Billions (S02E07) “Victory Lap”

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So here’s what happened:

Axe and Hall paid a night visit to Bruno and then all three of them paid a visit to Marco to press him as to why the casino license was awarded to another city. Marco vigorously denied any wrong-doing. Axe placed a briefcase in front of Marco and Hall whispered a series of instructions in Marco’s ear that we as audience did not hear, and when Marco acknowledged he understood what was expected of him Axe and Hall turned and left.

Rhoades was out throwing ball with his son when reporter Mike Dimonda showed up. Apparently, they had a pre-arrangement to meet out at the park. Dimonda asked Rhoades to confirm rumors he was seeking office after the Boyd conviction. Of course, Rhoades offered false platitudes but informed Dimonda he would be the first to know. Dimonda asked if he could take a picture of Rhoades with Kevin and Rhoades agreed if it served to better his image in the eyes of the public should he wish to run for office.

Axe, Lara and their two children returned home to find Chef Ryan getting blown by some girl out by the pool. After chewing his ass, Lara and Axe let it go.

After dropping Kevin off, Kevin mentioned that Rhoades conducted an interview with a reporter. Wendy got pissed at Rhoades for using Kevin as a prop reminding Rhoades that is exactly what he did not like when Daddy Rhoades did it to him. Rhoades lied to Wendy and said the reporter happened to be there. Their argument inadvertently revealed an implied desire by Wendy to see other people. (Thoughts of Craig Heidecker, CEO of Farpoint raced in my mind.) While Rhoades thought it was a game of “dare” with Wendy, Wendy was being absolutely sincere. She wanted to see other people and sincerely told Rhoades he could as well and walked out the door. Rhoades was floored and realized he pushed too far and the schism between him and Wendy was real.

Axe held a War Council at his home with his top staff to figure a way out for his money with the Sandicott deal. (By the way, I loved watching this scene. It is scenes like this that make Billions what it is). Eveready recommended “Austerity” where Axe Capital enforced the town of Sandicott pay him first before their other bills to include wages to workers. In short, complete decimation of the town in every regard until Axe Capital had recouped its losses. While Axe understood the option he sure didn’t like it, and wanted more options.

Daddy Rhoades informed his son that he withdrew his membership from the Garden City Golf Club. He did it because the club does not allow women and thought his continued membership would cast a pall on Rhoades’s chances for elected office if he had remained. He also informed Rhoades that recent poll results were promising, but for Rhoades to be unstoppable he needed Wendy behind him.

Hall visited Axe at his home and confirmed that Marco did not double-cross Axe; that he was just as played as Axe was. The license went to the town of Kingsford and that a Senator Joe Scolari approved it. Axe wanted to meet with Se. Scolari to get a better read and after his meeting with him Axe realized that Scolari was told to act by someone else, but who that was remained a mystery.

Danzig held a counseling session with Wendy and revealed that he was not at all kosher with the decimation solution. Wendy advised him to fight for what he felt was right.

At the conclusion of Shari Strang’s (played by Kaliswa Brewster) PR presentation to spin the austerity approach in favor of Axe Capital Danzig questioned the approach and was quickly joined by Ben Kim played by Daniel K. Issac. Instead of decimation, Danzig recommended Axe Capital invest in the town, turn it around at a profit. Taylor objected – hard and with the blatant, ugly realities when towns make bad decisions (and perhaps a hard reminder to Axe that he should have never taken up Sandicott in the first place just to please an old friend).

Wately and Sacher have lunch and she correctly surmised Wately was looking for a new job elsewhere. Wately informed her he could not stomach the idea of Brian becoming Head of Crim. Sacher disagreed and thought Rhoades would appoint Wately but Wately informed her that Rhoades took Brian out to lunch at a very expensive steakhouse for what he assumed the point was to offer the job to Brian.

However, the lunch did not play out as Wately feared. Rhoades confronted Brian about his betrayal and Brian admitted he called DC to initiate the investigation which gave way to a flashback from S1 when Axe offered him a job with Orrin. Brian admitted it was fueled by something Axe had said to him about Rhoades being a hypocrite and Brian by extension. Rhoades and Brian had an exchange of truths and Rhoades decided rather than appoint anyone as Head of Crim he planned to leave the position vacant for now. It was apparent that Rhoades valued Brian, but gave Brian the option of redeeming himself or quitting. Brian chose to remain and redeem himself.

Wendy visited Axe in his office and put her two cents in about the austerity plan and how she disagreed with it. Axe told Wendy that he had conflicted feelings about it and wanted to talk to her about it but she refused.

Brian later met with Orrin at a barber shop and confronted Orrin about setting him up to meet with Axe that night back in S1 which seriously jeopardized his job. Orrin simply replied “If you still want it” and offered him a job again, but Brian did not appreciate being used and told Orrin so and stomped out of the barber shop.

Wendy was at the office late at night and observed Mafee and Deb kissing outside her window and smiled. Thoughts of Craig Heidecker, Wendy?

After seeing the poll results, Rhoades informed Daddy Rhoades he was open to exploring a run for office and sought his advice on next steps. Since Rhoades’s upstate numbers were weak the first name Daddy Rhoades recommended was Black Jack Foley, the same man he asked to torpedo the casino license for Sandicott. Daddy Rhoades advised that if Rhoades could secure Foley’s granddaughter a clerkship Rhoades would have Foley’s blessing. Yeah, none of this is going to end well.

Wendy rented a hotel room and invited Craig Heidecker over and they spent the night together.

The next morning, Wendy was at the Townhouse preparing the children for camp when Rhoades came in. Rhoades apologized for his reaction after Wendy informed him of her return to Axe Capital. Wendy thanked him – somewhat facetiously it seemed, and walked off to finish readying the children for camp.

Wags informed Axe that Danzig quit which made Axe storm into Wendy’s office who was in the middle of a session with Mafee. Axe figured Wendy had influenced Danzig’s thinking and that she was there to motivate his staff towards their very best performance, not make them quit. Wendy defended her approach and if Axe disagreed he could fire her. Axe stormed out of the office instead.

Rhoades had lunch with former deputy AG DeGiulio and pitched Emma Foley’s clerkship. But DeGiulio recognized the last name, knew what was up, and was not kosher with the request because now he had seen the promised land and realized that he wanted to better the system, not continue the practices of cronyism. Nevertheless, he agreed he would consider her.

Hall informed Axe that it was Jack Foley who made the call to the Governor who made the call Se. Scolari. Axe knew of Foley, but didn’t understand why Foley would target him and so Axe paid a visit to Boyd to seek advice.

Later Bruno visited Axe and pleaded with him not to seek out retribution on Sandicott while Lara watched outside their bedroom window. Afterwards, Axe asked Lara what he should do and Lara advised to proceed forward with the austerity plan because where were the small town folk in their town when they were broke growing up.  “It’s us or them” Lara declared.

As Axe drove off to pick dinner for the children he called his team and told them to seize everything in Sandicott.