I welcome Billions’s confounding nature if it means a satisfying payoff, and if this entire season is any indication, I have a feeling that’s what awaits us.
“Lamster” is riddled with ambiguity, which is exactly why it’s so enthralling. Major plot points are left wildly open-ended — like, what is the status of those incriminating documents locked in Senior’s safe? Bryan Connerty and his safecracker brother, Jackie, do indeed break into Senior’s apartment so Bryan can photograph every page of the smoking gun, but he hasn’t revealed to anyone he has hard evidence against both Rhoades men. Also, the Connerty brothers only think they completed this mission undetected. In addition to helping himself to a pair of Senior’s cufflinks, Jackie rehung the painting that conceals the safe in an askew manner. We know this because mere seconds after the brothers leave the building, Hall enters, hired by Axe as a favor to Chuck, to procure the documents before the FBI seizes them. Axe’s fixer notices the lopsided artwork, but other than that, we’ll have to wait for the third and final act for the documents’ next appearance.
(Chuck needed to engage his own safecracker because at the top of the episode, Senior realized his home was bugged and went on the run. As you do.)
While covering up his own illegal activities, Chuck spends “Lamster” (Jock Jeffcoat’s disparaging nickname for Senior) ramping up his case against Jock, cashing in on favors he earned throughout the season from a trio of New York power brokers. The brain trust discovers Jock is unequivocally guilty of election fraud, but the only way Chuck has a chance of prosecuting the corrupt attorney general is for someone else to do it. He wants that person to be Kate Sacker.
Chuck nearly out-Chucks himself in his sales pitch to Sacker — there are Sade references and on-point reminders of how far Connerty has fallen — so much so that she silences him with two words: “Stop selling.” What remains to be seen is if the truths Chuck embedded into his flattery stuck with her. Sacker has disclosed to Jock that Chuck is building a case against him, suggesting she has already betrayed her former boss, but this could be part of Chuck’s master plan — or her own. Notice she’s still fiddling with that U.S. flag pin Chuck gave her, and the more she works alongside Jock and Connerty in their investigation of Charles Rhoades Sr., it’s only a matter of time before everyone’s illegal activity comes to light.
After Senior is apprehended by the FBI (he was hiding out upstate with his baby mama), Jock attempts an interrogation, but even Senior can tell the attorney general has nothing on him. Though Senior’s smug grin may be short-lived, because Jock is so determined to destroy Chuck and his father that he orders Connerty to tear up the attorney-client privilege rulebook: Whatever the Rhoades men and Ira discussed in that recorded — but redacted — conversation from last week’s episode is about to be divulged.
With all of the oxygen being sucked out of the episode by her husband and employer, Wendy almost gets lost in the “Lamster” crowd. Almost. Taylor stayed true to their word and did not appear at Wendy’s medical board hearing, but their guilt trip worked like a charm. To Orrin’s shock, Wendy confesses to malpractice and graciously accepts her license suspension. For the first time in several episodes, I like Wendy again, because, like Taylor suspected, she still knows right from wrong, and she’s willing to repent for her misdeeds. “I finally feel myself again,” Wendy tells Tender Wags, who, while greeting her after the hearing, says and does everything she requires at that moment. He expertly reads her facial expression, offers a hug, and assures her Axe Capital still needs her as a performance coach.
I admire Wendy’s new mindful approach to life (she’s reading Altered Traits in one scene), but if my hunch about the end of “Lamster” is correct, it’s going to take a lot more than meditation to deal with what’s ahead.
In last week’s episode, there was a subplot about how Taylor gained control of Saler’s biggest appliance supplier, effectively giving them authority over Rebecca’s department-store chain. The friction between Axe and Rebecca continues to build as they try to figure a way out of this jam, which has all been part of Taylor’s plan (they know Rebecca is Axe’s weak spot). Axe decides to rescue his girlfriend by purchasing another appliance supplier instead — to the tune of $6 billion. His cavalier attitude results in a massive intervention, in which everyone, from Wags to Wendy to Dollar Bill to Ben Kim, explains that sinking his company because he’s “p-whipped” (Bill’s words, not mine) is just bad business.
But that’s not even the worst betrayal from Axe’s perspective: Rebecca, seeing there was no way her boyfriend could save her company without destroying both Axe Cap and their relationship, cuts a deal with Taylor instead. Since we know Axe is a guy who will burn his world to the ground before he allows his arch-enemy to get away with anything (he’s still needling Chuck to prosecute Taylor for crimes they didn’t commit, by the way), I think we need to prepare for Armageddon.
In the final moments of “Lamster,” Axe Cap indentured servant Victor (Louis Cancelmi) presents Axe with a new option for his Saler’s problem. What is it? Damned if I know, but whatever it is, Wags’ words of warning (and the dim lighting and this song) confirm that it is going to be catastrophic for someone Axe cares about.
Now, I could be wrong about this, because the episode takes great strides to not reveal its hand in these scenes, but it looks like that someone is going to be Wendy. Why else would Billions have given us that magnificent scene between Axe and Wendy last week if things weren’t about to implode between them? Furthermore, if Wendy isn’t the victim of Axe’s intended sabotage, then “Lamster” probably wouldn’t have concluded with Axe asking Wags to use his particular set of skills (i.e., get her rip-roaring drunk at Daniel) to “pad the blow of a shitty day.”
Since Wags always knows the right thing to say, I’ll let him have the last word here:
“This isn’t a fire drill. It’s the Fyre Festival.”
• Every time I am resolute in my hatred of Senior, he then does something endearing, thereby forcing me to recalibrate my opinion. When the FBI bursts into the room he’s sharing with his mistress, Roxanne (Lily Gladstone), and their infant daughter, he immediately adopts a protective stance toward mom and baby. It’s sweet.
• Though that doesn’t excuse his calling Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer “little girls.”
• Nothing is more romantic than Lauren telling Taylor her reason for taking an immediate comp payout.
• Please tell me “Lamster” won’t be the only time we see Clancy Brown and Jeffrey DeMunn featured in a room together on Billions.
• Putting the two of them in a room together also reminded me that they both played prison guards in Stephen King-adapted, Frank Darabont-directed films (Brown in The Shawshank Redemption; DeMunn in The Green Mile).