"Billions" Recap: Will Chuck or Ax Secure a Vital Piece of Evidence? (2023)


"Billions" Recap: Will Chuck or Ax Secure a Vital Piece of Evidence? (1)

Credit: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME


S3 E5

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The whole reason Ax Capital works the way it works is because of the company's willingness to push the envelope of what is legal. Sure, they cross that line from time to time, but is it really illegal if you don't get caught? (Side note: yes it is, but that's not the point). The cronies at Ax Capital, both the charming and the obnoxious, thrive on being able to follow in their footsteps with ruthless abandon. Therefore, when a space engineer dies or a small town goes bankrupt, they can benefit. They don't have a leash, or if they do, it's a very long one.

That's why Dollar Bill is so angry in this episode; His leash was shortened. With Ax out of the office, he's at the mercy of Ari Spyros, a man no one in the office seems to like. Now abiding by the regulations, Ari sees his job as the frontline to keep Ax Capital's doors open. If he doesn't keep their deals afloat, he thinks he's failed. At least that's what he tells himself. It's more likely he just enjoys wielding his power. When Dollar Bill comes to him with an option short on a pharmaceutical company on the brink of collapse because of a whistleblower who wants to expose the animal cruelty in the labs, Ari guns him down.

Well, maybe that wouldn't be a problem in most cases, but Ari certainly wouldlovesBill refuses his game. The two nearly clash before Wendy orders her to come to her office like she's a headmistress rounding up her unwieldy, childish students. She allows Bill and Ari to voice their grievances but says they must end their divisive behavior. But really, this is a meeting, one way or another, about Chuck and Axe. Bill and Ari's feud is just a microcosm of this larger feud Wendy is caught between. When Wendy seeks solace in booze and the company of wags, you know things are bad and she's being pulled in all directions.

Ax also knows this feeling. He's mostly managed to navigate his (possibly temporary) trading ban by working his firm's money through Victor Matteo and other outside investors, using Taylor as a front, of course, but the Ice Juice issue and pending trial still linger there. This isn't going away anytime soon, even if Ax either disappears or flips some key witnesses. The last loose end he has to worry about is the doctor who helped him create the poison that leaked into the ice juice and led to the sabotage of the supply.

Ax and his new cronies approach the doctor and ask him about the lab slide that would have Ax's fingerprints all over it. The doctor says he disposed of the slide immediately, just like Ax ordered. However, he doesn't believe it because he believes that no one, not even this doctor, would give up such a potentially harmful leverage. In Ax's world and in the world ofbillion, everyone is looking for an advantage, a single advantage that can move them forward.

Death Star Flaw becomes essentially a race against the clock, with both Ax and Chuck fighting to win over the Doctor and his potential evidence. Chuck's situation is a little tricky because he can track down the doctor, but it involves using information he saw breaking Wendy's trust and looking at the patient's notes on her computer. In Ax's file, he saw the name Donnie, one of Ax's traders who died long ago in season one. Chuck suspects that Ax would bring in a doctor he trusts to help with the toxin, and believes he could learn the doctor's name from Donnie's widow. Wendy has no words for the plan - caught, as always, between Chuck and Axe's own motives.(summary continues on next page)

Donnie's husband isn't too pleased to see Chuck, calling him "the man who made my husband's last days a living hell" because Chuck was focused on the process, getting Donnie to testify and connecting carry. Chuck details how Ax bought and paid for Donnie's doctor, meaning Donnie didn't get an experimental drug that could have given him a few more months to live. The conversation leads to nothing, the widower refuses to accept Chuck's story.

What Chuck gets is the name of a charter school being built in Donnie's name and the detail that Donnie's doctor was one of the first to donate money to build it. So Chuck has someone research the school's legitimacy "from the books," which is basically his sneaky way of getting the donor list. This is how he gets the doctor's name and arranges a secret nightly meeting. He tells him that the government is clearly closing in and that his best option is to testify against Axe. However, the doctor refuses, saying his work is too important to sacrifice in the name of nailing Axe, once again putting Chuck in a position where he can't quite secure evidence against his nemesis.

While Ax and Chuck scramble to get the doctor on their side, Bryan tries to prove that Chuck has been involved in some shady business himself. Bryan believes Lawrence Boyd is the key to finding out what happened. Chuck gets along with Kate and that leads to her representing the Southern DistrictagainstBryan. Chuck secures Boyd and gets him to name names in the Axelrod case in exchange for the return of his government-seized boat. Boyd gets his freedom at sea, Kate and Chuck make some notes, and Bryan is two steps behind Chuck once again.

Most of this episode is about Chuck and Ax trying to get ahead of just about everyone, including each other, but there are plenty of other storylines swirling around as well. It's hard to say what will become of them, and so there's a good portion of Fault in the Death Star that feels like a preparation for later events. There's Taylor and Oliver who spend a night netrunner before making love to the tunes of Echo and the Bunnymen. Ax and Wags try to set Ari straight and get him to settle his feud with Dollar Bill. And Dollar Bill is promised more freedom of trade, but that doesn't stop him from destroying Aris Porsche. Ax Capital seems to fall apart at times, and yet their leaders (both Taylor and Axe) don't seem overly concerned.

Maybe that's because the process is more important than anything else. Dollar Bill's problems may seem important to him, but if there is no Ax Capital in the near future, there may not even be a Dollar Bill. When the doctor wants to meet Ax at night because he has changed his mind, Ax accepts the meeting. He listens to the doctor's lecture. It's actually quite simple: He wants $200 million from Axe. He put the money he received into his foundation, into his work to cure cancer. Now he wants some money for himself and his family.

Ax, with an ever-keen eye, doesn't believe the doctor's sudden change of heart. The pivot is too fast for his liking. He sees this as a delaying tactic to distract from and hide the fact that Chuck and his team have already made a deal with the doctor. He's right. Chuck is in possession of the slide and managed to get Bryan off his back.

Chuck builds a solid foundation for himself and for the case against Axelrod. The question is: how long before everything starts to crumble?



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