I am delighted to report that Grigor Andolov is becoming a more interesting character/eventual antagonist for Axe! And, unsurprisingly, the nicer and more benign he is towards Axe, the scarier he seems in general. If he brought me flowers I would assume I’d be digging my own shallow grave before the day is out.
If we had to impose an overarching theme on this episode, it would be people changing others’ perceptions of them in a single day, for good or bad. Grigor, rising above mine (and Axe’s, after that late-episode reveal)! Bobby letting down Taylor in a really profound way, and Taylor fearing they’ve irrevocably changed their relationship with Oscar. Sacker stepping out from her father’s shadow so Chuck can see her teeth. And, of course, BEN KIM.
Ben Kim!!! BEN KIM! In a generally heavy episode, the show decided that we needed a truly comic interlude (which did border on absolute cringe-horror for a few minutes), and I am filled with gratitude for it. Wendy (and the audience) had been so proud of Ben Kim calling out Dollar Bill last week (I fist-bumped the air!) and it was driving her nuts to see that he was sitting on a really great play because he was too anxious to bring it to Axe. Now, having chosen to introduce it to Axe at the worst possible time (while he was courting a set of potential investors) was beyond ill-advised. (I honestly cannot personally describe the shirt removal, the song choice, any of it, I am a ghost now.) But the play? The play is good. The play is smart! Such a relief. Wendy should be proud.
The major fault line this week, of course, is Chuck kicking off his deep dive into Jock Jeffcoat’s dirty laundry. I had to giggle at one bit of weak writing in the process, Chuck’s team wondering how Cutler, the fake-money guy, knew they were looking for him: My guys, do you not think the janitor who let you into the shell office had been given a burner phone and a few hundred bucks with instructions to call him at once if anyone showed up to the “company”? Cutler’s not a total idiot, just because he’s a paper tiger meant to shield Jeffcoat’s real money from view.
Jeffcoat is no dummy himself, and Chuck tends to underestimate him at his own peril. (I’m sure the aw-shucks Texas metaphors involving dogs and horses help.) Wendy, too, failed to bring her A-game to the table with Jock, and she should be better at reading people than this. She’s a professional, she can talk to a brick wall, and yet she sat around looked bored and nervous until Chuck showed up to relieve her. Also, Chuck, you can’t make up a better story that INCORPORATES the truth? All good liars do that, and you lie all the time! You had to do x, you got a flat tire?
I have to imagine that Jeffcoat’s planned Federal Day to scoop up all the unprosecuted state and municipal drug cases for prosecution is because (a) he’s a REAL sonuvabitch and (b) it’ll keep Chuck busy and distracted from any possible fomenting of rebellion.
Speaking of fun surprises, I think we all enjoyed Axe needing to do a LOT of fancy footwork to deal with Grigor’s unexpected redemption. David Krumholtz clearly had a lot of fun as the unfortunately named Frotty Anisman, and I was almost sad when Axe let Bruno’s wise words talk him back from hitching his wagon to Frotty’s Jordanian money of dubious source. Even if just to hear more of Wags’s grotesque body-horror insults about him!
Now we come to the most frustrating, for me, of this week’s developments: Taylor’s accidentally destructive meal at NoMad with Oscar and his silver-bullet private-equity deal in the making. The dinner went so well! Taylor and Oscar were so great together! (Oscar is shockingly emotionally healthy for a billionaire. Like, literally unbelievably so.) I will admit that the MINUTE Taylor casually mentioned the name of their dinner companion, I knew they would regret having done so, and thus when Taylor glanced at that large Axe Cap pullout for a private-equity investment, it was crushingly obvious what had happened. It now gets dicey for me for two reasons.
One, this happened before Grigor gave back the money in a critical 48-hour period; why on earth was Axe even LOOKING at private-equity deals? Two, it doesn’t seem plausible that Oscar would be mad at TAYLOR? Taylor could not be more innocent in this scenario. (I do not believe Axe’s assertion that Taylor knew what they were doing.) And Oscar loves them and is so understanding! The greater fracture here should be between Taylor and Bobby, but the look of pain on Taylor’s face leaving Oscar at that restaurant suggests otherwise, as did Taylor helplessly hugging Wendy. (Some of Asia Kate Dillon’s best work on the show to date.)
Oh, and also, we just met Axe’s mom. No big deal.