Ax would do such a thing to her.
Shareholders are not exactly known for being selfless. They only care about what they can get out of business for themselves. Shareholders like for businesses to operate smoothly but care nothing for the employees which are the backbone of their operations.
Because Ax was too angry with Rebecca for making a deal with Taylor, he could not see beyond formulating an emotional response. He was consequently unable to think of the deal as being anything other than disloyalty. Even though it was not Rebecca’s intent to act against Ax’s best interests, he could not see that because the conflict between Taylor and himself had gone too far.
Despite Ax plays out what might have been their potential future, there was no getting away from Rebecca’s treasonous behaviour. There was no getting away from both Ax and Rebecca being f***ed over. “What’s between us now,” Rebecca said,” is nothing.” Their relationship, professionally and personally, is done.
Later in the episode, Ax is seen deleting Rebecca’s contact information from his iPhone. While he hesitates for a moment, he ultimately presses delete.
Taylor is informed of Ax’s actions
With Ax now in control of Saler’s and Rebecca being out, the ramifications for Taylor Mason Capitol are catastrophic. Kling Appliances is being put into bankruptcy. With losses of three-quarters of a billion dollars and upwards, Taylor Mason Capitol is history. There is very little Taylor can do to save their company for complete destruction.
Is there as Hail Mary for Taylor Mason Capitol?
Nessun Dorma is an interesting piece to sing. When done correctly, it can move people to tears. Taken from the final act of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot, Nessun Dorma is one of the best-known operatic pieces of all time. Considering what Puccini’s Nessun Dorma is about, it might have been better for the person singing it to have selected something else.
Because of Taylor’s analytic mind, they can see through the trap. Taylor, Mafee (Dan Soder) and Winston (Will Roland) talk Nigerian oil warrants. Anyone that talks Nigerian oil warrants are doing something seriously shady. They are up to something illegal. Mafee is interested but Taylor does not buy into what Winston is selling. It smells fishy. Their raised eyebrow, if you know Taylor as well as you think you do, indicates suspicion. This suspicion has a strong foundation.
Is Taylor arrested?
As Taylor exists Taylor Mason Capitol, they are detained by the FBI. Chuck, Jr tells Taylor they are not under arrest, but it would be good if they acted as if they were. The FBI has Winston on video talking to Taylor about Nigerian oil warrants.
Nessun Dorma is an operatic aria about someone trying to hide something. Taylor turns down Winston’s proposition, but that part of the conversation was not on tape, apparently. Taylor is does not understand why Chuck, Jr. has lost his taste for this particular setup but they will. All becomes clear when he explains himself.
Chuck, Jr.’s relationship with Wendy is on the rocks. He was not able to assist his wife with the medical licence problem because he was up to his neck with other pressing issues. Attribution for everything, as the AG correctly observes, is on one person. With Taylor, Chuck, Jr. sees an opportunity to take down Ax.
If Taylor goes back to working for Ax, there is an opening Chuck, Jr. can exploit. Taylor agrees to the arrangement. Little does Chuck, Jr. understand Taylor is every bit as deceitful as Ax. They are looking to play both sides off against each other. If Taylor plays their cards correctly, both Ax and Chuck, Jr. will destroy themselves in the process. The only person left standing at the end of the day will be Taylor.
Does Chuck, Jr. look cute? What exactly is normal behaviour? While many people might not think of sadomasochism as being normal, what is ore is not normal is a matter of perspective. Chuck, Jr. engages in sadomasochism. There is a sadist and masochist. Chuck, Jr. is the latter. He’s a masochist. A masochist is an individual that draws their sexual gratification from their own pain and or humiliation.
Up until recently, this is something the AG did with his wife. Wendy filled the role of sadist. A sadist is an individual that draws pleasure from inflicting pain and or humiliation on others. Chuck, Jr. now engages in the practice, with his wife’s permission, with another dominant woman.