Season 5, Episode eight: ‘Copenhagen’
Chuck Rhodes has shaved off his beard. But he desires to be clear: It’s not that large a deal.
“You look ready to toss your cap in the air at West Point!” exclaims his underling Karl Allard (Allan Havey).
Rhodes’s weary reply? “Don’t make a whole thing of it.”
My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that this new clean-shaven Chuck Rhodes has extra to do with the vagaries of scheduling expertise for the again half of this Covid-scrambled season than a choice made in the writers’ room. If your present stars Paul Giamatti, and if he has gone beardless someday throughout the many months because you had been final capable of movie, then by God, your major character will go beardless as effectively.
But “Don’t make a whole thing of it” doubles as a mantra for your entire … what ought to we name it? A half-season premiere? Season Five model 2.zero? However you slice it, the writers have taken a steady-as-she-goes strategy to the present’s return. No laborious reset, no launching level for a slew of brand-new story traces — this can be a normal “Billions” episode, which is to say it merely advances its pre-existing plotlines in dense and dizzying type, via crackling dialogue and assured performances.
For Chuck, this implies shedding extra than simply his beard. His relationship with the Yale intercourse researcher Catherine Brant, performed by Julianna Margulies, seems to have been one other casualty of the compelled break in manufacturing. The present writes her off with Chuck’s revelation that his threesome together with her and a intercourse employee, employed by Cat for the event, proved disastrous when its lack of sadomasochism, the factor that basically will get Rhodes’s engine revving, uncovered fissures in their romantic connection.
Chuck’s relationship along with his alma mater produces extra hassle than a regrettable sexual liaison, nevertheless. One of his former college students, Merle Howard (Noah Robbins), led a revolt in opposition to Chuck’s task to take down the secretary of the Treasury, Todd Krakow (Danny Strong), throughout the season’s opening half. With the assistance of some photographic proof supplied by the Axe Cap sleazeball Bill Stearn, a.okay.a., Dollar Bill (Kelly AuCoin), he has now resorted to blackmail, ordering Chuck to resign his publish because the Attorney General of New York lest his long-ago position in rigging a Yale pupil election be uncovered.
Chuck has an ethical leg to face on right here: His opponent in the election in query opposed divestment from apartheid South Africa, and the younger Chuck joined mates in burning ballots in a tub to stop this ultraconservative candidate from reaching energy. Unfortunately for Chuck, that candidate grew as much as be the college’s beloved chaplain, and a head-to-head morality-based showdown in the current day wouldn’t essentially ship Chuck a slam-dunk victory — not when election-rigging has been such a going concern in America in common, and on “Billions” in specific.
“It was a student election — persuading Oingo Boingo to play Spring Fling, and not Sun City,” Chuck protests to Merle. “It’s not Il Duce in ’34!”
“One leads to the other,” Merle responds with out lacking a beat.
Chuck’s lawyer and finest pal, Ira (Ben Shenkman), digs up an unseen file of grime on Chuck’s previous election opponent, over Chuck’s protestations. If Merle had a pistol,” Ira asks, “would you let him shoot you? No: You’d defend yourself and then go about making amends once you knew you were still breathing.”
In the top, Merle blinks, withdrawing his risk and reporting himself to the college’s dean (Tawny Cypress). When she confronts Chuck about his youthful indiscretion, nevertheless, Chuck refrains from utilizing Ira’s file, tendering his resignation from Yale’s school as an alternative. Sic semper tyrannis, I assume.
On the other aspect of the nice “Billions” divide, Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) takes on an altogether extra harmful adversary than a legislation pupil: his fellow billionaire Mike Prince (Corey Stoll). When Bobby learns from his completely hung-over right-hand man Wags (David Costabile) that Prince is on deck for an ambassadorship to Denmark, the 2 males dig for no matter grime can cancel the appointment and damage Prince’s popularity.
They choose Scooter Dunbar (Daniel Breaker), Prince’s equal to Wags. Using a small military of runners to cowl up his personal involvement, Scooter seems to have developed a critical sports-betting behavior, exactly the type of safety vulnerability that will get individuals axed from authorities positions. (Or no less than used to.)
But Wags’s try and bigfoot Scooter on the difficulty backfires when Prince reveals as much as Axe Cap headquarters, revealing that the bets had been his personal. The motive he positioned the bets via Scooter and the runners wasn’t to cover a harmful vice, he says. It’s as a result of, given his well-earned popularity as an influence participant, his place might tilt the betting odds had been it extensively identified.
Not that this stops Axe’s assault. Keying in on a stray point out by Prince of his previous, Axe duties his lieutenants to dig deeper. Once once more, it’s Dollar Bill who will get the products: According to the mom (Becky Ann Baker) of Prince’s late associate, Prince swindled his former associate and finest pal out of a billion-dollar deal — contributing, she believes, to his dying in a drunk-driving accident. The ensuing TV information exposé lets Prince know he has an actual battle on his palms.
Indeed, if there’s a via line for this episode, it’s about characters attempting, and infrequently failing, to remain true to the individuals and issues that imply essentially the most to them. The artist Nico Tanner (Frank Grillo), the present love curiosity of Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff), recoils from the tradition of limitless money and entitlement embraced by the Axe Cap/Taylor Mason Carbon energy construction — though that doesn’t cease him from fleecing one in every of them for 1000’s of dollars for a mere scribble. (His vigorous, shirtless creation of a brand new portray earlier than an enraptured Wendy, to the tune of the Velvet Underground’s euphoric track “Rock and Roll,” is the episode’s valedictory second.)
As for Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon), the wunderkind dealer is aghast to find that the Mase Carb up-and-comer Rian (Eva Victor) nonetheless works as a cater waiter in her off hours. The aspect gig is an try and maintain alive her relationships to her previous mates, she insists. But if different main traders see her at work, Taylor argues, they may query how Taylor runs the store. At Taylor’s behest, Rian quits her aspect hustle and settles in for a comfortable night time in entrance of the telly together with her boss. Is it simply me, or is there motive to fret that Taylor’s right-hand girl, Lauren (Jade Eshete), gained’t be the one girl in the younger genius’s life earlier than too lengthy?
And whereas Chuck scrambles to discover a kidney donor for his father (Jeffrey DeMunn) — a plan of action that results in Chuck’s humiliation by Dr. Gilbert (Seth Barrish), whom he put away for moral violations — his ex-wife, Wendy, is tapped by Charles Sr. to be his well being care proxy.
“I need you to be cleareyed and punch my ticket” ought to the necessity come up, Charles tells her.
In the top, the episode’s most probably momentous second nearly looks like an afterthought. Acting on a tip by his sinister go-to man Victor Mateo (Louis Cancelmi), Axe buys up an clearly crooked payday lender that Chuck and his personal lieutenant, Kate Sacker (Condola Rashad), have been trying into. Why? Because mentioned lender has a financial institution constitution, the golden goose for which Axe Cap has been looking all season.
Game on, people!
As, fairly probably, essentially the most Tom Petty-friendly present on TV, “Billions” right here deploys “It’s Good to Be King.” Ironically, after all.
This week’s main cameos come in the type of The Bail Project’s governing board chair, Michael E. Novogratz, and the singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, whose apparent integrity challenges Tanner to face by his personal creative instincts.
As a Yale alum myself, I appreciated Chuck and Ira’s shout out to Mamoun’s, the New York/New Haven falafel mainstay. Boy, I might let you know some tales.
This week in “concepts I didn’t know about until ‘Billions’ told me about them,” it’s hygge, the Danish preferrred of being heat and contented. Has anybody on this present actually felt hygge at any time?