Billions Redemption Review
Showtime‘s Billions: Season 3, Episode 10: Redemption, aptly named, features the redemption of a financial institution in the eyes of the market, one character becoming more like their mentor, and the beginning of the end for a recently introduced character.
Head of Axe Capital Robert “Bobby” Axelrod (Damian Lewis)’s deal with Grigor Andolov (John Malkovich) and the subsequent, partial pulling of Andolov’s money, initiated a sequence of events that places unexpected stresses on the leadership of Axe Capital. Such stresses are common for Bobby and have become common for Axe Capital Chief Investment Officer Taylor Amber Mason (Asia Kate Dillon). Taylor has become a leader under fire, a soldier given a war zone commission and multiple promotions. In essence, Taylor is a wartime consigliere.
Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) warned Taylor that Axe Capital and its wealth would change ‘them.’ Taylor brushed Connerty and his warning aside, not believing him, dismissing it as a ploy to get ‘their’ compliance.
When Taylor tells Axe in Redemption whom ‘they’ just had at a swank dinner with and then Axe uses that information to Axe Capital’s advantage, subconsciously, Taylor knew exactly what ‘they’ were doing. How times has Axe told Taylor something innocuous, something that Axe knew Taylor would decipher and see the true meaning of? When Taylor tells Axe the dinner information, ‘they’ were subconsciously doing the same thing to Axe, except unlike Taylor, Axe doesn’t have to process the information and come to a conclusion. Axe “reads” the information and formulates a play in the moment, illustrating the experience-level difference between a seasoned hedge fund manager and an aspiring one.
During Redemption, Taylor subconsciously wants to help Axe Capital with ‘their’ intel, ‘they’ want Axe to use the information. ‘They’ just don’t want ‘their’ literal fingerprints on it, even-though they are figuratively. It is only on paper that ‘they’ are a victim like venture capitalist Oscar Langstraat (Mike Birbiglia).
Consciously, when Taylor finds out what Axe has done, ‘they’ are righteously flabbergasted and angry. ‘They’ feel betrayed and used. The career and fiscal balm that Axe applies makes the situation emotionally worse for Taylor but it also illuminates one key fact – Taylor is responsible. Taylor knew Axe. ‘They’ knew Axe was the type of person to put his company ahead of his personal relationships, including his family and his employees. On some level, Taylor knew exactly what ‘they’ were doing.
If Axe ever doubted Taylor’s loyalty to Axe Capital or the lofty aspirations ‘they’ had for ‘their’ career, unflinchingly betraying the man ‘they’ have growing (and reciprocated) amorous feelings towards (to achieve those goals) obliterated any uncertainty.
Also obliterated in Redemption is the trust, hence the relationship, that Taylor has been building with Langstraat. When ‘they’ walk into the restaurant, it’s as if someone has died and ‘they’ are about to deliver the bad news. As ‘they’ walk towards him, Taylor sees that shiny and fruitful relationship with Langstraat, its current state, and what it can become. During that short distance, as Langstraat slowly lowers his tablet, the betrayal dawning, that relationship resplendence darkens to that of a grave yard path at night, leading inevitably to one headstone, one destination – the utter and irrevocable end of their relationship.
As Taylor walks away from the restaurant, devastated by ‘their’ actions and there ramifications, ‘they’ know ‘they’ have thrown away a once-in-a-lifetime relationship. Taylor and Langstraat are both extremely unique individuals. The chances of Taylor and Langstraat ever meeting and finding each other were extremely remote. The two of them most have been apart and single far more than they had ever been together with someone in a meaningful relationship. When they found each other, it most have been comforting to know that they had not been alone in their search, uniqueness, and that possibly, its inherent loneliness was over.
With Taylor actions in Redemption, not only are they both alone again, one is guilt-ridden with the weight of their betrayal (and loss) on their shoulders. The other is stabbed in the back, the wound more grievous because of the hand that delivered it, an emotional injury that will leave that person scared for the rest of their life.
Ben Kim (Daniel K. Isaac)’s elevator “performance” in Redemption was the laugh-out-loud moment of the series. Even upon reflection of the music / strip routine, the laughter, smiles, and tears originally generated by it come to mind. It is not just what Kim does in the elevator, it’s the circumstances surrounding it, the make-up of the people in the elevator, and their facial expressions while Kim “performs.” It is so embarrassing, detrimental, and hilarious but Axe Capital In-house Performance Coach Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) was right. That “performance” and what it led to, Kim potentially getting fired, finally shook Kim out of his shell of fear. Whether he stays out of that shell remains to be seen. Since his breakout led to a career high and kudos from his boss, shining an intense, positive light on him for the first time at Axe Capital, I doubt that he will revert.
Another person’s path that can’t be averted is the telegraphed fate of Attorney General Waylon ‘Jock’ Jeffcoat (Clancy Brown). Redemption signaled the beginning of the end for A.G. Jeffcoat. I like Jock’s presence on Billions, the fact that he challenges U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Charles “Chuck” Rhoades Jr. (Paul Giamatti) and what’s left of Chuck’s positive sensibilities.
If new F.B.I. Attorney Bryan Connerty finds out what Chuck Rhoades is up to, hinted at in Redemption, and anonymously tips off Jock in an act of revenge against Chuck, that would be a delicious turn of events. And guess what? It will never happen. Billions‘ writers will not allow Connerty to access that type of morally-compromising rage. They will not allow Connerty to drink deeply of the “dark side” and twist himself like Chuck Rhoades. Jock is destined to be gone from Billions by Season 4. Connerty thwarting Chuck would stop that from happening thus it won’t happen. Jock’s fate is already written in invisible ink on the wall.
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