Flashback to the "Billion" premiere: Ax's future at Ax Capital is in doubt (2023)

301 tie goes to the runner

Flashback to the "Billion" premiere: Ax's future at Ax Capital is in doubt (1)

Credit: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME


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Every time a TV show returns for a new season, the question arises as to whether it can maintain the momentum of years past.billionhas created something special in its second season and clarified its vision in an exciting way. This of course leads to questions for season 3. Was season 2 just a coincidence? Can the show continue to create something unlike anything else on TV? Will the dialogue, characters, and ridiculous power games gradually lose their luster? The Season 3 premiere, "Tie Goes to the Runner," is a welcome confirmation of thatbillionnot slowing down anytime soon.

The opening scene alone is enough to dispel any doubts about this show breaking in. Chuck, riding high on his downfall from Ax Capital and his run for governor, arrives for a meeting with the Attorney General in Washington, DC.billiondoesn't bother to get into the season, but instead immediately gives us a scene of pumped-up macho dialogue. The AG, interested in Chuck giving up his pursuit of various Wall Street types, presumably because he'll get paid somewhere along the line, goes well beyond being from "horse country" and "baseball country" West Texas. The man is a walking cliche, all Texan bluster and salt-of-the-earth metaphors that barely make sense. He's the guy who, despite his comfortable seat at the head of the capitalist table, considers himself a cowboy or an outlaw.

It's a rousing scene to kick off the season, mostly because it immediately establishes that Chuck is hardly the biggest fish in the pond, despite his recent win. He still has plenty of people in charge above him, and it's clear the Attorney General won't be amused if someone refuses to follow his orders. Now Chuck must question the very strategy he built his career on. When he returns to the office, he tells Kate that they must drop their charges against corrupt businessmen, which he does with quite a bit of anger and regret.

However, the aftermath of last season's events will require compromises for everyone. Ax Capital's assets have been frozen by Oliver Dake, who is prosecuting the case with Bryan, and that leaves little for Taylor, who runs the company in Ax's absence, to upset the troops. Everyone is sitting on their hands and very, very fed up. So Taylor tells the team they've booked a seat at an "ideas meeting" where the city's top 10 hedge fund managers meet to discuss games that could benefit everyone. Normally, Ax Capital wouldn't participate - Ax loves to be the lone wolf - but with no money to play with, all they have is ideas and influence.

Of course, not every compromise or consequence is financial. By the end of last season, Ax's marriage was in tatters, and Wendy and Chuck may have found each other again after a long feud. Not much has changed for Lara and Axe. Ax doesn't live at home - he has a swanky, huge, depressingly empty suite downtown that mimics his current state of mind - and the two are at odds when Lara comes to Ax Capital to make sure her fortune is properly managed. They argue, but by the end of the episode, Lara hasn't sworn off Axe's influence, at least not with her money. Their marriage is a different story.

Chuck and Wendy seem to be doing better at first. Wendy is back to give Ax psych counseling and ends up back at Chuck's house at the end of the day. Later in the episode, however, Chuck tosses and turns at night, and Wendy talks about how they "cut their visits short" about not putting enough time into their marriage when she was trying to recover from their argument. It seems like she's talking about a therapist, but her final scene of the episode sees her at a BDSM club where Chuck begs Wendy to tell him all the nasty details about the affair she had while they were apart. Just a kink or something that suggests Chuck and Wendy aren't healed yet?(summary continues on next page)

For all its charms, Tie Goes to the Runner is still a season premiere. There's a lot of setup, a lot of character check-in, and not a lot of action. It's necessary, but it doesn't matterbillionSo great. Against this background, what the premiere has built up is certainly compelling. It feels like the show is changing in a way that will pay off in the long run. Most importantly,billionit's about more than just bad blood between Ax and Chuck. The show is expanding, and in a promising way.

Taylor, of course, is at the center of this change. They were last season's standouts and seem poised to take that honor again this season. Taylor is the one with promises not only forbillion, but for Ax Capital. You are the one piloting the ship while its captain figures out how to avoid criminal charges. At the end of the episode, it is Taylor, not Ax, who comes to the "Ideas Meeting" with an idea to trade smart chip technology that was thought impossible. They cracked it and now they're running with it.

Everything changes. Todd Krakow is now Treasury Secretary and is trying to recruit Taylor. Ira has a tense meeting with Chuck, their whole relationship being destroyed by Chuck's use of Ice Juice to defeat Axe. In fact, everything about Chuck has changed. He is the catalyst. Black Jack Foley still supports him for governor, but Chuck Sr. wants no part of his son's life or political ambitions. Add in the uncertain relationship with Wendy and the fact that he's not really in control of the Ax Capital case, and suddenly Chuck's victory doesn't seem so satisfying. Dake actually compares him to a man who committed a crime out of passion: it felt great at the moment, but now it's the next day and there's blood everywhere.

However, that doesn't mean Chuck is done with his moves. He may not be on the Ax Capital case, but he's still Chuck Rhoades. After considering it for some time, he revisits his decision regarding the company's cases and urges Kate to continue relying on it. With Ax announcing that he will offer to suspend his trading so Ax Capital can unfreeze its assets, a move Wendy and Orrin recommend, he and Chuck will surely be back on a collision course. Ax Capital will be making waves again, especially with Taylor's smart chip game, and nothing bothers Chuck more than seeing this company thrive whether Ax is there or not.

Essentially, "Tie Goes to the Runner" is a great start to the season, but it doesn't have the sizzling pace that's the best of this show. The dialogue is still full of grandiose proclamations and hints —billioncontinues its tradition of nameless wrestlers, with Ivan Koloff making the cut this week - best of all is this description of Ax Capital with frozen funds: "We're like the Czechoslovak gymnastics team in the 70's: lots of pride in what this country was, but if things don't change, defectors will come.” There's still Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis and Maggie Siff directing every scene they appear in. There's still Dollar Bill, who gets really mad whenever he gets the chance.billionis still very intact, but it's exciting to see how things are changing. "Tie Goes to the Runner" may suffer from the usual storytelling imperatives of a premiere, but it also builds a bigger, bolder story for the season.



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