BILLIONS Review: “Sic Transit Imperium”

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The day of Axe’s birthday celebration, he contemplates life, his commitment to do things above board, and his relationship with Wendy on . Chuck begins making Sandicot personal, and turns it into an unofficial campaign stop, but runs into obstruction when Foley’s relationship’s make it harder for Chuck to prosecute Axe. He has to dig deeper in order to catch Axe doing something criminal, and it may include going after Taylor.

Sandicot has been a boon for Chuck when it comes to running for Governor. He’s been polling less strong in Upstate New York, which means playing for the cameras as Sandicot’s savior will go a long way into making inroads for him when he decides to officially run. If Chuck can prosecute Axe for his involvement in the harsh austerity on Sandicot, and show Axe had inside information he was trading on in the hopes of getting rich, the road will be paved to the governors mansion for him. There’s a harsh double side to the situation though, since Foley and Chuck’s father were involved in changing the casino’s venue to another town, they are by default also responsible for the situation in Sandicot. No ones hands are clean when it comes to the innocent people of Sandicot, and that includes Chuck’s. If this information were ever found out or leaked to the press, and Axe does know, it would ruin any chances Chuck has of becoming Governor. Knowing how much Axe and Chuck hate each other, it seems pretty obvious if Axe goes down, he’s taking Chuck with him.

The biggest problem Chuck has, is the casino developer he tries to put the squeeze on is in bed with Foley when it comes to the casino deal. Since Foley is using all of his resources to help Chuck attain the state’s highest office, he can’t go after Axe this route without alienating his benefactor. It’s a harsh reality and leaves a sour taste in Chuck’s mouth, but if he wants to play the game and get to the Governor’s mansion, he’ll have to find another angle to come at Axe. He’s being helped by Bryan and Sacker, who’ve begun shaking down former employees of Axe’s. First it was Gus, who pointed them to Steph Reed, and when she didn’t have anything of value, she pointed them to Taylor. Their every movement is being tracked by the FBI, and it seems they may be ready to crack, since clearly the Axe Capital lifestyle and the way it changes a person is getting to them. Is Taylor the key to taking down Axe once and for all?

Axe’s birthday celebration is planned as a huge party, but the timing couldn’t be worse. The PR on Axe’s firm looks awful because of what they’re doing to Sandicot through austerity measures to get their investment money back. He’s in the spotlight, and has been since Chuck first went after him, which is why he’s been trying to keep a distance from the shady trades and investments he was making in the past. Everything needs to be above board, but Dollar Bill hints at a deal that could make them hundreds of millions of dollars, but lands in a grey area that could be trouble. It irks Axe to turn down something that appears to be a sure thing, but it leads Dollar Bill to get Axe and Victor to make amends. Victor will start a new private trading firm with Axe’s money, and Axe will get a split of the take, that way he can make it look like he had nothing to do with it, yet still reap the rewards. It still could come back to bite him, but he can’t stand letting an opportunity pass him by.

Last episode Chuck had Axe right where he wanted him; angry and without any control of his temper, which means he could make a mistake. Tables have turned a bit this episode, and after reading the transcripts of Sacker’s interrogation of Steph Reed, he figures out Axe is the person who bought up all the Winston Churchill first editions out of spite so Chuck couldn’t get his copies back. It sends Chuck into a tirade, and it appears he’s now the one out of control. Can he keep his emotions in check, or is it too late? The books meant the world to him, so it’s a really personal blow Axe has dealt him. Will his decision making become skewed because of it?

Wendy finds her time at Axe Capital to not go as smoothly as she hoped. She’s under a spotlight from Axe because he believes she convinced one of his best guys to quit over Sandicot, and doesn’t trust her motives. He even tests her by sending his secretary to talk to Wendy and try to phish for her to let loose some incriminating response that would prove to him she nudged his employee out the door. Wendy is smarter than that though, and knows right away. Because of how awkward things have been at work, she declines to attend Axe’s birthday party, but after the urging of Lara, who thinks it is important she come, Wendy changes her mind. It’s at the party when Wendy and Lara talk about Wendy’s role at Axe Capital, that Lara discovers Axe lied to her, and the separation between Wendy and Axe was Wendy’s idea. It tears Lara apart, but she puts on a brave face. How will this affect her relationship with Axe? They are supposed to be a team, and now she’s learned that he manipulates her just like he manipulates others.

More thoughts:

  • Will Chuck find being under Foley’s thumb too unpalatable eventually? He’s used to being in control of his own destiny, but now he has other considerations to make first.
  • Taylor is reluctant about fully integrating at Axe Capital, could this internal tension be used to bring Axe down?
  • Lara doesn’t mess around, but if she can’t trust her own husband, who can she trust?
  • Will Chuck allowing his father to invest his trust money in his friend’s juice company have bad consequences down the line?


Season 2, Episode 9 (S02E09)
Billions airs Sundays at 9PM on Showtime

Read all of our reviews of Billions here.
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For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @OfSoundnVision
Keep up with all of Jeff’s reviews here.

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