Billions (S02E11) “Golden Frog Time”


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

So here’s what happened:

This episode was pretty efficient in that it focused on all the machinations involved in debuting an IPO, business actors who may have malicious intentions, and how people profit from insider knowledge of such machinations.

Ice Juice, the company that Rhoades’s lawyer, Ira Schirmer, pitched to Daddy and Son Rhoades for investment and which they did went public and was expected to make nearly $250 million dollars the first day. Ira was so elated at the projections he was already counting his chickens before they hatched, but Rhoades cautioned Ira not to quit his day job until Ice Juice proved itself on market trading.

Wendy and Rhoades had another “booty call”, but still remain separated. In the afterglow, Rhoades informed her that both he and Daddy Rhoades invested heavily in the Ice Juice IPO.

Taylor was tasked with evaluating all the analysts at Axe Capital as Head of Research and then fire the lowest performer. Like clockwork, the show introduced a few “red shirt” characters and, in the end, Taylor fired one of the red shirts. Wags later commended Taylor: “And now you’re baptized by blood.” Dollar Bill later gave $250,000 as a “thank you” to Taylor and planned to do more.  Taylor had a perplexed look on their face; not sure why Dollar Bill did that, but they went with it. Brian tried to approach Taylor again, coming at them from a “similar background” perspective, but his approaches only served to provide more clarity of purpose for Taylor in working for Axe Capital.

Spiro delivered some information to Rhoades on Klaxon Auto Group, but Rhoades was too preoccupied with the Ice Juice IPO opening. Katie saw that distraction and pounced, asking to open a case which Rhoades approved with a combined mumble and a wave of his hand to get her out of his office so he could focus on the IPO.

Even though Lara is back home, she is still pouting. Lara even used an intimate moment between her and Axe as a manipulative tactic. Enough said there.

While at the office Wendy heard Axe was moving to short Ice Juice. She quickly visited Rhoades at his office and warned him to pull out, but he angrily refused. Wendy stomped out of his office and then called Mafee and instructed him to buy as many of the Ice Juice short as he could for her, betting against Rhoades. When Axe found out about that, he told Mafee that if Wendy makes a play like that again, to inform him first.

The way Axe planned to tank the Ice Juice IPO was to have customers on IPO day say they were poisoned drinking the stuff.  What had actually happened is that Axe schemed with a selected group of people to spike their own Ice Juice drinks with a trace poison to make themselves sick at Ice Juice locations throughout the city. Word got back to the press of people becoming sick due to drinking Ice Juice,  so Ice Juice’s stock tanked by the end of the day. What was supposed to be a $250 million payday resulted in Ice Juice stock landing at just over three dollars per share. An unmitigated financial catastrophe.  It was later revealed that not only did Daddy Rhoades lose a lot of his own money, but he invested all of son Rhoades’ trust fund into the Ice Juice IPO.  And now it was all gone.

The episode ended with Rhoades collapsing on his bed at the Yale Club in exhausted laughter. Flashbacks revealed that Rhoades had orchestrated the IPO downfall, and wrangled a position for Dake as Interim Attorney General for the Eastern District so he could follow Axe and record his machinations leading up to the Ice Juice debut. I am still not clear why Rhoades schemed to take out his own wealth, that of his lawyers, and a good portion of his Dad’s own wealth, and to what end. If it was to ensure he had zero ethics issues when he ran for Governor then that is one heck of a dumpster fire way to do it. Or maybe the reason was quid pro quo–to prevent Axe from murdering Daddy Rhoades due to his manipulations with the Sandicott deal.  Hopefully, the season finale will reveal it all.