Every week, The Ringer will celebrate the passing of yet another Billions episode by honoring the installment’s best, worst, most, and least. These are your Billions Superlatives.
This week’s Billions, “A Generation Too Late,” is what I like to call a Side Quest Episode. Axe and Chuck aren’t making moves directly at one another—Axe is finalizing a way to trade under the table and work with Raul Gomez, the guy in charge of the police pension fund, and Chuck is still learning the lay of the land with the new, ultra-conservative attorney general. But that doesn’t take away from another entertaining and often bonkers week, featuring three separate references to the Oakland Athletics’ Billy Beane (really!), more sumptuous dining, and Connerty letting out his inner Bronx brawler. Let’s not waste another minute.
Best Food Porn
Like the season premiere, and, thankfully, most Billions weeks, this was a good episode for food. Axe’s personal cook, Chef Ryan, prepped burgers—twice! The first time, he paid homage to Ann’s Snack Bar, the home of famous, possibly Hall of Fame–worthy burgers in Atlanta. (Wags was a bit hard on Chef Ryan because the burgers weren’t quite as good as Miss Ann’s, but conceded it was a decent try.)
But the best food porn came at the very start of the episode, when Ira—a.k.a. the guy Chuck betrayed in last season’s legendary Ice Juice fiasco—treated his fiancée to a lavish Italian dinner. Let’s just say she enjoys the finer things in life, so despite the fact Ira is pretty much broke post–Ice Juice, when offered white truffles to top her tagliatelle, she doesn’t resist.
It was at this point I paused the episode and ate cold Chinese leftovers, pretending lukewarm sriracha was truffle butter. I’m not ashamed.
Weakest Plea for Sympathy
Axe and Lara are moving forward with divorce proceedings. Unfortunately for us, that means more screen time for Malin Akerman. Also unfortunate: Axe’s legal bind could mean he’ll lose almost all of his money if he’s found guilty. If he is, Axe (and Lara) could be left with $300 million—“maybe 320,” per Axe—which is very upsetting for Lara.
OK, sure, that’s less money than they currently have, but it’s 300 MILLION DOLLARS! “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it doesn’t sound like it’s enough,” Lara says. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! $300 MILLION IS NOT ENOUGH?
Don’t ask me what disgusting, morally reprehensible things I’d do for $2 million, let alone $300 million. Lara, if things go south, you’ll be fine.
Strangest Job Interview Request
At Axe Capital, Taylor is looking to hire a “quant”—basically, someone with an algorithmic approach to trading on the market—to give the company a leg up against the competition. Obviously, Taylor wants the best of the best. Taylor is intense in everyday situations—imagine them as an interviewer. (I wouldn’t know what to say and would just blurt out: “Weren’t you in prison?!”)
Then imagine, as part of that interview process, Taylor asks you to assemble a cardboard box and leaves the room.
Yes, really. There’s some insight behind this strategy—essentially, you can see how someone reacts to a very specific kind of pressure—but it also makes for a totally ridiculous sight. Who knows? Maybe your dream job will require you to create an origami swan before you even get to talk benefits.
Most Intimidating Interview Posture
Wags is both seductive and completely terrifying. Peak Wags, in other words.
Best Axe Insult
YES, AXE, IT IS TOO SOON!
Mafee and some of the other Axe Capital lackeys are really nervous about the “quant” interviews—they assume that if Taylor finds a really good algorithm, they’ll all be replaced. And that’s understandable!
What’s less, um, acceptable, is Mafee confiding to Wendy that not only does he produce a massive amount of “butt sweat” when nervous, but that he likes Wendy’s butt. “I would never even think about your butt,” he says, when he should really stop talking. “It’s not like I stare at it when you walk by. I barely know you have one. Jesus.”
The “Jesus” at the end is the cherry on top of this schadenfreude sundae. Wendy, if you’re (somehow) reading this, I don’t think about your butt—I definitely don’t think of Chuck’s butt, either, or any of the times he’s been spanked in the BDSM dungeon because he’s a filthy, groveling boy who deserves to be punished. Hmm, let’s segue to a different topic!
Taylor basically wears the same thing every week, but in place of a good vest, let’s appreciate the versatility of the cardigan. Good for work; good for a date; good for lounging around at home. If Taylor uses the cardigan as the top in a pajama set, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Best Moneyball Reference
“Billy Beane never won a World Series” is uttered three times in this episode. Beane is to baseball what “quants” are to finance—but Billions never keeps things subtle, so Beane’s failure is revisited several times. (Hey, the A’s barely had any money, and those guys got on base!)
The kicker, however, comes when Taylor reveals the grand plan: Be Theo Epstein instead.
In a weird way, that kind of makes sense?
Best Reassuring Chuck Pat
When I first started watching Billions, three things about Chuck stood out. First off, Paul Giamatti is a national treasure. Second, Chuck loves to judge what other people order and eat (maybe it’s the lawyer in him). Third, Chuck is the king of the reassuring pat on the shoulder.
This is a master class in shoulder patting; firm and comforting, but not too comforting. He’s been doing it for years, and deserves commendation. After that pat, Kate is ready to take on the world.
Best Reminder That the New Attorney General Is From the South
I’m loving how awful the new attorney general, who goes by “Jock,” has been this season. And it’s not exactly a riff on Jeff Sessions, either: Character actor Clancy Brown, unlike Sessions, isn’t the size of the Keebler elf.
Jock mostly exists to piss off Chuck and spew out “Where I come from”-isms, relating all matters of the judiciary branch to metaphors about horses and stuff. This week, Jock tells Chuck about what folks from his neck of the woods do to dogs who don’t stop barking, in a not-at-all-veiled threat about following orders. “You don’t just muzzle them,” he tells Chuck. “You hit ’em with a shock collar till they quiet up nice.” Sounds … less like the South and more like a PETA violation?
Most Bronx Moment
EY, CONNERTY IS FIGHTIN THIS GAVOON OVA HEEYAH! THE COPS DINT SEE NUTHIN.