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.
The (cocaine) dust has settled from Axe’s penthouse party in last week’s epic Billions sendoff—though I’d imagine that was quite a lengthy cleanup. Now Billions marches onward: it’s time for Axe to get back to work at Axe Capital, while Chuck has to decide whether his future resides in the district attorney’s office or as governor of the state. Lara is also being Lara—by which I mean she’s being awful.
In other words, there’s a lot going on in the eighth episode of this great third season, “All the Wilburys,” and I haven’t even touched on the most unexpected, unholy character alliance this side of Chuck and Axe playing for the same team. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that and plenty more from this action-packed installment.
Most Unnecessarily Dramatic Entrance
“I was very good at being bad,” Chuck tells Wendy at the beginning of the episode, with a BDSM, “please start spanking me” twinkle in his eye. And hey, credit to Chuck: It was his maneuvering that got himself, Wendy, and Axe out of legal trouble last week (sorry, Doctor Gilbert!).
Wendy’s going to reward him with [clears throat] some latex-laden punishing. Except, when they head to their BDSM sex dungeon—which, honestly, looks way more legit than Christian Grey’s ever did—they’re interrupted by Black Jack Foley and Chuck Sr., who are trying to force Chuck’s hand and get him to announce his gubernatorial candidacy.
It’s a clever and admittedly unexpected twist, but it’s hard to take Foley or Chuck Sr. seriously when they reveal themselves from behind a curtain like evil magicians.
How awkward must that have been before Chuck and Wendy arrived? How long were they waiting back there? Were they just giggling to themselves like it was a glorified game of hide-and-seek? Why couldn’t they just sit in a couple of chairs or something?
Foley and Chuck Sr., take notes: This is how you make an entrance! What a goddamn rock star.
Most Effective Mood Killer
And just like that, Axe’s grand entrance is ruined. As always, thanks for nothing, Spyros.
Gotta respect Axe for rocking a vintage Black Sabbath tee on his first day back. This is what I like to call the “I’m a billionaire CEO and I make up my own fucking dress code” flex.
Most Satisfying Sacking
“I felt so charged with Axe Cap-thusiasm after yesterday’s meeting,” Spyros, who is terrible, says to a clearly agitated Axe and Wags when he’s summoned by them. Thankfully, things are about to take a turn for the worse: Spyros is getting fired!
Axe says he wants employees that embody the characteristics of the Traveling Wilburys—yes, this was a flimsy excuse to make a George Harrison–Beatles reference, but I’ll allow it—and deduces that Spyros is, well, not a Wilbury. (Who is a Wilbury? According to Axe, Jack Nicholson is a Wilbury, but Richard Dreyfuss is not.)
When Spyros is cleaning out his office—which is mostly comprised of books on coffee-making—Dollar Bill is as satisfied as you’d expect:
Somehow, I feel certain that’s not an exaggeration.
Most Brutal Sacking
After Connerty failed to nail Axe, Chuck, or Wendy, he’s sent back to Southern—bracing for the worst. When Chuck finally approaches him, however, Chuck brushes off any lingering resentment, and there’s no hard feelings. LOL, just kidding. Chuck went at him!
“You learned every lesson I had to teach, except the one that matters most: You didn’t win,” Chuck scolds, in full view of the entire office (because he really wants to put on a show). He gets a little too excited and refers to himself as “Bad Bad Leroy Brown,” but once again, I’ll allow it, because he ends Connerty’s axing with the most visceral “GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE” I have ever seen put to film.
Did you see all that saliva? That was the saliva of Emmy-winning actor Paul Giamatti spraying all over Connerty’s body like a rogue garden hose.
There needs to be an entire segment devoted to this at the Emmys this year. May we never take for granted living in the same time as this great man.
Oh god, Wendy, what did you do?
Most Shocking Alliance
I humbly present: A cursed image.
What the hell is happening? Well, before Spyros is escorted off the Axe Cap premises, he tells Dollar Bill he’s got a killer play right up his alley—and damned if Dollar Bill is going to let a good opportunity slip through his sleazy fingers. The play is legit: Spyros still has access to SEC servers, so he knows when companies are being investigated—a.k.a., he knows when their stock might plummet due to such news going public.
The play is so good, Dollar Bill brings Spyros back to the office to make the case to Axe that Spyros should get his job back. Axe and Wags have an understandable reaction to this unholy union.
Congratulations, Spyros: You are a cockroach that can’t be killed, and all your clichés are still awful.
Best Reverse Chuck Pat
By now, you know what a Chuck Pat is: The way Chuck reassuringly pats a character on the shoulder, and like an ancient shaman, heals them of all their worries with the firm grip of his palm. Last week, Chuck tainted the Chuck Pat by patting Doctor Gilbert twice; these were malicious Chuck Pats meant to ensnare the good doctor in prison.
The tides have turned on Chuck and his pats: Judge DeGiulio visits his house and asks him to stay on as district attorney instead of trying his hand as governor, thereby upholding his promise to help DeGiulio ascend to a Supreme Court position one day. Obviously, it’s a big ask, so before he leaves, he gives Chuck a taste of his own patting medicine.
What a subversive, twisted show this is. Will the original, wholesome Chuck Pat ever return? I await with bated breath.
The award goes to Axe—shocker!—who’s barely been seen with his two boys all season. This time, he blows them off at dinner because … Taylor is still in the office and his ego refuses to allow him to leave the building until Taylor does. But don’t worry: Axe makes his assistant eat with the Young Axelrods, and order every dessert on the menu for them.
These kids are going to get some serious therapy—and diabetes—very soon.
Chuck ends up getting out of the governor’s race because he prefers spitting on people’s faces in the attorney’s office, so he screws over Black Jack Foley by announcing he’s going to support the bid of “Buffalo” Bob Sweeney (remember: He’s the one who sent his gay son to a conversion camp). But that’s not the most satisfying payback of the episode; that honor goes to Wendy.
Wendy did not forget the indignity brought on her when Foley and Chuck Sr. interrupted her and Chuck’s BDSM ritual, and responds in kind at the end of “All the Wilburys.” With the help of Axe’s creepy fixer Hall—who shaved his abominable beard from last week—she intercepts one of Chuck Sr.’s one-night stands and enters his hotel room.
“The next time you wanna ambush, threaten, humiliate, or otherwise fuck with me, you do well to remember who you’re fucking with,” she tells him. “Enjoy your night alone.”
By the time the credits rolled, I was clapping enthusiastically on my couch like a adrenalized seal. I love Billions with every fiber of my being.