Chuck returns minus a beard and also a lover. Axe return minus the good sense to leaving well sufficient alone.

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Paul Giamatti, looking a little lighter in the facial area after ~ a pandemic stop to Season 5 the “Billions.”Credit...Jeff Neumann/Showtime

Season 5, illustration 8: ‘Copenhagen’

Chuck Rhodes has actually shaved off his beard. However he desires to it is in clear: It’s not that large a deal.

“You look all set to toss your cap in the air at West Point!” exclaims his underling knife Allard (Allan Havey).

Rhodes’s weary reply? “Don’t do a whole thing that it.”

My guess, and it’s simply a guess, is the this brand-new clean-shaven lining Rhodes has much more to execute with the vagaries that scheduling talent for the back half of this Covid-scrambled season 보다 a decision make in the writers’ room. If your display stars Paul Giamatti, and if he has gone beardless sometime throughout the plenty of months since you to be last able come film, climate by God, your main character will go beardless together well.

But “Don’t make a entirety thing that it” doubles as a mantra for the entire … what should we contact it? A half-season premiere? Season five version 2.0? but you part it, the writers have taken a steady-as-she-goes technique to the show’s return. No hard reset, no launching allude for a slew of brand-new story present — this is a traditional “Billions” episode, i beg your pardon is to say the simply breakthroughs its pre-existing plotlines in dense and also dizzying style, with crackling dialogue and confident performances.

For Chuck, this method losing much more than just his beard. His connection with the Yale sex researcher Catherine Brant, play by Julianna Margulies, appears to have actually been an additional casualty of the compelled break in production. The show writes her off with Chuck’s revelation the his threesome through her and also a sex worker, hired by Cat because that the occasion, proved devastating when its absence of sadomasochism, the thing that really gets Rhodes’s engine revving, exposed fissures in their romantic connection.


Chuck’s connection with his alma mater produces much more trouble 보다 a regrettable sex-related liaison, however. One of his former students, Merle Howard (Noah Robbins), led a revolt versus Chuck’s assignment to take under the secretary that the Treasury, Todd Krakow (Danny Strong), throughout the season’s opened half. With the aid of some photographic evidence provided by the Axe lid sleazeball invoice Stearn, a.k.a., Dollar bill (Kelly AuCoin), he has actually now resorted to blackmail, ordering chuck to resign his post as the Attorney basic of brand-new York lest his long-ago function in rigging a Yale college student election be exposed.

Chuck has actually a ethical leg to was standing on here: His enemy in the choice in question opposed divestment indigenous apartheid southern Africa, and the young chuck joined friend in burn ballots in a bathtub to protect against this ultraconservative candidate indigenous achieving power. Unfortunately for Chuck, the candidate grew up to it is in the university’s lovely chaplain, and a head-to-head morality-based showdown in the present day would not necessarily deliver Chuck a slam-dunk win — not when election-rigging has been together a going problem in America in general, and also on “Billions” in particular.

“It was a student election — persuading Oingo Boingo come play feather Fling, and not sun City,” lining protests come Merle. “It’s no Il Duce in ’34!”

“One leads to the other,” Merle responds without absent a beat.

Chuck’s lawyer and also best friend, Ira (Ben Shenkman), digs up an unseen file of dust on Chuck’s old election opponent, over Chuck’s protestations. If Merle had a pistol,” Ira asks, “would girlfriend let the shoot you? No: You’d safeguard yourself and also then go about making amends as soon as you knew you to be still breathing.”

In the end, Merle blinks, withdrawing his threat and also reporting himself to the university’s dean (Tawny Cypress). As soon as she confronts Chuck around his youthful indiscretion, however, chuck refrains from making use of Ira’s file, tendering his resignation from Yale’s faculty instead. Sic semper tyrannis, ns guess.


