Wed 15 Mar 2017, 07:36
Season 2 of crime drama Billions is now airing on DStv, so get up to speed on the action and high jinks that came before in Season 1 by bingeing all 12 episodes back to back on Showmax.
Season 2 of crime drama Billions is now airing on M-Net (Mondays at 21:30), so get up to speed on the action and high jinks that came before in Season 1 by bingeing all 12 episodes back to back on Showmax.
This intriguing and addictive crime series is loosely based on the true story of the escapades of a dogged financial crimes prosecutor as he hunted down a real-life crooked hedge fund manager.
The legal battles, manipulation and high-stake cat-and-mouse games are brought to life in Billions by Paul Giamatti as Chuck Rhoades Jr, a crusading US Attorney in New York, and Damian Lewis as Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, an ambitious hedge fund manager who has struck it rich in all kinds of dodgy ways. Here’s what to expect from Season 1.
The major players
Once Chuck starts digging to get the dirt on the shady dealings at Bobby’s firm, Axe Capital, he’ll stop at nothing to use Bobby’s downfall as a foothold to higher political office. It may seem like he’s a knight in shining armour, but he’s got a dark side that comes out in the bedroom. Meanwhile, Chuck’s wife, Wendy, is the in-house psychiatrist at Axe Capital, and is now caught between her loyalty to her husband and her ties to the firm.
Bobby is a 9/11 survivor and a prominent figure on Wall Street, widely revered and admired for his generous charity work… but he’s not above illegal activity like insider trading.
Bobby’s wife, Lara, also plays a big part in the action. She’s fierce and feisty, and will fight tooth-and-nail to protect Bobby’s reputation and that of her family. Like Bobby, she came from humble beginnings, and is not about to give up her restaurant, her $90-million mansion, or the lifestyle that Bobby’s wealth affords her without a fight.
What you’ll quickly learn about Billions is that none of the characters is completely good, or completely bad. You’ll find yourself hating them all at some point, and then suddenly empathising with them again.
How it all goes down
Episode 1 - Pilot: The opening scene of the whole series sees Paul Giamatti as Chuck tied down on the floor, with a gag in his mouth. We immediately assume he’s being held hostage or similar, until we see a pair of high-heeled black boots striding towards him, and we realise this is all part of his and his wife’s kinky BDSM roleplay. The first words of the series come out of Wendy’s mouth: “You’re in need of correction, aren’t you?”. This scene sets the mood for the rest of the show, which is more about the interplay of egos, dominance and manipulation than it is about money, wealth or justice.
Episode 1 - Pilot: When June, the widow of a partner at Axe Capital, starts making a scene about how unfair it is that Bobby survived 9/11 and has now taken over the firm (in episode 3, we find out June is about to release a tell-all book that incriminates Bobby), Bobby’s wife, Lara, takes matters into her own hands. She tells June that where she’s from (a working-class, Irish family), if someone has a problem with you and takes that beef public instead of bringing it to you in person, “the ground just falls out beneath them … you find yourself all alone.” June says, “Are you threatening me?” and Lara replies, “You’re f**king right I am. It’s how I grew up.”
Episode 10 - Quality of Life: The fake fight between Bobby and “Dollar” Bill Stern, also known as Keyser, is a joy to watch. Bobby calls Keyser into his office and makes him shut the door. The other Axe employees can see everything through the glass doors of Bobby’s office, but it’s soundproof, so they can’t hear what he’s saying. To get revenge on his former employees who “defected” by going out on their own, Bobby wants them to get wind of the fact that he and Keyser have had a falling out. They poke and prod and push each other, and yell at the top of their lungs, but what they’re actually saying is things like, “Come bonus time, I’m going to show you enough love that you can start a third family!” and “I love you like a brother!” and “I f**kin’ love you too, man.”
Episode 12 - The Conversation: In the Season finale, Wendy finds her way out of the tricky situation she’s been in since her husband started targeting her boss. After confronting Chuck, and recording the conversation, she blackmails Bobby into wiring her $5 million, says “Goodbye”, and speeds off, smiling, finally free of the two men who both used and betrayed her - and also quite a lot richer - in the OTT car that Bobby bought her as a show of gratitude earlier in the episode.