I’ve been a fan of Billions since season 1, so much so, I would say I was addicted to season 1 and 2 of Billions. However, my steam began to dissipate in season 3. I don’t know if I was just burned-out on the entitlement, self-aggrandizement, greed, the sheer chaos and rampant tantrums of this current presidential administration that I just couldn’t stomach any more of this shit even if it was a scripted TV show. Characters that started out smart and savvy in seasons 1 & 2 became one-dimensional characters that made extremely stupid decisions, consumed with revenge to the point that season 4 felt like a boring and tired soap opera. We saw old, inconsequential characters come back into the fold for very little interesting moves, which I thought, “that was a total waste of my time.” For example, and this is only one example of many this season. The episode which Axelrod takes his dead friend’s now grown-up son out on to the water to do some bonding through fishing sans cellphones. As these two are ‘bonding,’ Axelrod has his team go after all of this man’s clients, simply because this now grown-up pays Axelrod back with a check and decides not to work with Axe any longer. Really? What was the point of this episode? To show us how vengeful Axelrod is? It felt like a filler episode and a waste of time.
I’ve grown tired of the 1-trick pony characters to the point that I asked myself if they are even relevant to the success of this show or the day to day operations of Axe Capital. Also, I was irritated with everyone’s characters except for Taylor’s camp, but felt the dynamic of Taylor and his father was rushed and used solely for the set-up between Axe and Taylor. Who do you root for when you know Axelrod will always win? Is the show still thrilling when the viewer already knows that Axe will always come out on top?
Yes, Dollar Bill is necessary for the spontaneity and wild card of the bunch to bring in the money and some humor. But, Dollar Bill fighting Mafee in a boxing-ring and egged on by Axelrod and Taylor. Really tho? Really? Ridiculous and not in a funny kind of way.
Wags’ clever banter and his random pop culture references were on point and funny throughout each season, but not even balling his eyes out with a professional hugger this season contributed to any character dimension. Wags has had periodic yet fleeting existential moments throughout the seasons, in which he questioned his life, his work and his relationships or lack thereof, unfortunately, that’s where it stops. So, I ask, Is Wags just Axe’s business butler at this point?
Ari Spyros, WTF is his character there for anyway? Comic relief? He espouses random movie references and literature quotes as if he’s on a Broadway stage. Ari, the proverbial awkward kid that just wants to belong trying to edge his way into the group, yet falls flat every time. I cringed every time his mouth opened. What exactly does Axe really need him for? Compliance so Axe doesn’t go to jail. Ari, please just STFU and do your job or leave.
Then there’s Wendy. She is so out of bounds and a total shit show that I’d say please get rid of her. She is the Svengali of Axe Capital who manipulated, crossed major lines and boundaries to best….Taylor of all people. Taylor, who has been authentic with Wendy from day one. Wendy, by trade, is to ‘do no harm,’ yet she meticulously set out to destroy Taylor. Who is Wendy? A therapist, trader or consultant? Pick one and stay in that lane. Needless to say, I enjoyed when Taylor read Wendy her filth while Wendy’s response was one of a self-righteous, bible-thumping, pearl-clutching lady with a ‘how dare you!’ look. If there ever was slap therapy, I’d use it on Wendy.
Taylor made a complaint to the board and Wendy’s license was up for suspension, but Axelrod comes to her rescue by bribing, I mean ‘donating’ 25 million to a Pancreatic cancer research facility. Wendy sees this online via her Ipad, and really starts to see Axelrod in a whole different light as in ‘Axelrod.. he really cares for me’ because in her mind, since Chuck didn’t put his job in any more danger to fix hers, somehow, he doesn’t love her. So, she packs a bag and leaves the marital home she shares with Chuck and runs over to Axe’s penthouse because a hotel just doesn’t seem right. Excuse me? Makes me want to puke. She has all that money she made with insider trading knowledge plus her Axe Capital bonuses in the millions during the season 2 finale and she just can’t find herself in a hotel? Girl, bye. Get a room, order room service, get a spa package, and have housekeeping clean up after you. No husband, no kids = some peace.
Which brings us to Chuck’s camp. The icing on the cake for this patchwork season was the whole father-son sting to get Connerty. You mean to tell me they had the foresight to set up a sting to get Connerty? Not buying it. They also made Connerty stupid for being blinded with revenge (key word throughout this season) going after Rhoades. Aren’t there many more cases and issues to look into besides one person? Connerty was one of the brightest lawyers on the team concerned about integrity yet he tumbles so quickly putting his job, career, reputation and law license in that kind of jeopardy by breaking and entering into Chuck’s dad’s house- himself?????!!!!!! And we’re supposed to believe this? Chuck gets off free of a dirty real estate deal. Chuck’s dad gets off free of the same dirty real estate deal. And Connerty goes down?
On a Sidenote: Remember Ira, Chuck’s friend that Chuck steamrolled and made Ira lose all of his money? We saw Ira, this season with his wife having a baby. Huh? We last saw Ira’s ‘wife’ when she was grifting him out of money with her boyfriend in season 2. Chuck threatened something to her about leaving Ira, returning his money and she wouldn’t be prosecuted. But Ira, the schmuck, decided to stay because he couldn’t really afford to divorce. Somehow, she’s now put her grifting ways aside and pushed out a baby? This girl was ALL about money and now she’s a happy homemaker? Again, where did this come from???!!! Doesn’t even make sense. So many things this season just doesn’t make sense.
