Showtime’s Billions is ostensibly a tense battle of wits between hedge fund manager Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and U.S. attorney Chuck Rhoades Jr. (Paul Giamatti). But the season 2 finale, "Ball in Hand," proves that Bobby’s wife Lara Axelrod (Malin Ackerman) is the true boss in this story. Ask yourself: Who's the savviest person of the hour? If we’re all being honest, the answer is Lara and she didn’t even end up in jail.
The mom of two proves she has literally no time for nonsense within the first five minutes of "Hand," when Bobby reveals he is going to be arrested today. Lara barely blinks and says, "I know we talked about this. We prepared for this. But I’m not running with you. And neither are the kids. It’s not fair to them. So you do what you gotta do, but we’re staying." Harsh. Her no-effs-given comments feel a little awkward when Axe reveals he’s not even running. Well, if the billionaire changes his mind, at least he knows where his life partner stands (the answer is as far away from him as possible).
Lara continues living out her own version of a Rihanna music video by entering the Axelrod family vault, where there are about 20 suitcases filled with what we're meant to assume are small cash fortunes. The Long Island native pops one open to unveil enough money to buy out the nearest Bergdorf Goodman. Soon enough she’s in lawyer Orrin Bach’s office asking him how to "best protect her interests," which is code for, "How the hell do I keep my money?" Orrin attempts to turn Lara down, since he’s been talking to Axe all day about his upcoming arrest. Lara responds by pulling out a thick stack of $100 bills. "Then let's make this an unofficial consultation," she purrs. "Are there things I can do today to protect myself? Would I be wise to consider extreme measures? Separation? Divorce?"
Let’s get this straight. Axe could be looking at a decades in prison, and his wife is asking if she should divorce him right this minute to keep her own fortune. That’s ice cold and genius.
Lara follows up this meeting with some parking-lot scheming with Mo (Erinn Ruth). The hedge fund wife explains she’s going to supply the equity for their business and pulls out the cash suitcase once more to toss it in Mo’s trunk. Compare this moment to what Axe is doing — attempting to evade the feds by constantly driving and ordering people around — and what Chuck is doing — begging his dad to protect him from a political catastrophe — and it’s clear Lara is the real badass around here.
Even the federal government can’t scare Lara. When the FBI arrives to Axelrod manor to arrest Axe over a misleading tip, Lara opens the door smoking a cigarette. All that’s missing is a fabulous fur shawl. "Wouldn’t want to ask for the fucking code?" she asks the agents as they saw open her vault. When it’s opened, we learn Lara took out each and every money suitcase and hid it in an unknown location. Lara is only shaken after the government agents leave and she realizes her husband really isn’t heading home to say goodbye to her. "It was bullshit," she says to her two sons, to whom Axe actually bid farewell. "He’s not coming home. Go play. He’s not coming."
Lara is correct; right before he’s caught by the feds, Axe decides to see his longtime colleague Wendy (Maggie Siff) at the 9/11 memorial, instead of his own wife. But, don’t cry for Lara, since she ends the episode quietly smiling to herself, pondering what her life will look like without Axe. After all her hard work in "Hand," there's no question about whether she'll thrive in an already-confirmed season 3.
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