Where We Left Off With The Very Luxe Billions

Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME.
Most of premium cable’s best series are incomprehensible minefields because they’re sci-fi and fantasy extravaganzas. It takes most people at least a full season to understand the names of everyone on Game Of Thrones, let alone the reasons for their infinite feuds. Westworld was specifically crafted to confuse viewers. Outlander is built on a group of magical stones.
But, Showtime’s Billions is confounding for an entirely different reason: it’s a metaphorical 5D chess game played between a financial genius and an obsessive U.S. attorney that includes loopholes, double-crosses, and those titular billions of dollars. Last year’s season 2 finale, “Ball In Hand,” was all about the catastrophic fallout from a Wall Street IPO. Honestly, Billions should either come with a Hedge Fund 101 class or live annotations.
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Watching Chuck Rhoades Jr. (Paul Giamatti) take down archenemy Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) over 10 months ago was as thrilling as it was confusing, and that was when fans had 11 prior weeks of short-term plot memory to back them up. Now, Billions, returning for season 3 on Sunday, March 25, has been off the airwaves for nearly a full year, and it’s easy to forget what all the fuss was about.
To help you remember exactly what’s going on with New York’s pettiest fictional power players, we put together a handy gallery to remind you where we left off with every major Billions character. Keep scrolling for the refresher course you need.
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Chuck Rhoades

Chuck has been trying to find a way to bring Bobby down since the beginning of Billions, and he eventually finds the right avenue in the most unexpected of places: a juice company. As we find out in season 2’s penultimate episode “Golden Frog Time,” Chuck’s father, Chuck Rhoades Sr. (Jeffrey DeMunn), asks to use Junior’s trust to invest in Ice Juice, a ridiculously-named juice purveyor Junior’s best friend Ira (For The People’s Ben Shenkman) is also invested in. Chuck Jr. says “yes,” pretending he wants to help his loved ones, but, he realizes this is how he can catch Bobby in a criminal act.

So, Chuck has incarcerated investment bank CEO Lawrence Boyd (Eric Bogosian) tell Bobby about Senior’s Ice Juice investment in exchange for his freedom. Chuck is sure his enemy will take the bait and ruin Ice Juice. Spoiler alert: Bobby does. While all of this is happening, Chuck pulls some strings to make Oliver Dake (Christopher Denham) a U.S. attorney, and tells Dake to have agents follow Bobby, everyone associated with him, and every Ice Juice store. When Bobby has people poison themselves while drinking Ice Juice on the day of its initial public offering, in an attempt to tank the multimillion dollar opportunity, the FBI catches all the evidence. As Chuck eventually spells out, Bobby poisoned people, tampered with stock, and manipulated the market.

Yes, Chuck’s entire trust is gone — his dad put it all in Ice Juice without telling anyone — and his father never wants to speak to him again, but, he has finally ruined Bobby.

In Chuck’s mind, he can still run for New York State governor, which has been his goal all along.
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Bobby Axelrod

While “Golden Frog Time” ends up being Chuck’s episode, “Ball In Hand” belongs to Bobby, who starts off the installment with a physical morning wake-up call from a freshly-released Boyd. He informs Bobby the government is coming for him and plans to get him that very day.

Bobby immediately jumps into action and tells his wife Lara Axelrod (Malin Akerman) he’s going to “fucking fight.” That means setting up Armgedeon protocol at Axe Capital and dashing from place to place before the FBI catches up to him.

Amid all of this running around, the most integral moment to remember is his phone conversation with Lara, where he claims he’ll come home to give her a hug goodbye before getting arrested. This turns out to be a purposeful lie to get the FBI to head to casa Axelrod while Bobby couldn’t be further away. Consider Lara disillusioned.

Instead of seeing Lara, Bobby goes to see his business collaborator Wendy Rhoades, Chuck’s wife, at the 9/11 Memorial. Bobby, fans will remember, is a survivor of the Twin Towers attack, so the place has extra meaning. Bobby gives Wendy his big apology for everything he’s done wrong to her and in general until the sirens arrive, and he’s arrested. It’s unclear what Wendy whispers in Bobby’s ear during their goodbye hug, but we can all assume it’s big.

By the end of the episode, Bobby and Chuck have their big showdown while the former is in custody. Bobby sets up season 3, swearing to ruin Chuck, even if it destroys him as well. Then, the CEO is let out on bail and returns to what seems to be a completely empty house. He probably should have given Lara that hug.
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Wendy Rhoades

Wendy is in a difficult place as both Chuck’s estranged-but-working-on-it wife and Bobby’s right-hand woman. She seems to still be loyal to Axe Capital, as she tells Bobby’s right-hand man Mike “Wags” Wagner (David Costabile), “I’m right here. Today.” Although that “today” sounds very conditional, she helps everyone at the hedge fund through their crisis, finally telling Bobby right before his arrest, she'll help him “find his way back” to goodness. It’s both sad and honest.

Yet, Wendy ends “Ball ” by meeting Chuck at their shared home. The pair clasp hands and walk up the stairs together, closing the season and signaling they’re both very committed to their marriage.

However, it’s worth mentioning Chuck Sr., enraged by his son’s Ice Juice treachery, gave Chuck Jr. photographic evidence Wendy slept with tech billionaire Craig Heidecker (James Wolk). That can’t be good.
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Lara Axelrod

Look, Lara Axelrod is the real baller of the Billions season finale. After realizing Bobby is a trifling fool made of “bullshit,” her words, Lara takes an entire vault of her husband's money — and that’s not the least of her Rhianna-level maneuvers.

For a full recap of all of her brilliant, self-securing “Ball In Hand” schemes, click here.
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Mike “Wags” Wagner

At one point in the season 2 finale, a terrified Wags tells Wendy some extremely graphic bodily information to illustrate just how nervous he is about needing to lead in Bobby’s stead. But, after Bobby is cuffed, Wags looks comfortable overseeing an all hands on deck Axe Capital.
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Bryan Connerty

At the top of “Ball,” Chuck attempts to make a deal with Dake, who’s trying to arrest Bobby. But, Dake shoots Chuck down because of honor or religion or something neither Bobby nor Chuck really care about. But, when Dake realizes he’s failing at finding Bobby, he turns to Chuck for help… and something genuinely nice comes out of the entire thing.

Chuck demands Dake, who’s in charge of the Eastern District of New York, hire Bryan (Toby Leonard Moore), therefore allowing him to lead Bobby’s prosecution without being bogged down by the countless conflicts of interest Chuck has.

This way everyone (other than Bobby) gets what they want.
7 of 7
Taylor Mason

Bryan repeatedly tries to flip Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon), who uses gender neutral pronouns, to the U.S. Attorney’s side, but they rebuff him each time, revealing their passion for Axe Capital. In the finale, they and Bobby have big conversation about how to save the company and Taylor's devotion to him and his genius. Considering the fact this big chat comes after Taylor is “baptized by blood” in the prior episode by firing someone, they are clearly becoming one of Billions’ biggest power players.

That possibility is proven true in the final minutes of “Ball,” when “Dollar” Bill Stearn (Kelly AuCoin) realizes Bobby decided Taylor would become chief investment officer after his arrest.

While this all well-and-good, we all need to remember Dollar Bill also gave Taylor a very ominous duffle bag filled with $250,00 in “Golden Frog” as just-in-case money. This, my friends, is the Chekhov's gun of Billions season 3.
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