The aspect of motivation versus action continues to be the compelling form of what “Billions” is moving towards. However sometimes it treads over repetitive steps in what can be shifted from the A to B story. In Episode 7: “The Limitless Shit”, that exact predilection of what is inferred hijacks Axe and his team in the office. That is the trick of working to absolute adrenaline is motivations get missed and consequences get lost. Some of the most interesting diatribes including one with Taylor (played by Asia Kate Dillon) shows an interesting idea of what cooler heads can do. But just an episode before, Taylor was railing against stepping over the line becomes a slight pendulum. All the characters for the most part will seemingly be taken down by their own shortsightedness or the simple base nature of others. This is completely true of relationships in this story though some of the ones that became the most dynamic sat out this episode especially with the last shot of the previous episode. That one itself involving Julianna Marguiles was an interesting metaphor and discussion on the notion of power versus control. Here the ethics of morality becomes a little more murky.
Motivation versus contentment and simple decency don’t really filter in except on the periphery as a guideline. Giamatti’s Chuck Rhoades plays an interesting move with students he is teaching. Every individual has their own in terms of how he teaches them to accomplish their goals. In this endeavor Chuck is frank and it shows an inherent understanding of his psyche in terms of survival which again points to the person in this story who will likely win, in whatever form that takes. The notion of commerce and art is also a continuing thought and what dictates a “sell out” per se. Axelrod with his two top supporters, both women, are slowly but surely making their power moves but it is interesting to see how as a fox he is almost toying with the decisions they are making. Ultimately the loyalty he loses will undo his power plays. If one is at war all the time, one cannot understand the contentment of being at piece. What is interesting about Axe compared with the beginning of his path is how the essence of home and normalcy never enters into his sphere anymore. Wags is only companion and usually over scotch. He compartmentalizes it out and, as a result, his humanity comes into question This is a tricky line because without showing a little bit of empathy (which he did in the Yonkers episode) it hard to feel bad for an alpha who stepping on everyone to get to the top. Because that figure ends up taking a great fall.
By Tim Wassberg