Billions (S02E10) “With or Without You”


(Please note: I use “they” in lieu of “her” for Taylor in an effort to be consistent with Taylor’s gender-neutrality).

So here’s what happened:

Lara took the children and left Axe after she found out Axe had lied to her about whose decision it was to stop the counseling sessions between him and Wendy, and Axe spent the entire episode looking for Lara, visiting her relatives, old haunts, while leaving voicemails ranging from the contrite to ballistic. As fans of Billions, one of the great things about the show is that it didn’t fall into that rabbit hole where the connection between Axe and Wendy wasn’t sexual so much as one of like minds. Lara thought she had this cornered until Axe lied, and then she realized she did not have that cornered at all.

In the interest of transparency, the Lara character frustrates me to death. Perhaps because, aside from Momma Rhoades, whom the audience has seen only twice in the history of the show, her character is the least well-developed. She’s intelligent, but not smart; and she believes she can run at the level of her husband by osmosis. These last few episodes have seen Lara take on that classic New York haughtiness that goes with being the spouse of a ridiculously successful person, but she expects that by riding on his coattails it will propel her onto the same platform of respect as her husband. No, Lara, no! Have you not paid attention to Axe at all? Everything he has achieved he’s had to fight for, crawl for, dig for. The man wears me out just watching him every week! If I were Lara, I would do everything in my power to honor the pact they made at the beginning of their marriage: to support one another, be in it together. The moment Lara started to stray away from that with her traveling IV business and assumed a level on par with Axe, one that she knew she could never match, they strayed away from one another. This has led to the current imbalance that exists between them. The writers need to figure her character out, because right now there’s just nowhere to go with her character.

So back to the recap. Lara eventually returned home with the children, but she was still pissy. Axe told her he tried to call, but she told him that she shut off her phone. After she went upstairs to settle the children, Axe went into her purse, turned on her phone, and deleted all of his supposedly “unheard” voice messages. Interestingly. one of the last messages he left is one where he said if Lara wanted Wendy gone, all she had to do was say the word and Wendy would be “erased from their lives forever.” But when she returned home and said she hadn’t listen to any of the messages, Axe was quick to delete them all, particularly the one about kicking Wendy to the curb. We all do realize that Lara listened to every freaking one of those messages, right? Moving on…..

As expected, Rhoades’s sessions with the Mistress, his favorite dominatrix other than his wife, are in peril of being released into the public. During a session with another client, The Mistress went upstairs to “prepare” and, while she was gone, her new client stole her laptop and ran out the door. Cue the collective gasps of the fandom because we can just imagine what information is on that laptop. The Mistress and Rhoades later meet “clandestinely” at a sandwich place and, while in line, she informed him her laptop was stolen. As they were about to say good-bye, the Mistress dropped a bottle cap and ordered Rhoades to pick it up. As he did so she stepped on his hand with her heel and pressed down–hard! You could have heard Rhoades orgasm from space. It was later revealed that Rhoades had used Daddy Rhoades’s private investigator to pose as a client of the Mistress and was the one who had stolen her laptop. Given that it took that private investigator three months to steal it, one has to wonder whether he liked the sessions with the Mistress as well. (Smile!) Rhoades later turned the laptop over to Minchak as part of her opposition research on him.

Based on Stephanie Reed’s recommendation, Brian decided to focus on flipping Taylor Mason and approached (them) at a local coffee shop. The first meeting did not go well. After presenting Axe with an impressive analysis rundown of Klaxon, Axe decided to promote (them) to head of Research. Taylor later decided to visit Brian at his office in order to see if he had anything on (them). During their meeting Taylor realized Brian had nothing on (them) and told him to go pound sand.

During one of Minchak’s opposition research interviews with Rhaodes, I have to say I was touched at how in tune Daddy Rhoades was to son Rhoades right after son Rhoades finished describing a very disturbing hazing/bullying experience to Minchak. Daddy Rhoades walked in right afterwards and said, “I thought I heard you call for me. I thought I heard my boy saying he needed me.” Son Rhoades responded: “No, Dad. We’re fine.” No, Daddy Rhoades, son Rhoades was not fine, and you heard the call of his heart for sure.

Boyd contacted Axe about insider information about Ice Juice and that Daddy Rhoades was in it deep. As Axe left Boyd, he looked back as if he questioned Boyd and his information.

Wendy visited Lara, and they had an exchange of words. Wendy apologized for her part in their separation and advised Lara to forgive Axe. Wendy and Rhoades reconnected, first for coffee, and then later for dinner cooked by a famous French Chef Antoine Casson. The dinner paid off dividends, for afterwards Wendy told Rhoades to come home for the night, and when he arrived, he found Dominatrix Wendy waiting.

Summary thoughts:

I want to see more Taylor and Wendy scenes, and yes, I want it to go THERE. I think that would be sexy AF! The show has been building the blocks of trust between them over the last few episodes and I want to see MORE of that. Wendy needs a friend, and while Taylor has MaFee, (they) need other friends where they are both powerfully smart and both have shared life experiences. Writers! Make that happen!

Best exchange of the episode occurred between Daddy and Son Rhoades, speaking about Minchak after an interview session:

Daddy Rhoades: “Seems that went well.”

Son Rhoades: “Yeah.”

Daddy Rhoades:  “Tight little body!”

Son Rhoades: “Dad!”

Daddy Rhoades: “What? She’s not vetting me.”

Son Rhoades: “Thank God for that.”