On the opposite next of the great “Billions” divide, Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) bring away on an altogether an ext dangerous devil than a law student: his other billionaire Mike Prince (Corey Stoll). When Bobby learns native his thoroughly hung-over right-hand guy Wags (David Costabile) that Prince is ~ above deck because that an ambassadorship to Denmark, the two males dig for everything dirt can cancel the appointment and ruin Prince’s reputation.

They resolve on Scooter Dunbar (Daniel Breaker), Prince’s equivalent to Wags. Making use of a tiny army the runners come cover increase his own involvement, Scooter appears to have arisen a severe sports-betting habit, exactly the sort of protection vulnerability the gets human being axed from federal government positions. (Or at least used to.)

But Wags’s attempt to bigfoot Scooter ~ above the concern backfires as soon as Prince reflects up unannounced to one of Axe’s homes, revealing that the bets were his own. The factor he placed the bets v Scooter and also the runners wasn’t to hide a attention vice, that says. The because, provided his well-earned reputation as a power player, his position can tilt the betting odds to be it commonly known.

Not the this stop Axe’s attack. Keying in top top a stray cite by Prince the his past, Axe work his sublievenant to destruction deeper. As soon as again, the Dollar Bill that gets the goods: according to the mom (Becky Ann Baker) the Prince’s late partner, Prince swindled his former partner and also best friend the end of a billion-dollar deal — contributing, she believes, come his fatality in a drunk-driving accident. The ensuing TV news exposé lets Prince understand he has actually a genuine fight on his hands.

Indeed, if there’s a v line because that this episode, it’s around characters trying, and often failing, to remain true to the people and also things that mean the many to them. The artist Nico Tanner (Frank Grillo), the current love interest of Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff), recoils indigenous the culture of limitless cash and also entitlement embraced by the Axe Cap/Taylor Mason Carbon power structure — although the doesn’t prevent him native fleecing one of them for thousands of dollars because that a only scribble. (His vigorous, shirtless production of a new painting before an enraptured Wendy, come the track of the Velvet Underground’s euphoric tune “Rock and Roll,” is the episode’s valedictory moment.)

As because that Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon), the wunderkind trader is aghast to find that the Mase carbohydrate up-and-comer Rian (Eva Victor) still works as a cater waiter in her off hours. The next gig is an attempt to keep alive her relationship to her old friends, she insists. But if other significant investors check out her at work, Taylor argues, they will certainly question just how Taylor operation the shop. In ~ Taylor’s behest, Rian quits she side hustle and also settles in because that a warm night in prior of the telly with her boss. Is it simply me, or is there reason to worry that Taylor’s right-hand woman, Lauren (Jade Eshete), i will not ~ be the only woman in the young genius’s life before too long?


And while lining scrambles to find a kidney donor for his father (Jeffrey DeMunn) — a course of activity that leads to Chuck’s humiliation by Dr. Gilbert (Seth Barrish), whom he put away for ethical violations — his ex-wife, Wendy, is tapped through Charles Sr. To it is in his health treatment proxy.

“I require you to be cleareyed and also punch my ticket” need to the require arise, Charles tells her.

In the end, the episode’s many potentially momentous moment almost feels choose an afterthought. Exhilaration on a reminder by his sinister go-to male Victor Mateo (Louis Cancelmi), Axe buys up an clear crooked payday lender the Chuck and also his own lieutenant, Kate Sacker (Condola Rashad), have been spring into. Why? because said lender has a financial institution charter, the gold goose because that which Axe Cap has actually been searching all season.

Game on, folks!

Loose change:

As, fairly potentially, the many Tom Petty-friendly display on TV, “Billions” here deploys “It’s an excellent to be King.” Ironically, that course.

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I evaluate Chuck and also Ira’s shout the end to Mamoun’s, the brand-new York/New Haven falafel mainstay. Boy, I might tell you some stories.

This main in “concepts i didn’t know about until ‘Billions’ called me about them,” the hygge, the Danish appropriate of being warm and also contented. Has actually anyone on this present truly felt hygge at any type of time?