Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Billions, Give or Take a Few Million

Some spoilers.

You're probably familiar with the ratings that are posted at the start of each cable series episode that might a little racy. Language, Violence, Mature Audience are a few you might see. Also, Brief Nudity, Sexual Situations and sometimes Strong Sexual Situations. TV has certainly changed. It's the movies.

So when the latest episode of Billions displayed its ratings on Sunday, Brief Nudity was one of them. Are we going to see Lara get careless with a sheet in bed and expose a little suggestive anatomy? Is Wendy going topless with the paddle on Chuck's behind?

Since we already had the season opener with Wendy giving Chuck some discipline, it might he safe to assume Brief Nudity is coming from a different source. Lara is now separated from Bobby Axe now, so it's going to have to be with a fling she takes home with her. Or at his place.

Yes there was brief nudity. Was it female? Emphatically not.

The first episode also claimed Brief Nudity. It turned out it consisted of an Alpha male dropping his towel after getting out of his pool after swimming naked and answering questions for Bryan Connerty, the A.U.S.A, accompanied by his female F.B.I. Special Agent, Teri McCue, played by Susan Misner, who has also appeared on the Americans as the wife of Stan Beeman, the F.B.I. agent who lives next door to the embedded Russian spies Philip and Elizabeth Jennings. (With this the final season of that series is Stan going to get the surprise of his life?)

After a round of pointed questions about the Ice Juice scam, the Alpha male drops his towel and walks away in the buff, surely to show Teri McCue who's got the cojones in the group. Bryan avoids looking and just shakes his head. Boys will be boys around attractive females.

The latest Brief Nudity comes to us via Charles Rhoades Sr. who is button-holed at his club after exercise and just before his shower by Bryan, asking Ice Juice questions. People like Charles Rhoades Sr., a Yale graduate and mover and shaker, always can be found at The Club, usually after playing a vigorous game of squash, or a swim. They are only ever seated on plush leather.

Bryan again with the Ice Juice questions. Charles is in no mood for being questioned by an A.U.S.A. in the bathroom, answers curtly, then drops his towel, and invites Bryan if he would like to continue asking him things in the shower. Bryan once again shakes his head and does manage to softly utter, "Why does this keep happening to me."

My own reaction is why does is now mean that we have to see a 70 year-old man, even if presented from a distance, naked? Brief Nudity is not what it used to be. It's probably backlash from the Harvey Weinstein thing.

The comic side to Billions is supplied by Wags, who is all out to get "the last burial plot in Manhattan." He says let the Arabs have 432 Park, he wants this piece of ground. (And maybe if they really get liberal with air rights, Wags's heirs will reap a fortune when they're able to sell those rights to Donald Trump when he gets back to real estate.) Wags does manage to wiggle it away from the ambulance chasing lawyer who beat him to it. Wags is nothing less than devious.

The rest of the episode is the-tit-for tat played by Charles, Chuck and Bobby, showing how three Alpha males get along in the forest. Charles and Chuck are not speaking, and Charles seems like he might throw his son under the bus.

Father and son have it out at the 25th and 50th reunions at Yale. Charles is being presented with a Distinguished Service award and Chuck is the surprise presenter. The hope on Chuck's part is that he'll soften dad up and remove any chance that dad will stay so mad that he throws Chuck under the prosecutorial bus rolling through the Ice Juice case.

Outside the hall where the awards took place, father and son go at it. Chuck basically tells Chuck his generation has no guts. Charles tell Chuck that "right over there" as he points to a building, he brags that he "fucked three girls in a 24 hour period–one in the can."

Chuck mistakes "can" for dorm bathroom. Charles sneers. But the script writers are giving Charles's libido way too much credit. Yale wasn't co-ed until 1969. Charles was an undergrad until 1968. Small point. He's telling his son no thought of any disease kept him away from his appointed rounds.

But Wendy is right. She tells Chuck she's never met the man who can out maneuver him, and Chuck calls in a HUGE favor from the Albany kingmaker Black Jack Foley, played by David Strathairn, to get a state senator to tell his father his upstate property that he is holding onto with the promise that a casino is going to be built there, is actually now slated for being kept forever wild, conserved for "Eastern Elk." They are a species in danger.

The only species in danger is the one that has inside information. The "Eastern Elk" message is telegraphed to Charles that this change has to do with the Eastern District, the U.S. Attorney that has jurisdiction over the Ice Juice litigation. Chuck is squeezing dad. If he flips on him, then his fortune will disappear and "Eastern Elk' will win.

Charles is hardly dense, so he gets the message, and basically tells Bryan and his boss, the U.S.A., in a conference meeting that go ahead, proceed, with the case, Ira Schirmer is lying about any plot by himself or his son to send the Ice Juice stock downward and snare Bobby Axelrod shorting it.

Billions is a battleground for egos the size of Manhattan itself. There is also Brief Nudity. Just don't count on it being female anymore.

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