TV Show Review

TV Review: BILLIONS: Season 3, Episode 1: Tie goes to the runner [Showtime]

Billion Season 3 TV Show Poster

Billions Tie goes to the runner Review

Showtime‘s Billions: Season 3, Episode 1: Tie goes to the runner is an aftermath episode and one of new beginnings. The results of key events in Season 2’s finale unfold during Tie goes to the runner. Some the viewer never see coming, like the replacement of the mostly off-screen U. S. Attorney General for a new United States A.G. who will be anything but off-screen moving forward. Unlike the previous U.S.A.G., the new one is an ever-present phantom in the law offices of all of his subordinates, or “deputies” as he calls them, making sure a more lax approach is taken to opaque business and finance law violations.

It isn’t made clear in Tie goes to the runner why the new United States Attorney General is taking this approach, other than the fact that he is a friend of Wall Street (speculation) for some undisclosed reason. What is made crystal clear is that he is a micro-manager, leaves no stone un-turned (which I am sure serves him well as a lawyer), and is not a person to be trifled with in the slightest. With all of this build up (on top of who is portraying him), there is no way that he will be a minor character in Billions moving forward. Quite the opposite I imagine.

Interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Oliver Dake (Christopher Denham)’s predicament in Tie goes to the runner is tantalizingly perplexing. He sees the benefits of doing under-the-table deals but he doesn’t want to be the type of person that makes such deals. Dake is a resident of the grey area in Tie goes to the runner, between what he is and what he is becoming. The solid, righteous ground that Dake previously stood upon has turned into slow-moving quick sand, though Dake does everything that he can to slow his descent. Dake’s colorful, horror movie-description of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Charles “Chuck” Rhoades Jr. (Paul Giamatti)’s situation is amusing and accurate. Unlike Chuck Rhoades, Dake’s aim, at least currently, is not to get ahead by any means possible.

Because of this mind set, Chuck Rhoades has created many enemies. One of them is his father.

Charles Rhoades Sr. (Jeffrey DeMunn) is on the war path in Tie goes to the runner against Chuck and it is a joke. In Ball in Hand, Dr. Frankenstein’s monster turned on its creator, nothing more. At the end of the last season of Billions, Charles Rhoades Sr. became a pawn of the person that he had forged through a lifetime of pushing, expectation, and brow-beating. Chuck had become the no holds barred, take no prisoners, amoral person that would destroy anything in his way to get what he wanted. That included Charles Sr.

Charles never imagined that the cut-throat person that he engineered would turn on him but he should have. Money means little to U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades. Title, success, recognition, and his wife are Chuck’s driving forces. Bagging Axe Capital’s CEO was a means to two of those goals. Portions of Charles and Ira Schirmer (Ben Shenkman)’s wealth were small prices to pay in Chuck’s myopic eyes. Chuck has learned to do without money for years now,  since he entered public service and his wealth was placed in a blind trust. Chuck has gotten used to living on a government lawyer’s salary. Chuck saw a decrease in two rich people’s bank accounts as small prices to pay for finally harpooning his white whale.

What is incredible during this section of Tie goes to the runner is that Chuck blithely believes that everything will be okay after such a massive and devastating act of betrayal. That his words will be the balm that soothes the tangible and almost realized dreams of Charles Sr. and Ira that he single-handily obliterated. Chuck has diluted himself into believing his own lies for the sake of his Jerry-rigged conscience. What Isra says to Chuck in the restaurant during Tie goes to the runner is the final nail in the coffin of reality, the wake-up call that finally shakes Chuck out of his self-imposed delusion.

Head of Axe Capital Robert “Bobby” Axelrod (Damian Lewis) doesn’t show off his intelligence that much on Billions.  It’s self-evident by the Goliath business entity around Bobby Axelrod and the quality of the individuals that work for him. When Axe does put his intellect front and center, however, it casts a spell: a super-intelligent person in the midst of regular intelligence and “bright” individuals. That is what happened when Axe meets Steven Birch (Jerry O’Connell)’s new would-be client in Tie goes to the runner: “If you really plan on giving billions of dollars to this stock jockey, ask him this: ‘how he has codified the behavioral heuristics at his firm? From stock selection, to position sizing, to market timing, to risk management. He hasn’t. Because his decision flow process is Google, Exxon, Proctor and Gamble.”

Birch can’t even argue that what Axe has said isn’t his decision flow process (a salesman unable to sell himself and his abilities is a strange sight to behold). Nor can Birch point out what are the behavioral heuristics at his firm. In four sentences, Axe sells himself while dazzling and stupefying many of the people in the room, including Birch’s would-be client. I don’t believe Anthony Scaramucci could have done a better salesmanship job in that moment.

Axe Capital Chief Investment Officer Taylor Amber Mason (Asia Kate Dillon)’s appearance at the Idea Dinner in Tie goes to the runner is a surprise. It is a pride moment for Bobby Axelrod, Bobby subduing his pride for the good of his company, but it is also a strategic show of trust, both in Taylor’s ability and in the veracity of the idea that Taylor carries. Both moves by Axelrod speak volumes to the titans of the financial investment industry assembled, helped in no small part, by the confidence that Taylor exudes as she delivers the entrée to the one big idea: “I have a silverback f*cking gorilla of an idea.” Taylor opens by speaking the investment moguls’ language, crude masculinity, followed by a promise backed by proof, proof that Axe Capital is here to stay.

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About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created and Trending

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