Billions (S02E08) “The Kingmaker”


So here’s what happened:

Jack Foley called Daddy Rhoades about how son Rhoades failed to obtain a clerkship for his granddaughter. Daddy Rhoades informed Foley that son Rhoades had no knowledge of the quid pro quo. Foley reassured Daddy Rhoades that he wasn’t personally upset so much as he considered it bad form given the help he planned to offer son Rhoades.

Axe dug deeper into as to why Foley had screwed him over. Was it personal or professional? After an initial request to Foley to meet directly with either him or Wags was denied Axe went through the back door and squeezed Foley’s steel suppliers until the word got to Foley to coax a meeting.

Daddy Rhoades finally wore down son Rhoades to start actively engaging in the pursuit for higher office but now has competition in the form of a Bob Sweeney played by Matt Servitto. Foley decided to back Sweeney after Rhoades failed to provide a clerkship for his granddaughter. Daddy Rhoades argued he needed Foley’s support. Rhoades countered that today’s politics no longer required kingmakers and he was not going to ask for Foley’s support on his knees.

Wags happened to overhear a phone conversation Mafee had with a prime broker who was trying to perch Spartan-Ives clients in the wake of Boyd’s conviction and Axe Capital was one of them. Wags had Mafee accept the “wine and dine” invitation to meet with new firm.

Kate presented Brian with a seminar brochure hosted by Dr. Gus. Kate thought Dr. Gus would be ripe to open up about Axe given the fact he was fired to make way for Wendy’s return. Brian declined. Later both Kate and Brian surprised one another when they caught themselves showing up at Dr. Gus’s seminar at the same time. They asked him if he would be willing to share any information about Axe but he declined because he had no information to give since was never allowed that close to Axe, however, he offered up Stephanie Reed, Axe’s former Chief of Staff. When Kate and Brian visited Stephanie she informed them that she could not speak about Axe given the non-disclosure agreement she signed but would if she was presented with a subpoena. Brian went to Rhoades with the question, but Rhoades rejected it because political considerations were involved.

Lara went to Sandicott to help build a Charter School as a sign of goodwill.

Rhoades went and met with Sweeney and offered for him to be his Lieutenant Governor rather than run against one another. Sweeney balked at the offer.

Wendy and Taylor met for the first time in session, and in course of discussing Mafee Wendy admitted the reason why she and Axe are so close is they had met at a time they were trying to figure out whom they were trying to be and Taylor found herself at a similar moment. Wendy was also quite impressed with Taylor in that no one at Axe Capital had ever come to her out of concern for another person at that office.

Wags did the “wine and dine” with the new firm pitching their prime services and eventually it graduated to a stripper bar where he knew one of the Spartan-Ives guys would be there. It was revealed the entire reason why Wags took the dinner date was so he could squeeze a 20% fee reduction from Spartan-Ives for the next two years.

While out for drinks with his lawyer Rhoades asked Ira to look into Bob Sweeney’s past to see if there was anything he could use. Ira discovered Bob sent his son to a camp to “pray the gay out of him.” When first confronted, Sweeney refused to drop out of the Governor’s race, but soon thereafter did which earned Rhoades an exclusive invite to Foley’s party that night.

Axe finally received a call from Foley to meet with him at his home in upstate New York. Enroute to meeting with Foley, Axe saw Danny Margolis working as one of the Help Staff for Foley’s party. Danny wanted back into the world of business but Axe said after the wire-tapping Danny would never step through Axe Capital doors ever again. Axe and Foley met and Axe realized that Foley’s actions were not personal but a favor for someone else. After Axe left the meeting, he saw and stopped Danny and told that if he did what Axe asked of him next Axe would pay off his house. Danny smiled.

Wendy and Rhoades met at the townhouse just before he departed for Foley’s party and he admitted he went out on a date with the sculptor woman he had met in his jujitsu class but only a kiss had happened. It looked like Wendy was about to admit her dalliance with Craig Heidecker but then decided not to. After Rhoades left for the party, Wendy called Taylor and poured out her emotions and rounded it up to say to Taylor that she was further ahead that she or Axe ever were when they were her age. It was quite the moment for me as a viewer to see Wendy needing to reach out to someone and she did it with Taylor.

Later that night at Foley’s party Rhoades did exactly what he had earlier so arrogantly said he would not do and got on his metaphorical knees before Foley to ask for his support. That scene was so intimate I literally thought Foley was going to pull his pants down and Rhoades was literally going to blow him off.

Axe received photos from Danny Margolis from the party and saw Daddy and son Rhoades and put two and two together, stormed out of his office, jumped on his Indian Four bike and raced over to the Yale Club.

In the last scene, as Daddy and son Rhoades celebrated at Yale Club Axe stormed in and furiously confronted both Rhoades and daddy Rhoades. After he stormed off, Daddy Rhoades admitted to son Rhoades his maneuvers on Sandicott, but rather than be upset with his father son Rhoades saw it as an opportunity to bolster his weak polling numbers in that area by painting Axe as the bad guy due to his austerity measures and Rhoades as the good guy fighting the bad businessman.

Summary thought:

While I enjoy the displays of intelligence by the characters on this show, in actual reality if they were this fracking intelligent none of them would be in the situations they currently find themselves. I was spurred in this thought during the scene between Brian and Dr. Gus and when they started to exchange statements about Ronin and the Bushido code. Really? And this sudden spark of intelligence coming from Brian who literally has to be spoon-fed his information 95% of the time. Sometimes the show just swings too far in the ‘everyone is intelligent” category.