Season 6, Episode 2: ‘Lyin’ Eyes’
Should you’re in search of the way forward for “Billions,” two quotes from this week’s episode level the best way ahead, I believe. The primary comes from Wendy Rhoades, describing to Taylor Mason her worry that their boss, Mike Prince, would possibly undergo from narcissistic persona dysfunction: “He thinks he’s higher than everybody else, and he gained’t cease until he will get what he desires.”
The second comes from Chuck Rhoades, describing the tactic to his newfound rabble-rousing insanity: “Nobody is secure.”
We’ll deal with Chuck’s half of the episode first. Impressed by the bravado of Gene Hackman’s thief character within the David Mamet crime movie “Heist,” which he watches within the consolation of his upstate farm, Chuck returns to New York Metropolis with the intention of elevating some hell. He finds what he’s in search of within the plight of the town’s doormen, who’ve labored lengthy and onerous on behalf of mega-rich tenants who fled the town when Covid-19 struck, leaving their servants on the entrance traces of the pandemic.
The issue is that regardless of responding favorably to Chuck’s fiery rhetoric, the doormen’s union is completely pleased with the two p.c increase the tenants and property administration board are ready to supply them. So Chuck unilaterally turns up the temperature, first by blowing up the negotiations with a 5 p.c ask, then by threatening to sick the tax authorities on the union in the event that they don’t go on strike at his behest.
Having efficiently cowed the union into doing his bidding, he turns his consideration to his prime targets: the billionaires, whom he refers to as “the prison class,” represented by the impolite and ruddy-faced Bud Lazarra (Wayne Duvall). The defiant Lazzara thumbs his nostril at Chuck’s threats and convinces the union to name off the strike and take the unique deal — however solely by means of bribery, an act caught on digital camera by Chuck’s lieutenant Karl Allard, who wanders by in full Vincent (The Chin) Gigante bathrobe apparel to file the incriminating footage.
When Chuck confronts Lazzara along with his intel, the bigwig bends … however Chuck betrays him to the press anyway. The message is evident: His warfare in opposition to the billionaires is in full no-prisoners mode.
Contemplating the idiosyncratic habits of Mike Prince elsewhere within the episode, this could be the proper strategy. Oh, issues begin off effectively sufficient, with Prince asserting his intention to tank the inventory of an athletic attire firm referred to as Rask due to its use of pressured labor in China’s Uyghur mass internment camps.
The transfer makes heads spin all throughout Michael Prince Capital. Victor Mateo (Louis Cancelmi), the agency’s resident onerous case, warns that the corporate is all however unsinkable. Irrespective of, says Taylor Mason, anticipating the boss’s subsequent transfer: They’ll use athletes and influencers to spoil the model’s popularity whereas they’re busy shorting its inventory.
Rian (Eva Victor), the rising star of Taylor Mason Carbon, sees a chance: There are different gamers within the sector with even filthier human-rights information, and Mase Carb may simply gobble up the entire sector. When Taylor tells her to not make the play, she does it anyway, main Taylor to consult with Wendy Rhoades as as to whether firing Rian is the proper transfer. They determine it’s too Axe-like by half, and a chastened Rian is spared the ax, no pun meant.
Lastly there’s Wags, who has probably the most comical response of the entire crew: He’s fearful on behalf of Rask’s chief government, with whom he fashioned an Eagles cowl band at a rock ‘n’ roll fantasy camp. His surreptitious tip-off virtually permits the corporate to salvage itself with a buyout till Prince and his right-hand man, Scooter Dunbar, drive Wags to kill the deal by dishing much more dust: Rask has been in mattress with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un for years. The maneuver kills the corporate for good, although it additionally results in Wags’s expulsion from the band. You win some, you lose some!
At this level it’s possible you’ll be questioning, the place would a analysis of narcissistic persona dysfunction for Prince come into play right here? In any case, he did precisely what he stated he would do: take down a crooked firm.
However as Taylor places it, he’s enjoying on a a lot greater chessboard than simply the markets. Prince’s actual plan was to scupper the Rask-sponsored Olympic internet hosting duties of Los Angeles, in hopes of relocating the 2028 video games to the Large Apple — which might deliver his estranged spouse, Andy (Piper Perabo), an Olympic-level mountain climbing coach, again into his orbit. Certainly, she’s so impressed along with his scheme that she takes him up on his supply of dinner, an overture she beforehand rejected.
So possibly all of it was a grand romantic gesture, as Wendy and Taylor ponder — or possibly it was the transfer of a self-appointed grasp of the universe, bending world occasions to his will. However when you’ve gotten the form of cash and energy that Mike Prince has, is there any distinction between private wishes and sociopolitical manipulation? I do know the reply Chuck Rhoades would give.
This week’s appearing-as-themselves visitor stars: the rock climber Alex Honnold, the golf professional Michael Breed, and the journalist Olivia Nuzzi. Honnold and Nuzzi had been even factored prominently into the present’s story traces, with Honnold main the cost of on-line influencers in opposition to Rask and Nuzzi outing Lazzara’s bribery scheme.
Since I’ve heard immediately from a number of readers who upbraid me once I lose observe of this, I’ll state for the file that I noticed two “Godfather” references: Chuck’s reference to Lazzara because the shot-calling Don Barzini of New York’s landed gentry, and Wags’s name-drop of Frankie Pentangeli from “Half 2” when it got here time to make a killing in the marketplace. (Rian bucks the development by quoting a special Francis Ford Coppola movie, “Apocalypse Now.”)
Although it does depict masks use at giant gatherings, such because the assembly of the doormen’s union, the episode sometimes refers back to the pandemic previously tense, as if the worst had been behind us when it was filmed. Ah, had been we ever so younger?
One delicate however spectacular little bit of appearing by Corey Stoll as Prince: silently chuckling as he learns that Rask is declaring chapter, its chief government is being dragged earlier than congress, and the Olympics have withdrawn from Los Angeles. Sometimes, laughing on the success of your grasp plan is the stuff of supervillains; Prince has the perspicacity to do it quietly, at the very least.
As an avowed Wags fan, it pains me to study he’s an Eagles fan; my place on the band is greatest expressed by the Dude in “The Large Lebowski.” (However talking as somebody who was an adolescent in 1992, I used to be an enormous fan of opening the episode with “Plush” by Stone Temple Pilots.)
“I’m undoubtedly in opposition to focus camps, however ——” Let me cease you proper there, Ben Kim!
Scooter Dunbar working connections in Consultant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s workplace to additional the anti-Rask ploy. Chuck Rhoades studying Thomas Piketty’s “Capitalism and Ideology.” The instances, they’re a-changin’.