One last icing on the cake that made this season a whole bunch of eyerolls for me was Axe’s Grey’s Anatomyesque diatribe explaining to Rebecca (his girlfriend) why he cut her off at the knees in his take over of Saler’s- her company. I was done. When does Axe use those many words to get his point across?
Obviously, by the end of the finale, we see season 4 was a reset button. Taylor and her team (Mafee) are at Axe Capital, Axelrod hasn’t really lost anything, Wendy still has her license, and Chuck is still a government lawyer. Now, Chuck is pissed and feels Axelrod is honing in on his relationship (a feeling that was slightly explored in seasons 1 & 2). Season 4 was about revenge, Axelrod’s and Chuck’s revenge, actually everyone’s revenge and it made for a very long and boring season. Season 5 seems to be set up with Axe and Chuck being adversaries again. We’ll see if it becomes the thrilling and intelligent show it started out as or just another patchwork filler on TV.
Some Ideas and some questions:
Character development either through flashbacks or present-day problems. Flashbacks of how Wendy came aboard AxeCap. We’ve heard the lingo in season 1 or 2, but we lost all the body language. Was there a triangle between Axe, Wendy and Axe’s Ex-wife? Was Wendy already married to Chuck when she met Axe? Flashbacks could breathe new life into these relationships and dynamics.
Loose ends either explored or tied up with an explanation so that the viewer isn’t thinking, “Where the hell did this come from? or “Did I miss something?”
Where are all the kids that were introduced in season 1? Are they now adults with their own lives? Highly Doubt it. What kind of fathers are these two men to their growing children? What is their relationship with their children? What is Wendy’s? Does this affect all parents involved? How does it affect the kids? Are Axe’s kids entitled? Are Chuck’s and Wendy’s kids angry? You can’t have all that undercover sexual BDSM seeping out of parents and kids not pick up on it somehow. Impossible. Think Porn, lack of boundaries = sexually ‘suggestive’ at a young age, drugs, need for control, eating disorders etc. Are the kids getting bullied at school since Chuck outed himself as BDSM? Why wasn’t this addressed in this season or maybe I slept through it.
Where is Axelrod’s Ex? Does she have a new man? if so, make him in the same industry. Would Axelrod care? Can Rebecca invest in Axelrod’s Ex-wife’s venture?
I would like to see Axelrod get bested at something, however small. Let him be rejected by a woman that he really desires, or maybe his kids reject him. Explore Axelrod’s and Wendy’s present-day relationship. It seemed Axelrod didn’t listen to her advice yet still said she was valuable to the team. Wendy felt slighted. Having Axelrod lose confidence in Wendy’s ability, but still wanting her to work at AxeCap would be interesting to see. Why does he rescue Wendy and keep her around if he’s lost confidence in her? Does Axe really love her? Will Axe now see her as too needy (needing to sleep at this place) or does he see her as property that he fully cannot have- until now? BTW- Axe has pretty much controlled Wendy with his money. Now that he has her, does he really want her? Would Axelrod keep her at arm’s length and be interested in someone else?
Will Wags and Taylor’s right-hand woman bond? Will Wags actually spend more time in his existential crisis? If so, how can he work for Axe Cap and fill his void?
As for Wendy, If she’s still practicing, have Axelrod and some on the team lose confidence in her skills. How does she handle that? Is Wendy trading one man for another thinking they are different only to find out these two men are the same? She’s a therapist after all, fully aware of patterns. Also, Wendy was so concerned why Chuck chose her, but why did she choose Chuck? What boundaries has she crossed to appease the men in her life? After all, she did agree to be the Dominatrix to her husband to save his career prior to Chuck’s outing. Flashbacks into their relationship as it turned toward his BDSM would be interesting as well as her own original family. Psychologically, these two found each other for a reason and she keeps the same type of men in her orbit.
Finally, can we get rid of the guest spots by the creme de la creme of the NY and TV cooking world and billionaires of this country? I understand the show wants the viewer to be reminded that Axe’s money can literally buy a personal chef for a dinner, but there is often no screen fluidity with these scenes. The real-life chefs have no screen presence and the viewer is taken out of that scene. Instead of me saying, ‘Axe has all the money in the world to get a personalized dinner from a famous chef,’ I’m instead saying, ‘wow that real life chef cannot act,’ and just like that the viewer is taken out of the show. This is becoming like those random guest spots on Empire, instead of black people, music, and fashion, it’s white people, food and money. Use an actor and keep the viewer in the story.
As a viewer, I had no investment into these characters this season and no real desire to learn what happened to them next. It was a snore to see Axelrod so petty and trifling, concerned with small fish. Is he now Trump? It’s also boring to see Axelrod, Chuck, and Wendy win all the time. What story is there to tell if they all, always come out on top and unscathed?
What are your thoughts about Billions season 4? Do you still enjoy Billions? Is it still worth your time?