This Billions review contains spoilers.
Billions Season 4 Episode 10
Sure, it was fun to see Dr. Gus (Marc Kudisch), the embodiment of toxic machismo from Billions season 2, return for an episode in last week’s “American Champion,” but he was largely a distraction. That’s not to say that fans of the show won’t be getting any more Gus as season four winds down to a close, because he’s back again for this weekend’s episode “New Year’s Day,” which hilariously falls on Memorial Day Weekend. For as the U2 song of the same name, which opens the episode, sings in its second verse, we’re all “under a blood red sky.”
In other words, things aren’t going so well for the show’s main players — on account of all the metaphorical blood. Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and his company are having a rather work-intensive holiday, while Wendy (Maggie Siff) and Chuck Rhoades’ (Paul Giamatti) marriage is spiraling further into malicious chaos. None of them can seem to stay afloat, no matter what they try to do to help one another. The competition is out to get them, and judging by where “American Champion” left things off two weeks ago, it’s not looking so great.
This is especially true for Wendy, whose livelihood is on the chopping block thanks to Taylor Amber Mason’s (Asia Kate Dillon) efforts to skewer her reputation in the medical community. After the former reached out to the latter in a moment of apparent need, she used the pair’s rejuvenated connection to inform her boss’s next moves against his former employee turned competitor. In other words, Wendy — Axe Capital’s professional counselor who happens to be a licensed medical practitioner — used her access to Taylor’s medical records against her, thereby breaching the confidence such interactions legally (and morally) guarantee.
So Taylor wants the New York State Medical Board to revoke Wendy’s license, which would destroy her career and her reputation even more than Chuck’s public comments about their relationship already have. Bobby calls in his top lieutenants and, eventually the rest of the Axe Capital team, to host a mock medical board review while putting out other fires on a holiday. Needless to say, this doesn’t put Wendy in the best of moods. Even the slightest questions or comments from the team, let alone Bobby’s insistence on making everyone cancel their holiday plans, is enough to set her off. What’s more, Chuck’s being there to help only makes it worse.
As Wendy’s increasingly fraught preparations for her upcoming review continue, the rest of Billions chugs along with an equally intense sense of malign purpose. Taylor’s team over at Mason Capital is plotting its own moves for the review hearing, with others scorned by Axelrod and Rhoades teaming up to help prepare the young CEO for their time on the stand.
Back at Axe Capital, Bobby finds himself dealing with more than just his trusted counselor’s pending problems. A bunch of original Picassos (and other expensive artwork) have been sent to him from a Swiss tax haven, meaning that he’s facing at least $75 million in tax payments. He enlists Victor Mateo (Louis Cancelmi) to find another loophole for the paintings, but not before girlfriend and fellow hedge fund manager Rebecca Cantu (Nina Arianda) finds herself in Taylor’s crosshairs. Now the new CEO of a department store chain Bobby helped her acquire, Rebecca and company realize that Taylor has leveraged power over their central supplier, meaning that business could run dry fairly quickly. Oh, and to make matters even worse, Bobby’s chief lieutenant Wags (David Costabile) has had something of value stolen from him, thereby rendering him a blubbering, emotional mess of insecurity and little help.
Or, as Victor quips after receiving his orders from Bobby regarding the paintings, “Happy f*cking new year.” It’s a sentiment that, all jokes aside, the boss doesn’t share — especially since it’s not the first time someone has used it. “Why does everybody keep saying that!?”
It’s a good question, because throughout all of “New Year’s Day,” nobody seems to be having a very “happy f*cking” day at all. Bobby has all of these fires to put out. One of them is Wendy’s impending professional catastrophe, which she initially seems resigned to enduring despite her assumption of failure. Chuck, meanwhile, can’t do anything right in his wife’s eyes, and he doesn’t even really want to be there. From their public snipes at each other during the mock hearing (“Play through.” “You play through!”) to their private conversation about taking a deal he’s brokered in secret, everything about the Rhoades family seems to be finally coming apart.
And that, along with Wendy’s reclaimed groove after hiring a cuddling specialist to help Wags get in touch with his feelings (which results in an incredibly loud crying session in the main office), is how Chuck seemingly exits the door one final time. So Wendy turns to the man who, throughout this season, has offered her more of a support structure than her own husband: Bobby.
He jokes about their having their own “cuddle session” following Wags’ public outpouring, but Wendy is serious. “You already did the thing. Made me feel warm, loved and cared for,” she says. “You came back for me… It’s more than touching, Axe. Compared to what I have at this moment at home, it’s really nice. But also, you needed to come back for you. For this… If it wasn’t today’s reasons, you would have come up with others.”
Therein lies the rub of Bobby and Wendy’s professional, and personal, relationship. They’ve supported each other at Axe Capital for a long time (since the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, as Bobby reminds her), and now that Chuck has essentially decided to leave his own wife to the wolves, this relationship has taken on an entirely new meaning. It’s still platonic, of course, though whether or not it has taken (or will take) on a new meaning for either party in future episodes remains to be seen. Considering Bobby’s current steadiness with Rebecca, he probably won’t take things beyond where they are, but Wendy is changing.
She’s been changing since this season’s first episode, and some of the biggest ones are seemingly yet to come. So by the end of “New Year’s Day,” she not only convinces Bobby to release all of his employees for the rest of the holiday, but she also seeks Taylor out and delivers what, on the surface, seems to be a genuine apology. It’s difficult to tell whether it’s another ruse, but all things considered, perhaps Wendy really means it this time. Maybe.