Showtime’s Billions stars Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis as powerful men who have no reason to fear anyone-well, maybe no reason to fear any man. Paul plays U.S. District Attorney Chuck Rhoades, a Submissive we see tied and tortured in the opening scene of the series. It seems he has a perfect conviction record and his father is a crime lord. Paul spends a lot of time frowning and scowling. I got the feeling he didn’t want any fucking merlot.
Damian plays billionaire and possible mass murderer and inside trader Bobby Axelrod. Axe to his friends. He seems to have a couple of powerful women in his life as well. Cue the whip crack as he constantly looks a lot more like a Submissive than Paul does. But there’s more to him than meets the eye as well. It’s implied that he orchestrated 9/11 to get rid of his Partners and that everyone else was just collateral damage. This is a Bond Villian level of evil that seems a bit silly. There is one scene where he shows an uncanny level of knowledge about the movement of stocks, but doesn’t seem to do any trading himself. He just tells others what they should be buying, selling, and shorting.
The crux of the opening episode sees Axe deciding if he should buy a beach house or not. We all love modest and humble billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. We all hate show off billionaires like Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers. So if Axe buys this $64 million dollar beach house, people will think he’s a bad billionaire. D.A. Chuck wants Axe to buy the house for just this reason.
Axe is not a nice guy. Chuck is not a nice guy. No one we see in Billions is a nice guy. The biggest problem with Season Two of True Detective was all the characters were worthless bastards. The first episode of Billions has very much the same feeling of a bunch of lowlives we have no reason at all to care about. I like all the actors here. But there’s no one to root for, and that’s always a problem for me.