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.
There’s a short routine I follow whenever a new Billions comes on. It begins with a fist pump, because Billions is a national treasure that should be protected under the same security measures as the Declaration of Independence. Then, I look out for the credits—if they say that showrunners David Levien and Brian Koppelman wrote the episode, then you know the installment is going to be spicy as hell. That was the case for “Not You, Mr. Dake,” the seventh episode of Billions’ third season.
This episode deserves a place on the Mount Rushmore of Billions episodes. It’s one that leaned heavily on the fascinating moral compass of Axe Capital’s lovable doofus Mafee, how Chuck and Axe plan to avoid legal ramifications for the Ice Juice sabotage, and the second-most-unexpected kiss of the season (Chuck and Chuck Sr. snogging still takes the throne, and unless Axe courts death itself with a smooch before shorting the grim reaper stock, that won’t change). Let’s stop wasting time and go through the superlatives.
Most Wholesome Family Image
Billions has gone to great lengths to emphasize just how good of a doctor the good doctor Dr. Gilbert is. He’s not perfect. In Season 1, Axe convinced him to avoid giving Donnie Caan an experimental cancer treatment that could’ve allowed him to live long enough to potentially testify against Axe—but in the Billions-verse the man’s basically a saint. So of course his family spends their evenings curled up together on a very small couch, bowls of ice cream in hand, watching television.
They definitely DVR This Is Us and cry every time.
Unfortunately, we’re not done with Dr. Gilbert. With Connerty circling in and Spyros making things even trickier last week by bringing Wendy’s financial dealings straight to his lap, Axe, Chuck, and Wendy need a fall guy for the Ice Juice conspiracy. (Yes, it’s still weird seeing Axe and Chuck on the same side—even if it’s only temporary.)
Instead of planting the Ice Juice bacterial slide at Axe’s penthouse, Chuck uses the Congolese spy he hired last episode to slip the slide in Dr. Gilbert’s fridge. It all happened while Chuck and Dr. Gilbert spoke outside his home; the good doctor was none the wiser.
When they were speaking outside, Doctor Gilbert described emergency room triage to Chuck: “You save who you can, and force the fate of the rest out of your mind.” Poor dude didn’t know he was describing his own fate.
Least Reassuring Chuck Pat(s)
Chuck Pats—incidents in which Chuck Rhoades, played by the legendary thespian Paul Giamatti, pats another character on the shoulder reassuringly—are a Billions staple, the show’s equivalent to those “Hang in there!” kitty posters that very sad offices hang up. But the Chuck Pats in “Not You, Mr. Dake” are coated with malice. He pats Dr. Gilbert twice, once before the doctor is arrested by the FBI …
… and once when he’s got him pinned in an interrogation room.
The Chuck Pat, once the purest little moment of this great show, has been tainted like a delicious smoothie laced with harmful bacteria. I think I’m going to puke.
Most Unexpected Cameo
When Axe faced serious legal trouble last year, his utterly creepy henchman/fixer Hall vanished without a trace. Which was fine as far as Axe was concerned, since the dude has a Tolkien-sized novel’s worth of secrets against him. But with Axe needing a last-minute Hail Mary to save Wendy’s skin in court, he brings Hall back to the fold.
Oh, and Hall now looks like this:
Seriously, what the fuck? I get that you probably want to change your look since the FBI has a rough sketch of your appearance, but was the only available aesthetic “Homeless Captain Ahab?”
Best Pasta Metaphor
In the time that it took Connerty, Orrin Bach, and Judge DeGiulio to walk to DeGiulio’s chambers from the courtroom to discuss Connerty’s new evidence, everyone got really into pasta metaphors. (DeGiulio said he’d prefer if pasta was undercooked rather than overcooked … and I agree.)
“My case isn’t overcooked at all,” Connerty retorts. “It’s al dente.”
[Chef’s kiss] Perfecto.
Best Nervous Ben Kim Moment
Ben Kim, by far the purest employee at Axe Capital, is suddenly really into acai bowls. “They taste like dessert!” he enthusiastically tells Axe. Axe, unfortunately, is not in the mood for trendy health food talks—sidebar for Ben: If acai bowls taste like dessert, you’re not eating the right desserts—because he needs to talk with Mafee solo. Please leave the room in a totally normal, definitely not awkward way, Ben.
Oh my God. This was so excruciatingly cringeworthy that I nearly pulled a muscle curling into a ball at my desk.
The Ice Juice Memorial Award for Worst Name
For a show that deftly weaves several intricate plotlines and fills every episode to the brim with pop culture references, Billions couldn’t give fewer shits about its fictional product names. Ice Juice! World-Aid! And this week, we met the telecommunications company known as: One Sky.
(... Has there ever been more than one sky?)
Best Apartment Decoration
Good job, Mafee. Along with the foosball table (!), this poster brings the living room together and screams, “I’m an 18-yead-old trapped in a 30-something man’s body.”
This was a Mafee-centric episode, which is a Billions first. See, Mafee was the one who spoke with Wendy on the phone when she shorted on the Ice Juice IPO before it tanked last season, so he’s getting thrown into Connerty’s case as a material witness. And because Mafee has surprisingly poignant ethics for a finance bro, getting him to lie to the FBI isn’t as easy as Axe hoped it’d be. But Wendy has a secret weapon: Herself.
Wendy knows Mafee is crushing on her (maybe it was that earlier comment about her butt, and how he totally stares at it?), and she seduces him in under five minutes.
I’m still not sure what Wendy’s actual job is, by the way.
Related: Mafee is his last name. His full name is Dudley Mafee. DUDLEY MAFEE.
I stand by this tweet:
I want Sunday's episode of Billions to father my children— Miles Surrey (@HKSurrey) May 3, 2018
“This is strictly platonic,” Wendy tells Mafee, but that’s just her way of saying thank you for lying to the feds. I’m still nowhere close to knowing what Wendy’s job is, but I know that this definitely isn’t in the description.
We need a scene where Wendy confides with Chuck that she made out with Mafee, if only to hear Chuck describe that time Chuck Sr. knocked on the door of their brownstone and forced their lips together for an unholy, Oedipal union of saliva.
After getting some extremely minimal punishments for the Ice Juice fiasco—Wags and Axe got slapped with an SEC fine, Mafee got his own slap on the wrist, and Wendy ended up free and clear—Wags and Axe and some celebratin’ to do, and honestly, it’s better to show rather than tell:
Billions knows only one speed, and it’s giving me a second-hand hangover. I love this dark, beautiful, twisted show.