Absolute power is absolutely entertaining: why you should watch Billions
“What we do has consequences, intended or unintended. The decisions we make, the actions we bring … have weight.”
Heavy, deep words, uttered by Chuck Rhoades in Billions. Ironically, he doesn’t bother to follow his own advice.
Nor does his arch nemesis, Bobby Axelrod. They are in their own ways dangerously unscrupulous and narcissistically justified. The best part is not that they think they are the smartest people in the room, but because they actually are. If you want to get really philosophical, Billions is all about an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.
Chuck is a district attorney, hot for prosecuting financial villains. Bobby is a self-made billionaire financial villain. When Chuck and his office sets sights on Bobby, it is on. At first, they underestimate each other and at times there are truces. But every time the hammer comes down, it is bigger and heavier than before. It starts looking like David vs Goliath, but this is actually a clash of the Titans.
One of the things that make Billions so entertaining is the cause-and-effect rippling around them, among their spouses, employees, friends, enemies and across power structures.
There’s a particular tension because Chuck’s wife, Wendy, also is Bobby’s psychologist. Yes, that sounds cheesy, but Billions puts remarkable shine and twist on a lot of tired ideas.
One reason for this is the acting
Homeland’s Damian Lewis is perfect as the cocksure Bobby, while the fantastic Paul Giamatti generates a lot of sympathy and support for devious Chuck. Other well-known stars are Sons of Anarchy’s Maggie Siff as Wendy and a very nice cutthroat role for David Costabile as Bobby’s mad dog COO, Mike.
Billions has a large cast and the chemistry works well across all of them, helped by fun dialogue and fast-paced storytelling that can hide a lot of twists. Past actions can come back to haunt them, but sometimes it’s a blow from the left they had nothing to do with. But as the worlds of Chuck and Bobby collide, the fun is in seeing them wriggle out.
Yes, them. Another thing Billions does well is to switch the audience’s allegiance.
You may start by rooting for Bobby or Chuck, but you will change sides more than once
These guys are sneaky, twisted and dangerous. Season 2’s cliffhanger ending has become a milestone moment for this series – and with Season 3 also available on Showmax, with new episodes of Season 4 arriving every Wednesday evening at the same as the DStv broadcast (and on DStv Now), there is no better time than right now to get into a Billions binge.
More great Billions quotes
- “Guarantee is a word that amateurs use in politics.” – Chuck Rhoades
- “You were wrong. I’m not human. I am a machine. I’m a @#$% Terminator.” – Bobby Axelrod
- “A normal person wouldn’t engage in the behaviour. A sociopath wouldn’t give a s***. You’re somewhere in between.” – Wendy Rhoades
- “You can’t have it appear you’re illegally meddling, especially when you’re illegally meddling.” – Mike “Wags” Wagner