Great Pilot!!! I was super excited about Billions only because I LOVE Wall Street movies. Funny thing is I could never have an intellectual conversation with you about equities, derivatives, mutual funds, bonds, IPO’s, which stock to invest in, etc. Zero Clue. But to listen to a person who can talk the street is very exciting and I have to admit, somewhat sexy. I don’t even think Damian Lewis is so good looking but they do a very good job in this show having him come off as pretty hot. Before I start breaking this show down, here are a few Wall Street Movies you should devote some time watching. I am sure most of you have seen these but they are great to re-watch and there may even be a few on this list that you never heard of before:
- Trading Places (enough said)
- Wall Street (the original)
- Boiler Room (classic)
- ENRON: The smartest guys in the room (do not miss this documentary!!!)
- Trader (1987 – Brilliant but good luck finding it – Paul Tudor Jones)
- American Psycho (great book as well- Christian Bale is amazing)
- Margin Call (Spacey)
- Wolf of Wall Street (LEO)
Enough about that, let’s discuss the show that is on everyone’s mind:
The show opens up with U.S Attorney, Chuck Rhoades (aka Paul Giamatti ) tied up and gagged by a dominatrix. She is wearing some kick ass HOT boots and we are led to believe he is “cheating” on his wife (at least I thought so). She burns him with a cigarette and extinguishes the pain by “peeing” on him. Look, I have no clue what goes on in your bedroom but people are really into some weird shit. The peeing thing I will NEVER understand….just saying.
Cut to Chuck’s office (we find out now Chuck is The Attorney General). Chuck is in a meeting with his lawyers and Ari Spyros (remember him from THE AFFAIR – Noah’s book agent?? HARRY!) barges in. Spyros, from the SEC, has brought files from three financial firms that have been engaging in activity that looks like, yup, insider trading and all three firms link to…. BOBBY AXELROD (Hi Brody 🙂 )
MAN OF THE PEOPLE
Bobby Fucking Axelrod “Man of the People” is definitely not the same person he is at the pizza joint that he is at Axe. Did you notice his wife is from 24? Remember her? She was Jack Bauer’s daughter, Kim. JUST KIDDING. It looks like her though, right???
The saving grace of the pizza restaurant is now back in Westport with a new face and a new game. I have no idea what Bobby discussed with his men at Axe (if you understood it, Kudos to you, maybe we can discuss that over a glass of wine) but what I took from that little Wall Street banter was Bobby Axelrod is the smartest guy in the room and nobody fucks with him.
Bobby is in the bathroom preparing for his speech to give out college scholarships to a group of teenagers (he OWNS Axe capital, why doesn’t he have his own bathroom?). These teenagers happen to be the children of Axelrod’s former colleagues who died on 9/11. Apparently Axe was the only surviving partner because he was not at the twin towers that fateful day. Axe seems like the guy who is trying to do good although I have a feeling there is something not so great going on behind this little charity he created.
We cut to Chuck with Bryan (his wing man) eating take out discussing whether or not to go after Axelrod. Chuck wants to wait it out “Bobby Axelrod is Mike Tyson in his prime”. He wants to go after Axe when he lost a few. As Chuck says “We’ve got to be playing three-dimensional chess. Axe is a folk hero in this town. The guy gave the New York City Firefighter’s Foundation $100 million last year. Police gave him a plaque at Ground Zero with his goddamn name on it. But a good matador doesn’t try to kill a fresh bull. You wait until he’s been stuck a few times.” Chuck knows when the time is right as he makes it loud and clear his record is 81-0. Bryan mentions the other issue, “home”. We have no idea what he is referring to yet…
The show gives us a little of Lara, Bobby’s wife, blue-collar upbringing. She grew up with 5 “sibs” (who says that), firemen, cops, nurses and the only boating they ever did was on the Staten Island Ferry. Here we see, you can take Bobby and Lara out of their old blue-collar life but it really never leaves them (pizza and white castle).
Kate, the junior staffer at the U.S attorney’s office, gives Chuck a heads up that Bobby Axelrod is looking to buy an $83 million dollar house in the Hampton’s. Yes, this baby:
So I researched this a little bit because I had to know – do hedge funds really hire in-house shrinks? Well, not so much BUT at SAC Capital: Cohen famously hired psychiatrist Ari Kiev to coach his traders. Axe has an in-house shrink by the name of DR. MOJO (she played Rachel Katz in Mad Men) aka Wendy Rhoades, Chuck’s wife. Her job as the in-house therapist is to build up the guys whenever they are feeling insecure. Like her little session with Ben (aka the guy who took part in the threesome with Claire in House of Cards). Loved this monologue:
“Now, I want you to go back to your Bloomberg and cut bait on your losers… you know the ones. The ones you’ve been defending, hoping they’ll come ’round, but, secretly, you know never will. I want you to just commit that you’re in it for the long haul, that you will succeed. And once you do that, the new ideas, the winners, will present themselves because you are a winner. You’re in the Special Forces here. You are a Navy SEAL. And there’s a reason for that. Did the S.E.A.L.s make a mistake signing you up? No. They did not. The S.E.A.L.s don’t make mistakes.”
A TALE OF TWO WORLDS
We get our first insider view to both the Rhoades family and the Axelrod family. It’s here we realize that Mrs. Mojo is married to Mr. D.A. Wendy & Chuck, living in brownstone elegance, fight about which one has the right to keep their job. Wendy with the salary 8 times what Chuck brings in or Chuck who is a superhero to the public.
Flip to Lara & Bobby’s lavish house in Westport with nanny and Chef Ryan (Would LOVE me some Chef Ryan). Bobby explains to his two (very adorable) sons how a pissing contest works after their dog pees on their furniture. Bobby is grooming those two as little stock traders for JPMORGAN.
Back in Chucks office, (I need to download that meditation app), he is caught off guard by his father (also a very well-to-do attorney) who shows up to help his friend, Skip, who is headed to prison for sharing insider information. Chuck doesn’t care how long his father and Skip have been friends or how much time they have spent summering together in the Hamptons. He is not going to help him, no way, no how. Off to jail he goes. Chuck is the moral ambassador.
When a reporter from the Journal questions Chuck during a press conference about why he isn’t going after Axe Capital, that lights a fire under his ass. Chuck decides maybe it’s about that time. He wants it to get back to Axe “not to buy the house.” If he is “guilty” Bobby will buy that house to show that he has nothing to hide but if he is innocent he will pass on it.
Bobby confides in Wendy about the house and she warns him that it’s an impulse purchase. Bobby agrees, but can’t help himself: “If I do it, it will unleash the hounds, which makes me want it even more.” Wendy mentions quitting and Bobby doesn’t want to hear about it for a minute. He isn’t having it. Looks as though Axelrod Capital needs her in ways that her husband does not. This should be very interesting as we get deeper into the season.
The true Bobby begins to show as we find him in a “boiler room” with his shady off-the-books adviser known simply as “Hall.” Hall tells Bobby that an FBI informant tried to catch him on tape and the nosy reporter from the Journal, who was asking questions about Axe, needs to be handled. Bobby should make him his new friend and he should feed him an inside story about “Stephen Birch” (an investor) to get him off Bobby’s back. The plan works and Bobby decides not to buy the house.
BUT Bobby runs into Rhoades and everything goes down hill from there. We get to witness a real life pissing contest between the two of them and neither of them are backing down. Axelrod is not some neutered dog, he’s a man, a REAL MAN and he will be damned if he isn’t going to buy that house! Let the games begin….