Billions A Generation Too Late Review
Showtime‘s Billions: Season 3, Episode 3: A Generation Too Late is the beginning of the turning of the tide for Head of Axe Capital Robert “Bobby” Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and against U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Charles “Chuck” Rhoades Jr. (Paul Giamatti). The central figure in both instances is Ira Schirmer (Ben Shenkman). In the war between Bobby Axelrod and U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades, Ira is the hapless innocent victim set adrift in a world that requires vast and continuous sums of money. It’s a world Ira has become accustomed to and a world to which he has made his significant other accustomed. What is stunning about Taiga (Comfort Clinton), besides her pulchritudinous, is her shameless, materialistic nature.
When Ira tells Taiga that he is having money trouble, that he can’t get her the ring that she wants, the wedding that she wants, that she can’t quite her job like he previously suggested, querying if she still wants to marry him (laying his soul bear), when Taiga says “let’s wait,” my jaw dropped (and I can’t believe Ira’s heart doesn’t visibly sink). Perhaps Ira knows whom he is dealing with and doesn’t care. Ira doesn’t care that 50-75% of Taiga’s attraction to him is based on his wealth and the life that he can give her. It is an admirable perspective – I get her, she gets me and the life style that she wants – but here is the question: what would happen if (while dating or when married) Ira goes bankrupt? Ira will not have Taiga anymore. Taiga will disappear soon after Ira’s wealth goes extinct. The longevity of their relationship is directly linked to Ira’s money, amongst other, more minor factors like love, affection, etc.
Bobby Axelrod’s manipulation of Ira Schirmer’s financial indictment during A Generation Too Late is masterful. During the jewelry store scene, it is like watching a small, one room theater scene play out – each leverage point layered on top of the other, executed at exactly the right moment. In Tie Goes to the Runner, Axe talked about market timing when it came to trades. Axe transfers that timing skill out of the office in A Generation Too Late and uses it in a personal situation, never missing a beat.
A haphazard version of that timing skill is present in District Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Oliver Dake (Christopher Denham) in A Generation Too Late. When District Attorney Dake stops Ira Schirmer from talking about Chuck Rhoades’ intrinsic connection to the Bobby Axelrod case in a formal setting, it becomes clear that Dake knows something that Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) doesn’t and that Dake is stopping something from coming out for an absurd reason. Loyalty doesn’t mean you can avoid criminality. District Attorney Dake has forgotten that (or he remembers but has put that knowledge in a desk drawer to be referenced at a later date). Formerly honorable Dake is so deep into the Chuck Rhoades cover up that he is now linked to it. If Chuck is discovered, Dake’s malfeasance (it will may be termed “lack of oversight”, “negligence,” or willful ignorance”) may be revealed. Dake’s meteoric rise in the legal world will be equal to, if not exceeded by, his calamitous fall. In that event, District Attorney Dake will have no one to blame but himself.
U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades’ clever case referral gambit and congenial public face strategy in A Generation Too Late with Attorney General Waylon ‘Jock’ Jeffcoat (Clancy Brown) may bring the displeased ardor of Chuck’s newly dubbed enemy. Attorney General Jeffcoat is no dunce and doesn’t need a reason to fire Chuck. The A.G. can just drop the hammer. Chuck will have to tread very lightly. Besides the rebellious subterfuge, the most noteworthy aspect of Chuck and Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York Kate Sacker (Condola Rashad)’s exchange in A Generation Too Late was Sacker’s proposed approach to the trial of Jose Luego. It was an impressive approach, Jack “Hang’em High” McCoy impressive. It would benefit Billions if some of that strategy ended up on-screen but I don’t believe it will. Billions is not a court room procedural like Law and Order.
Charles Rhoades Sr. (Jeffrey DeMunn) got his fiscal comeuppance from the man he created in Ball in Hand. In A Generation Too Late, Charles gets a verbal rebuke. When Psychiatrist Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) tells Charles that whatever darkness or greatest resides in Chuck Rhoades has been placed there by Charles, Charles knows she’s right, which is why he quickly pivots to Wendy taking possession of Chuck’s memorabilia boxes. Wendy as the parley arbiter, the bridge-builder, is clearly established in A Generation Too Late. It’s unfortunate she’s not able to do the same thing between Chuck and Ira, though that feat would be monolithic. The damage Chuck Rhoades inflicted on Ira is far worse and more extensive than anything that Chuck did to his father.
Axe Capital Chief Investment Officer Taylor Amber Mason (Asia Kate Dillon)’s quantitative search segment in A Generation Too Late was entertaining, showing ‘them’ as not only a clever HR person but a perceptive leader, one that can push their employees to excellent job performance with only a few words i.e. “are you running all four downs, playing every play as if its your last? Is your mouth guard always in, chin strap always buckled? If that’s you, we’re good.” Taylor oozes analysis at all times, a skill that most have served her extremely well on the trading floor and is serving her well when it comes to command decisions. Taylor is a reflection of Bobby Axelrod. Taylor might be in a fish bowl, looking out at the world and everyone in it through a special perspective but so is Axelrod, through his unique mind-set and his 9/11 trauma.
Michael Pane (Hari Dhillon)’s final scene in A Generation Too Late is sad. Pane must have been in control of his business life for decades. The master of his destiny. The king of his castle. As Bobby Axelrod stands over him (literally and figuratively) in A Generation Too Late and tells him how it is, Pane sees that era in his life end. The shattered remnants are all over Pane’s carefully controlled countenance as he looks at Bobby Axelrod’s smiling, crocodile face.
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