Billions (S02E04) “The Oath”

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So here’s what happened:

Wendy took up a new field case with Craig Heidecker, CEO of Space X-like company called Farpoint, played by James Wolk where they planned to send the first manned mission to Mars. Heidecker contracted Wendy to evaluate the astronaut Dr. Elena Gabriel, played by Melissa Navia on whether she was psychologically “bulletproof” for the mission. In the course of their initial discussion it was clear Heidecker and Wendy found one another attractive. After Wendy spent the day interviewing Dr. Gabriel she recommended Dr. Gabriel be rejected for the mission. Reason being, Dr. Gabriel never faced adversity or real, terrible consequences. All Dr. Gabriel wanted to do was run away. If a real tragedy happened on the mission she would break. Heidecker was impressed ay Wendy’s assessment asked her to assess other candidates, but she declined. However, Wendy did say if he ever needed to understand why he could only find happiness light-years away or in 21 year-old girls to come see her. Wink!

Wags is still descending into his own personal hell, and the final straw for Axe came when Wags showed up to work in sweat pants and explained how he couldn’t remember how he ended up at the Americana Suites, his butt on fire and more so with a butt tattoo. Axe was so amused he made Wags pull down his pants in his office to see it, and when he did Axe sent Wags to Wendy for help. When Wags met with Wendy he told her he needed help and showed her his butt tattoo as evidence. Wendy was not amused.

Axe met with Mark Cuban to discuss his bid for an NFL team Cuban advised Axe advised that he needed to drop his fight with Rhoades so that no longer cast a pal over his bid. Axe took his advice and later met with Orrin to accelerate his deposition with Rhoades so he can get it out of the way in his bid for an NFL team.

Fred Reyes, the new Deputy Attorney General visited Rhoades and informed him did not have the luxury of taking his time to develop a case against Spartan-Ives and pushed the pressure button to develop something quickly.

Axe met with Sanford Bensinger, CEO of Giving Oath, played by Richard Thomas, an organization where billionaires pledge their wealth to help others. While Axe approached Sanford from a position of sincerity it was the meeting was intended to be a public relations ploy to make Axe look like he was a responsible steward of long-standing trusts, like sports franchises.

While investigating whether Boyd was hiding money in Panama, Brian discovered that Kate Sacher’s father had twelve million dollars in monies stashed there. When he told her of his discovery she informed him she already knew about it. Her father’s actions though legal tax were nothing more than bad public relations. But later, the interests of transparency, Kate informed Rhoades of the discovery.

Lara and Mo discovered they had competition in their budding new business venture from another company called Mercy Squad. In response, Mo wants to scale back and focus in other territory but Lara refused to cede her territory. Axe offered to intervene but Lara refused his help as well, and said she would handle it, and boy she did. Lara contracted two guys to have Mercy Squad set up on charges of aggravated pimping using dispensing nurses to turn tricks while they administered IVs. So much for the competition.

Axe met with Marc at the behest of Bruno, his friend who owns the pizza restaurant to seek investment in a condo/casino development. Axe put Taylor to check out the proposal. Stephanie informed Axe that the others on staff are jealous of Axe’s favoritism towards Taylor, but Axe acknowledged it and replied that Taylor made him money so of course he favored her.

McKinnon informed Rhoades the information well at Spartan-Ives dried up due to the investigation into Boyd. And Hall informed Axe that Boyd will not allow him to act in his best interests.

Daddy Rhoades was at it again, meddling where he shouldn’t be. He hired a Private Investigator, a former FBI agent to follow Axe but the PI informed him that Axe had people monitoring him even inside his own offices. Daddy Rhoades changed tracks and directed the PI to follow the second rung of Axe’s staff. (You know this means Wags is in trouble). Daddy Rhoades also had the PI conduct surveillance on a “federal employee”, evidence of which was delivered to Rhoades that revealed video of Brian and Dake meeting.

Rhoades ordered a search warrant for Spartan-Ives on the basis of “quote” stuffing in order to soften Spartan-Ives for the follow-up blow. Rhoades asked Brian to set up a meeting with Boyd at a place of Boyd’s choosing so Boyd felt like he was in control when Rhoades asked for a favor.

During their meeting Boyd, rightly called Rhoades out for initiating an investigation into Spartan-Ives just to save his own job. Rhoades acknowledged that fact and asked Boyd, as a favor, to conduct his own compliance investigation, and in a year, Rhoades will sign off on it. Boyd refused. Rhoades asked what Boyd could give him now. Boyd offered some low-level employees whom Rhoades could charge and Boyd could then fire them for cause. They both agreed and had their staffs coordinate a press release.

Afterwards Boyd met with Axe and informed him of the deal. The expression on Axe’s face was golden. The whole deal smelled fishy to him. Rhoades met with his dad and informed him of the outcome. Daddy Rhoades still wanted Rhoades to pursue Boyd but Rhoades refused – in front of his Dad at least.

Daddy Rhoades met with Boyd on the golf course later to assure him the investigation in Spartan-Ives was over and to be assured Boyd will put in a word with the US Attorney General so Rhoades can retain his job.

It was revealed that the “ask for a favor” approach was a ploy by Rhoades to make Boyd relax and turn back on the information spigot within the company to capitalize on the information from McKinnon that Spartan-Ives is rigging Treasury auctions. Brian was so impressed by Rhoades maneuvers that he called Dake and told Dake to piss or get off the pot. He was done playing with Dake.

The first deposition in the class-action between Axe and Rhoades occurred at Axe Capital. They exchange ‘Off the record” diatribes at first before they settled down to business.

The moment Orrin warned Axe about where Rhoades would get under Axe’s skin when then characterization of damages came up, whether it was mental or emotional. The question galled Axe so much his face turned blood red, but deftly took the “I need a break” out to calm down.

The episode ended with Axe receiving a call from Sanford Bensinger during his break from the deposition. Between the media pictures of their so-called private meeting, and Axe’s delay in setting up the trust with Giving Oath Sanford realized he was being used by Axe in his efforts to support his bid for an NFL team. In response, Sanford called in a favor at the NFL to have them turn down Axe’s bid because Axe reneged on him. “Sports Franchises is how we knight people in this country. And you’re not royalty. You’re a robber baron.” Sanford declared and hung up. Axe’s face turned purple. One would have thought he would have exploded at that moment but instead Axe thought for moment then got up and marched back into the deposition, and presented them with a third characterization of damages: monetary; that Rhoades cost him a football team. It was Ira, Rhoades’s lawyer, turn to throw the “I need a break” flag but Rhoades refused and the episode ended with Rhoades and Axe eyes locked.

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The best line of the episode was delivered by Dr. Gabriel: “Because (people) are still stuck here and bound to (this planet’s) limitation of fuel, space and class struggle. Face it. Earth is pretty screwed. I want to do something impossible. Point to sky at another planet and say I use to live there.” Spoke to the Trekkie in me.