Billions Recap: I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This


Season 3 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Jeff Neumann/Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME

Children, gather round. We have ourselves a “new” pair of Big Bads for the remainder of the season. I say “new” because Jock, our much hated attorney general, has been wiggling around like a loose tooth since the season premiere, but only now is he really starting to ache. He’s not enough on his own to be interesting, of course, so we need someone to aggravate the heck out of Axe as well. And I am CONCERNED about the show’s choice for Axe’s new antagonist.

John Malkovich is always fun, he’s a fun dude! And when he plays scary, it’s particularly delicious. So I am extremely prepared for him to be good as his stint as Grigor Andolov develops, but this his first outing left me a bit … meh. It’s just more scenery-chewing than I would love to see from him. This particular character is SO in-your-face, being hugely dangerous and mercurial and Keyser Söze-y, and a softer touch of menace would make him significantly scarier. Right now he’s like a professional wrestler with an amped-up backstory, when I think the show would benefit more from a guy so dangerous that he doesn’t need to keep telling you how dangerous he is, or that you had better not lose his money.

I think Axe is probably gonna lose his money, guys! It’s the ol’ unfired gun. But now I feel a bit like Taylor. Taylor is for sure rocking some audience sympathy here. WHY are you taking his money? WHY do you need to do this huge capital raise in the first place? I cannot imagine that the deep pockets Axe Cap is hoping to woo are actually gonna be like, “Oh, wow, this erratic criminal murderer who doesn’t seem to actually know anything about finance, is giving his money to Bobby Axelrod, where is my checkbook.” I demand that Wags immediately drive me out to his ex-wife’s house and explain that Axe really is six steps ahead of me and I just can’t see it because it’s emotional but don’t worry. I need this reassurance, guys! It seems so hacky right now. Prove me wrong, team.

Can I say for a moment, however, that I was SO grateful for that little flash of Wags’s inner life? He had it BAD for his ex-wife, which is not something I could have guessed, and it contextualizes a lot of his ass-to-mouth supermodel druggy habits in a way I really appreciate. I had vowed never to feel bad for Wags after his stated desire to ATM that particular female analyst Wendy helped him escape in season one, but life is a rich tapestry.

Back to the events of this week, let’s talk about Jock Jeffcoat. (Clancy Brown is a national treasure, which I feel obliged to mention.) It seems overly pat to say he’s supposed to be Smart Malevolent Trump, which is limiting, but certainly when he and Chuck are shooting coyotes from the back of a truck, it will cross your mind. He’s extra cartoonishly evil this time; when Sacker and Chuck start discussing how they will string up the guards that murdered Jose Lugo (RIP Lugo!) it doesn’t take a genius to see that Jeffcoat is going to be like, “How about instead we give them the Congressional Medal of Honor?” It’s a lot. It’s too much. It’s a bit of a problem. It’s going to be a REAL problem for the season, if they don’t find a way to make him more real (enjoying Kate Sacker’s company is not enough; who wouldn’t?), he’ll just be another tin-pot dictator that Chuck needs to topple.

Now, I did enjoy Wendy’s demand that Chuck “assassinate” Jeffcoat. Her Lady Macbeth arc this season is extremely enjoyable. It’s not a clean move, mind, her decision to punish herself by unloading her beloved Maserati and sending the proceeds to the foundation is such an obvious attempt to find some balance in the scales that a child could see it. On a personal level, I was HORRIFIED when the Maserati got loaded onto the truck. I loved that car as much as she did. Not just because it was gorgeous, or even because it was a symbol of her professional success, but because there was this dangerous sexiness to it and her that Chuck can never touch or access. She’s not going to fuck Bobby, at least not right now, but giving her the Maserati was a way for Bobby to flip Chuck the finger to remind him that he can do things for Wendy that Chuck can’t. I could talk about the importance of the Maserati all day, but we have more to cover.

It’s a big week for self-doubt, beyond Wendy. Sacker is finally starting to chafe against the choices she’s made for herself (don’t worry, Bryan WILL show up to be snide at her), and Chuck has a mini-meltdown at Lonnie for being like “Man, you sure are Jock Jeffcoat’s bitch” over what had been only a SUPER tense dinner. Bryan has found a relatively soft landing over at that FBI as a special counselor. (SHOCKINGLY, I suspect this will lead to an ultimate confrontation between him and Chuck!)

I am thrilled that Danny Strong’s Todd Krakow got to play with us this week, EXTRA thrilled that Kevin Durant extracted extra money from him to record a message for his shitty kid’s bar mitzvah, and no matter how nervous I am about the show’s current season arcs, Bobby pretending Todd is his spiritual brother to convince Malkovich to get on board will keep me going through many long nights to come.

Billions Recap: I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This